Speech given at Cafe Leila in Berkeley, January 21, 2008.
Let’s first get personal. For about 40 years, I have lived tribally/communally. Now the 6 of us live together in two houses [one of which we built] on a street in Berkeley with 4 cats. Linda and I have been together for over 35 years. Michael has been with us for 20 years…as have Corey and Alexi. Erika joined us 6 years ago. We live as a tribal body. This tells you that I will expand concepts such as a family and family values. My relationships have always been what I am about. So we put our personal relationships and one another first. This opens up possibilities and expands our ability to use opportunities.
I have always been dumb to what is impossible. So I just figure how to do the “impossible.” I have been doing this all my life! I am 61. I was born with cerebral palsy. I communicate using a laser-pointer and a board of letters, numbers and commonly-used words. But I am a host of a popular public access TALK show. Go figure it! So now I am setting my sights, as president, on eliminating poverty, hunger, war, etc. Impossible, eh?
When I was born, doctors told my parents that I had no intelligence, that I had no future, that I would be best put into an institution and be forgotten. This was a powerful expectation with all the force of western science and medicine as well as social influences, behind it. It would have been easy for my parents to be swept up into this expectation. Then that expectation would have created my reality. I would have long ago died without any other possibilities.
Instead, my parents rejected this expectation for the possibility they saw in my eyes, for what for them should have been true. This rejection of the cultural expectation of reality could not be a one time choice. They had to passionately live their choice everyday, every minute, or the cultural expectation would have sucked them and me into it. It fought them at every new possibility they opened to me. Their passionate commitment to how they thought things should be attracted people to me who kept opening new possibilities for me. Of course, these were in the minority. But I focused on them, making them how people should be, how I wanted to be. So I expected people and myself to be like that. So people were for the most part that way...at least I saw them that way. This opened up to me what is called luck. It also gave me the ability to trust and the ability to use opportunities.
So the struggle for freedom, and against the powers-that-be has been my life. And it has been a continuous struggle, struggling with schools to let me in, etc. I have always been a radical. But that became obvious when I was 18 and invented my head pointer with which I type and communicate…I started writing political columns for the high school paper…as well as putting out an underground paper. I was in the first special class placed on a regular high school campus so that the disabled students could be in regular classes and be a part of campus life. I was involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements. This was 1965…before it was popular to be against the Vietnam War. In the school paper I got into a debate with a GI in Vietnam. I was sat down and told that, because of my political philosophy and activities, I was hurting the chances of the disabled students who would come after me. I replied that the goal was to get the rights for the disabled [and for all people] to be complete and equal…and that included the right to be political. I would not surrender that, or any other, right.
So I started doing political columns for underground newspapers, joined Students for Democratic Society and The Peace and Freedom Party. I did political pranks…such as rolling in my wheelchair into the Marines Recruiting Office to join, offering to push the BUTTON with my head pointer. But after the Kent State killings, I switched from straight politics to art, performance, and community building as my tools for effecting social change. In the early 90s I and five other performance artists were targeted by Sen. Jesse Helms in what is commonly seen as the first battle of the cultural wars. This placed me in a great position to fight for our freedoms!
I follow where opportunities lead, without limiting goals or pictures of what things should look like or where they should lead to. We here have many different projects going on at once…in addition to the “day job.” I’m always writing, painting, making movies, playing in my band The Cherotic All-Stars, performing, doing a weekly cable/internet talk/variety show. That has always been the case. In the mid-70s in Santa Fe I started a workshop which combined intimacy and theater. This turned into a communal performance group which moved to N.Y.C. A few years later, we moved to Berkeley, where I combined the workshop with relationship counseling, creating an extremely successful practice. But this too morphed into a communal performance group of 30 people. Among our productions was The Outrageous Beauty Revue which ran for over three years at the San Francisco punk club The Mabuhay.
The 90s found me touring the U.S. and Canada doing performances and lecturing. My writings started being published. I was also busy making films. By 1991 we were publishing the popular zine The Cherotic [r]evolutionary. When the internet became available, we were among the first to have streaming audio and video on our http://www.eroplay.com
. A live weekly show, The Shaman’s Den, which I was doing on one of the first internet radio stations quickly dragged us into starting our own internet station, http://www.luver.com
, which quickly evolved into a powerful 24/7 uncensored channel for change. We have expanded onto public access cable television, cell phones, etc. And now I am running for president!
OK, let us get to the meat!
We invaded Iraq on lies or blunders…take your pick. Almost everyone…with a few notable and impeachable exceptions…now agree that we should not have invaded Iraq. I would bring our troops home now. If someone tells you that s/he will stay in a failed marriage to avoid admitting mistakes, hoping things will somehow improve…you would rightfully question that person’s judgment.
I will change this country’s self-image from that of THE SUPER POWER/ WORLD LEADER to that of a member of the global community. I will cut our military budget by at least half.
While going into Afghanistan had more of a logic to it than our invasion of Iraq, I would withdraw our troops from there and work through the U.N. Our interests aren’t served by having our troops there.
We need to stop supporting dictators. On the nuclear issue, we need to get rid of double standards. We need to treat all nations with the same expectations, be it Pakistan, Israel, France, the U.S., Iran, etc. In other words, my policies would be even-handed. I will join the rest of the world in pressuring Israel to live up to treaties, and to dismantle its nuclear arms. I will use the “special relationship” between Israel and the U.S. to motivate Israel to do this.
I will work for the global shutting down of all nuclear reactors and dismantling of all nuclear [and biological and chemical] weapons. I will start this in the U.S. All countries should be expected to live under the same rules….not one set for the “super powers” and another for the “developing” nations like Iran. I will push for a global development of clean, safe energy sources as alternatives to nuclear power.
Anything/everything could be a “potential threat”…except the things that are in fact threats now. Seeing things as “potential threats” is a sign of insanity. It blocks the effective dealing with real and present threats. It creates the fog of fear. Iran is not a threat to the U.S. now or in the short-term future. So there is time and opportunity to revert Iran from the nuclear path by giving Iran other options. Frankly nuclear used for energy and nuclear used for weapons are both dangerous.
We have been robbed during the recent years of many of our rights and freedoms. I will have repealing parties in the White House, scrapping all the rules and policies in every department and agency which infringe on our rights, freedoms, privacy, health and welfare. We will have similar parties in both houses of Congress to repeal bad laws such as the so-called Patriot Act. We will return to the common English language in which “torture” means torture. I will declassify documents which were classified to hide questionable actions rather than to protect the real national interests. I will push the Justice Department to investigate the war on The Left by the F.B.I. since the 60’s.
The Department of Homeland Fear… I mean Security…has been a disaster, a con job on a massive scale. I will junk it. Terrorism is a criminal matter. It should be dealt with as such, not as a war. We shouldn’t abandon our principles, freedoms, rights, The Constitution and The Bills of Rights to live in fear. The F.B.I. is supposed to investigate crime…not to keep the people in line. The C.I.A. is supposed to gather information outside this country, and not to manipulate events. Whenever there is an attempt to fudge the limits of power for convenience of “safety,” we the people get screwed.
I would end the so-called war on drugs. The use of drugs should be legalized and taxed. Pot and spirits should be sold over the counter to adults only. Tobacco and other addictive drugs should be sold by prescription only. Free drug rehab programs should be readily available. So the D.E.A. can be greatly reduced.
Prisons should be only for violent or otherwise dangerous criminals. Prisons should be a part of the health and education system and should include drug rehab programs. This should also be true for the new creative in-community programs for non-violent criminals for paying back, rehab, and education sentencing. These programs will be more effective and much less expensive and harmful to the community on every level than the current human warehouse system. Flexibility of sentencing should be returned to judges. I will ban the death penalty.
Basically the law enforcement agencies should be the servants of the people, protecting our rights, freedoms, and welfare instead of the servants of the rich, the corporations, the status quo, and the powers-that-be. I would de-militarize the police departments.
I’ll do away with welfare, medicare and social security. Instead, every American will receive a minimum income of $1,000 a month. This amount will be tied to the cost of living and will not be taxable.
We will have universal prenatal-to-the-grave health care and universal free education with equal access.
The universal health care would include all medicine, medical equipment and supplies, long-term care, personal attendants, etc. There will be no pre-authorization ritual. So your doctor will be free to prescribe whatever you need. There may be a review of treatment afterward if there are any questions. Everybody will have the same care as the President now has. Preventative medicine will be stressed and the so-called alternative medicine will be included. You will notice that health insurance companies are not in this picture!
I’ll do away with all tax deductions for over $12,000 income. Instead, there will be a flat tax of 10% on annual income of less than one million dollars for an individual and less than five million dollars for a corporation. But the flat tax will jump to 75% on annual income exceeding these limits.
Now my policies are pro-business. The universal education system will provide business with a superior, flexible work force. The minimum income and the universal health care will remove the business’s burden of providing health insurance and pensions to workers. In reality, this relief will be much more than any tax cut could give. Moreover the minimum income will make the starting and maintaining of a small business much easier. This is also true for small family farms. The minimum income will encourage independent invention and artistic pursuit, on which true progress depends.
The guaranteed minimum income of $1,000 a month adjusted to the cost of living is meant to be a safety net rather than a replacement for work. I think most want to work…in an expanded concept of work. But to get a true feeling of what it would be like if you had to live on your minimum income, you have to crank in that you wouldn’t pay for health care, education, mass transit, etc. It all adds up. The combined minimum income couple…or a single parent with a child…would be $2,000 a month. This should provide a realistic basic living. This allows the single parent the option of being home doing the important work of raising a child. But free childcare provided by the universal free education system would open a whole host of new possibilities to the single parent.
The minimum income would encourage people to form the cooperative communal family [of all kinds] groupings who pool their incomes together…using their minimum incomes as a base to create more nourishing homes, to start and maintain small businesses. These communal groupings will be much more financially stable, emotionally nourishing, and environmentally friendly than today’s common isolating model of living.
It is all about caring and choice. If a senior wants to stay in her own home, the $1,000 a month will make that possible as will the home attendants provided by the healthcare system. This is also true if she wants to live with her family or in communal housing. This will actually be much cheaper than the scary mess we have now. The warehouse nursing home will be a thing of the past. Seniors will be an important, active element of every part of our society. We need everyone actively involved. We simply cannot afford on any level to warehouse portions of our population. It is a waste of potential!
Some people have expressed concerns that the guaranteed minimum income would drain people’s productivity. They ask why people would work. What they are really asking is why people would work without the whip of fear of hunger and poverty. They never ask this about the rich or the corporations, only about the working class and the poor. In reality most people want to work, want to contribute, want to improve their lives. Hunger, poverty, and fear drain productivity. If we are to survive, we need to end hunger, poverty, and fear.
The guaranteed minimum income will tend to keep wages in general higher and working conditions safer and more worker-friendly. This was also true for welfare and was the true root of the capitalist opposition to welfare.
The guaranteed minimum income will be very different from welfare. Everyone will get it. So there will be no stigma attached to getting it. There will be no red tape, no entrapping rules, no case workers drained of their humanity, and the rest of the demeaning rituals of enforced head-bowing associated with getting public assistance. The guaranteed minimum income will be something you get as a citizen, something you can depend on.
I get S.S.I., Med-cal, and money for a home attendant. People say they don’t mind the truly unfortunates who obviously can’t work getting welfare…but all of those lazy bums getting rich on welfare who could get a job…you know the line of thinking. Well, I am what they are picturing as the truly unfortunate. But in reality I can and do do many things. I can’t get a job, not because of my body, but because I would lose my S.S.I., Medi-Cal, and my money for a home attendant. This is an example of how the system is set up to not work and how the people get blamed for it not working. It is hard and scary living on so-called welfare. This is not true for me….at least not as much. I’m a punk, have built a support network of friends, doctors, etc. When I get a threatening letter [they are always threatening] informing me I must go to this certain doctor within two weeks to get a brain cat-scan [for which I would need to get knocked out] to prove I still have cerebral palsy or lose all my benefits, I with Linda can get on the phone and politely but firmly guide the over-worked case manager to turn the pages of my file to find the last yearly visit to check that a miracle hadn’t occurred. But most people in that position are much more vulnerable than I am. They are on their own, without a support network, etc. I don’t know how they survive. I know Nancy, a college student with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair, needing assistance with feeding, drinking, going to the bathroom, etc. She is determined to live independently. But her S.S.I. check is barely livable small. Her attendant hours [at minimum wage] are less than half of what she really needs. So she has to wait for a drink of water. She wears a catheter although it causes infection [hence will probably shorten her life]. To add insult to injury, there is a threat that her needed supplies will be unclassified as medical equipment and will no longer be funded. Because most doctors and hospitals do not accept Medi-Cal patients [because of red tape, low payment, and insane rules], she has to travel hours to the county hospital to wait more hours to be seen. But she keeps on doing what she has to do in order to stay in the game of life rather than being stuck in an institution…which would cost us much more than keeping her out with us. Out here, we can hear her poetry, see her perform. Most people on public assistance do contribute to society. They raise families, do art and music, push for change, etc.
The truth is the system is designed for failure, for easy scapegoats and decoys. As I am writing this, I see the governor of California is again threatening to cut S.S.I., Medi-Cal, home attendants, etc. Well, the web work of the guaranteed minimum income, a livable wage, the universal health care and the life-long education systems will be designed to work. And because everybody will be covered by this web work, this web work will be much harder to screw up!
I will cut the military budget by at least half and use half of the savings to pay down the national debt. I will shrink the federal bureaucracy and again use half of the savings for this pay down.
Basically the problem is not a lack of money, but what we have spent our money on…war, pork, waste, etc. It has been a standard trick to distract us with supposed waste, fraud, etc. in the social programs while milking us out of billions in military waste, corporate welfare, etc.
Again, the minimum income of $1,000 a month for every citizen will give people money to spend, save, invest, or pool with others to create more effective financial communities which will open up a wide range of opportunities for the average person…to start small businesses, to stay on the family farm, to do art, to raise kids, etc. Free health care [which will include long-term care, home attendants, medicine, etc.], free life time education [including child care], free mass transit, etc. will in effect put more real money in the pocket of the average person. But more importantly the fear of the future will fade, releasing what is now horded away for old age, for when your health fails you, for your kid’s education…releasing the knot in your belly of knowing that no matter how much you manage to save [if any] it will not be enough.
So write in Frank Moore for President and Susan Block for Vice President on election day! For more information, go to http://frankmooreforpresident08.com/