Why am I running?
My name is Jane Newton. I live in South Londonderry. For the third time I am a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives for the Liberty Union party. I am 75 years old so my concerns and fears, which have managed to overcome my anxiety about speaking in public, are for our children and our grandchildren to whom we are leaving a legacy of a world that, if it still exists, will be a war torn radioactive wasteland. Not only that, but as of a few days ago, our President, with the blessings of Congress, took on the trappings of a dictator who now has the power over all of us to decide matters of torture, death or imprisonment forever. Thus age, fear for our children and the knowledge that it is risky to oppose the government, has given me the feeling that, scared or not, I have to hurry.
I am a member of the Socialist Party USA, an associate member of Veterans For Peace, and an active member of a small group that is associated with three peace and justice groups (Central Vermont, Brattleboro and Springfield) that go into several high schools to counter the military recruiters who are allowed into the schools through the No Child Left Behind Act. Our hopes are to help young people make better informed decisions. I had five children. I am a member of the New England Coalition and the Citizens Awareness Network, helping when I can to shut down our nuclear reactor before it shuts down the lives of our children and makes most of New England uninhabitable. I have 10 grandchildren. My three sons are builders; the daughter that I have left teaches three grades in the Windham Elementary school where I sometimes go to help.
1. I signed the Declaration for Peace which states that all troops should be withdrawn (not re-deployed but brought home); the 14-18 permanent military bases we have built there should be closed; control of its oil resources and its political and economic life should be returned to the Iraqi people; reparations, reconstruction and a “peace dividend” should be given to them; our veterans should be better cared for and there should be no other wars. I might add that we should clean up the tons of radioactive dust from “depleted” uranium weaponry that we have put there, that we should make our embassy smaller and that we should say we’re sorry. None of this, I fear will be done. The “War on Terror” is a smokescreen for control over the profits from and the flow of oil from the Middle East and the area around the Caspian Sea. We have over 700 military installations all around the world, including strategic bases around pipelines. This plan has been simmering for many years so I don’t trust anyone who speaks about “getting out,” tomorrow or in ten years. I’m afraid that isn’t all the horror. There are plans to bomb Syria and Iran next.
2. Bringing “stability” or “democracy” to the Middle East is, in truth, the last thing that the US government and the corporations that control it want. Civil unrest in Iraq, (for which we are surely responsible), is an excuse to stay put; an age-old tactic of empires called “divide and conquer” We get them to fight, not us, but each other. Around the world, since close to the beginning of the 20th century, there have been close to 125 US military actions ,overt and covert, against mostly defenseless countries in order to force them to cooperate with us economically. (Resources, cheap labor, investments by means of privatization of everything, bank loans with high interest rates and all the rest). Since the end of WWII, we have been responsible for the deaths of about 6 million people. In Iraq alone, a country with which we have been at war since the beginning of “sanctions” in 1991 (which were in truth an act of war or a military blockade), 5,000 children under the age of five died every month from contaminated water brought about by our bombing of water purification systems, and as far as I know they are still dying today while we build bases and repair oil fields. Our policy in the Middle East is one of corporate capitalism that puts profits before life and thrives on cancerous “growth” that includes war, exploitation and the destruction of the environment. I would hope, if I had any, that the United States would abandon the policies of empire in the Middle East and everywhere and bring us all back from the brink of some form of nuclear destruction.
3. Unless we stop demanding a slice of the profits from everyone’s oil, as well as a say in where that oil goes, and then stop insisting that only some countries can have nuclear power and nuclear weapons, not others, we might as well give up hope for a peaceful world in which the US can devote less money on war and more money on producing power by means of renewable energy and conservation. Then, instead of heavily subsidizing non-renewable energy sources and nuclear power, we must give more help to the wind, water and sun. There should be wind mills on every ridgeline or wherever the wind blows, be it on land or sea. I suspect that people who support nuclear energy as “clean”, (and to a few, profitable) don’t know how dangerous it is. They are ignoring the dangers of an “accident” or a terror attack; radioactive waste for which there is no solution and which will be a legacy for our children and grandchildren to deal with for longer than man has been on the earth; an evacuation plan that can’t work and radioactive emissions that are sent out every day and are giving people in the area a high rate of cancer. They also don’t know that during the uranium enrichment process, large amounts of low-grade coal is burned to make the electricity that is needed for the process, sending clouds of CO2 into the air before the fuel gets to the reactor. Finally, they don’t know or care that there is a connection between the nuclear power industry and the military-industrial complex, for the enrichment process also makes “depleted” uranium, a weapon of choice these days that is making our world a radioactive wasteland, causing birth defects, cancers and deaths wherever it is, including in the lungs of our soldiers. Plutonium, of course, is another connection, giving the U.S. more than 6,000 nuclear warheads. It was said that if someone had discovered how to make weapons out of sunbeams, we would all have solar power.
4. The solution to outrageous federal spending lies of course in ending wars, taxing all incomes proportionately, repealing all tax cuts to the rich and to corporations, having everyone whose incomes are over $87,000 continue to pay into social security, putting a cap on the higher incomes and in general, doing away with the powerful corporate structure with its tax loopholes that has taken over our government, enriching a few while the rest get poorer. Now, as things stand, the wealthier one gets the less one pays in taxes so that companies like Enron, (when it crashed), were paying no taxes at all. A few suggestions: Decriminalize or make legal some or all illegal drugs. We spend more money on prisons than on schools. Stop giant subsidies to the nuclear power industry by insisting that our legislators, when it comes to a vote in the next few years, say no to the re-commissioning, for 20 more years, of Vermont Yankee. Already the amount of money that will be needed to protect future generations for thousands of years from nuclear waste is unthinkable.
5. The words themselves are an oxymoron. The system has been broken for years. Politicians have been promising for years to fix it and it has only gotten worse. Over 45 million people are without any health insurance and many millions more than that have insurance that is both inadequate and unaffordable. There is no solution but a universal system in which the single payer is the government. Every other industrialized country has this system, including poorer countries like Iraq in the 1980’s,Venezuela and Cuba. We hear about “lines’ in Canada, and other nonsense about “not being able to choose your doctor”. You can choose your doctor, and Canada has lines because they take care of everyone. In the U.S. there are lines for the poor, while many of the uninsured stay uncared for and die, perhaps unnecessarily, at home. If people were treated before they became desperately ill, less money would be needed. Businesses would thrive if they didn’t have to pay for their employee’s health insurance, and the mortality rate of newborns, now higher in poor places in the US than in tiny countries like Jamaica, would dwindle to a less shameful number. All of these questions are interrelated…With a fair system of taxation and less spent on war, taking care of everyone would be easy. Again, the profit making parts of the system, the insurance companies, for instance, must be brought under control and even out of business, a job that given the power of all corporations right now , seems insurmountable.
6. Building fences along the Mexican border is sheer hypocrisy, since most of the U.S. businesses that can’t leave for cheaper labor in other countries, depend on illegal immigrants for cheap labor here. They would put up a fence in one place and sneak people in in another. We should not make criminals of poor people who struggle here just to feed their children. Why not make criminals of those who hire them? The only real solution is to end secret, supranational organizations like the World Bank, the WTO, NAFTA, etc, that deliberately impoverish people in the so-called third world, and, if possible, create international trade unions that would give everyone a wage they could live on. Then they would not have to die in the desert trying to get here and we would not think about building a shameful fence. As for Canada, I don’t think that passports will keep out trouble-makers as long as there are about 3000 miles of border, a lot of it woods. We must stop making enemies out of people whose children we kill. We must stop being terrorists ourselves and then nobody will want to hurt us. On a smaller scale, having passports required might hurt businesses and feelings. Canada is a friend and close to home.
7. The Federal minimum wage is shameful. The richest country in the world requires that people are paid barely more than $5 an hour. There is no way a family can live on this. Many families are devastated because both parents have to work low paying jobs and cannot be there for their children. They have no health care. They are better off on welfare, for at least then they have Medicaid and food stamps. This is a disgrace. I am not sure what it should be, but working people in our entire country should receive, not a minimum wage, but a livable wage and that might be close to $20 an hour. Some states and some cities are working on this. Unfortunately, this will make the attraction toward hiring “illegals” even more tempting unless, at the same time our system of exploiting the third world is put to an end. Debts must be forgiven. Unfair trade practices must be ended. This is another area that is fraught with hopelessness in the face of corporate power.
8. As long as corporations thrive on cheap labor, our immigration policies will remain a contradiction. If we subsidize corn and cotton farmers, say, here in the US, forcing small farmers in India or Mexico out of business, there will always be people sneaking in illegally and employers eager to hire them. Only by ending a cruel economic system that impoverishes poorer countries; that exploits their people; the lends money at such high interest rates that these countries can’t take care of the poor; that installs at gunpoint leaders that will sell out their own people, can we make an immigration policy that is just.
9. It seems as if large agribusiness has put small farmers out of business everywhere. Could not the government offer help to small farmers instead of subsidizing agribusinesses? As usual, those with the power and the money win. I don’t have any good answers for this question.
10. As in all the other issues, there will never be enough money for education as long as there are tax breaks for the rich and the US spends so many billions of dollars every week in Iraq and far more on the military. AS they say, “You can’t have guns and butter”. The Federal Government’s No Child Left Behind Act seems more apt to leave all children behind unless they have enough money. The testing takes up time that teachers ought to be using in other ways and it scares the children. When schools do poorly or fail, instead of receiving more money they get less and the schools that do well do better. In a way, this might be part of a plan to privatize our school system, taking away the last vestige of democracy and leaving us with the problem of illiteracy. Testing, as it is set up, is entirely unfair since it cannot take into consideration the changing face of a classroom. Each year there might be a few children that are brighter than last year’s or a few that are disabled or from troubled families and cannot learn at all. I have seen small children tremble over the tests. And I have seen first hand that the No Child left Behind Act demands that military recruiters be allowed in the schools, thus leaving no child left behind by the military. And, like the other mandated program in our schools, like Special Education, this program remains underfunded. I believe that all education, from birth to death if necessary should be publicly funded. It should go from child care to graduate school, even if someone wants to go to university after he or she retires. Like health care, it should be available to all, “free” in the sense that it is paid for by a fair system of taxation and an end to spending on killing people in wars.