Let them eat cake


“Um …” is right. From the comments section on a post about Occupy poster art (and other protest art from history) at Daily Kos.

Brilliant, satirical social commentary:

BEST #OWS picture/comment/anything yet. By Mike McGinn.  on Twitpic

If you already despised Koch Industries because of its support for the Tea Party, climate science denial and all things regressive, just wait till you get a load of this Bloomberg article: Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales. (Hat tip to the always insightful Digby at the blog Hullabaloo.) It reveals a laundry list of beyond-bad behavior from the firm: bribery, firing of whistleblowers, sales through foreign subsidiaries of petrochemical equipment to Iran (in violation of a US trade ban), “mismeasurements” of crude oil produced from wells on federal land, deadly negligence and more.

This is exactly the kind of sunlight that needs to be aimed at a far-too-influential private company run by a pair of billionaire brothers who back the idea of killing Social Security and believe President Barack Obama is the next Saddam Hussein. But every little bit the rest of us do can also help, and that means being aware of the many consumer brands that fall under the Koch Industries umbrella.

One Koch company, for example, is Georgia-Pacific, which produces several brands of toilet paper (Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and Soft n’ Gentle); paper napkins (Dixie, Mardi Gras, Vanity Fair); Dixie cups, plates, bowls and dispensers; paper towels (Brawny, Mardi Gras, Sparkle); and home and office paper (Georgia-Pacific, Spectrum). Then there’s Invista, the Koch business behind Antron carpet fiber, Comforel fiber, Coolmax fabric, Cordura fabric, Dacron fiberfill, Lycra, SolarMax fabric, Stainmaster carpets, Supplex fabric, Supriva fiber, Tactel fiber and Thermolite fabric.

So forget all the snarky media comments about the 99 Percenters in New York and other cities using iPhones to communicate … who cares? The late Steve Jobs didn’t do sneaky deals with Iran or oppose regulations on derivatives trading. But it’d be good to not see any Dixie cups or Mardi Gras napkins during mealtimes in Liberty Park.

Why are thousands turning out to occupy Wall Street and so many other cities? Probably has something to do with sentiments like this:

“Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself … It is not a person’s fault if they succeeded, it is a person’s fault if they failed.”

That’s GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, giving his take on the demonstrations of the disenfranchised. (Note: Go to the 9:56 mark in the video to hear the money quote.)

It’s encouraging to see that the Occupy Wall Street movement so derided by the corporate media and “Masters of the Universe”-types is picking up steam. Must have something to do with the images of cops Macing young women in security pens, hundreds of airline pilots joining the protest and the outrageous video of young oligarchs (or kleptocrats, if you prefer) yukking it up and sipping drinks while looking down on the “rabble” from a balcony in New York City. Help keep the momentum going by donating food, money, supplies or your own services here.

OK, so more US citizens are in poverty that ever in the past 50 years. Home values are still dropping. Interest on savings accounts will add pennies a month to your investment, while the stock market’s a crazy roller-coaster ride only for gamblers who can afford to lose. The economy’s not yet adding net new jobs, much less adding them fast enough to keep up with population growth. And this past weekend I saw an ad in the local Craigslist from someone desperate to find a cheap, used RV or trailer because he has a wife, two kids and is “soon to be homeless.” But 20 percent of Americans think they’ll be millionaires by 2020?

Right.

Why are plutocrats like the Koch brothers and organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce able to buy the government that benefits them while consigning the rest of us to a morally bankrupt energy policy, an out-of-control global climate and rapidly diminishing economic opportunities?

Sadly, it’s because we let them.

Yes, we — ordinary, hard-working, middle-class people — bought what they sold us, hook, line and sinker. We helped enable their behavior, and we’re reaping what we’ve helped to sow.

Oh, we didn’t do it all by ourselves, of course. And they were more than happy to string us along for the ride. But they’ve come to the point where they’ve stopped pretending, stopped making it look like they’re trying to be environmentally responsible, interested in a liveable planet for everyone, willing to work with the “little people.” We’ve served our purpose and it’s time for them to move on.

And what about us? Now that we’ve been relegated to the trash heap, are we left with no recourse, no way to help make things better again?

Fortunately, no.

This beast might be partly of our own making, but we can help to “un-make” it. Recent events in places from Cairo to Madison show that we the people still have something to say, and that we can make sure those at the top hear it.

While doing that, we can also help to starve the beast. It’s our dollars that have been feeding it for so long, after all, and it’s our dollars that can be withheld to starve it. For the world’s powerful business groups and bloated multinationals, money talks. And when the money stops flowing, they start listening … fast.

Take Koch Industries, for example. Yes, a lot of its revenues come from oil, and we know how hard it is personally to cut down on the stuff (though it can be done). But did you know that Koch interests also include Dacron fiberfill and Stainmaster carpets? Lycra fabrics and PET plastics (yet another reason to stop buying bottled water)? For the past six years, Koch’s holdings also include Georgia-Pacific, maker of — among other brands — Quilted Northern toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, Mardi Gras napkins and Dixie paper cups?

There’s another reason, if you needed one, to use, and reuse, cloth napkins and towels. Better for the environment. Better for fighting plutocracy.

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