Monday, May 14, 2012

Noam Chomsky; May Day, Stunning Poll on Nukes and the Environment

Hi.  I wanted to send this out just before May Day, but there were so many activities going on,
I decided to send it on a Sunday.   Yesterday, Mothers' Day got the priority.  So, before this
disappears into my enormous storage nest, here's a short, thoughtful essay by a master.

May Day

Noam Chomsky,
Reader Supported News: 29 April 12

People seem to know about May Day everywhere except where it began, here in the United States of America. That's because those in power have done everything they can to erase its real meaning. For example, Ronald Reagan designated what he called "Law Day" -- a day of jingoist fanaticism, like an extra twist of the knife in the labor movement. Today, there is a renewed awareness, energized by the Occupy movement's organizing, around May Day, and its relevance for reform and perhaps eventual revolution.

If you're a serious revolutionary, then you are not looking for an autocratic revolution, but a popular one which will move towards freedom and democracy. That can take place only if a mass of the population is implementing it, carrying it out, and solving problems. They're not going to undertake that commitment, understandably, unless they have discovered for themselves that there are limits to reform.

A sensible revolutionary will try to push reform to the limits, for two good reasons. First, because the reforms can be valuable in themselves. People should have an eight-hour day rather than a twelve-hour day. And in general, we should want to act in accord with decent ethical values.

Secondly, on strategic grounds, you have to show that there are limits to reform. Perhaps sometimes the system will accommodate to needed reforms. If so, well and good. But if it won't, then new questions arise. Perhaps that is a moment when resistance is necessary, steps to overcome the barriers to justified changes. Perhaps the time has come to resort to coercive measures in defense of rights and justice, a form of self-defense. Unless the general population recognizes such measures to be a form of self- defense, they're not going to take part in them, at least they shouldn't.

If you get to a point where the existing institutions will not bend to the popular will, you have to eliminate the institutions.

May Day started here, but then became an international day in support of American workers who were being subjected to brutal violence and judicial punishment.

Today, the struggle continues to celebrate May Day not as a "law day" as defined by political leaders, but as a day whose meaning is decided by the people, a day rooted in organizing and working for a better future for the whole of society.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work.

*  * *

April 25, 2012

Dear Friends,

If you were ever concerned that we are in the minority, think again. WE ARE THE VAST MAJORITY!

NIRS is delighted to co-release today, with our friends at the Civil Society Institute, a new public opinion poll by ORC International that has absolutely stunning numbers.

I was at a conference in Boston two weeks ago where I was treated to a preview of this poll's findings; and I've been waiting ever since to be able to share them with you.

If there is ever a moment when we all realize we need to unite the movements against nuclear power and against fossil fuels and for clean energy, and really build a nuclear-free carbon-free future, this should be it. Please read on!

Conducted March 22-25, 2012, the new ORC International survey of 1,019 Americans shows that:

• More than eight out of 10 Americans (83%)–including 69% of Republicans, 84% of Independents, and 95% of Democrats--agree with the following statement: "The time is now for a new, grassroots- driven politics to realize a renewable energy future. Congress is debating large public investments in energy and we need to take action to ensure that our taxpayer dollars support renewable energy-- one that protects public health, promotes energy independence and the economic well being of all Americans.”

• Even with high gasoline prices today, 85 percent of Americans – including 76 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of Independents, and 91 percent of Democrats--agree with the statement “(e) nergy development should be balanced with health and environmental concerns” versus just 13 percent who think “health and environmental concerns should not block energy development.”

• More than two out of three (68%) think it is “a bad idea for the nation to ‘put on hold’ progress towards cleaner energy sources during the current economic difficulty.”

• Eight out of 10 Americans agree that “water shortages and the availability of clean drinking water are real concerns. America should put the emphasis on first developing new energy sources that require less water and result in lower water pollution. Only 15% of Americans think that “America should proceed first with developing energy sources even if they may have significant water pollution and water shortage downsides.”

• Two thirds of Americans (67%) think that “political leaders should help to steer the U.S. to greater use of cleaner energy sources–such as increased efficiency, wind and solar–that result in fewer environmental and health damages.” Under a third of Americans (30%) think that “political leaders should stay out of the energy markets and let private enterprise have a free hand in picking energy sources and setting prices.”

• Four out five Americans (80%) – including 78% of Republicans, 83% of Independents, and 82% of Democrats--oppose the use by utilities in some states of advance billing (known as “Construction Work in Progress”) to pay for the construction of new nuclear and other power plants. Only 13% agree that “ratepayers should pay for electricity they use, and construction of nuclear reactors and other power plants that may come on line in the future.”

• About three out of four Americans (73%) agree that “federal spending on energy should focus on developing the energy sources of tomorrow, such as wind and solar, and not the energy sources of yesterday, such as nuclear power.” Fewer than one in four (22%) say that “federal spending on energy should focus on existing energy sources, such as nuclear, and not emerging energy sources, such as wind and solar.”

• Eight out of 10 Americans think U.S. taxpayers and ratepayers should not “finance the construction of new nuclear power reactors in the United States through tens of billions of dollars in proposed new federal loan guarantees.”

• Three out of four Americans (76%) would support “a shift of federal loan-guarantee support for energy away from nuclear reactors and towards clean, renewable energy, such as wind and solar.”

• About two out of three Americans (66 percent)– including 58 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of Independents, and 75 percent of Democrats--agree that the term "'clean energy standard’ should not be used to describe any energy plan that involves nuclear energy, coal-fired power, and natural gas that comes from hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’”.

• More than eight out of 10 Americans (82%)–including 78% of Republicans, 81% of Independents, and 85% of Democrats--agree with the following statement: ‘Whether they are referred to as ‘subsidies,’ ‘tax incentives’ or ‘loan guarantees,’ the use of taxpayer dollars for energy projects are long-term investments. However, government incentives for energy must benefit public health and economic well-being. Clear guidelines are needed to direct public energy investments by shifting more of the risk from taxpayers and ratepayers and more to the companies involved.’”

• More than two out of three Americans (68 percent)–including 60 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 74 percent of Democrats--think that America’s “new energy future” should be guided by the “precautionary principle,” which would work very much like the Hippocratic oath does for doctors: “The precautionary principle would advocate a conservative approach to the use of technologies that may put public health at risk and create irreversible environmental harm. If there is not enough scientific evidence showing that it is safe, precaution should guide decisions in those cases.”

• About three out of four Americans (75 percent)–including 58 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents, and 86 percent of Democrats--think that “Congress and state public utility commissions that regulate electric utilities should put more emphasis on renewable energy and increased energy efficiency … and less emphasis on major investments in new nuclear, coal and natural gas plants.”

• More than three out of four Americans (77 percent)–including 70 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 85 percent of Democrats--agree that “(t)he energy industry's extensive and well-financed public relations, campaign contributions and lobbying machine is a major barrier to moving beyond business as usual when it comes to America’s energy policy.”

• Nearly six in 10 Americans (56 percent) are now aware of the natural gas drilling process commonly referred to as “fracking.” Fewer than three in 10 Americans (28 percent) are “not aware at all” of this extraction process. Eight out of 10 Americans (81 percent) who are aware of fracking say that they are concerned–including nearly half (47 percent) who are “very concerned”–about the impact of fracking on water quality.

• Despite high gas prices, fewer than one in five Americans (16 percent) think that “the energy price paid by consumers is the only factor that makes any difference. Production damages, such as from mining, environmental impacts such as pollution, health harms, and other costs associated with energy should be considered less important factors.” By contrast, 81 percent of Americans believe that “the price paid by consumers is only part of the cost of energy. We have to look at the whole picture -- including environmental and health damages -- when we talk about what a particular source of energy costs America.”

• About nine out of 10 Americans (89 percent) agree that “U.S. energy planning and decision making must be made with full knowledge and understanding about the availability of water regionally and locally, and the impact this water use from specific energy choices has on their economies, including agricultural production.”

Please note that these results vary very little by state or region. Your politicians may not yet recognize what Americans believe, but your neighbors do, no matter where you are.

The American people are with us. We need not be afraid to talk about our issues nor to organize and mobilize. But we do all need to do more outreach, to our neighbors and colleagues, to organizations and community groups of all kinds. That's how we build a movement.

The U.S. is ready for a nuclear-free carbon-free future. Let's all vow to give it to them, and to ourselves.

Thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

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