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Sharing ideas to help heal our world.

Get the Shutdown Story Right

OK, so this isn't really about "saving the world" so much as saving the country, the U.S. But it is about feeling empowered to act.

Friends, like you, I have been watching the political wrangling between House and Senate regarding our national budget as the October 1st deadline loomed.  The Republican-controlled House kept passing versions of the budget that include attempts to weaken the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Democrat-controlled Senate kept rejecting them.  This continued as we lurched towards a government shutdown, and then finally on Tuesday slipped over the brink.  You might be feeling powerless about this situation right now, as we citizens have been powerless to stop many things that have happened in and by our government.  

But there is one very important thing that you can do, that ANYONE has the power to do, and that is to make certain that the story of this shutdown is being told correctly. 

  • This is NOT "partisan gridlock." 
  • This is NOT "Congress needs to grow up." 
  • This is NOT "Both sides are equally wrong." 

By allowing the continuation of such false equivalencies, we encourage the House Republicans to do what they are doing, which is hold the country hostage.  This is one party in one house of Congress, which had unsuccessfully tried 42 previous times to overturn a lawfully enacted piece of legislation that has been upheld by the Supreme Court.  They can't overturn it outright because they don't have the votes.  And they don't have the votes because U.S. citizens decided in the last general election that Republicans aren't doing a very good job of representing their interests.  So now House Republicans are resorting to trying to extort the Senate and President into dismantling the ACA by letting you suffer during the government shutdown - holding we the people hostage, particularly the most vulnerable among us.  They are counting on you to get so angry at "Congress" in general that the Democrats feel compelled to cave on a lawfully enacted and upheld piece of legislation designed to make health care more afforable to the U.S.American people.  Do not let this behavior go without consequences.  Blaming all of "Congress" lets the perpetrators of this mess off the hook and just encourages them to do more of the same.

  • When you hear friends and family blame the shutdown on "Congress," correct them.  Make sure that they know the fault lies with House Republicans. 
  • When you see the media refer to the problem as "partisan," correct them.  Comment on their website; write a letter to the editor; call in to their radio show.  Make sure that folks know the fault lies with House Republicans.
  • Use the hashtag #GOPshutdown on twitter.

Because the only way that politicians can be held accountable for their actions is if they are identified.  There are many things that we seem to have no control over. But together we do have the power to do this.  The government shutdown is the fault of House Republicans. Get the shutdown story right and make sure that everyone knows it.

For Earth Day...

Tip #1 on saving the world:

Stop buying bottled water.

First of all, there's the plastic bottles that the water comes in.  Don't let the idea that it's recyclable lull you into thinking it's environmentally friendly.  Only bottles labeled #1 and #2 have any chance of being recycled, and the production of new plastic still outpaces recycling several times over.  Most of it still ends up in landfills.  Not to mention the fact that both the production and recycling of plastic produces toxic fumes containg such carcinogens as benzine and vinyl chloride, which impact those living around the plants.

Secondly, there's the absurdity of paying for what in most cases is filtered tap water.  Aqua fina, put out by Pepsi and Dasani, put out by Coca-cola, are nothing more than filtered bottled tap water with pretty names on them, and a heck of a lot of marketing behind them.  Why pay beaucoup bucks for something that comes out of your own kitchen faucet?

But if one wanted to do something as absurd as pay money for tap water, that would be ok if it weren't for the fact that it's contributing to the privitization of water.  World wide, companies such as Pepsi and Coca-cola set up bottling plants in an area, draining the natural water resources and damaging the eco-systems, all while getting paid massive subsidies to do so.  In southern India, when a Coca-cola bottling plant opened, tapping into the underground aquifer and using up to 1 million litres of water a day, the local wells went dry.  Coke claimed it was a "coincidence" but "out of the goodness of their hearts" trucked in bottled water.  That's nice, except that it's destroyed the local farming industry and people who used to able to get their daily needs of water from wells are now dependent upon Coke. 

In the U.S. too, facing money issues, municipalities are increasingly privatizing their water systems.  Imagine being cut off from water because of the inability to pay.  As water is necessary for life, the right to water is a fundamental human right.

Stop buying bottled water.

If you are concerned about the safety of your tap water, and in some areas there is good reason to be, use a water filter. A quality filter can be bought for around $40 and will give you water at least as good as the water you get in bottles. You will save money in the long run. You will reduce the use of plastic. And most importantly, you will be resisting the privatization of water, which is making it into a commodity available only to those who can pay.

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