I am 93. I have seen one Depression: 1929 to 1937. Some think it started with the stock market crash in 1929. But only 2.5 percent held stock then.
What started it? Pure greed. The wealthy took from the working people so much more than they paid us, so we couldn’t buy back what we produced. Then they laid off more people, which just made it worse, and continued to do that until we elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Now I am witnessing my second Depression with unheard of greed and no FDR. Last year the U.S. had 228 billionaires. The combined wealth of the top 1 percent equals the total of the bottom 95 percent. About 29 percent of our children under age 12 live in families that coped with hunger or the risk of hunger during some part of the previous year.
How is it that a certain poor Third World country doesn’t have one hungry or homeless child, and is giving free medical training to U.S. applicants from poor areas?
Let us go to Cuba to find out. There, children come first, not the wealthy. In fact, it has few greedy people. Almost all have gone to Miami. If there is not enough milk for all, children still get their allotted share.
Let me list things children get free: a doctor to monitor them before, during and after birth; the baby and the mother’s stay in the hospital; a home and day care; education as far as they wish to go, including a university; special schools for any disability, such as hearing or sight problems; even special schools and trainers for those gifted in athletics.
How do Cubans govern themselves? They start with election districts of about 500. No one can nominate himself nor use money to be elected. Anyone may watch the electoral proceedings, including foreigners. Every five years, a National People Power Assembly is elected. After an initial meeting to formulate policies, the Assembly names a council to implement the policies and elect a president. The council meets several times a year to review policies.
Today in the U.S. we have growing unemployment. People who lose their jobs try to keep up their standard of living by charging to credit cards. But more and more are reaching their limit. Purchasing power will drop rapidly, pushing us deeper and deeper into a Depression, with no end in sight.
George W. Bush is making his friends richer while about 10 million are unemployed, partially employed or working at subsistence wages. Humankind also faces a crisis it never experienced before. In 1993, 1,640 senior scientists worldwide, including 104 Nobel Laureates, issued a warning that we are polluting our planet. It named six things we must do to counter the harm being done. The only world leaders who took them seriously were the head of the United Nations and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. The UN organized an international convention at Rio de Janeiro. President Clinton attended but would not sign the agreement unless its enforcement “teeth” were removed. Then he did not even submit that to Congress.
Castro stated in Santo Domingo on Aug. 24, 1998: “What is under discussion is no longer the survival of the revolution … what is being discussed is the survival of the human species.”
What changes do we have to make worldwide? First and foremost: Stop all wars. Stop the use of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and artificial fertilizers. Build public transportation. Eliminate gasoline-fueled vehicles. Build our communities so all can walk or bicycle to work, school, and shop. Make everything recyclable.
For the first time, we face two crises simultaneously: the economic and the environmental. To survive, everyone must work together for the common good. The moves Bush is making will spell our doom.
Working together, instead of competing, places human relations on a higher level. War and the horrible waste of war disappear. Instead we have the pleasure of all working together, helping each other so humankind lives on a higher social plane than ever before.
If Bush’s plan to crush Cuba succeeds, it will lead to our planet becoming uninhabitable. Who must take the initiative to see this does not happen? It will have to be you, the students and young people. College students should demand their faculties help them. Draw in the young workers and unemployed. Awaken your elders to what must be done. What greater thrill can you have than saving humankind from extinction?
How much time do you have? We are dangerously close to the point of no return. Humankind’s continued existence depends on you.
Carl Geiser is a reader from Corvallis, Oregon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.