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I had a meeting yesterday with a customer in San Francisco in the mid afternoon.  I decided to take BART in order to avoid rush hour traffic (after my meeting).  When I was on my way to the City, a man who appeared to be homeless and probably mentally challenged walked into the train and proceeded to ask each passenger if they could spare some money so he could get something to eat.

Any time I see a situation like that I like to observe how people react.  As always, my (unscientific) observation was that those who appeared to be more affluent (nice clothing, shoes, expensive bags/purses, perfect haircut, etc.) showed the most disdain and displeasure in their facial expressions as the man walked by.

This was an interesting situation since he actually started at one end of the train car and asked each individual person the same question.  As an amateur anthropologist wannabe, it was a perfect "social experiment" to observe.

When he got to me and asked me, I told him I didn't have any change... I had a couple of twenties in my wallet.

Anyways, after the meeting with my customer, I took a nice walk to the BART station.  Earlier in the day I had gone to lunch and broken my $20 dollar bill, so now I had some change.

So on my way back, I saw the same man entering my BART car and doing the same thing, and again, nobody gave him a penny.  As he was getting closer to where I was, I noticed that there was another man who also appeared to be indigent/homeless standing a few feet from me.  By coincidence, that man and I both reached into our pockets at the same time, called the guy asking for money, and we each gave him a dollar bill.  He (the man who gave the dollar bill) then looked at me and said, "thank you!"

I found that truly remarkable at first, but then I remembered and article I read last Sunday in the San Francisco Chronicle: The city's panhandlers tell their own stories.

The article is based on the findings of a survey commissioned by the Union Square Business Improvement District in an attempt to find ways of dealing with homelessness and panhandling.

Here's one of the findings which confirmed my previous observations...

GLS Research also conducted the survey of those who give to panhandlers, interviewing 400 people in Union Square who said they'd donated to people on the street in the past year.

Givers are predominantly working-class Bay Area residents younger than age 45. They said they give because they fear it could be themselves or a family member on the streets one day.

Tourists are far less likely to give to panhandlers, though some of them are plenty curious - like the 8-year-old boy from San Diego who stopped to talk to Rowe, looking very worried and confused.

"Are you homeless? Did you lose your job?" he asked her. His parents, who declined to give their names, stood nearby and discussed which shops to hit up next.

The emphasis is mine

Now, let me acknowledge that being subjected to aggressive panhandling is not fun; and that people can feel uncomfortable when approached by a homeless person asking for money.  I think that's kind of normal.

The thing I'm looking for when I observe these situation is something more; I'm trying to ascertain who is showing disdain, or actual hate towards the homeless person (inasmuch as that can be discerned).

I'm also interested in discerning who shows compassion/empathy in the public sphere.  For example, I've felt and observed high levels of ethics, compassion, empathy, camaraderie, and moral clarity when I've been at multiple protest rallies.  My take is that there is something uncommon about people who take to the streets to demand social justice, many of whom could choose to stay home watching a movie, or a reality TV show.

Anyways, from my amateur anthropological observations I've long ago concluded that the rich are kind of mean, and outright unethical, and of course, greedy, by an large.

Here's a study (PDF) by the Department of Psychology of UC Berkeley that support that conclusion: Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior  

Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study3), take valued goods from others (study4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.
The emphasis is mine

Now, within the context of our current situation, where these folks have basically captured our government institutions, I argue that this helps explain the creeping fascism that's engulfing the country...

Think about it... These rich greedy fucks are not only indifferent to the suffering of other people, their priorities based on their sick and depraved psyche are the ones being implemented by our equally debased and corrupt political class.

Here's how Dēmos describes the problem:

As private interests have come to wield more influence over public policy, with ever larger sums of money shaping elections and the policymaking process, our political system has become less responsive to those looking for a fair shot to improve their lives and move upward. Recent developments have aggravated this long emerging trend. In particular, the Citizens United ruling and the rise of Super PACs have expanded the ability of wealthy individuals and corporations to shape election outcomes and set the policy agenda in Washington and state capitals across the country.

These inequities in political power would still be unfair, but might not matter as much, if the interests of the affluent and corporations were closely aligned with those of the general public. But this is often not the case. Wealthy interests are keenly focused on concerns not shared by the rest of the American public, like keeping taxes low on capital gains, and often oppose policies that would foster upward mobility among low-income citizens, such as raising the minimum wage. Even when the wealthy do share the public’s strong enthusiasm for policies that help Americans get ahead, such as spending on higher education, they often prioritize tax cuts or deficit reduction in ways that squeeze the resources available for these very policies.

The emphasis is mine

And here's how Bill Moyers explains the damage the American plutocracy is doing to society:

These findings may appear to represent a bit of psychological trivia, but a study to be published in Political Science Quarterly by Thomas Hayes, a scholar at Trinity University, finds that U.S. senators respond almost exclusively to the interests of their wealthiest constituents – those more likely to be unethical and less sensitive to the suffering of others, according to Piff.
The emphasis is mine

He goes on to point out something which given the blatant unresponsiveness of our political system to the clamor for justice and equality by the people, should be obvious by now:

According to OpenSecrets, the average net worth of senators in 2011 was $11.9 million, so it could be a matter of legislators advancing their own interests and those of the people with whom they socialize and associate.

But MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, who co-authored Why Nations Fail with Harvard’s James Robinson, says that this kind of political inequality is a product of widening economic disparities. “It’s a general pattern throughout history,” he told Think Progress. “When economic inequality increases, the people who have become economically more powerful will often attempt to use that power in order to gain even more political power. And once they are able to monopolize political power, they will start using that for changing the rules in their favor. And that sort of political inequality is the real danger that’s facing the United States.”

The emphasis is mine

And there you have it.  This is why I, and many other people, argue that engaging in the two-party political system as a voter is hardly enough if one's goal is to effect the type of change necessary to reverse the proto-fascist road we're on.

Most importantly, we as citizens must be fully cognizant of the true nature of the system if we are to identify the steps we need to take to turn things around, to help bring about a real democracy.

And this is why the process of winning the hearts and minds of the majority of the population is so important when it comes for the struggle for justice, as Bill Moyers explains in his book "Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements":  

Social movements involve a long-term struggle between the movement and the powerholders for the hearts, minds, and support of the majority of the population.  Before social movements begin, most people are either unaware that a problem exists or don't believe that they can do anything about it.  They believe the powerholder's societal myths and support the high-sounding official policies and practices, all of which seem to be consistent with the culture's deeply held held values and beliefs...

~snip~

The strategy of social movements, therefore, is to alert, educate, and win over an ever increasing majority of the public.  First the public needs to be convinced that a critical social problem exists.  Then it must be convinced that policies need to be changed.  And then a majority of people must be mobilized into a force that eventually brings about an acceptable solution.

What to do?  Well, thankfully Russell Brand gives us the answer, matter-of-factly when he's asked about whether he sees any hope about the future: "Yes, totally, there's going to be a revolution; it's totally going to happen."

It goes without saying... You can't have this type of depravity by the debased and ruthless ruling elite, without an eventual push-back; and throughout history the push-back (or correction) is always revolution.

Now, as I've always advocated, I happen to believe that the best and most effective types of revolutions are peaceful revolutions, and there is data to back that up: "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict"

For more than a century, from 1900 to 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts in achieving their stated goals. By attracting impressive support from citizens, whose activism takes the form of protests, boycotts, civil disobedience, and other forms of nonviolent noncooperation, these efforts help separate regimes from their main sources of power and produce remarkable results, even in Iran, Burma, the Philippines, and the Palestinian Territories.

Combining statistical analysis with case studies of specific countries and territories, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan detail the factors enabling such campaigns to succeed and, sometimes, causing them to fail. They find that nonviolent resistance presents fewer obstacles to moral and physical involvement and commitment, and that higher levels of participation contribute to enhanced resilience, greater opportunities for tactical innovation and civic disruption (and therefore less incentive for a regime to maintain its status quo), and shifts in loyalty among opponents’ erstwhile supporters, including members of the military establishment.

The emphasis is mine

And here's another hopeful fact: In order to remove the plutocracy we only need to engage in a sustained--every day, week, months, years, for the foreseeable future until the criminal plutocracy is taken down--effort by 3% to 5%-plus of the population.  In other words, the revolution will take place while the majority of the population continues watching TV, reality shows, etc...  But as unfair as that may seem, that's always been the case throughout history.  That's the purpose of panem et circenses.

Indeed, Mark Lichbach, a professor of government and politics, has written in The Rebel’s Dilemma, that when more than 5 percent of the population engages in sustained, coordinated civil disobedience, few governments can remain in power whether they are a dictatorship or a democracy. The path to reaching this 5 percent begins when people who are already active in resistance build solidarity and draw more people to the movement. As more people see the movement growing and that there is a strategy to win, they will have the confidence to join it. Achieving the 5 percent tipping point with a diverse cross-section of society then becomes well within reach.
And so, the revolution has already started, with people rising up in protest all over the country with increased frequency.

Finally, I happen to believe that one of the best tactics in confronting the rich fucks who are ruining it for the rest of society is to do just that: confront them head on where they are.  Let them know that their previously hidden machinations have now been revealed; that we know the reason why they are bribing the treasonous, debased, money-grabbing politicians.  We have to rattle their cages, let them know that their crimes will not be tolerated any longer.

That's why I advocate this type of action:

Video: Struggling Homeowners Storm Senator’s Office

On Monday October 28th 2013 struggling homeowners from around the South East converged on the office of Senator Johnny Isakson, who has threatened to join his Republican colleagues in filibustering the confirmation of a permanent director of the FHFA. A new director of the FHFA could institute massive debt relief through principal reduction for every mortgage controlled by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who control more than 60% of all mortgages. We need to get rid of Edward DeMarco and institute massive principal reduction now!

And this type of action:
Moyers & Company: Activists Confront Financial Titans Larry Fink and William Gross

Earlier this month, two activists who have been on the front lines of the battle against Wall Street’s predatory practices confronted two of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful financial titans — BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink and PIMCO founder William Gross — pressuring them to discuss their corporations’ attack on the working class families of Richmond, CA, who are trying to salvage their lives and their homes from the disaster of foreclosure. [If you press play on the video, you will hear the activists within seconds.]

And this type of action:

Popular Resistance: NY Top Cop Ray Kelly Booed From Brown Univ. Stage

New York’s police commissioner Raymond Kelly was booed off the stage at Brown University and did not get to speak Tuesday afternoon.

Kelly was to deliver a lecture Tuesday at Brown on “proactive policing.”

Kelly was to discuss his time as head of the New York Police Department and his efforts to drive down crime in a lecture called “Proactive Policing in America’s Biggest City” on Tuesday afternoon.

Before the lecture, some students and social justice activists marched, carrying signs that stated “Stop & frisk doesn’t stop crime” and “Stop police brutality,” to protest the Kelly’s police department’s stop-and-frisk policy and its surveillance of Muslims.

On and on... Rattle their fucking cages!  Everywhere the banksters from the Wall Street criminal racketeering cartel go, let's be there and rattle their cages, let them know we know about their crimes and that we won't relent until every single motherfucker one of them who committed crimes are properly charged and prosecuted, and jailed (if found guilty).

Show up at every single bribery event where corporate lobbyist meet with on-the-take politicians... Rattle their cages; let them know we are witnessing the bribery, and we aren't going to take it anymore.

Now, just know that if you want to take part in this peaceful revolution, you're going to have to hit the streets to really feel what is like to be part of history.  The reason for that is because now more than ever, the revolution will not be televised because of the choke-hold the rich and powerful have over the corporate media conglomerates which are engaged in the spreading of propaganda 24/7.

I'd rather be in the presence of something like this (see videos below), than watching TV...


Sing along with us...

Enfin je me rappelai le pis-aller d’une grande princesse à qui l’on disait que les paysans n’avaient pas de pain, et qui répondit : Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.

Finally I recalled the stopgap solution of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread, and who responded: "Let them eat brioche."

Fuck that!  We're rising up!

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