Monday, July 28, 2008

Part I Globalisation-Is Fighting Back Within The System Possible

Globalisation – The Nature of the Beast

from Belgium, alias-- Spirit Across The Sea


A month or more ago, after I came out of hibernation, Freeacre asked me to do a political post. At that time I had neither the time nor a subject to write about. Now I have decided to tackle arguably the biggest subject which is presently affecting all of our lives – Globalization. This is the first of a three part series. In this first part I want to explore the nature of the beast and then see what effects this has on the macro level. Part two will deal with the effect globalisation has on the individual level by looking at the daily life of a Chinese sweat shop worker. We will then go on to see how the product she makes is marketed world wide. Part three will begin by looking at how the biggest single player in the global market conducts its business (Can you guess who it is – clue, it is a US company) and we will end by discussing some measures organizations are taking to redress the balance point in the direction of the majority of the population.

This first part draws on extracts of a paper by Kevin Danaher “Globalization and the Downsizing of the American Dream”.

The Nature of Globalization

If we listen to those in the vanguard of the globalization movement we would be led to believe that all peoples of the world are being integrated into one great happy brotherhood of mankind. Growth and efficiency will provide happiness for all, well if only governments would stop interfering and just let market forces just get on with doing the job properly.

On the other side we see that manufacturing in industrialised countries of the west is being transferred to second and third world countries with corresponding loss of jobs. It is only too plain that if industrialists can cut their cost of sales by employing very much cheaper labour with small reductions in prices then they can pocket the difference. Nations with non existent safety and emissions standards are systematically poisoning a rape victim, mother earth. We see refugees and economic migrants by the millions roaming the planet seeking jobs and protection from armed conflict. We see large corporations like a cancer, eating up smaller companies and leaving the body of world society leaner and less able to cope. Gone are the days when a man could go out to work and support a household and large family. Now both partners have to work just fend off foreclosure. We are left with the gut feeling that it has all gone terribly wrong but it has happened so imperceptibly it is difficult to put your finger exactly on the where or when. The decline in our standard of living can be seen in numerous ways.

As US corporations have extended their global reach they have put the western work force in direct competition with second and third world countries so increasing their profits whilst at the same time driving down our wages and general standards of living.

Instead of technology providing the ‘leisure society’ where everybody enjoyed greater benefits whilst working fewer hours, corporations have used it to reduce their workforces thus causing anxiety over job security.

As global corporations become less-dependant on any particular nation, they have less interest in supporting any particular nation with taxes. This reduction in the fiscal tax base causes government expenses to outrace revenues.

By using the rationale of global competition to drive down the living standards of the majority, the corporate class has transferred more money from our pockets to theirs. This growing inequality is causing resentment and serious disquiet amongst those who are loosing ground.

The gradual wing clipping of labour unions who were always accused of “Holding the country to ransom” whenever they stood up for themselves has rendered them an ineffectual force making it easier for industrialists to do as they please.

Big Business Prefers to Deal with Dictatorships

Corporations have become so mighty that many of the Fortune 500 companies now have annual revenues greater than the GNP of most Third World countries and some in excess of industrialised Scandinavian and Baltic countries. For example, in 1995 General Motors received revenues equivalent to 19 million Americans earning the minimum wage. Such companies are making decisions with little regard for national boundaries and are therefore less dependent on any particular workforce. This does not stop them wanting to have their cake and eat it. Any subsidies offered will be snatched out of governments hand before the next corporation can get it but when it comes to any measures of reciprocation such as governmental or labour control, big business preaches free trade; deregulation and the downsizing of government. A truly democratic state is one of the greatest threats to big business and this is borne out in practice. Dictatorial states such as China and Indonesia are winning the battle for US export orders over the new democracies like Poland and South Africa. The New Economy Information Service (NEIS – a think tank set up to gauge the effects of globalisation), reported that at the end of the cold war in 1989, 53.4% of all US imports from Third World countries, excluding oil came from democracies. Now with more democracies to choose from, that figure has reduced to 34.9%. Speculating on why this should be so, NEIS said lower wages in dictatorships gave corporations an advantage. Also dictators can give quick decisions, deliver results and stamp out opposition. This is obviously a meeting of minds with many CEO’s. Dictators’, who have to answer to neither voters nor a legislature, can deliver investment incentives such as tax breaks, freedom from environmental laws and a docile work force. These are powerful lures for foreign corporations and whilst dictatorships are gaining market share, democracies are going steadily downhill.

After the fall of communism and whilst the former Yugoslavia was picking up the pieces following its various wars, the CEO of an automotive wiring loom company related that it was his companies intention to quit the UK, move to Romania for two years, collecting whatever subsidies it could get along the way and then dump the Romanians to relocate in Bosnia. This is just one example of corporate thought processes.

Having said this, not every large corporation which outsources is intrinsically disreputable. Airbus, the plane maker, wanted to keep its operation within Europe but has been forced to obtain components from further afield because its international contracts are priced in dollars and with the steady tanking of the dollar it must either outsource or renege on its contracts. This is a little bit self-inflicted since the devaluing of the dollar had been predicted for some time. If others knew the dollar was on a slide how did the smart accountants and lawyers of Airbus overlook this? The clever thing would have been to peg a dollar / Euro rate for the date each contract was signed, a bit like a fixed rate mortgage. They might not have made so much as they might have but at least they would have been safe. This is always a danger for companies who manufacture relatively small amounts of high value articles. It is reassuring to know that the big guys can sometimes come unstuck, although it is large sections of the workforce who have again been handed the dirty end of the stick.

The unnerving effect of US workers being placed in direct competition with Third World Dictatorships has had severe consequences at home. Average real wages, corrected for inflation, have been falling since their peak in the early 1970’s. By 1992 earnings in the non agricultural part of the economy were 19% lower. One quarter of the US workforce now earns less in real terms than the 1968 minimum wage! On the other side of the coin, massive layoffs have been accompanied by top CEO salaries soaring to 200 times that of an average worker. In 1996 the magazine Newsweek ran a hard hitting cover story entitled “Corporate Killers” in which they said “Something is plain wrong when stock prices keep rising on Wall Street while Main Street is littered with the bodies of workers discarded by big companies. Once upon a time it was a mark of shame to fire your workers en masse. Today the more workers a company fires the more Wall Street loves it and the higher its stock price goes”. In recent times transnational corporations have gotten basically everything they wanted: the collapse of communism; free trade agreements; deregulation; lower taxes; the weakening of trade unions and the pushing down of wage rates. Yet while profits and the stock market soar the standard of living for most Americans is plummeting. It should be remembered that it is now commonplace for a CEOs package to be partly made up of stock options so they are financially benefiting from decisions which inflict suffering on great numbers of American families.

Some years ago we were told that automation would benefit all. With machines to do the work and increase productivity we could enjoy higher wages with less input. The leisure society was about to explode on us. But the technology turned against us and now companies see it as a way to dump workers who make demands and question authority and replace them with machines which have never been known to form a union. Over the last 30 years employment in the US manufacturing sector has halved from 33% to 17% of the workforce even though output has steadily increased over the same period.

Will the Service Sector Absorb Jobs Lost by Manufacturing?

Contrary to popular opinion the service sector will not pick up all the jobs lost by the manufacturing sector. Even allowing for the fact that pay is usually lower here, service sector jobs are also being lost to technology. There are many examples of this: Computer program coding, a highly skilled and once sought after profession is now largely done in India and results posted over the internet; optical scanners have eliminated large sections of postal workers and in the ten years following 1983, banks replaced 179,000 human tellers with ATM machines. The result is wide spread insecurity that saps worker morale. Another factor adding to the malaise is that with an increased potential workforce chasing fewer jobs, employers can pick highly qualified people for increasingly menial positions thus simultaneously providing worker dissatisfaction and devaluing the qualification. Consequently, many have asked Uncle Sam to take them as a new recruit; to become a cannon fodder professional. But even though there are no shortages of military adventures to take part in, many are wising up to their leaderships true motives and sitting on their hands.

Like many governments with unpopular news the US government masks the true level of unemployment by defining it away. Instead of defining it as the number of people who want a job but can’t find one, it does not count those who are so discouraged they have stopped looking and counts 30million part time workers as full time. In 1994 this brought the percentages down from 15.9% to 6.1%. Every company can justify shedding its workers but when all these drips in the bucket are added up the result is economic stagnation. Many women adversely affected by this economic treading of water are staying home unwilling to take available work at sometimes half their previous salary.

The Casino Economy

Another dynamic in play by those with money to invest, is the shift away from building up the infrastructure of the country, opening factories, hotels, restaurants and the like to investing in the so called casino economy. By buying into in stocks, bonds and other financial instruments a profit can be made without the hassles associated with production. Not only that

but stocks and bonds are more readily converted to cash as more lucrative speculation presents itself. This is not so easily accomplished if you have set up a factory or a restaurant chain. One step further removed from directly investing in financial instruments is the derivatives market. Whereas the working classes bet on horses, dogs or the outcome of football matches, the upper echelons bet on whether one financial instrument or currency will rise or fall in value relative to some other over a given period of time. The annual value of global merchandise trade is about $4 trillion. The global derivatives market equals this dollar value in just two days. The shift of investments away from the real economy to the casino economy has weakened the power of governments to control national economies and protect peoples’ jobs.

The US Congress and the media, when it chooses to address such things, have focussed our attention on the spending side of the ledger but monies coming into the government are equally as important. When there are less active workers in the economy the demand for government services such as unemployment benefit and other forms of income support increases in a direct relationship to revenues receivable drying up. Innovations over the years in computerised communication allow financiers to transfer billions of dollars around the world instantly and the next day the same billions of dollars are invested somewhere else in the world. This makes it exceedingly difficult for governments to tax such transactions. Even though the rich are becoming increasingly rich and the poor are becoming increasingly poor, taxes received from companies have fallen from 76 cents for every dollar received from individuals in 1950, to 21 cents today. From this it is clear where monies to support infrastructure are coming from. Even so, the government could not put this entire burden on the collective ‘us’. Therefore in order to support the infrastructure; it has borrowed from the capital markets, in other words taxing our children and grandchildren. But here we have a situation which is self compounding. One generation will need to put the next two generations in debt and that generation the next four or so. It is clear that this will never be sustainable. During the 1990’s two trillion dollars was redistributed up the social ladder in interest payments to those who own the national debt.

Contrary to what the GOP has been preaching, it is not big government which has been undermining Main Street USA. Rather Main Street is being undermined by the fact that the US government is dominated by moneyed interests and these are increasingly global, owing no allegiance to any particular country.


Globalisation and the Downsizing of the American Dream:

From Global Exchange - By Kevin Danaher

Wiring Looms to be made in Romania and then Bosnia:

Related personally by automotive exec seconded to Lucas Industries

Airbus outsources components:

BBC World Service news item

US Corporations Prefer Dictatorships:

From Global Exchange – By R.C. Longworth

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cooking is Powerful!

from freeacre

I had to go to the grocery store yesterday to pick up meat for our dog, and to purchase those things that we don’t produce around here. But, as time goes on, I notice that I am skipping whole aisles. No need to buy eggs, cookies, much of the produce, bread, and so forth anymore. I still have not made my own cheese. Our green peppers and cucumbers aren’t ripe yet. Mushrooms are pretty impossible, even though they pop up by themselves in the garden. It feels like I’d need a degree in botany to figure out which mushrooms are poisonous and which are edible. So, I buy them. After the collapse, I’ll either learn, trust somebody else to know, or give them up.

But, now I can plan my meals around what is available in the garden, and then fill in the blanks from the store. Yesterday I spent about $60 on food for the two of us and our dog. Here’s what we’ll be eating this week:

- A salad made with an orange and avocado on a bed of musclun lettuce with almonds and citrus dressing; served with some pork loin stuffed with garlic.

- Homemade egg rolls stuffed with shrimp, plus egg, cabbage and scallions from the garden; served with snow peas (also from the garden).

- White bean dip and salsa on crisped pita bread with a salad.

- Steamed kale from the garden with butter and vinegar; served with red snapper

- Creamed Swiss chard and mushrooms served over crepes (or noodles) with a yogurt/ fruit cup

- Tuna and pasta salad with coleslaw from the garden. We’ve grown a sort of leaf cabbage from Tuscany this year that we’ve never had before.

- Cheese enchiladas with a plate of tomatoes and scallions on the side. I just got a tortilla press in the mail that I am anxious to try. We’ll see how much better homemade tortillas taste.

In addition, I also have tofu, yogurt, cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast and lunches – and ice cream, two for one sale. I’m making homemade bagels, too, so I bought cream cheese.

Not bad for sixty bucks, I’d say. And, most of it is organic.

Gads! I feel like a post-collapse Martha Stewart! Don’t worry – I won’t advise washing your toilet with home-grown rose petals.

Now, admittedly, all this takes time to prepare. Especially if you are starting with a rototiller…. But, what a project to accomplish together! Whatever your family configuration – single friends; mom, dad, and the kids; older collective, whatever, this is a project that will help to bond those who participate into a “family.” And, you need not be a gourmet cook. Even if you just put these natural ingredients in a blender with some water and ate them raw, it would still sustain life. Beyond that, it is just a matter of talent and practice.

Think of the navel-watching, self-absorbed, integrity-challenged yuppie (scum) on Seinfeld. If they had to pull together to produce meals like this, they’d either have to get over their issues or they would starve to death.

Ras has a terrific post on her blogsite, My Flight From the Grid, entitled “Is Localvorism Anti-Feminist?” It’s very good question. And, I agree with her. It is not.

Learning and practicing how to produce one’s own food and cook from scratch could be the difference between being happy and well, or being miserable, sick, or even dead, when the shit hits the fan and the trucks stop rolling in with food from California, Guatemala, and points South.

Not only that, but anybody who thinks being a wage slave locked into the daily commute and the compulsory day care center hassle is some form of “liberation” is nuts. Buying fast food, eating out of a bag, driving endless miles, shopping for those imported slave-made clothing and products, and credit card debt, only serves THE MAN (even if she is a woman nowadays).

I remember vividly the days when no matter what a woman did, it was discounted and devalued. That was sick and wrong. But now, the “feminist”movement has morphed into women as well as men living to serve the corporations, the pharmaceutical industry, and the military. That is not liberation. That is a pimp job.

The damage it that has been done to society is obvious when you look around and see the fragmented families, gangs, dangerous neighborhoods, greed, alienation, sickness, and injury to the planet that has occurred in the last 30 years or so. We should have known something perverse was happening when Gloria Steinham started to date Henry Kissinger. Come to think of it, Kissinger advised Nixon, too, when he went to China. . . Who is this friggin’ Kissinger, anyway, the “slavery czar”? Somebody needs to stick a bag over his head and stick him to a wall before he can do any more harm.

Localization is powerful. It is healing. It requires equality between men and women, and mutual respect. It requires that everyone do what they can, not based on what sex they are, but what their talents and abilities are. In our home, murph can’t cook much. But, he can do the dishes. And, I am worthless at fixing a water pump, but I can water the garden. We each do what we can.

Now, that things are tough and getting tougher, maybe we’ll learn to value each other more than our jobs. We’ll learn to value the gift of the top soil, and not pave it over to make a mall. We’ll learn to respect our children or grandchildren and what they can contribute, not just feel compelled to haul them around and buy them stuff. We’ll learn the value of keeping our word and our commitments. You can’t bullshit the garden. If the seeds don’t get sown, or the plants don’t get watered, or the animals don’t get fed, or the firewood is not chopped, everybody will be in a world of hurt. Those not able to be in integrity will not last long in a relationship or a community.

Well, I am not saying that everything is going to fall happily into place and we can all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” But, take it step-by-step. Localization is a great step and a great responsibility – and it is empowering. It will give healthy structure to the confusion and chaos ahead. I believe that the rewards will be real clear real soon.

Now, to get that meal on the table…

Sunday, July 13, 2008


The letter following this introduction was written by Freeacre concerning our local fight against the incessant drive for development and wealthy playgrounds anywhere. Besides our fight with the county commissioners over a non existent problem with local septic and ground water issues, the county is also pushing for building a bunch of destination resorts in the county. Freeacre’s letter is an introduction to a meeting with concerned people from other parts of the county about the building of destination resorts to raise tax revenues. Of course the contractors make a bundle on this too. The following is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and does not include all of the negative aspects of just this issue.

Oh, and by the way, a fellow I am friendly with in town, one of the local computer techs, insisted to me that in another 10 months, everything will be straightened out and we will be all back to normal. I bet him $10 that it wouldn’t be in 5 years. He wouldn’t take me up on it, just looked at me astounded like that anyone could think that. Sigh.


Destination Resort Siren Song by Freeacre

About five years ago, I moved to Deschutes County, Oregon from South Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is a world class vacation destination, and I am all too familiar with the unintended consequences that resort development entails. I was the special sections editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune when re-development was just beginning. I used to write about its progress.

I lived in South Lake Tahoe for almost fifteen years. When we got there in 1989, Tahoe was a small town populated for the most part by old hippies from the Bay Area, the offspring of local homesteaders, and Washoe Indians who had been there forever.

It was kind of like here, actually. Lake Tahoe and the mountains and the streams were spectacular and lent themselves to the development of the tourist industry, once the mining of gold and silver in the valley panned out. Family-owned casinos, like Bill Harrah’s, and nice hotels, restaurants, and small ski resorts thrived. They employed local people and they did pretty well. The population grew, a hospital and schools were built and tourists were attracted from all over. It was a nice place to live and raise your kids. The schools were fine, the neighbors were friendly, nobody got rich, but you could go skiing in the winter and fishing in the summer and life was good. Local kids grew up to be teachers, auto mechanics, ski instructors, restaurateurs, store owners, car dealers, and the usual assortment of small town staples.

Time passed, though, and it was the nineties. Money had trickled up. The mega-rich had money to burn and needed to put it somewhere. And, they liked to play – hard. To keep up and compete with Aspen and Vail and other resort areas that were the playgrounds of the privileged, Tahoe had to “re-develop.” We were convinced by the Chamber of Commerce brain trust that it would behoove all of us to tear down all those “unsightly” dumpy little hotels and gift shops and build a massive new complex combining a ski resort, a convention center, a retail complex, huge fancy hotels, timeshares, and a tram going all the way to the top of the mountain. Spectacular!! All those new jobs! All that money flowing in! Everybody had dollar signs in their eyes.

But, here’s what happened: the family owned businesses like Harrah’s got bought out by big international tourist and entertainment conglomerates. The first thing they did was to fire most of the local staff and replace them with an independent housekeeping entity that paid lower wages and provided few benefits. They recruited on a large scale with international employment mills, hiring people from Mexico and the Philippines and the former Soviet Union’s lesser satellite nations. These people proved to be exceptionally fertile, and soon the schools were swamped with students that required English as a Second Language. Since these people had no insurance, they also had to rely on the small hospital’s emergency room for much of their medical care. Now the hospital is perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy. For the first several years, the schools were overwhelmed with all these children. But now families can’t afford to live in Tahoe anymore, so schools are closing due to lack of attendance. My son’s former cute little middle school on the Nevada side, just closed. Sixth graders will attend the high school next year. So did a middle school on the California side. I just found out that the Montessori School is closing as well. The better paying jobs at the college, the City, and the County all have to be staffed with those who are bi-lingual to deal with the fact that the town is now over a third Spanish speaking.

Huge mansions have been built to cater to the rich retiring from Southern California and second homes for those coming in from the East Coast, Asia and Europe. But, they have no interest in investing in the infra-structure, and so they vote “no” on all projects that would involve increasing taxes to fund schools, roads, fire departments, etc. Keep in mind that each rich person requires about ten poor people to attend to him. “Service” implies “servants,” after all. And, they want to keep as much distance from these servants and themselves as possible. A gated community on the North side actually petitioned a Safeway grocery store for their own grocery line so they wouldn’t have to stand in line with the riff-raff from town. Here in Deschutes County, that “riff-raff” would be you.

The financing of these mega developments has been somewhat of a nightmare as well. Projects have been started and halted and re-started depending on the ability to secure and match financing. Resorts and hotels have been sold and re-sold, and many now belong to international corporations whose allegiance is to their stockholders, not the local population. Those initial assurances that all would be well and the locals hired first, the community’s traditions cherished, and all that, have long since disappeared.

Many of those hard-working service workers, who are paid by how many rooms they can clean in a day, fortify themselves with drugs to keep up the pace. So now, there is also the meth problem to deal with. Their children, having no parents at home to supervise them, have formed gangs to give them a sense of “family” and protection, and now big fights break out regularly between rival groups at bus stops and on the school grounds. And, the crime rate has increased dramatically. It’s not the people I blame; it is the corporations that have set up this system of exploitation in both countries that have created this desperate situation. They make money on them from both sides. And, if the workers or their relatives are incarcerated, they make money on that, too, since the prisons have been privatized.

So now, when you go to Tahoe, you’ll see a beautiful, up-scale, world-class resort destination. But, the people working these palaces of privilege are living in barrios and taking the bus. The bus schedules are only printed in Spanish, by the way. There isn’t enough money to print them in English, too. The former local trades people are moving away in droves because the housing costs have gone up so high. People have to jam into apartment slums to live there. Unless you want your kid to grow up dealing Blackjack or carrying the luggage of a fat cat from Shanghai, you must move. The mom and pop places that gave Tahoe its character are now replaced by big franchise stores just like the ones the tourists have at home. The smaller places can’t afford the commercial space. Of course, the fancy new gourmet stores and up-scale theaters are also too expensive for the locals to frequent. They can’t even afford to park downtown. Parking used to be free. It is not their town anymore. The locals now live on the edges.

Another disturbing element is that the tourist trade is ever more vulnerable to the vagaries of the climate, the discretionary income of people from other countries as well as our own - and the price of oil. If many of the airlines fold, and the State workers stop driving the hundred miles to vacation, business will come to a standstill. The town will be crushed under the debt load that it took to re-develop. But, when the citizenry is composed of part-time residents, time-share vacationers, and workers who make subsistence wages and barely speak English, who is going to provide the backbone necessary to pull through hard times? We all need to think seriously of these consequences or blow-back from the big-time tourist trade. It could happen here as well. Once the Resorts are in, “Resistance is Futile”.

I recoiled from living under those circumstances and sought a place far from this “development” nightmare. I moved to La Pine in Deschutes County. And, now, I am hearing the same pitch all over again. But, now we have the additional threats of the end of cheap oil, the financial/credit debacle, water wars, the inflation of food prices and the falling value of the dollar to contend with. That’s in addition to all the inherent damage that resort development accomplishes on its own. I understand that the water level has already dropped 2 feet due to the Thornberg Resort, and it hasn’t even opened yet! They are bringing in over a thousand homes and have built a 26,000 acre lake on land that doesn’t even have a natural stream? What are they thinking??

Trust me, we are looking at a train wreck in slow motion if large scale destination resorts proliferate. In attempting to make more money and increasing the tax base with rich outsiders, we will be destroying the wealth of the community and of the land. Instead, we should be pulling together to work within the limitations we can afford, utilize the talents of our residents, and take care of the people who live here. Think “Bed and Breakfasts” not big hotels. Think Disc Golf, not 18 hole golf courses. Think artist colony, writers workshops, fishing retreats, permaculture seminars, yurt manufacturing, organic farms and specialty produce, ranching and farmer’s markets, pony rides, and trading centers that feature locally made products.

We should be looking to create sustainable communities that localize food production, produce necessities that will no longer be imported due to the rising prices of transportation and manufacture. We should be supporting businesses that create jobs for the families that live here and produce goods and services that are regionally vital in the long term. We should work to make sure that the children who grow up here can find decent jobs and afford homes to live in. We need to focus on quality of life and conservation and preserving the incredible Northwest as we know it. Keep it simple. Keep it wonderful. If we do that, we will continue to be an envy of the world. If we don’t, and we succumb to the Destination Resort siren song, it will be lost. And, it may never come back.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July


Well, the flags are still lining the streets of the little central Oregon town in which I live since they were put up on Memorial Day. We gear up each year for the 4th of July Parade that displays the 4H Club animals, the horseback riders, the Fire Truck, the Boy Scouts, and the American Legion float. Then, there’s the rodeo on Saturday, exemplifying the still lingering heritage of the American West – the cowboys, cowgirls, and the interaction between them and the animals on the ranch. We like to think of ourselves having at least a residual trace of the western traditions that include cattle drives, Indian villages, mountain men, panning for gold, one room school houses, saloon girls, and gun slingers. Those were the friggin’ days, weren’t they?

Well, we like to think so. We like to think that we still have some things to be proud of in this country, some things worthy of the sacrifices made, some freedoms and rights worth living or dying for.

So, rather than rail against all the abuses of power, the corruption, the misinformation, the decadence and decay all around us now, I am giving a nod to the Independence Day, and share the words of some memorable patriots over the years. The following are speeches that exemplify the courage and ability and nimbleness of thought rooted in our common heritage of a love for liberty.

Patrick Henry Give me Liberty or Give me Death, 1775

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Thomas Paine's American Crisis, 1776:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.


by Sojourner Truth

Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention in
Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted overover mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me!Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysberg Address, 1863:

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth

Votes for Women Speech by Mark Twain
January 20th 1901

Ladies and Gentlemen - It is a small help that I can afford, but it is just such help that one can give as coming from the heart through the mouth. The report of Mr. Meyer was admirable, and I was as interested in it as you have been. Why, I'm twice as old as he, and I've had so much experience that I would say to him, when he makes his appeal for help: "Don't make it for today or tomorrow, but collect the money on the spot."

We are all creatures of sudden impulse. We must be worked up by steam, as it were. Get them to write their wills now, or it may be too late by-and-by. Fifteen or twenty years ago I had an experience I shall never forget. I got into a church which was crowded by a sweltering and panting multitude. The city missionary of our town - Hartford - made a telling appeal for help. He told of personal experiences among the poor in cellars and top lofts requiring instances of devotion and help. The poor are always good to the poor. When a person with his millions gives a hundred thousand dollars it makes a great noise in the world, but he does not miss it; it's the widow's mite that makes no noise but does the best work.

I remember on that occasion in the Hartford church the collection was being taken up. The appeal had so stirred me that I could hardly wait for the hat or plate to come my way. I had four hundred dollars in my pocket, and I was anxious to drop it in the plate and wanted to borrow more. But the plate was so long in coming my way that the fever-heat of beneficence was going down lower and lower - going down at the rate of a hundred dollars a minute. The plate was passed too late. When it finally came to me, my enthusiasm had gone down so much that I kept my four hundred dollars - and stole a dime from the plate. So, you see, time sometimes leads to crime. Oh, many a time have I thought of that and regretted it, and I adjure you all to give while the fever is on you.

Referring to woman's sphere in life, I'll say that woman is always right. For twenty-five years I've been a woman's rights man. I have always believed, long before my mother died, that, with her gray hairs and admirable intellect, perhaps she knew as much as I did. Perhaps she knew as much about voting as I.

I should like to see the time come when women shall help to make the laws. I should like to see that whiplash, the ballot, in the hands of women. As for this city's government, I don't want to say much, except that it is a shame - a shame; but if I should live twenty-five years longer - and there is no reason why I shouldn't - I think I'll see women handle the ballot. If women had the ballot to-day, the state of things in this town would not exist.

If all the women in this town had a vote today they would elect a mayor at the next election, and they would rise in their might and change the awful state of things now existing here.

Votes for Women Speech by Mark Twain
January 20th 1901


Sen. Huey P. Long, 1930’s: (a speech – abridged, delivered on the floor of the senate)

President Roosevelt was elected on November 8, 1932. People look upon an elected President as the President. This is January 1935. We are in our third year of the Roosevelt depression, with the conditions growing worse. That says nothing about the state of our national finances. I do not even bring that in for important mention, except to give the figures:

Our national debt of today has risen to $28.5 billion. When the World War ended we shuddered in our boots because the national debt had climbed to $26 billion. But we consoled ourselves by saying that the foreign countries owed us $11 billion and that in reality the United States national debt was only $15 billion. But say that it was all of the $26 billion today. Without a war our national debt under Mr. Roosevelt has climbed up to $28.5 billion, or more than we owed when the World War ended by 2 1/2 billions of dollars. And in the Budget message of the President he admits that next year the public debt of the United States will go up to $34 billion, or 5 1/2 billion dollars more than we now owe.

Now this big debt would not be so bad if we had something to show for it. If we had ended this depression once and for all we could say that it is worth it all, but at the end of this rainbow of the greatest national debt in all history that must get bigger and bigger, what do we find?

One million more unemployed; S million more families on the dole, and another 5 million trying to get there; the fortunes of the rich becoming bigger and the fortunes of the average and little men getting less and less; the money in the banks nearly all owned by a mere handful of people, and the President of the United States quoted as saying: "Don't touch the rich!"

I begged, I pleaded, and did everything else under the sun for over 2 years to try to get Mr. Roosevelt to keep his word that he gave to us; I hoped against hope that sooner or later he would see the light and come back to his promises on which he was made President. I warned what would happen last year and for this year if he did not keep these promises made to the people.

But going into this third year of Roosevelt's administration, I can hope for nothing further from the Roosevelt policies. And I call back to mind that whatever we have been able to do to try to hold the situation together during the past three years has been forced down the throat of the national administration. I held the floor in the Senate for days until they allowed the bank laws to be amended that permitted the banks in the small cities and towns to reopen. The bank deposit guaranty law and the Frazier-Lemke farm debt moratorium law had to be passed in spite of the Roosevelt administration. I helped to pass them both.

All the time we have pointed to the rising cloud of debt, the increases in unemployment, the gradual slipping away of what money the middle man and the poor man have into the hands of the big masters, all the time we have prayed and shouted, begged and pleaded, and now we hear the message once again from Roosevelt that he cannot touch the big fortunes.

Hope for more through Roosevelt? He has promised and promised, smiled and bowed; he has read fine speeches and told anyone in need to get in touch with him. What has it meant?

We must now become awakened! We must know the truth and speak the truth. There is no use to wait 3 more years. It is not Roosevelt or ruin; it is Roosevelt's ruin.

Now, my friends, it makes no difference who is President or who is Senator. America is for 125 million people and the unborn to come. We ran Mr. Roosevelt for the Presidency of the United States because he promised to us by word of mouth and in writing:

1. That the size of the big man's fortune would be reduced so as to give the masses at the bottom enough to wipe out all poverty; and

2. That the hours of labor would be so reduced that all would share in the work to be done and in consuming the abundance mankind produced.

Hundreds of words were used by Mr. Roosevelt to make these promises to the people, but they were made over and over again. He reiterated these pledges even after he took his oath as President. Summed up, what these promises meant was: "Share our wealth."

When I saw him spending all his time of ease and recreation with the business partners of Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., with such men as the Astors, etc., maybe I ought to have had better sense than to have believed he would ever break down their big fortunes to give enough to the masses to end poverty--maybe some will think me weak for ever believing it all, but millions of other people were fooled the same as myself. I was like a drowning man grabbing at a straw, I guess. The face and eyes, the hungry forms of mothers and children, the aching hearts of students denied education were before our eyes, and when Roosevelt promised, we jumped for that ray of hope.

So therefore I call upon the men and women of America to immediately join in our work and movement to share our wealth.

There are thousands of share-our-wealth societies organized in the United States now. We want a hundred thousand such societies formed for every nook and corner of this country--societies that will meet, talk, and work, all for the purpose that the great wealth and abundance of this great land that belongs to us may be shared and enjoyed by all of us.

We have nothing more for which we should ask the Lord. He has allowed this land to have too much of everything that humanity needs.

So in this land of God's abundance we propose laws, viz:

1. The fortunes of the multimillionaires and billionaires shall be reduced so that no one person shall own more than a few million dollars to the person. We would do this by a capital levy tax. On the first million that a man was worth we would not impose any tax. We would say, "All right for your first million dollars, but after you get that rich you will have to start helping the balance of us." So we would not levy any capital levy tax on the first million one owned. But on the second million a man owns we would tax that 1 percent, so that every year the man owned the second million dollars he would be taxed $10,000. On the third million we would impose a tax of 2 percent. On the fourth million we would impose a tax of 4 percent. On the fifth million we would impose a tax of 8 percent. On the sixth million we would impose a tax of 16 percent. On the seventh million we would impose a tax of 32 percent. On the eighth million we would impose a tax of 64 percent; and on all over the eighth million we would impose a tax of 100 percent. What this would mean is that the annual tax would bring the biggest fortune down to three or four million dollars to the person because no one could pay taxes very long in the higher brackets. But $3 to 4 million is enough for any one person and his children and his children's children. We cannot allow one to have more than that because it would not leave enough for the balance to have something.

2. We propose to limit the amount any one man can earn in 1 year or inherit to $1 million to the person.

3. Now, by limiting the size of the fortunes and incomes of the big men we will throw into the Government Treasury the money and property from which we will care for the millions of people who have nothing; and with this money we will provide a home and the comforts of home, with such common conveniences as radio and automobile, for every family in America, free of debt.

4. We guarantee food and clothing and employment for everyone who should work by shortening the hours of labor to thirty hours per week, maybe less, and to eleven months per year, maybe less. We would have the hours shortened just so much as would give work to everybody to produce enough for everybody; and if we were to get them down to where they were too short, then we would lengthen them again. As long as all the people working can produce enough of automobiles, radios, homes, schools, and theaters for everyone to have that kind of comfort and convenience, then let us all have work to do and have that much of heaven on earth.

5. We would provide education at the expense of the States and the United States for every child, not only through grammar school and high school but through to a college and vocational education. We would simply extend the Louisiana plan to apply to colleges and all people. Yes; we would have to build thousands of more colleges and employ a hundred thousand more teachers; but we have materials, men, and women who are ready and available for the work. Why have the right to a college education depend upon whether the father or mother is so well to do as to send a boy or girl to college? We would give every child the right to education and a living at birth.

6. We would give a pension to all persons above 60 years of age in an amount sufficient to support them in comfortable circumstances, excepting those who earn $1,000 per year or who are worth $10,000.

7. Until we could straighten things out--and we can straighten things out in two months under our program--we would grant a moratorium on all debts which people owe that they cannot pay.

And now you have our program, none too big, none too little, but every man a king.

We owe debts in America today, public and private, amounting to $252 billion. That means that every child is born with a $2,000 debt tied around his neck to hold him down before he gets started. Then, on top of that, the wealth is locked in a vice owned by a few people. We propose that children shall be born in a land of opportunity, guaranteed a home, food, clothes, and the other things that make for living, including the right to education.

Our plan would injure no one. It would not stop us from having millionaires--it would increase them tenfold, because so many more people could make a million dollars if they had the chance our plan gives them. Our plan would not break up big concerns. The only difference would be that maybe 10,000 people would own a concern instead of 10 people owning it.

But my friends, unless we do share our wealth, unless we limit the size of the big man so as to give something to the little man, we can never have a happy or free people. God said so! He ordered it.

We have everything our people need. Too much of food, clothes, and houses why not let all have their fill and lie down in the ease and comfort God has given us? Why not? Because a few own everything--the masses own nothing.

…. Let us dry the eyes of those who suffer; let us lift the hearts of the sad. There is plenty. There is more. Why should we not secure laws to do justice--laws that were promised to us--never should we have quibbled over the soldiers' bonus. We need that money circulating among our people. That is why I offered the amendment to pay it last year. I will do so again this year.

Why weep or slumber, America?
Land of brave and true,
With castles, clothing, and food for all
All belongs to you.
Ev'ry man a king, ev'ry man a king,
For you can be a millionaire;
But there's something belonging to others,
There's enough for all people to share.
When it's sunny June and December, too,
Or in the wintertime or spring,
There'll be peace without end,
Ev'ry neighbor a friend,
With ev'ry man a king.

United States Senate,

Washington, D. C.

Kennedy inaugural, 1961:

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again - not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are - but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation" - a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shank from this responsibility - I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what
America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of
America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Mountaintop" speech, 1968:

I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight.

I'm not worried about anything.

I'm not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Robert Kennedy on the assassination of Martin Luther King

I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.

In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black--considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible--you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization--black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love--a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we've had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

And, the speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that propelled Barack Obama into national prominence:

OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

Thank you, Dick Durbin. You make us all proud.

On behalf of the great state of Illinois...


... crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely.

My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin- roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

OBAMA: But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that's shown as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before him.

While studying here my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas.

Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor, my grandfather signed up for duty, joined Patton's army, marched across Europe. Back home my grandmother raised a baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA and later moved west, all the way to Hawaii, in search of opportunity.

And they too had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream born of two continents.

OBAMA: My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerant America, your name is no barrier to success.

They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential.

They're both passed away now. And yet I know that, on this night, they look down on me with great pride.

And I stand here today grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my two precious daughters.

I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

OBAMA: Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy; our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal... )

... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

That is the true genius of America, a faith...

... a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles; that we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm; that we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door; that we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe; that we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution; and that our votes will be counted -- or at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers and the promise of future generations.

OBAMA: And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, independents, I say to you, tonight, we have more work to do... ... more work to do, for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now they're having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay 7 bucks an hour; more to do for the father I met who was losing his job and chocking back the tears wondering how he would pay $4,500 a months for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on; more to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her who have the grades, have the drive, have the will, but doesn't have the money to go to college.

Now, don't get me wrong, the people I meet in small towns and big cities and diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solves all of their problems. They know they have to work hard to get a head. And they want to.

Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you: They don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.

Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn.

OBAMA: They know that parents have to teach, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.

People don't expect -- people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry.

John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith and service because they've defined his life. From his heroic service to Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we've seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he offers them to companies creating jobs here at home.

OBAMA: John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren't held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields.

John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.

And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option.

You know, a while back, I met a young man named Seamus (ph) in a VFW hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, 6'2", 6'3", clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he'd joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week.

OBAMA: And as I listened to him explain why he had enlisted -- the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service -- I thought, this young man was all that any of us might ever hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Seamus (ph) as well as he's serving us?

I thought of the 900 men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors who won't be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.

When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world.

OBAMA: Now, let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued. And they must be defeated.

John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure.

John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga, a belief that we are all connected as one people.

If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.

If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent.

If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief -- it is that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper -- that makes this country work.

OBAMA: It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: "E pluribus unum," out of many, one.

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America.

There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.

The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.

We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states.

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

OBAMA: In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?

John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here, the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't think about it, or health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it.

That's not what I'm talking. I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

OBAMA: Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead.

I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity.

I believe we can provide jobs for the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.

I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs, and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us.

America, tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do, if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president. And John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president. And this country will reclaim it's promise. And out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.

Thank you very much, everybody.

God bless you.

Thank you.

Me again

Well, I guess we know now that the hope that John Kerry would win the election over George Bush didn’t go anywhere, and that the policies of greed and manipulation of the boyz in charge have led us to the brink of economic, political, moral, and planetary collapse….

But, Happy Fourth of July anyway. We still have our ideals. We still make good things happen, and we take care of each other.

I’m up for a hot dog and a nice big slice of watermelon.