When I hear friends and family members arguing and taking sides between cops and African Americans who live in poverty-stricken cities, it sickens me to the core. One thing that I have learned very clearly: cops and inner-city African Americans have much more in common with each other than they have in common with the people who created the conditions in which they both toil. We are all suffering under the same corrupt system. Let’s not let divide and conquer policies and propaganda destroy us.
The rioting in Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray, an African American man who died while in police custody, is the latest incident in a series of tragic events that are deeply dividing Americans along racial lines. Sadly, this is all playing out in a very predictable way. As I wrote last year prior to the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri: “Based on existing evidence and key indicators, it is logical to think that increasing desperation within large segments of the population will soon lead to chaos and riots. Factor in the militarized police force, which will escalate violence and oppression, and this highly probable scenario will tear our nation apart. We are at a critical crossroad.”
In the grand scheme of things, this is not about any particular instance of police brutality or whether a tragic death happened through proper police procedure or not, there are much deeper societal dynamics at play. What is playing out on the streets is a byproduct of an economic and political system that has been rigged against hardworking Americans and poor people who have been thrown overboard.
Ultimately, this is about institutionalized corruption and the death of representative government.
When I hear friends and family members arguing and taking sides between cops and African Americans who live in poverty-stricken cities, it sickens me to the core. I know how these divide and conquer propaganda games play out. We all lose. We are propagandized to fear each other and fight amongst ourselves, while the most powerful 0.01% of the population exploits us all and destroys our future.
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We are trapped in a vicious cycle: the harder the economic times get, the more stress, frustration, anger and fear grow. Hate and fear are on sale 24/7; just turn on your TV or radio, read online news or your newspaper and feel the rage and anxiety build within.
Here’s what you won’t hear on the news: we have an unprecedented abundance of wealth in this country. We have at least $100 trillion in wealth. That’s enough to make every family in this country millionaires.
However, more than half of that wealth is consolidated in the hands of the wealthiest families. Due to corruption, wealth has become consolidated to the point where the richest 400 Americans now have as much wealth as 200 million Americans. A society with inequality this severe is highly unstable and will eventually destroy itself, and the richest 0.01% knows that, which brings me to some very important points that I pray everyone can at least consider…
Just as I want my African American and activist friends to understand that most cops are good people working hard under difficult conditions, I also want my middle-class and wealthy white friends to know that institutional racism is still a very serious problem. In addition to blatant systemic racism, institutionalized classism is destroying our society.
The 0.01% mega-wealthy people who own and run this country know that inequality, economic insecurity and poverty are steadily breaking down society. Due to technological advancements, they have consolidated wealth and resources to the point where there are now only enough full-time jobs for half the working-age population, and half of those jobs pay under $35k per year. At the same time, the cost of living continues to skyrocket. Economic and political policy has now mathematically eliminated 75% of the population from living a life without severe debt and crippling poverty. As a direct result, poor people living in exploited poverty-stricken inner-cities throughout America are the first to experience the devastating effects of the death of representative government.
Instead of addressing an obvious and predictable issue through rational policy, guided by the compassion and fairness that made this country a global leader, both the Democratic and Republican parties have chosen a feudalistic path driven by shortsighted greed. That is one of the reasons why we are seeing the militarization of local police forces, especially in cities with high poverty rates. Laws that criminalize poverty are quickly spreading throughout the country. Billions of tax dollars have been diverted from public housing programs and have been redirected into building prisons.
The United States currently has the largest prison population in the world. On a per capita basis, the US is now much worse than the darkest days of the Soviet gulags. Over 70% of the prison population is “non-violent offenders with no history of violence.” In fact, physical slavery still exists. Prison “labor” is now a booming multi-billion dollar annual business. According to statistics from the US Bureau of Criminal Statistics, there are more “African-American men under state and federal criminal justice supervision” than there were slaves in 1850. In fact, there are twice as many now as there were in 1850.
The growth rate for private for-profit prisons has been shocking, “between 1990 and 2010 the number of privately operated prisons in the US increased 1600%.” The shortsightedness of this system and the vicious cycle of crime and punishment it creates within society have been clearly demonstrated. For instance, “All 17 states that cut their imprisonment rates over the past decade also experienced a decline in crime rates.”
After intense investigations into political and economic issues, one thing that I have learned very clearly: cops and inner city African Americans have much more in common with each other than they have in common with the people who created the conditions in which they both toil. To varying degrees of intensity, we are all suffering under the same corrupt system. So let’s show love, compassion and respect for each other. Let’s not let divide and conquer policies and propaganda destroy us.
Think before you emotionally and mindlessly react. Do some research and talk to people you disagree with; rationally listen to what they say. Once you do that, you will realize that you actually have much more in common with each other than you originally thought. Then, you will realize that there are much deeper forces at play. Here’s the main point and a harsh truth that we urgently need to understand: The people who control the Republican and Democratic parties don’t give a fuck about us! When I say that, I can’t be harsh and bold enough. Until you acknowledge that both political parties are working against hardworking Americans, and personally do something about it, the freedom, peace and happiness that you want for your family will be fleeting.
The good news is that we can change things and evolve society for the benefit of all. We are very fortunate to live in an unprecedentedly wealthy and technologically advanced society. We can completely eliminate poverty and economic insecurity. In fact, it costs society more to have poverty than it would cost to eliminate it. By that, I mean the increased costs in health care, crime, prisons, armed conflict, government bureaucracy, administrative costs, etc.. In other words, it costs society more to deal with the consequences and negative effects of poverty, than it would cost to eliminate poverty. This is another example or the shortsightedness and insanity of the present system.
If the economic and political system wasn’t overrun with corruption, based on the standards set when our nation was at its height in power, from the 1950s – 1970s, we can now all work half the amount of hours than we currently do, and make almost twice as much as we currently make working full-time. Given the exponential growth in production and overall wealth, you should now be making more than three times as much as you currently make. Our conditioned political apathy has destroyed that reality.
We are unnecessarily rat racing toward ruin… economically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We are driven into severe debt by medical bills, by the cost of education, by the cost of housing, by the cost of the necessities of life. We are forced to pay taxes into an incredibly corrupt tax system. Instead of our tax dollars being used to enhance our communities and benefit overall society, our tax money is used for war, bailouts and many other destructive programs that further enslave us.
The bottom line: in a technologically advanced society with at least $100 trillion in wealth, it is a crime against humanity to have these conditions.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We have been trapped inside a propaganda-induced delusion. We are mentally and economically enslaved. To paraphrase Malcolm X, we’ve been bamboozled and led astray, while the 0.01% runs amok. Snap out of it people! Before it’s too late, let’s evolve society and ensure that our future and our children’s future is a healthy and peaceful one. Love and compassion will set us free. That may sound like spiritual hippie talk, but deep down, below the flood of fear-based divide and conquer propaganda, you know it is true.