Friday, July 1, 2011
Some Fine Points for Alexandra Pelosi to Teach Her New Americans!
Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of House Minority leader Nancy, is currently making the media rounds to pump her new HBO documentary (Citizen USA) about the excitement and fervor of newly minted U.S. citizens. She notes they come from all over the world, and aren't necessarily all Mexicans (more or less imprinted in the American mind when one hears the word 'immigrant') - or looking for some economical relief. Many, indeed, arrive to contribute to their new home and offer tremendous skills, and diverse backgrounds.
Of course, nearly all the new citizens in Pelosi's effort are gung ho, they adore the U.S. beyond measure, and see themselves as major beacons of its celebrated "freedoms" and eager to advance its reputation. One therefore wonders how much they REALLY know about their newly adopted country. To that end, I'd therefore like to append here some of the not so well known facts, background history that may have eluded these newcomers. Not necessarily items that should be on a test for citizenship, but things that it's good to know about - so you have a more rounded perspective on your new nation.
Some Fundamentals Every New Citizen Ought to Know:
1. Technically the country is not a democracy, but a republic. That means there is not direct voting at most levels, say for the President of the country.
2. More technically, the country can be described as a "corporate Republic" especially in view of the Supreme Court's 2009 decision (Federal Elections Commission v. Citizens United) which confers unlimited powers of free "speech" on corporate entities. Ordinary citizens would only have equal power if they had equal money, resources - but alas, they do not.
3. The pathology implicit in (2) is based on the 1886 Santa Clara decision of the Supreme Court, to award corporations the same rights of citizens, and extend to them special definitions as "persons" under the 14th Amendment. (You should know what the 14th amendment is if you're a new citizen).
4. The "Federal Reserve" is NOT part of the federal government. It is a private adjunct that was created under the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Essentially, it removed the Constitutionally -appointed money creation powers from the Treasury and "delegated" them to a private Banking Corporation called the 'Federal Reserve'. The FR manufactures the dollars you use (and other denominations) circulates them to banks via a brokerage -fee set up, after which banks charge interest to recover their expenses.
5. NOT ALL rights to which you are entitled are actually written in the Constitution. You need to consult the Ninth Amendment here. Let Prof. Gary Wills, an expert on this matter, say it: "The Ninth Amendment talks of 'rights enumerated' and says 'the people' retain unenumerated ones." Many of us believe 'health care' and 'privacy' fall under these unenumerated rights.
6. By the same token, there is NO such critter as "State's rights". Prof. Wills again ('A Necessary Evil-A History Of American Distrust Of Government, Simon & Schuster, 1999, p. 109):
The rights in the Ninth are not the rights of the state, which can- strictly speaking - have no rights.
Governments have prerogatives, people have rights - so Hamilton speaks of 'abridgments of prerogative' in the state to protect rights of citizens. What the Ninth says is that the rights enumerated as protected by The Constitution do not exhaust all rights inherent in a people. The states can retain powers, though not rights
7. Many of these rights are currently being flouted by provisions of the so-called "Patriot Act" which actually has very little to do with patriotism. The name was mainly dreamed up to cow legislators into voting for it in 2002, not long after 9/11..
8. The "Freedom" postulated and bragged about in the U.S. is not as great as you think it is. Currently the country locks up more men and women per capita than any other nation on the planet, including China and Russia. Nearly 1.1% of the whole population is currenlty under some form of judicial-penal control, whether in prison, on probation, parole or awaiting trial. Nearly a third of those are locked up for drug offenses (e.g. minor possession), showing the whole 'drug war' is a monumental farce. All it's done is fill our prisons at an enormous cost in human and monetary capital.
9. Even at the personal level, freedom is relative only. Basically you can exercise all the freedom you want so long as that freedom doesn't surpass what your neighbors display. So, yeah, you have the freedom to hang up your own American flag, in your own way. Just not upside down, or you'll hear the consequences!
10. The U.S. Senate uses a device called a "filibuster" but they don't have to actually filibuster to employ it! They can merely express the "intent to filibuster" and thereby tie up any legislation that doesn't have at least a super-majority of 60 votes.
11. In this way, via the "intent to filibuster", a tiny minority can hold the majority hostage and paralyze the government.
12. You will hear (on the tube) a lot of bloviators and know nothings talking about Social Security going "bankrupt". Ignore them! Social Security has NO creditors, so it can't go bankrupt. It does have bond holders, but those are the very people who paid into it and are its beneficiaries.
13. In this country, success of health care is determined (so far) by private insurance companies and the primary measure of success is how FEW people they treat not how many! (Thier 'medical loss ratio' is an index of how much money flows out for actual treatments, and hence must be subtracted from profits). If you're going to live here, make sure you have plenty of money to take care of your medical needs - because 1 of 3 bankruptcies are triggered by medical crises.
14. Not all parts of this nation are equally welcoming or tolerant of the same immigrants. Do yourselves a favor, therefore, and study carefully the region to which you wish to move before packing up!
15. If there's only one pilgrimage you make in this country, go to Washington, D.C. and visit the JFK memorial ('the Eternal Flame'). You seldom hear much of Kennedy any more, mostly because a know-nothing named Ronnie Reagan usurped his memory. But had it not been for Kenendy, you wouldn't have a country to come into and become a citizen. He was the one who almost single handedly averted a full nuclear war during the Cuban Missile crisis in October, 1962.
On that note, always bear in mind the benefits we have procured via the events that didn't happen, as well as those that did!