Jack Random

Jack Random is the author of the Jazzman Chronicles (Crow Dog Press) and Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press). See The Chronicles have been posted on the Albion Monitor, Bellaciao, Buzzle, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Pacific Free Press and Peace-Earth-Justice. www.jazzmanchronicles.blogspot.com


Wednesday, 22 February 2012 00:00 GFP Columnist - Jack Random
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“When you are approaching poverty, you make one discovery which outweighs some of the others.  You discover boredom and mean complications and the beginnings of hunger, but you also discover the great redeeming feature of poverty: the fact that it annihilates the future.  Within certain limits, it is actually true that the less money you have, the less you worry.” - George Orwell, Down and Out in London and Paris 

As a fan of George Orwell I have grown to wonder if too many of our political geniuses misinterpreted his classic work 1984 as a how-to book on controlling the masses.  Had they read his earlier autobiographical work Down and Out in London and Paris, they would have understood that Orwell was a man of the people and his sympathy was planted firmly with the poor, the outcast and the working class. 

Of all the Orwellian phrases in common use these days one of the most egregious is the Right to Work.  Adopted in twenty-three states, right-to-work laws effectively ban labor unions by prohibiting workers from gaining union representation by a majority vote.   The Right to Work is the right of a worker to refuse to pay union dues.  Because unions gain power by representing workers as a united front in negotiations with management, right-to-work laws negate that power. 
 

 
Thursday, 16 February 2012 00:00 GFP Columnist - Jack Random
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In 1984 I bought one of the first Apple Macintosh computers to roll off the line in Cupertino, California. At 132 K ROM (hardly enough to power a toaster by today’s standards), the Mac came loaded with a serviceable writing program (Mac Write) and an ingenious graphics program (Mac Paint) and the age of personal computing was born in earnest.

In those days Apple was a fiercely independent alternative to IBM, the corporate beast that monopolized the computer industry. Apple was a symbol of American ingenuity and innovation. Apple users were loyal to the company and we believed that Apple was loyal to us. We remained loyal even through substandard products because we believe that Apple had a social consciousness.

I don’t know when Apple changed. It doesn’t really matter. But when Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels delivered the Republican response to the State of the Union address, trumpeting the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as a job creator, I knew something was rotten to the core. Daniels was right about Apple job creation. The trouble is some 95% of those jobs were created in China under deplorable conditions.

 
Monday, 06 February 2012 22:26 GFP Columnist - Jack Random
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Largely omitted from the Republican debates, largely ignored by media pundits, and largely neglected by the incumbent president, the China problem looms as the single most critical issue that should decide the 2012 election.

China is the primary owner of American debt. Imbalance of trade with China is the primary reason for that debt. And China is the primary beneficiary of the demise of American industry.

For the last thirty years, since the onset of the Free Trade era, whenever a union plant was shuttered in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois or Missouri, a ceremony was held in Beijing. What remains of American industry is a shell of its former self. America became a retailer nation, a nation that no longer produced goods, and the working middle class, the backbone of America’s rise, slowly faded into obscurity. 

 
Tuesday, 24 January 2012 17:30 GFP Columnist - Jack Random
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Like the sirens to Odysseus, President Obama’s address at Osawatomie, Kansas, was pleasing to the progressive ear but if you allow its seductive tone to capture you, it could well prove fatal to the cause.

We have heard this song before. It takes us back to the soaring oratory that uplifted the masses and propelled a one-term senator to the presidency. Then as now, the president correctly and brilliantly deconstructs the problem: The middle class is under siege, hemorrhaging skilled and unskilled jobs to cheap labor markets overseas, resulting in depressed wages and declining benefits, depleted retirement funds, union busting and unregulated industries.

But, then as now, his solutions fail to approach the heart of the matter. Proclaiming a new world economy based on innovation, he advocates government funding for research and education, science and engineering, progressive taxation, regulation, consumer protection and a commitment to building and rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. 

 
Monday, 19 December 2011 00:00 GFP Columnist - Jack Random
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“You are part of an unbroken line of heroes spanning two centuries — from the colonists who overthrew an empire, to your grandparents and parents who faced down fascism and communism, to you — men and women who fought for the same principles in Fallujah and Kandahar, and delivered justice to those who attacked us on 9/11. 
 
“The most important lesson that we can take from you is not about military strategy –- it’s a lesson about our national character. Because of you, we are ending these wars in a way that will make America stronger and the world more secure.” - President Barack Obama, Address to Troops at Fort Bragg, December 14, 2011

 
The lies of war are forgotten as easily and readily as the wrappings of Christmas or the resolutions of a new year.  Like a child still in diapers, the lessons of war must be learned again and again until finally they are taken to heart. 

 
Monday, 17 October 2011 00:00 GFP Columnist - Jack Random
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“[Occupy Wall Street is] a diffuse and leaderless convocation of activists against greed, corporate influence, gross social inequality and other nasty byproducts of wayward capitalism not easily extinguishable by street theater.” - Ginia Bellafante, NY Times 9/23/11

In the summer of 1968 I had finished my freshman year in high school. By chance, I journeyed to San Francisco with some older fellow students, checked the scene at Haight-Ashbury, partied with the cast of Hair and ended up on the beach in Big Sur talking philosophy. I was offered a hit off a joint but declined.

Later that year a friend and I hitched to a New Year’s concert at the Fillmore West. As Cold Blood, Boz Skaggs and the Voices of East Harlem marked the hours to midnight, joints passed freely among the audience. This time I accepted though my friend declined.
 

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