By Gary Phillips
Okay, friends, It’s time for a little heart-to-heart talk. But first, a little about my background. . .
Back in 1973, I earned a degree in journalism from a small Minnesota college. One of the required courses was called, “First Amendment Law—Freedom of the Press.”
It was taught by a practicing criminal attorney and was known as the toughest course on campus. Each year, (yup, taught only once a year) the professor would give only two A’s to the 40 or so students attending.
Well, folks, I got one of those A’s.
I loved the course and sucked up the information. You see, at that stage in my life, I had the mistaken idea that journalism could save the world. I was right in that it had the potential to save the world, but potentiality is a long way from reality.
The one thing I did learn is that our founding fathers felt so strongly about the importance of free press that they said in very clear terms: “Congress shall make no laws….abridging the freedom of the press.” How much clearer can you get than that?
So you can imagine how greatly incensed and shocked I was when I recently read articles about the U.S. Coast Guard issuing a “regulation” that prevented reporters covering the Gulf oil spill from coming within 65 feet of any booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations under penalty of law, and a $40,000 fine.
Well, I guess the founding fathers forgot to specify “the congress and the coast guard” when they wrote the first amendment.
So what does this mean? It means that one of the most basic freedoms of U.S. citizens as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution is toast. Toast–as in history, kaput, finito.
Now, if the coast guard can make a regulation that prevents reporters from reporting on the biggest environmental screw-up in the history of the world, then what else do you think they, or the pentagon, or homeland security, or the national guard, or the irs, or any other of the alphabet soup agencies can do to you?
I’ll answer that in case you’re stumped…..Exactly anything they want to do.
And what do they want? They want to be paid by the highest bidder—the mega corporations. And these mega corporations, most of whom are subsidized by your tax dollars–the oil industry, auto industry, health care industry, food industry, aerospace industry, arms industry, only to name a few–can now, according to a recent supreme court decision, take your tax dollars and invest them in political contributions to any cause or politician, just as can any individual. How can we compete with that?
If that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, it should. In fact, it better make you feel very uncomfortable. Because in my estimation, as the old saying goes, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
If you haven’t figured out that our country is being run by a corporatocracy that makes Mussolini look like a piker, then you’re not paying attention. Here’s a link that may help you wake up and smell the roses (or smell the corruption):
But the outpouring of shockingly illogical news continues. A week ago I read that one of the most dangerous drugs ever unleashed against an unknowing public (aspartame), which, by the way, is currently in more than 4,000 food products, was hammered into approval by lobbyists for the food industry.
Here’s a quote about this killer. You might want to put down your diet Coke while you read this: “The FDA has approved the product for mass consumption, in spite of overwhelming evidence that aspartame can have neurotoxic, metabolic, allergenic, fetal and carcinogenic effects. When we question how such a substance has not been banned, one simply needs to look at the billions of dollars generated by the sale of aspartame each year.” Click here to read the full article.
The same FDA that approved this killer drug had this to say about a law suit filed to prevent it from regulating the interstate sale of raw milk: “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”
What??? Have I fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole? Am I in the Twilight Zone? Believe me, I am not making this up. Check it out for yourselves, please.
I grew up on a Minnesota farm drinking raw milk. It was normal, natural, and needless to say, I never suffered from any illnesses related to tainted milk, even when the cow’s teats were not super-cleaned before milking.
This is our country, the good ol’ U.S. of A. Does “land of the free, home of the brave” ring a bell? Do you think that freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of religion as ensconced in the first amendment to the U.S. constitution means that unelected Washington bureaucrats can tell us what we can eat and what we can’t? I don’t think so.
While you’re up there in the states, scouring the grocery shelves for raw milk to no avail, there’s a woman who drives by my door here in Cotacachi, Ecuador, every day in a 1968 land rover selling milk that she and her husband milked from their cows that very morning. Price: $.50 per quart. And nobody in the government says squat to her.
You can read Linda’s article in this newsletter about a wonderful organic raw milk dairy and cheese factory that uses “unpasteurized” (is it still legal even to use that word!) milk to make heavenly cheeses. It’s only about five miles from Cotacachi.
Now I can return to the habits of my childhood and gulp down all the delicious, healthy, raw milk I want. And I do. Nobody tries to arrest me, either.
Folks, I hate to sound like a fear monger, but I think there’s a tsunami coming to the U.S. The foxes are running the hen house and if anybody thinks that much changed after the last election, then just check out what’s (still) happening in Afghanistan.
Check out how the health care industry will profit from the health care bill.
Check out what the financial regulation bill is going to do for regulating derivatives.
Do a bit of Goggling and see how many thousands of people died this past year from FDA-approved drugs.
And if you think the FDA has a monopoly giving corporations what they want, take a look at other regulatory agencies, like the Mineral Management Service, which was in charge of insuring the safety of the oil rig that blew up. How about the Securities and Exchange Commission that regulates the Wall Street mavens who were responsible for creating the “banks too big to fail,” and the subsequent multi-trillion dollar bail out? Friends, the list is endless.
Since this is a column that is ultimately about Ecuador, I want to report a phenomenon that is occurring here in Cotacachi. I can’t tell you how many times in the past two months someone has walked into our Eagle and Condor Internacional Real Estate office and announced, “I’m going to build a new residential development. Will you sell it for me?”
There are only about 8,000 residents in Cotacachi, but at this writing, I have counted at least 350 – 400 units that are either under construction or in the planning stages–condos, single family homes, townhouses, mini-fincas (farms), and at last report, a 70-unit assisted living facility. I’m scratching my head, wondering where in the world the people are going to come from to populate all these homes.
And as soon as my mind goes there, that catchy little phrase from the movie, “Field of Dreams,” pops into my head—“Build it and They Will Come.”
In the mid- to late-1930’s, those who had eyes to see and ears to hear and the financial resources to do so, left Nazi Germany in droves until Hitler closed the escape hatches. Most of them fled to the U.S. and survived. Is a similar thing happening today in the U.S., in reverse?
Truly, I don’t know. My God, I hope I’m wrong! But one thing I do know is that you better keep your eyes and ears open and your passport current.
However, just in case I’m not wrong, perhaps you might forward this column to any of your friends and family members whom you think could use a little wake-up call.
And that’s this week’s “View from the Roof.”
If you want to just “consider the possibility” that Ecuador may offer an escape hatch for you and your family, you may want to join us on our next Living in Ecuador Course and Real Estate tour set for Sept. 16 – 18th. Click here to learn about it.