Economic slavery: So what is the answer?

Ben Nelms's picture

This column is a continuation from the one I began last week. It’s meant to address the belief that this nation is in a condition of economic slavery and why apathy is not the answer to that condition.

What follows are thoughts and suggestions. They are not meant to be the only answers available. I hope our readers across Georgia and beyond will suggest some of their own.

If apathy was currency, many in America would be billionaires. This is nothing new. Directly or indirectly, we are led to believe that the average citizen doesn’t have the sense (excuse me, I mean the business acumen) to discern the intricate complexities involved in the national and international issues that face this country. Only those Congressional and corporate titans, from their supposedly stratospheric vantage point, can find the solutions and point the way. If you believe that, you’re already lost.

As a nation of people, we need to understand that the economic and political servitude referenced here transcends gender, color, religion or party preference. We are all paying more than $4 for a gallon of gas, we are all paying high prices for food (for example, a 5 percent increase in food prices is forecast for 2008, up from the 4 percent hike just last year) and we all are subject to economic forces beyond our control.

Aren’t we? That’s what we’re told. And in the meantime, Congress, political organizations and the national news media continue to keep us immersed in the Politics of Division. Politicians point their fingers and wag their tongues, yet accomplish little to diminish the mounting economic burden faced by the very people whose votes they need to stay in office. And “we the people” sit largely silent.

The thing is, both parties in this country have sold us out. Democrats, for example, the supposed “party of the people,” won’t even let their own people determine a Presidential candidate without oversight from their political-elitist “leaders” on high.

Meantime, Republicans, for example, continue to spend taxpayers’ money in ways the Democrats could have only dreamt of.

And between the two, they have a lock grip on economic policy and a two-party-only government.

If the supposedly-environmentally conscious Democrats really cared, why haven’t they in past decades secured legislation to force the introduction of alternative energy sources?

And if the supposedly morally-based Republicans really cared, why haven’t they done the same?

Yet Brazil, as a rising, but developing nation, is energy independent, while America, still the planet’s technological and innovative powerhouse, can’t seem to find the solution for its energy problems.

In my opinion, Congress, as a body and including both parties, by negligent naivete or by design, is guilty of a kind of economic treason against the American people.

Treason is defined as “the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign (as in sovereign state); a violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state; the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.”

In the case of America, we are being overthrown economically and in other ways from within, incrementally, exactly the way Lincoln said it could happen:. “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Perhaps as much as any other time in our history, Americans know precious little about the state and federal governments that take so much of their income in taxes. Many today know more about contestants on “American Idol” than we do about the people we send to Congress. They make the rules that govern our lives, and we don’t even know their names.

Here’s the bottom line. Silence equals consent. Consent equals servitude. And your servitude equals your slavery to conditions that continue to jeopardize your rights, your freedom, your home and your family.

So long as the average American remains silent, they remain in servitude, whether economically or politically, and regardless of their party affiliation or income level. We’ve had a stable nation for so long we don’t understand the danger that severe instability can bring. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Folks, the antidote for apathy is action. But how might that action be potentiated and how might it be manifested?

In any or every way imaginable, it means getting involved, even a little. Action is potentiated, brought into reality, when we make it our business to know more about what is going on around us, to know more about the things that directly impact our life and that of our family.

Locally, at the state level and in national affairs, knowledge is power. If you care enough about yourself and your family to become informed, you’ll do it. The information resources available are endless. Though it has to be filtered with scrutiny, the Internet, for example, is a tool for the acquisition of knowledge unlike anything available in human history.

How can your action be manifested? Here are two ideas. Doubtless, there are many others. First, write a letter or an email (have you noticed the price of stamps lately?) to as many members of Congress as you will.

Tell them what you think, tell them how current energy or other policies are affecting your family, tell them what you want them to do. You can make it a short statement or something longer.

The first email starts with you. Or actually, it starts with me. I’ll begin by sending copies of this column and the one last week to the Georgia Congressional delegation, to members of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee, the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. I hope you’ll do something, too.

How else might your action be manifested? I’ve spoken with plenty of people here and around Georgia and elsewhere who are beyond fed up with the illusion of Congressional action and the reality of inaction. Of those expressing frustration, even outrage, some are Democrats, some are Republicans, some are Independents. And their ranks are growing. Maybe you’ve heard the same.

Are “we the people” at the point where we are sufficiently fed up with the political status quo in this country that we’re willing to put the hot-button issues of division aside long enough to center our attention on, for example, the creation of a new party, comprising those Republicans, Democrats and Independents and others whose objective is economic and political freedom?

A Freedom Party: one promoting freedom from economic policies that intensify servitude, freedom from the erosion of our human rights, freedom from corporate-backed policies that continue to allow our children and grandchildren to be poisoned by countless chemicals we think are safe, freedom from Congressional demagogues whose source of continued power resides in the very apathy that allows them to act out of synch with the circumstances of the average American.

Personal action of any kind provides the impetus for that action to replace apathy and reduces the opportunity for further subjugation through economic servitude.

login to post comments | Ben Nelms's blog

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Submitted by Howard Beale on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 1:16am.

Ben Nelms once again proves that he deserves a better job with a real newspaper.
If it weren’t for Nelms and the high school sports section, I’d have nothing good at all to say about the citizen.

Submitted by skyspy on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 7:32am.

Very thought provoking.

The big buisnessmen, and the politicians have power because we give it to them.

In the last election for PTC council so few people cared about what was going on in our city government that only 1% showed up at the polls.

I love your analogy: "if apathy were currency Americans would be billionaires" Sad, but true.

look to the future's picture
Submitted by look to the future on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 7:17am.

that only illustrate the mindset of sects of America today. Only one person suggested that we "cut the apron strings". One would have us find an alternative to Capitalism (and what would that be??) and another would have us muzzle the press.

The fire burns brightest in the heart of a man who loves freedom. Never forget that as we progress through what I believe will be another milestone in American history.

A.Huxley reborn's picture
Submitted by A.Huxley reborn on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 11:39pm.

Among many ideas we could consider as a society that may help spurn a little counter-action to this kind of apathetic 'sloth' would be to reconsider the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. It should be important for our public airwaves and bandwith to be less cluttered by falsehood promulgating quasi 'info-tainment' blowhards like Limbaugh and Hannity. Some movement in this area may even affect some of the talking head cable pundits who have nothing better to blather and fill their news cycles than report tidbits like Cindy McCain's bout with prescription drugs or what Michelle Obama does with her fist.

For a country that once had a herculean-cooperative effort like the Apollo program, we could clearly do the same thing with some good old fashioned government guidance (anyone remember 'Leadership' ?) for our Energy problems. However, it would take a resurgence of trust and faith in our government, which is sorely lacking now. Cleaning up our airwaves and media could be a good start.

Ga Conservative's picture
Submitted by Ga Conservative on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 7:55am.

Like Ben said, the information is out there but needs to be scrutinized. If you don't like certain programming, then turn it off. There is no need to get the government involved. If no one listens to Rush or Sean or watches This Week or 60 Minutes then they will be taken off the air.

But, I do agree that the talking heads are annoying. If nothing is happening, then they sensationalize trivialities. Unless a story of major importance is being discussed I no longer watch.

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.

A.Huxley reborn's picture
Submitted by A.Huxley reborn on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 8:09am.

Perhaps after FD's repeal we have had so much lack of civility that most of us don't remember what public media discourse was like when we had it ! Look it up, there are aspects of the FD that would be outdated now, but it should be at least brought back into public discussion as a possible alternative to today's negative, apathy-inspiring environment.

Ga Conservative's picture
Submitted by Ga Conservative on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 8:23am.

While I agree that the rhetoric has become too harsh, I just don't see a need for a government mandate to force private enterprise to program a certain way. I was always raised that reasonable people can disagree, you don't have to "hate" each other.

As for the censorship portion, I just see a gaping hole in the FD that would allow the government to remove a program or programs that they determined were not "fair". That frightens me as it severely infringes on freedom. The way I see it, there is plenty of media out there on both sides. Don't like Boortz? Try Randi Rhodes. Don't like CNN? Try Fox. Don't like the AJC? Well, I don't blame you! (j/k)

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.

JeffC's picture
Submitted by JeffC on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 8:40am.

is absolutely right. Plenty of media keep the government out of it. Read The Citizen for local news and The Economist for the rest and you'll know more than 95% of the people around you.

BTW Conservative... is your avatar a pro-Obama one? My old eyes can't make out the small type.

Ga Conservative's picture
Submitted by Ga Conservative on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 9:18am.

It is a joke. I tried to make it bigger, but obviously I am not as computer literate as I had thought! It says "Hope he leaves you some change". Sure you like it(ha-ha!) Sorry for the eye strain. Hope all is well in your world.

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.

Submitted by tc on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 10:58pm.

We always have options. We don't have to pay the high gas prices. We can put pressure on our elected officials. We can carpool. We can use our golf carts, or walk, or use public transportation when available. We don't have to pay the high grocery prices. We can form co-ops. We can grow our own produce (even in places that have only had ornamental landscaping). We can eat in season and support local farms. We can, to a certain extent, cut the apron strings.

travisstrickland1's picture
Submitted by travisstrickland1 on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 9:17pm.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the knowledge part. I didn't agree with everything you said by any means, but this part I do. I think people are quick to blame the government for everything while the vast majority of us take no interest in local, state, or federal politics. We elect them and we are the most important part of their accountability.

Also, economic policies are not are worst or only enemy. Many of our labor laws and economic policies are a direct result of the lack of such policies that give us freedom we take for granted. Economic entities, like corporations, have huge sway in a capitalist society and economic policies can protect us from a kind of economic slavery that is not metaphoric. The industrial revolution and it's uncontained capitalism gave growth to communism and the welfare state because of the putrid conditions in which it left it's workers. Capitalism, if not reigned in by certain economic policies, can be a very harmful influence on a society and many economic policies protect us from these evils.

I like the overall tone of your article. I can see no one has decided to post...Not many people like to talk about economic issues, especially when you blend political issues with them, unless you're talking about lowering/raising taxes or feeding the poor.

Good job over all.

look to the future's picture
Submitted by look to the future on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 9:41am.

Ben is correct. The information is out there on who is receiving funds from who, it just takes a little digging. I don't think apathy on the part of the people is the whole problem, I think that the public's trust has been violated. We elect these individuals trusting that they will have our best interests at heart, but they often do not or lack the foresight to see the results of their actions.
Case in point, the school voucher issue that caused such a stir. An action that could have severely impacted our system was wrapped in special interest and would have gone unnoticed until a concerned party spoke out. Did you know that there is a bill that prevents commercial business owners from parking used cars for sale on their own private property (thank the used car lobby). Banks have a stranglehold on credit card interest rates, thanks to the bank lobby. The list goes on and on.
A sole proprietor must jump through a veritable sea of red tape to operate a business anymore. He lacks the funding to sway his elected officials as the corporations have. It all goes back to these jokers in office, many of whom can sit for unlimited terms.
Social security will go broke and they sit and do NOTHING but argue that things cannot change--taxes must increase. In my opinion, capitalism is not the problem, the two party system and our elected officials are. Take a look at the things we are discovering in our own backyard.

travisstrickland1's picture
Submitted by travisstrickland1 on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 10:29pm.

I agree that the people are not the ONLY ones to blame, they are the FIRST to blame. If the electorate is involved and doing everything they need to do, then I accept most of what you have to say. Otherwise, as is the case in America, I can't.

Also, I used corporations as AN example, but didn't single them out. The economic forces associated with capitalism, in general, is what I wanted to point out.

Government intervention and regulation in the market can be a really unproductive, and generally bad, thing. However, government regulations also save us from a host of abuses that profit seekers are willing to partake in in order to make higher profits. The small business-man is not my worry. And the red tape they must go through is extreme. On this point, I can't disagree with you. I can't help but like much of the federal restrictions on commerce due to there effect on the excesses on profit seekers. The industrial revolution taught us all we need to know about what profit seekers are willing to condone in the name of profit.

Red tape = bad (in my opinion). Government protection of laborers = good. Both exist in our federalist system and neither are without fault.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.