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This edition of The Razor Wire is available as a full size, full color, fully printable Adobe Acrobat PDF file.

Director's Message:

It's Not Your Fault

By Nora Callahan, Executive Director

I skimmed Al Gore's book on Global Warming, the bestseller (now a movie) that blames us all for the mess we're in, but doesn't blame the rush of global consumption via capitalism, nor the gigantic, powerful corporations that grind on, having their way with our lawmakers.

I've read some critiques on the doomsday message of Gore's book, and one of the best was by Catherine Austin Fitts wherein she quotes Utah Phillips, a singing story teller and radical voice of the 1930's Depression Era.

"Utah Phillips once said, 'The earth is not dying. It is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.' In one sentence, Utah Phillips told us more about global warming than Al Gore has told us in a lifetime of writing and speaking, let alone in An Inconvenient Truth."

Disregarded or minimized is a 20-year-old movement behind the recently found consensus that global warming is scientific fact, a warning that if we stay on our present course, we may condemn our children to choosing various doomsday alternatives. Al Gore's book is his way of leading the way to a new future, without telling people what has really caused the planet's warming.

"We can stop blaming ourselves for problems we didn't create, and challenge the imposed system that gives power to multi-billion-dollar corporations, a system that dismisses ordinary people who ask for immediate changes of course and, if not for us now, our children's future."

Some might read this and think I'm making a lame attempt to 'link issues' -- not that I couldn't go that route, and won't before it's over. No, this route opens first a discussion about how to solve a problem demanding a fix.

We start by identifying the problem correctly, and blame those responsible in the first place. Secondly, a united and empowered people have to take real action to begin solving our complex problems, willfully defying the common belief that hopeless people can't muster what it takes to be responsible.

The people building new prisons, and helping pass laws to fill them, have names and addresses, too. While voters went along with tough, new drug laws - in fairness to 'we the people' back in the weird 1980's -- looking back over past 20 years we've learned we were hoodwinked by a lot of government and media propaganda. It turned out those crack babies had souls, and similarly, today's meth addicts now bear the brunt of contrived stigmatizing of one drug.

Doing business globally at present are numerous for-profit corporations whose livelihoods depend on continued prison expansion, and who help orchestrate explosions of drug hysteria. One group is able to boast, "Foth & Van Dyke was retained by the State of Wisconsin to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Super Maximum Security Prison in Boscobel, Wisconsin".

Foth & Van Dyke say they can turn public opposition into public support. They promise 'minimal adverse impact to the physical and biological environment'. Is it sound reasoning that tax dollars should support Foth & Van Dyke's profits that undermine public will and public laws?

First Families Reagan and Bush promoted abolition of parole, creation of drug mandatory minimums, and harsh guideline sentencing. They were early and leading stalwarts in the moral campaign to 'get tough on some drug users', pushed forward by other parents like them with kids who use illegal drugs.

They could relate because the Reagan and Bush families were full of drug users and abuse. George Herbert champagne-toasted new drug war legislation in the 80s while Barbara and Laura were tough-lovin' George Walker through recovery. Brother Jeb has had his hands full, and drug addiction problems continue into the next generation, it is apparent.

This isn't their fault, these first families insist, "It's all OUR fault."

So, we all got tough laws, more than 20 years ago.

But neither the Reagans, nor Bushes, nor their children go to prison, partly because -- in order to take blame and spread it around -- working poor and middle class people must get the bigger dose since there are more of us.

The cash-short poor are left holding the big bag and the daunting political task of solving systemic problems while knowing that, to influence lawmakers, you mostly need a lot of money. By the way, that isn't your fault either.

Comes Al Gore to tell us that global warming is our entire fault: so change out your light bulbs, drive less, and pressure opportunistic lawmakers who listen mostly to professional lobbyists. He doesn't tell us that large corporations are exempt from accountability laws and destroying the environment.

Wealthy people who use drugs also push for harsh laws while exempting their drug using children, or themselves for that matter. Blame everyone, but who has to pay with time served in prison? Rarely them.

Do they face their harsh "justice?" Do they have to conserve? No. They buy their kids out of drug trouble, and they can afford to pay $4 a gallon for gasoline.

We can stop blaming ourselves for problems we didn't create, and challenge the imposed system that gives power to multi-billion-dollar corporations, a system that dismisses ordinary people who ask for immediate changes of course and, if not for us now, our children's future.

Blaming ourselves, as Catherine Austin Fitts reminds us - leads to feelings of hopelessness, despair and inaction.

Do I blame addicted people and drug dealers for filling our prisons? No. Mostly because I can't turn on a television set without getting the message. I get it. The message? Want what you don't have, and buy what you don't need!

Now I will link some issues.

Surely Congress realizes that refusal to increase the $5.15 minimum wage will help ensure thriving illegal enterprises of every imaginable sort? Drug dealing looms large in rural and urban communities' economic viability. In hard economic times illegal business thrives.

To continue responding to poverty by jailing ill, addicted or unemployed people, to keep calling a street dealer a kingpin, and to mindlessly give someone 5 years, 10, 20, even life for 'drug conspiracies' based on the words of 'wet snitches' - is inhumane and absurd. Not justice.

Imprisoned or free, this mess really isn't your fault at all. If you are working on the solution -- even though you didn't create the problem of mass imprisonment -- thank you.

In this issue you'll read about the people you can blame for mass incarceration through drug war injustice, and get names and contact information of individuals and organizations who aren't part of the problem because they're working on real solutions.

It's not our fault, but it is our future. Join us in creating meaningful, systemic change.

In struggle,

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

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