Snark: to annoy or irritate

"Snark" has been in English language dictionaries since at least 1906, and Lewis Carroll used the word to describe a mythological animal in his poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1874). Most recently, the word has come to characterize snappish, sarcastic, or mean-spirited comments or actions directed at those who annoy or irritate us.

At first, this blog was just going be a place to gripe, but because it's more satisfying to take action than it is to merely complain, now most of the posts/reposts suggest ways to get involved in solving problems.


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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Say No to Austerity

A message from Vermont's Senator Bernie Sanders:
As, perhaps, the most progressive member of the U.S. Senate I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support for my re-election as Vermont’s senator. I also want to update you as to what is going on in Washington and the progress we are making on the campaign.

The good news is that our Vermont campaign is off to a great start. In the last month I have been speaking to rallies around the state in support of workers’ rights, the environment and women’s rights. I’ve also been marching in a number of parades which, in Vermont, is a great way to reach out and talk to people.

Within the next month, utilizing volunteers and paid staff, we will collect all of the signatures we need to officially get on the ballot. We will also begin our extensive door-to-door efforts and start holding our own campaign rallies around the state. Some of these rallies (which include food and music) will be in the largest towns in the state, and some will be in communities as small as 300 people. We will likely do over 100 of them. I have always believed that a serious progressive campaign is about educating and organizing on a person-to-person level. In Vermont, I hope we can mount the strongest grass-roots campaign in the state’s history, geared to the issues of importance to working families. If we accomplish what I hope we can, we can become a model for other progressive candidates in this election cycle as well as into the future.

The financial help that many of you have provided my campaign is what makes all this possible, and I look forward to your continued support. In this era of Citizens United, when billionaires and corporations can drop huge sums of money into a campaign at a moment’s notice, your support is making all the difference.

Together, through strong grass-roots activity in Vermont and around the country, we can change the direction of this country. Please don’t ever forget that, even in these difficult times.

As an example of what can happen, and happen quickly, the recent elections in France, Germany and Greece are sending a shock-wave throughout the globe -- including the United States. At a time when much of the middle class around the world is collapsing, while many of the wealthiest people, big banks and large corporations are doing phenomenally well, ordinary people are standing up and saying loudly and clearly: NO MORE AUSTERITY FOR WORKING FAMILIES. IT’S TIME FOR AUSTERITY FOR THE TOP ONE PERCENT.

In the United States today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income since the 1920s. Today, the wealthiest 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom half of America -- 150 million people. Today, the top one percent own forty percent of all wealth, while the bottom sixty percent owns less than two percent. Incredibly, the bottom forty percent of all Americans own just 3/10 of one percent of the wealth of the country.

The distribution of income is even worse. If you can believe it, the last study on this subject showed that in 2010, 93 percent of all new income created in the previous year went to the top one percent, while the bottom 99 percent of people had the privilege of enjoying the remaining seven percent. In other words, the rich are getting much richer while almost everyone else is falling behind.

Not only is this inequality of wealth and income morally grotesque, it is bad economic policy. If working families are deeply in debt, and have little or no income to spend on goods and services, how can we expand the economy and create the millions of jobs we desperately need? There is a limit as to how many yachts, mansions, limos and fancy jewels the super-rich can buy. We need to put income into the hands of working families.

This week, I will be speaking at a rally in DC with other progressives to fight against the proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that Republicans (and some Democrats) are demanding. It is absurd to be talking about austerity for the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor -- people who are already experiencing great financial hardship -- while protecting the interests of the rich and the powerful. This will be the pivotal issue of the next six months and we must be prepared to fight back vigorously.

When we talk about the national debt and the deficit, let us never forget that the current deficit was primarily caused by Bush’s unpaid-for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and huge tax breaks for the rich. Even more importantly, the deficit is the result of a major decline in federal tax revenue because of the high unemployment and business losses that we are experiencing as a result of this recession -- caused by the greed and recklessness of Wall Street.

Click here to watch Bernie discuss Wall Street greed on MSNBC
If we are serious about dealing with the deficit and creating jobs in America, the wealthy are going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes. We also have to end the massive tax loopholes and subsidies that exist for major corporations (In that regard, Rep. Keith Ellison and I introduced legislation last week that would end all tax breaks and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, government giveaways that total $110 billion a year over ten years). At a time when the United States now spends more money on defense than the rest of the world combined, we also have to cut back on military spending.

Most importantly, we have to address the unemployment crisis in this country which now finds 23 million Americans without jobs or under-employed. And we know how to do that.

We know that the fastest way to create decent paying jobs is rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure (roads, bridges, rail, airports, water systems, wastewater plants, deteriorating schools, etc.). We also know that we can create a great deal of employment by transforming our energy system away from foreign oil and coal and into energy efficiency and such sustainable energies as wind, solar, geo-thermal, bio-mass and other clean technologies. We also know that, as our country fights fierce global competition, it is absurd to be laying-off educators and making college unaffordable.

While we continue to do everything we can during the next six months to defeat Republican right-wing extremism, it is also important that we never lose sight of the progressive vision that we are fighting for. If we don’t know where we want to go, it will be impossible to get there. Some of the issues that I intend to raise during my campaign are:

Not only must we resist cuts in Social Security, we must lift the cap on taxing higher incomes so that Social Security will be strong for the next 75 years.

Not only must we oppose cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, we must see health care as a right of all and continue the fight for a Medicare for All Single Payer health care system.

Not only must we oppose placing the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of working families, we must demand a progressive tax system in which the wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.

Not only must we oppose those who deny the reality of global warming, we must demand the transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuels into energy efficiency and such sustainable energies as wind, solar, geothermal and bio-mass.

Not only must we oppose cuts in unemployment compensation, we must fight for a jobs program that creates the many millions of jobs our country desperately needs.

Not only must we vigorously oppose the war against women, we must fight to end all forms of discrimination and prejudice in this country.

These are pivotal times in the history of our country. I have been extremely proud to have represented Vermont in the Senate for the last five years and to have worked with you in the fight to protect and expand our progressive vision.

I would very much appreciate your continued support in my re-election effort.

Sincerely,


Senator Bernie Sanders












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