March Against the Mainstream Media: How you can fight back

by Justin King • April 5, 2015

Know your enemy.

Cincinnati, Ohio (TFC) – The March Against the Mainstream Media took place in cities all over the United States this weekend to protest the sorry state of the us propaganda machine. In Cincinnati, the event consisted of a static protest near the college and a march around the strip of bars that sits outside every college campus. It’s Spring Break 2015 in Ohio and the alcohol was flowing.

Most of those that witnessed the demonstration had one thing to say:

“I know the media is lying to us.”

Six large corporations own 90% of the media outlets in the country. Access to independent media is at an all time low. With no competition, outlets are free to push the agendas of the advertisers and political handlers. It’s easy to say and know that the media is lying. It’s harder to give an example.

Let’s take the last hot-button topic: Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” law. Just so there is no confusion or claims of hidden bias, I was openly against the law. The law has been “corrected” and tempers have died down so rational discussion can now openly take place.

Conservative outlets painted it as either a defense of Christian values or a property rights issue to protect private business owners.

As I discussed at length in an article, discrimination is not and never has been a part of any Bible-based Christian doctrine. Christianity, if practiced in accordance with the Bible, is one of the most inclusive religions on the planet.

The media was actually able to convince people who style themselves as anarchists that gays were wrong for seeking special protection from the state by opposing the law. As is typical with propaganda, it’s a case of framing the issue in a way so that serious thought is required beyond the information provided for the viewer to realize they are being misled.

Who actually attempted to gain special status and protection from the state? Was it a homosexual lobby, or was it a Christian one?

The reality is that homosexuals were specifically targeted by a group seeking special protection from the state. The statute didn’t allow for a general right to refuse service. It only applied to those claiming religious grounds. If this was actually a fight over property rights or an attempt at establishing a freer market, it wouldn’t have been limited to those claiming religious grounds. It created a special class of people protected by the gun barrels of the government. Atheists didn’t have the right to refuse. Religious believers that wanted to refuse on grounds not based in doctrine were also unable to refuse service.  The media was actually able to convince anarchists to support a new law that provided state protection to a special class of people. Generally speaking an anarchist should never support the creation of a new law, much less one that creates a special class of people. That’s how powerful the media is.

When this was pointed out, viewers responded by saying:

“It’s a good start.”

There are no training wheels for liberty. Much like a pregnancy, it either exists or it doesn’t. There never would have been a follow up law to provide atheists the right to refuse service to those that don’t share their beliefs. Anarchists and Libertarians jumped on the conservative band wagon because the issue was presented as a “free market” issue.

The real problem with the law was that it lacked definitions and that the law was so vague that it would have had to have been interpreted by judges. Those judges would have to make rulings on what exactly was acceptable doctrine. In essence, the media was able to trick those who believe in freedom the most into supporting a law that would have been used to give the government control over what is an acceptable religious and what is not.

So what is the solution to media propaganda?

Like most things, the solution to media propaganda is decentralization. The media has Americans believing there are “two sides to every story.” In issues of national and international importance, there are always many more sides than just pro and con. The media frames the issues this way to keep it simple for dumb viewers and to polarize Americans so they can easily be manipulated by the political parties.

If you were to ask 30 of your friends where they wanted to eat dinner, you would likely get dozens of answers. However the media has Americans believing that in issues that change the way of life for 300,000,000 people there are only two options.

Easy things you can do to combat media manipulation:

Stop looking for objectivity. It does not exist. Reading an article with hidden biases is far more dangerous than reading openly-opinionated adversarial journalism.

Look for context. If a subject comes up, such as the Indiana religious freedom law, and there is no explanation as to why the law came into being, there is a powerful special interest behind the move.

Look for independent outlets. Strengthening independent media weakens corporate dominance. Here’s a list of outlets supported by The Anti-Media and here’s a list supported by the Pontiac Tribune. (Yes, The Fifth Column is on both lists. That really isn’t too surprising though because I wrote one of them.)

Don’t take anything at face value. With any media outlets, including alternative outlets, continue to research beyond the story. The journalist may have missed something. With most alternative outlets, you can post additional informational and the outlet will give it due respect.

Become a force multiplier. Independent journalists lack the resources and staff that corporate talking heads have. You are our support staff. Your tips, leads, sources, and ideas make our jobs possible. We don’t have time to cover every story much less generate all of the leads on our own. We count on you more than you know.

Use social media. Sharing, retweeting, and liking obviously helps get a message out. Posting adversarial articles in the comments section of mainstream coverage is an amazingly effective tactic for breaking people out of the mainstream death grip.

Don’t get mad. Journalists aren’t perfect. Contrary to what we like to tell ourselves, journalists can be wrong. We might even have differing opinions than you. Good independent outlets allow their journalists to be independent without editorial interference. The outlet that angered you by insulting whatever closely held belief you have, will more than likely have another journalist defend it later. Differing opinions and debate are the only things that will help break the corporate media stranglehold on the population.

You know what the problem is. You know that your voice can help. The only question left is whether or not you are willing to take action.

via March Against the Mainstream Media: How you can fight back | The Fifth Column.

In Dry California, Thirsty Oil and Big-Ag Industries Exempt from Water Regulations

Despite historic drought, Governor Jerry Brown has not put restrictions on oil drilling and fracking, but is focusing on urban usage of water

As California Governor Jerry Brown this week instituted the state’s first-ever mandatory restrictions on water usage to combat its historic four-year drought, environmental activists are pointing out two glaring exemptions from the order: the fossil fuel and agriculture industries.

Brown’s mandate, announced Wednesday, directs cities and communities to cut down their water consumption by 25 percent, but does not make any requirements of the state’s numerous oil companies, including those which practice the water-heavy fracking method of extraction, nor of large-scale farming operations.

“Both of them use tremendous amounts of water,” Earthjustice attorney Trent Orr told Common Dreams.

Brown is “putting restrictions on everyone except oil and agriculture… it seems like the powerful industries have gotten a pass,” Orr continued.

Adam Scow, California director of Food & Water Watch, also said Wednesday, “It is disappointing that Governor Brown’s executive order to reduce California water use does not address the state’s most egregious corporate water abuses. In the midst of a severe drought, the Governor continues to allow corporate farms and oil interests to deplete and pollute our precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water.”

California’s oil and gas industry uses more than 2 million gallons of fresh water a day to produce oil through fracking, acidizing, and steam injections, according to environmental estimates. In 2014, California oil producers used up nearly 70 million gallons of water on fracking alone, state officials told Reuters on Thursday.

While that number is lower than projected, fracking and toxic injection wells must not be given “a continuing license to break the law and poison our water,” Zack Malitz, an organizer with environmental group Credo, told Reuters.

“Fracking and toxic injection wells may not be the largest uses of water in California,” he added, “but they are undoubtedly some of the stupidest.”

The bulk of Brown’s mandate focuses on urban water use, which as the LA Times points out, makes up less than a quarter of the total water consumption in the state.

“The government’s response to this growing crisis has been behind the curve,” Jonas Minton, water policy adviser for the Planning and Conservation League and a former state water official, told the Times.

Rather than focusing on urban usage, Brown should go after the industries which contributed the most to the drought, environmental activists say.

Scow continued, “Governor Brown should stop… the ongoing contamination of groundwater aquifers by toxic wastewater from oil and gas operations. It is disturbing and irresponsible that the Brown administration continues to allow oil companies to contaminate and rob Californians of these fresh water sources.”

According to Orr, the looming repercussions of the drought will be felt for years down the line and may emerge in yet-unknowable ways. In the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, for instance, species of fish once abundant in the area are now nearly extinct, he said—a development which poses an ominous question: “What kind of natural systems will we have in California?”

“The environment desperately needs water,” he added. “We’re very disturbed at the unequal sharing of the burden… There’s no principled reason for it.”

As to why these industries found themselves exempt from facing the consequences of California’s historic drought, Orr said, “The agriculture industry is tremendously powerful in California, and oil and gas are tremendously powerful period.”

via In Dry California, Thirsty Oil and Big-Ag Industries Exempt from Water Regulations | Common Dreams 

Making Fines and Fees Less Regressive

© Josh Sager – March 2015

Fines and fees are important, yet regressive, forms of local revenue generation that disproportionately impact those who are least able to pay. Put simply, when a poor or middle class person suffers a fine or has to pay a fee (ex. getting a license reissued), they pay a much larger percentage of their income than somebody from a higher income bracket.

01274

For example: a person making $15,000 per year who has to pay $100 dollars to renew his license pays a significantly larger percentage of his income than somebody making $150,000 per year.

The regressivity of fines and fees is exacerbated by the fact that they tend to be targeted at the poor disproportionately more than other groups (ex. police tend to pull more people over in poor areas). This can make them extremely burdensome to lower-income families and even entire lower-income communities. In recent weeks, we have seen demonstrations of how tax-starved localities have like Ferguson Missouri have exploited their populations by loading up the most vulnerable with fines that multiply and force people into a cycle of debt. This destroys the buying power of entire families, and reduces the economic vitality of the communities that they live in.

In order to remedy this situation, I propose a shift to a progressive fine and fee structure which uses a percentage-based system to calculate the sum charged. Wherever possible, I would tie the fine or fee to the value of the object involved in the fine or the income of the person committing the offense.

For example, traffic citations can be reformed by implementing a progressive fine structure which uses the type of violation, number of offenses, and value of the car to calculate the value of the fine.

In operation, this system would look something like this: The fine for parking in a fire hydrant zone in Boston is $100 and the average car value is approximately $32,000. If the fine for parking in front of a fire hydrant were set at .3% of the value of the car (similar to an excise tax), this would make the average fine $96. A car worth significantly more than the average would generate a much larger fine (ex. a $100,000 car would be fined $300) while one worth less would generate a somewhat smaller fine.

tumblr_nl7nvkMu8E1ririjeo1_500

This program would reform traffic fines to ensure a more equitable system, while retaining a high level of revenue generation. Poor drivers wouldn’t have to worry about a single mistake breaking their budget while wealthy drivers couldn’t just ignore fines due to them being negligent compared with their means.

Several European nations, including Finland and Switzerland, have implemented a similar system for traffic violations (using personal income rather than vehicle value) for over a decade and have had positive results.

This traffic ticket reform is only one way that such a progressive fine/fee structure could be implemented to reform the current regressive system. Similar regimes could be implemented across licensing fees (both corporate and personal) using revenue or income as the principal, or inspection fees for properties using the estimated value of the property as defined by the insurer.

In theory, this shift in fines and fees could have a positive effect on the local economy. It would increase the available income for individuals in low income brackets, where individuals are most likely spend all available income on essential goods. Conversely, the spending habits of high-income individuals who receive the somewhat-higher fines are unlikely to be affected as their buying power wouldn’t be reduced.

From a local fiscal perspective, this shift is likely to be either revenue neutral or revenue positive. Fines and fees could be tailored to gather predictable amounts of revenue by setting the percentage of the fine/fee at a rate that results in revenue equal to or greater than the current revenue level (while shifting the burden up the income scale).

18wsjf14rvkhfjpg

The world record traffic ticket was issued to the Swiss driver of this BMW, totaling approximately $1 million for driving 186mph on the highway – that is one hell of a deterrent to future offenses.

Finally, from an incentive perspective, this type of progressive fine regime ensures that individuals feel more equal levels deterrence against bad behaviors. Instead of the rich begin able to ignore laws that carry low-value fines relative to their income (ex. a millionaire may decide to ignore parking laws because the ticket is simply insignificant to them), a progressive fine regime would ensure that the fines on the rich are significant enough to deter bad actions; conversely, a progressive fine regime would ensure that the poor are adequately dis-incentivized from fineable action, yet will not have their budgets broken by a small mistake.