I designed (and, now, revised) this poster to respond to the heavy-handed and blatant role corporations play in shaping our educational policies. Education should be shaped according to the needs of the human community, not corporate profit. We want all children, youth and adults to have access to a quality education that enhances our/their lives and the community as a whole. Listed are just some of the policies that move us away from that goal. If you would like to read a tremendous new book on this subject, check out Miseducating for the Global Economy: How Corporate Power Damages Education and Subverts Students’ Futures, hot off the press, July 2018, by Gerald Coles. It is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand education today.
Every day women around the world spend 200 million hours collecting water for their families. While they walk, private ownership of water, excessive use of water for vast mono-cultural agribusinesses, deforestation/desertification practices, and climate change go unchecked, creating and worsening this situation. Their paths are not romantic, safe or easy. They can walk for hours then trip, fall and lose their days work. Their backs, internal organs break down from the incessant, cumbersome weights they carry, sometimes three times/day at all hours. Surely, this is something that must be attended to.
According to a UN 2005 study there are at least 100 million homeless in the world. I imagine there are more now, not less. A study by Habitat in 2015 found 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing. In the Philippines 22.8 million people are homeless out of a population of about 105 million. One in ten school children in New York City is homeless. In Los Angeles County, 8% of the population is Black. 40% of its homeless population is Black. The UN figures about 795 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world (1 in 9) suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2014–2016. While the vast majority of those were from the developing world, this does not mean the developed world is doing so great. In the US, one in six of us face hunger on a regular basis. I’m just throwing some numbers around. The real story is in the living of homelessness and hunger, the outrage and the robbery that causes it.
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Do you know what I mean about property here? Not my house, my car, or even my small business I’m doing the best I can kind of property. I’m talking about that gigunda, grabbing up all living space, air, water, seed, bones, mega-factory, corporate sprawling purveyor of misery we call capitalism. That kind of property. It sucks to feed itself. Life. Possibility. Out of most of us. Makes us unrecognizable to each other. My class. Your class. Yes, it sucks. But for every action, there is a reaction. That’s physics. So, what do we do?
According to UN figures, there were 19.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014. The number of people internally displaced by persecution, war or conflict reached a record number of nearly 60 million people. Then we have all the numbers who scramble from place to place because of their economic conditions. We move to survive, not to cause trouble or discomfort for other people.
Take 2 minutes, Google “economic justice info-graphics,” and we can find plenty of staggering information on economic inequality. Check out Rick Wolff, listen to his very accessible lectures or read his work for indispensable theory and knowledge to turn around our economic reality. Not only is economic injustice devastating for us in the U.S., it’s our number one export.
What is austerity politics? It is crying “NO MONEY” to cut human services, the oxygen of large segments of humanity, destroying the life chances of far too many. It is crying “NO MONEY” while the wealthy blatantly engage in a super frenzy of spending. flaunting and hoarding. It is crying “NO MONEY” while the US military spends spends spends to destroy people all over the world. THERE IS MONEY! Put it in the right places.
A society bent on war cannot take care of its own. When we destroy the lives, homes, and possibilities of people around the world we cannot fund, protect or nurture own lives, homes and possibilities. We destroy ourselves. With a collective fist, which should hold righteousness and generosity, we hand over our own lifeblood to forge a relentless attack on the human relations we have never bothered to know. We acquiesce in a terrible decision. Or do we?
It is easy when doing political posters to focus on our troubles. There are many, after all. Sometimes, however, I nudge myself to concentrate on our vision of a better life, to remind myself why I got involved in movements in the first place. The power and joy of deep connection with earth, the natural world, with other human beings. The importance of creating economic systems and social institutions that honor and support those connections. Doing this poster brought me back to those first exciting, very connected days way back when.… Sigh.
Butterflies grace us with their presence as they alight quickly, tentatively on blades of grass, a quick kiss on their long distance journeys. We watch, transfixed and delighted. They make our days a little more special, beautiful. And, yet, they are dying in staggering numbers, victim to an economy which digs up, paves over, pollutes and just generally messes up the fragile paths our winged friends travel. Do we really need this kind of economy, represented here by our mechanical, more destructive long haulers?
Water. Fundamental. Lavished on large-scale, costly, inefficient, mono-cultural, corporate agribusinesses. Squandered on, denigrated by fossil fuel extractions. Poisoned by careless industrial practices. Sent into hiding, disappeared by the rough treatment of fragile ecologies. Siphoned off for preferential living arrangements. Hoarded by private businesses for profit. Water. Clean water. 1.7 billion without access to clean water. 2.3 billion people suffer from water-borne illnesses each year. How we handle water is a democratic, human rights issue.
For thousands of years farmers/peasants have worked the soil with nature’s gift. Seeds. Every harvest people of the land gathered the seed of previous crops to continue this vital cycle. Now, corporations, with a mind-boggling bundle of tricks, claim to hold a more fundamental right —the patent! This forces struggling farmers/peasants to buy expensive and troublesome terminator seeds — seeds which cannot bring on the next generation of crop. Massive farmer suicides around the world attest to the damage done by this private, selfish ownership of seed. To see work aiming to put seeds back into people’s hands, check out NAVDANYA, a project of Vandana Shiva and others in India.
Every 30 minutes a farmer in India commits suicide. That means in the 2 decades since large seed corporations have planted themselves in India, almost a quarter million farmers have killed themselves, leaving behind families in impossible debt, loss and despair. Export focused, non-food mono-cultural crops, forced use of terminator seeds, pesticides and fertilizers requiring recurring loans create staggering financial burdens, rob people of their capacity to provide for their families. But don’t think this is India’s problem alone. The rate of farmer suicide in the U.S. is more than double that of any other occupation.
One day, when I was observing beginning teachers, the students were reading a story about someone who was worrying. The teacher stopped, made sure they knew what “worry” meant, then asked what made them worry. One student quickly raised his 7 year old hand and said, ” I worry we won’t be able to pay the rent.” No seven year old child should have this worry. Home is a human right.
This poster is in a perpetual draft state, but I though I’d put it out here. What is the cost of war? Our human services, community life, family security and our ability to feel empathy. Drones leveled at one society are metaphorically pointed towards our own. Being lulled into a false sense of calm, of distance from the ugliness of war, is temporary. It will come back to bite us in the b.….