Destroy the “One Ring” of Corporate Greed



I stand with Standing Rock because I recognize they are at the front line in the war to save the biosphere from greedy   corporations. People need to learn the truth about who really has the power today, and why the truth is hidden.  That is why I’m building AWAKEupedia, to build a collection of  IMPORTANT LINKS WORTH SHARING. #ILWS is a hashtag people can use to spread awareness about any issue, including DAPL.

It is important to understand that solving any of the life-or-death problems we face requires us to ACT to take our power back. Americans will not enjoy democracy again until they dismantle the corrupt two party system controlled by Oligarchs. If you are sick seeing no progress while greedy billionaires continue raping the planet to death, consider sharing and discussing these ideas with your friends and family:

  1. Giving the Senate to democrats means Bernie Sanders becomes chair of the Budget Committee.
  2. If you think climate change is a big deal, even Ron Paul thinks you should vote for the Green party
  3. Don’t buy the narrative of ‘inevitability’ the media promotes. It is a lie.
  4. Don’t get important information from corporate media sources, they spew propaganda.
  5. Don’t lose sleep about who ends up in the white house this time around, the secret government is real.
  6. The way to take democracy back is to by-pass the whole corrupt political system using ANTI-CORRUPTION ballot initiatives, starting at the municipal and state level.
  7. The way to save the biosphere is to establish ANTI-ECOCIDE laws at the local, federal and international level.




Before the Flood Needs a Sequel

earthrisekillingmemeI just watched Before the Flood on National Geographic, hoping that the filmmakers dug deep enough to get to the root of the problem. Although the film is a strong call to action, I was disappointed that it didn’t follow the story far enough to locate and identify the source of political inaction in America.  The sad truth is that corruption is so extensive, and the political institutions so compromised that voting will not fix this problem unless and until anti-corruption ballot initiatives are passed in every state and eventually in Washington to get fossil fuel money out of the political process.

One of the saddest moments of the film was scientists blaming themselves for failing to inform the public, but that failure cannot be laid at their feet. The fourth estate – the news media – has failed spectacularly, an there is little hope for improvement now that corporate ownership is more concentrated than ever. The mainstream media frames issues and shapes public opinion. Algorithms on social media and Google are manipulated to promote the same narrow view of what is possible. Noam Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent” exposed the Propaganda Model but having accused the media of complicity, that understanding of power was  never allowed to bubble to the surface of public consciousness in America. It is time to wake up and connect the dots between political corruption, corporate malfeasance, and media complicity. We need to lay the blame where it properly belongs. As Utah Phillips said:

The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.

This is no time for blind optimism, but fear of the future won’t help either. The time has come to get angry at the crimes fossil fuel companies commit, especially in North Dakota. We need to recognize that what is ‘legal‘ and what is ‘right’ may be very different, in a world where corporations have been allowed to write laws that members of congress often don’t even read.

Before the Flood is a great documentary, but like the Paris Accords, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I strongly recommend that in his next film, DiCaprio focus on the obstructionist fossil fuel corporations, even if they threaten to sue. If we’re too afraid to step on the toes of the oil giants, we cannot hope to stop them from destroying the biosphere. They have too much power and they are not going to give it up voluntarily. The world would be a better place if the biggest multinationals were broken up into smaller units.

The next film I want to see will focus on the current DOJ investigation of the horrifying fact that EXXON KNEW about man-made climate change in 1981 and spent decades hiding the truth and lying about it. A crime of that magnitude should result in prison for perpetrators and the company should be liquidated.  Ecocide should be recognized as an International Crime Against Humanity under the Rome Statute and people of all nations should demand that their governments ratify the treaty. We need to fight to take back control of our governments and hold the fossil fuel giants to account. We can all begin by standing with Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline.



I attended the town hall meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Toronto on June 15, 2016, along with hundreds of other concerned citizens, despite a lack of publicity. I recall only two people standing up to say anything in favour of the TPP and they both represented ‘industry groups’ which is a nice way of saying they were corporate shills. Everyone else was vehemently opposed, citing a variety of serious problems with the deal, particularly the odious Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which would allow even more transnational corporations to sue Canada than they already do under NAFTA.  This 6000-page agreement was negotiated by corporate lobbyists in secret  and isn’t about trade so much as consolidating even more money and power in the hands of the billionaires who hide behind opaque, undemocratic, unaccountable transnational corporations while they rape the planet to death, destroy democracy and shove more and more people into poverty. The TPP is NOT the ‘New Deal’ we’re looking for, and it is so clearly contrary to the interests of our nation that ratification should be considered an act of treason.

The Honourable Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote a book about Plutocrats, so she understands as well as anyone how the ultra-rich control public policy. Although we pride ourselves on being ‘better off’ than Americans whose government has been so corrupted by money they don’t even have a democracy anymore the truth is Canadians should be worried about the state of our democracy too. In our Westminster system we have this odd feature called ‘party discipline‘ which means elected representatives, with rare exceptions, have to vote the way the leader of the party says, no matter what their constituents want. This means plutocrats don’t have to bribe loads of MPs, just use the access money affords in order to influence the handful of people at the top of the party in power.

The billionaires behind the corporations that are trying to shove the TPP down our throats travel in the same circles as the Prime Minister, his cabinet and other influential advisers who are not elected. These people often have connections that are not transparent. They may have gone to school together, their spouses may be friends, they play golf together. Plutocrats have access to power and opportunities to exert influence that the rest of us cannot even see. This is the reason that our politicians don’t keep their promises.

In her 2013 TED talk about plutocrats,  Chrystia Freeland placed blame for rising income inequality on abstract factors like technology and globalization, exonerating the “new global super-rich.” No wonder her Rosedale neighbours elected her to parliament. Although she calls for a “new New Deal” Freeland fails to recognize that the gains in working conditions and living standards were not gifts from politicians or generous plutocrats.

Workers fought for decades in the struggle for dignity and justice. Thousands were beaten and jailed, well over a thousand died in America, including some striker’s wives, as well as 62 children murdered in the Italian Hall disaster.  The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, resulted in 2 deaths, over 30 injuries and a virtual city-wide military occupation, in which the striker’s newspaper was shut down and it’s editors arrested. History makes it clear that the ultra-rich are not going to give up their ill-gotten gains voluntarily.

American billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer issued a warning in his 2014 TED talk:

“I have a message for my fellow plutocrats and zillionaires and for anyone who lives in a gated bubble world: Wake up. Wake up. It cannot last. Because if we do not do something to fix the glaring economic inequities in our society, the pitchforks will come for us, for no free and open society can long sustain this kind of rising economic inequality. It has never happened. There are no examples. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state or an uprising. The pitchforks will come for us if we do not address this. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when.”

Reports out of North Dakota suggest America is morphing into a dystopian Police State, not unlike Toronto’s experience during the G20. Canadians are notoriously tolerant and polite and we really don’t want to light torches or raise pitchforks, but we do need to teach plutocrats the meaning of the word “ENOUGH.” We have to take back our power so we can solve income inequality, the climate crisis and a host of other problems.

If the landmark study “Testing Theories of American Politics” by Gilens and Page was replicated in Canada, I believe the results would be the same. Canadian voters have no hope of having our voices heeded unless and until we reclaim democracy through meaningful electoral reform. I am sick and tired of my vote being wasted in a first-past-the-post system and sick to death of having my trust betrayed by elected representatives who serve the interests of plutocrats. I know I’m not alone in this, as evidenced by the volume of applause and cheering at the TPP town hall for the many speakers who trashed the TPP in no uncertain terms.

The gist of this message was originally sent to the parliamentary committee charged with ‘consulting Canadians’ about the TPP. I’ve lived long enough to have seen so many broken promises that I do NOT trust the government to heed the clearly expressed wishes of the electorate. Although the official consultations have now closed, I REFUSE to shut up about this. The more you learn about the potential impacts of the TPP on your life, the more horrified you will be. We need to tell our elected representatives LOUDLY AND OFTEN that ratification of the TPP would be considered an act of TREASON and that party discipline is no excuse. You can help by sharing this, emailing your own MP and encouraging your friends and family to do the same.

(Updated Nov 7, 2016)


Climate Crisis Solution: Reclaim Democracy


I just watched the trailer for “Before the Flood” and spotted a serious error made by one of the talking heads interviewed in Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest documentary. The interviewee says:

“Politicians will do what the people want them to do. Once the American people are convinced, the politicians will fall in line very quickly.”

This fundamental error is the reason climate change is still getting worse. Gilens and Page wrote a paper that demonstrated in 2014 that although politicians respond well to the wishes of billionaires, the average voter has “little or no independent influence” on public policy. This is a difficult fact to accept, as is the reason people have not been shouting louder about the climate crisis.

Ten years ago Al Gore tried to convince us of “The Inconvenient Truth” (2006) that climate change was the most pressing issue of our time. Gore was correct, but his ideas were attacked and marginalized by organized right-wingers. The documentary “Merchants of Doubt” (2015), based on a book of the same name, unmasks the climate deniers, but fails to appreciate the role the corporate media plays in controlling the narrative. For that you have to go back to “Manufacturing Consent” (1992), to learn how the Propaganda Model works. The consolidation of media ownership is part of an even larger problem described in “The Corporation” (2003) which makes the case that if  a corporation was a person, they would be considered a psycho.

This is the fundamental root problem of climate change. The biosphere is not under threat because you ate a hamburger this week (although it would be better if you didn’t). The problem is that the greed of billionaires is out of control. The climate scientists are not experts in the politics of power. The mainstream media produces propaganda instead of journalism. Corporations are abusing eminent domain not for public good, but for private profit because the Supreme Court condoned their behaviour. Politicians on both sides of the party divide are beholden to their major corporate donors. The average voter is learning that, worse than being ignored by  elected representatives, even if their vote is accepted, it may not even be counted at all. Once we finally realize that the root cause of climate change is a lack of democracy, the way forward becomes clear.

When a critical mass of people wakes up, our peace officers will stop acting like rent-a-cops doing dirty deeds for greedy billionaires. Anti-corruption laws, driven by grassroots action and ballot initiatives, can take government out of the hands of corporations and Wall Street banks, and restore it to the people. Electoral reform can break the corrupt two-party system and ensure that paper ballots are used to audit electronic voting machines. The debate system can be opened up so smaller parties are not unfairly marginalized. When the people take back their power they can stop greedy corporations from destroying the biosphere and solve all kinds of problems.

Every problem has a solution, most have several and you don’t have to pick just one. If you want to be part of the solution, share these ideas with your friends, family, co-workers, clients, classmates and neighbours. Don’t wait until it’s too late.



Important Links Worth Sharing #ILWS

Everybody wants to save the world, and we all have our own gifts to offer. I have more time than most to do research. As a university student, I also have access to academic and scientific journals that the public may find hidden behind a paywall.  I want to build a searchable database to collect the best information I can find from the most credible sources. When evaluating credibility it is important to understand the complex relationships and revolving door between academia, government regulators and the corporations who profit from the research they fund. The public has been lied to for so long that people who speak the truth sometimes sound ‘crazy’ but it is important to evaluate the EVIDENCE instead of buying common assumptions. For people who are ready to wake up and look at things from different angles, I’m developing a searchable database – AWAKEupedia – to help people research issues ignored on the evening news. Meanwhile, here is a ‘starter set’ of links to help you with your own research. This is a work in constant progress, so these will evolve over time. I welcome your suggestions for additions/improvements in the comments.


Corruption is Legal:

The Princeton study:

Politicians admit it:

Income Inequality chart:

What people want:

Important Documentary “The Corporation”:

Very important documentary (also on Netflix):

Warning from a Billionaire:

How they get away with it:

What they’re getting away with;

Obama’s cabinet;

Lobbying facts:

and finally, HERE is a brilliant solution to the problem:



Pipeline Spill Stats map/video:

Great lakes threat;

Funny #NoDAPL video:

Abuse of Eminent Domain threatens EVERY American homeowner:

wikipedia on supreme court decision;



Great conversation about the failure of the fourth estate:

“Manufacturing Consent”:

Chomsky explains the ‘propaganda model’  in less than 7 minutes  (I know his voice is as exciting as listening to paint dry, but that last sentence really ties it up and puts a bow on top):

Military/NFL propaganda:



Ryan stumps for Sanders (funny) :

Florida’s Implausible Primary Results:

Strip & flip:

Whistleblower video:

DNC primary:


State corruption rankings;

Better voting system:

Electoral Reform; why first-past-the-post is unfair:


“DEEP STATE” (why Obama promises were not kept) :

Vote all you want, the secret government won’t change;

Police State:

Shadow Government:

Foreign policy;

Ron Paul;

Double Government:…/5411785

Glennon Article:…/2014/01/Glennon-Final.pdf

War is a racket:

Inverted totalitarianism:




TPP dirtiest deal:

TPP rules:


Essential documentary The Corporation:

Universal Basic Income:


ECOCIDE is a Crime Against Humanity:


Water crisis documentaries;



(Thanks for some excellent links, Shane Alg)

– Exxon knew about the catastrophic effects of anthropomorphic CLIMATE CHANGE by the 1980’s, buried the knowledge and lied about it. See pg 13 of this document:

– Merchants of Doubt:

– Lead in Flint’s water:…/epa-stayed…/78719620/

– Chromium 6 (toxin) may be in your water:…/chromium-6-erin…

-Valeant raises price on lead poisoning drug 2700% after Flints criminal disaster…/valeant-drug-prices-lead…/

-Pesticides driving bees to extinction…/epa-confirms…

-Dupont knowingly poisons our water, spreading cancer…/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts…

-Hydraulic fracturing turns Oklahoma into the earthquake nightmare

-Unprecedented gas leak in California town makes neighborhood uninhabitable…/Huge-gas-leak-undermines…

-Neighborhood explodes in flames, killing eight, due to poorly maintained gas lines…/pge-found-guilty-on-six…/

-Oil companies allowed to inject toxic waste into California aquifers…/ca-halts-injection…

– Koch Brothers poison a town:

– Cheney Loophole:

– More reasons Cheney should be in prison:

– Prison slavery:

– Fluoride & cancer?:

– Fluoride as a neurotoxin;

See my previous blog posts for links on genetically modified organisms.


I put this together quickly and will probably keep modifying it to make improvements.

Please let me know in the comments if any links are broken and need fixing or if you have good links to share.

Please consider the great value of sharing good information with your circles of friends to help raise public consciousness around important issues.

Thanks for participating in the ‘boss fight’ to save the biosphere!


Transplant Industry has a Dirty Little Secret.

Murder. It doesn’t get much dirtier than that. We’ll never know how many organ donors declared brain-dead could have recovered if given a chance.  We do know that sometimes, perhaps very rarely, people recover from being in a state considered too far gone for doctors to offer any hope.  Even if this hardly ever happens, we need to allow for this possibility when organ donation protocols are designed because it is certain that some organ harvesting operations kill people who might have recovered full function. In Texas, a man’s father pulled a gun on doctors who wanted to pull the plug on his son, saving his son’s life.  Not only did the son survive a stroke, he is now fully recovered. This happy ending may not be the typical outcome of a traumatic brain injury, but it is possible and this possibility gives me the creeps when I think about what could happen to me or someone I love under such horrible circumstances.

I recently met a former colleague whose daughter-in-law was written off as an organ donor, and only kept alive in order to save the baby she was pregnant with.  Nobody told Cliff how bad the prognosis was, so he kept talking to her, squeezing her hand and asking her to squeeze back for about a month before she responded.  Unfortunately, she is now severely disabled because she was given no physiotherapy to prevent her muscles wasting away, so she can no longer walk. In addition, her short-term memory is shot and she can’t talk either because of the ventilator that the hospital failed to remove on a timely basis. A 2012 article in the Toronto Star seems to suggest that if Mary Archer had died, her family might be better off and fails to nail the hospital to the wall for compounding their mistake by adding injury to injury. Instead of providing for the intensive therapy that could help Mary regain lost function, they’ve been throwing money at expensive lawyers to deny their liability.

Mary Archer is the woman who should have died, but she didn’t and the hospital who failed her has a moral responsibility to do right by Mary and her family now. Since her very life is a rebuke to both the hospital and the multi-billion dollar organ transplant industry, keeping Mary in the hospital that nearly killed her, where she subsequently suffered several falls which may have caused further harm should have been viewed as a conflict of interest. Mary should have been moved to a top-notch rehab facility as soon as possible and given every opportunity to recover as fully as possible and Mary’s family should not have to pay for this. Justice demands this at a minimum.

The multi-billion dollar transplant industry needs revisit the protocols on the ethics of declaring someone brain-dead, because they are currently killing people who could have recovered. I’m not signing my organ donor card unless and until I have confidence that I won’t be murdered in ER.

Would You Like an Anti-Thought Vaccine?

The problem with vaccines is not just the over-zealous demonization of ‘anti-vax‘ crowd – even though few vaccine skeptics are against all vaccinations –  it is the conspicuous lack of debate. The pro-vaccine crowd does not want to have a reasonable conversation about risk reduction because it puts them on the slippery slope of acknowledging that vaccines are not 100% harmless.

We need to have the conversation about how to administer vaccines in such a way that the risk of injury is as low as possible. This may mean administering them spaced out over time or perhaps at later ages, depending on a patient’s vulnerabilities. Parents want to protect their kids from all kinds of harm – from both disease prevention tactics and the deadly diseases they fight – and parents will usually make good choices. However, INFORMED CONSENT demands honesty about legitimate risks, not stubborn refusal to have a reasonable discussion.

The bottom line is that vaccines need to be optional, no matter how highly recommended and preferable to doing nothing.  Even if vaccine injury rates or severity are far lower than the harms inflicted by the diseases they prevent, they fail the basic test of “first do no harm.”   Legislation that excludes the unvaccinated from public schools is a reasonable alternative to forcibly injecting medicine into someone’s body for the “greater good.” The fundamental right to bodily integrity cannot be violated in any society that calls itself “free.” The vaccine-booster crowd need to come to terms with this uncomfortable truth.

In the social media age, we have a wealth of information available, but separating truth from error remains a challenge. We need to evaluate each issue on its observable, measurable merits, not knee-jerk reactions or flame wars. Let’s talk about it, but let’s not pretend that thinking about vaccine safety is a bad thing.


Dear American Voter


When Bernie Sanders said if you’re white you “don’t know what its like to be poor” during the heat of a democratic debate, I knew exactly what he was getting at, even though he didn’t phrase it well. If you are white and poor, you are not poor BECAUSE you are white. If you are white and poor in America, you are NOT poor because a non-white person took your cookies. If you are poor and white, it is because the greed of billionaires is out of control.

The political system has been so corrupted by crony capitalism that the millions of poor Americans now include not just blacks, Latinos, seniors and students, but increasing numbers of hard-working whites whose jobs have been shipped overseas. It is now clear that the rising tide of economic recovery is not lifting boats punched full of holes by the corporations who hijacked the government and write the laws and tax code for their own benefit.

Things are bad, but there is a silver lining in this storm cloud. Now that the ranks of the poor have grown to include millions more Americans, they have a common cause against the multi-national corporations. America is now an Oligarchy and if the TransPacific Partnership is ratified, it will be impossible to restore democracy without violence and bloodshed. The neoliberal ideology of selfishness has been exposed as morally bankrupt, destructive and unsustainable.  This is why America is feeling the Bern.

#BernieSanders2016 #FeelTheBern


“He never let the truth get in the way of a good story” was a line of dialogue from TV show that probes the depths to which the human mind can sink. A good narrative is so compelling it can blind us to the truth. This quirk of human nature has been exploited by con men for centuries and Maria Konnikova’s “Born to be Conned” in the New York Times provides some interesting examples of smart people who fell prey to con men. The other key to a successful con game is that people want to believe in good; that the bad guy will get his comeuppance and that hard work will be rewarded. This is the narrative our culture trumpets via books, film and television, but we’ve been conned.

Consolidation of media ownership has enabled the cultural narrative to be controlled by a shrinking group of players. The occasional mea culpa, like Bill Moyers’ Buying the War, is supposed to satisfy the masses that the free press is still working, but the conclusions reached in the documentary contradict that view. Although the producers don’t pretend that the media’s failure to challenge the evidence leading up to the war in Iraq was unique, they fail to explore any potential solutions. This supports the spreading view that mainstream news is nothing more than corporate propaganda.

The mainstream media is no longer the free press that is necessary for a functioning democracy. The stories that don’t get told are often the ones that citizens in a functioning democracy most need to hear. Moyer’s documentary tells one such story about the unheard reporters who were correct that the Bush Administration was lying like a rug. Another important story that is getting short shrift is that the United States is no longer a democracy. It’s worth repeating: your Federal Presidential Constitutional Republic is no longer a democratic institution, but an Oligarchy. Government “of the people, by the people, for the people” as Lincoln put it, has largely perished in the United States.

The influence the average American voter has is so small it has a statistical significance “near zero.” This is from an academic study published in 2014 and was ignored in the mainstream media. In a functioning representative democracy, the knowledge that your democracy isn’t representative of the vast majority of people and therefore doesn’t function would be considered newsworthy. While MSNBC was almost the only mainstream outlet to run the story, they did so under a limp headline and let the story die of neglect. The flip side of the story is that if you’re a billionaire, you still have all the representation money can buy.

“Democracy” and “Freedom” are as American as apple pie, and represent core beliefs that citizens embrace as part of their identity. Presenting evidence that their core beliefs are untrue doesn’t go over well because of the psychological phenomenon called “cognitive dissonance.” This refers to the same mental discomfort a child feels when an older sibling first spills the beans about Santa Claus. Our natural human habit of avoiding pain means we tend to cling to false beliefs if the truth contradicts our long-held worldview or core values.

The pain of cognitive dissonance, the unwillingness to accept that the Bush Administration deliberately lied in order to start a war which killed thousands of Americans, contributed to the outcome that the perpetrators got away with it. That kind of massive injustice isn’t supposed to happen in America, but there are other examples. The Vietnam War, which killed over 58,000 Americans, was triggered by an incident in the Gulf of Tonkin that didn’t happen. During the Gulf War 30 years later, columnist Sydney Schanberg reminded journalists that they’d been “bamboozled” by President Johnson about Vietnam, but also lamented “the apparent amnesia of the wider American public.” Liars keep getting away with it because people prefer a soothing lie to a painful truth.

The media could do things differently, in theory, but how many reporters are willing to speak truth to power in the current climate of corporate consolidation and downsizing? What does that say about the news we see today about ISIL in Syria? The fact that the CIA largely created ISIL doesn’t get much play in the U.S., but the Guardian ran the story in the U.K. back in June. Today the drums are beating for Americans to risk their lives in a futile effort to solve a problem created by their own government. The OrwellianWar on Terror” not only cannot be won, but winning arguably isn’t even the endgame. The military-industrial complex that outgoing President Eisenhower warned of benefits enormously from ongoing conflict. Peace doesn’t pay, even for reporters.

President Obama recently gave a speech on terrorism and gun control, asking Congress to support the bombing of ISIL in Syria. He looked as grey and weary as any U.S. president approaching the end of his term. It could be that his administration, like the media and the public, are being swept along by forces beyond their control. It could also be true that the owners of major defense contractors are quite pleased with the direction things are going. The gun dealers enjoy increased sales in the wake of mass shootings as they warn America to arm themselves against the threat of home grown terror.

If the news media had fulfilled their traditional role, members of the Bush Administration would likely be in jail for war crimes by now and the 9/11 Commission might have reached very different conclusions. It used to be said that knowledge is power, but even though knowledge is more freely available than it has ever been, the game doesn’t seem to have changed much. In the 2016 elections, the U.S. may reach a significant tipping point where the population finally catches on and takes a course not charted by the establishment. President Bernie Sanders may be a game changer, as he seems to be the only candidate willing to acknowledge the truth about the serious flaws in the system, let alone fix them. Pay attention to the media bias against Sanders and towards the establishment’s choice, but don’t expect to see coverage of the Democracy Spring event or the anti-corruption campaign. If you want to live in a functioning democratic republic, use social media to share important knowledge while you still can.


Click the embedded links to find sources and/or interesting supporting material, some of which is rather offbeat.

Also recommended:

Corporations can edit Wikipedia too, but SourceWatch is an awesome website to help you figure out the agenda behind a press release. Here are a few of their portals;

Wage Crushers

ALEC Exposed

A Wiki on the Koch brothers

This interview, in two parts, with Noam Chomsky. It from about 25 years ago, but stands the test of time.

This Ted Talk about who rules the world.


Cognitive Dissonance is a Killer

Middle-aged white guys are killing themselves at alarming rates and the experts don’t know why. The suicide rate for men in their 50s increased 49% in the decade ending 2010. According to the CBC;

A recent study, co-authored by this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, Angus Deaton, found that a long-term decline in death rates changed direction in 1999 for middle-aged, non-Hispanic white Americans, especially for the segment of that population with only a high school degree or less.

I don’t think the trend is surprising nor the reasons mysterious and, despite what the “men’s rights” windbags contend, it is not the fault of women or feminism. These men who are failing to thrive were brought up in a kinder, gentler world, where income inequality was considerably less. When they were growing up, the middle class was booming and every generation seemed to be better off than the one before. That is clearly no longer the case. Working class Joe did what society expected him to do, but the rewards that were promised have not been not forthcoming.

The new reality of low economic mobility coupled with extreme income inequality grinds against the deeply entrenched, but now mostly false, belief that the “American Dream” is possible. Millions of Americans have been shoved out of the middle class into poverty, and the depth of that poverty is getting worse. In short, the working class white guy has finally figured out that he’s been lied to, and he feels duped and powerless. He didn’t see it coming, so he feels he’s failed to protect and provide for his family. That is a heavy burden to carry alone, and traditionally, men have been socialized to be stoic and not reach out for help, so they suffer in silence until it becomes too much for some of them to bear.

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. – Wikipedia

If we’ve been lied to all these years about the American Dream, what other core beliefs are just delusions? Here’s a hard one to swallow: America is no longer a democracy. Let that sink in. The ideal that Lincoln put forth in the Gettysburg Address of government of the people, by the people, for the people has indeed perished in the United States of America. The government is now more accurately described as a corporate-controlled Oligarchy. An academic study done by experts at Princeton and Northwestern concluded in September 2014 that policy decisions are driven by the economic elite and the average voter has a level of influence on public policy that is “near zero.” That’s right, the average voter has no power, no influence on the legislative process. Let. that. sink. in. This is a really tough truth to absorb. That uncomfortable feeling – a painful sense of betrayal – is called cognitive dissonance.

It not news that money is power and power is money. What many failed to notice is that there has been a massive transfer of wealth into the pockets of the 1% from the rest of us.  The ultra-rich are hoarding vast amounts of capital and passing it down to their children, so the oligarchs at the top of the pyramid are using and abusing inherited wealth to buy influence and control politicians and policy. The game is rigged. The concentration of media ownership means that mainstream media does not distribute truth, but propaganda that shapes public opinion to keep people distracted from the fundamental shift of power into the hands of the economic elite. We could solve the energy crisis by hooking up a generator to George Orwell spinning in his grave.

Middle-aged, working class white guys are now on a level playing field for the first time with millions of others from marginalized groups who can’t help but think “karma’s a bitch, ain’t it?” The powers that be have always used our differences to divide us with the political weapons of fear and anger. Even the poorest white people considered themselves better off (or just ‘better’) than their black neighbours. There is certainly a tradition of dis-empowered men building up their own egos at their wives’ expense. If even the formerly privileged white guy finally realizes he’s just as screwed as everyone else, what is left to divide us with? Many men still cling to the idea that competition is better than cooperation. When a critical mass of people understand that compassion is more likely to lead to happiness, we may see a shift in consciousness that leads to greater social justice, reduced inequality, and greater prosperity for the 99%. However, that isn’t going to happen in an Oligarchy.

The way out of this mess isn’t rocket science. The same forces at play in the U.S. have been at work in Canada, where we finally kicked out a right-wing Prime Minister in favour of one who promises to reform the electoral system to make it more fair to voters. Electoral reform is the key to taking democracy back. In Canada it means getting rid of first-past-the-post so our votes aren’t wasted. In the U.S. the biggest issue is campaign finance.  Now that Americans are learning that they don’t live in a democracy anymore, what are they going to do about it? I think the smart money is on Bernie Sanders in 2016.

Here are some links to some other interesting ideas;