Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Culture of Entitlement

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" - John Lydon

In a speech today, UK Prime Minister David Cameron will announce a Conservative party plan to slash benefits, specifically housing benefits for people under 25 and support for single parents of multiple children.

Cameron is leaving old age pensioners free from the cuts, proving that he has learned from the budget debacle when George Osborne and the rest of the government were pilloried for the 'granny tax', and also that he is well aware that older people are more likely to vote Conservative, while the young, poor and unemployed are not.

No surprises there: Cameron is just a politician, and politicians are conditioned to do anything that will enable them to survive at the polls. Far more important is the fact that this is just part of a sustained attack on the young, the unemployed, the poor, the sick and the disabled, and that it is a microcosm of a much larger war.

Cameron will not try to push these changes through in the current coalition government, but instead intends them to be part of the Conservative party manifesto in the 2015 election.

The buzzword of the last couple of years has been 'austerity', a responsible-sounding little euphemism that bleeds out none of the viciousness it embodies. It is a word designed to make people think: 'OK, we've spent beyond our means and it's time to buckle our belts and be more responsible', a perfectly reasonable thing for anyone to believe.

Reasonable, of course, as long as we are all in it together(TM).

The UK deficit is high because of the recession, which has reduced revenues as less people are in work and also are spending less, while government expenditure has increased, again due to unemployment, as people are entitled to benefits.

As of March 2012, net UK public debt, which has greatly increased due to the interventions into the financial sector after the 2008 economic crisis, stood at 2.3116 trillion pounds, 147.3% of GDP. While this is not as large as that of some other countries, it is still a hefty sum. It is reasonable to accept that the government needs to bring the debt down somehow.

In his speech David Cameron will say that his government is looking for an additional 10 billion pounds in welfare cuts. Again, OK...we're all in this together, right?


Cameron will talk in his speech of a 'culture of entitlement', namely people expecting to be bailed out by the system if they can't find a job or otherwise need state aid, and it is a statement of truly staggering hypocrisy. George Orwell, who wrote of the twisting of language by authorities, often so that it means the opposite of reality, will be nodding sagely in his grave.

Because the true culture of entitlement can be found among the traditional supporters of Cameron and his party: the rich, the very well-off, the corporations, and the upper classes. On a touching personal note, Cameron's father made the family fortune in tax havens.

The reality is that the government could save a great deal more by dealing with tax evasion and avoidance. In this very informative article, we can see that the tax gap, namely the amount of tax evaded, avoided and not collected, is estimated to be over 120 billion pounds.

Tax avoidance is overwhelmingly carried out by the wealthy, aided by clever and very well-paid accountants who take advantage of loopholes in the law. These are the people who really live in a culture of entitlement, and for Cameron to suggest otherwise is frankly disgraceful and destroys his credibility as a representative of a nation.

Cameron and his rich chums, along with The Daily Mail, like to vilify those on welfare as lazy scroungers and benefits cheats. As can be seen from a chart in the same article, benefits fraud accounts for less than 1% of that lost in the tax gap. If Cameron was truly serious about reducing the debt and deficit, he would address tax justice at the very least, but as this would upset his support, don't hold your breath.

It is not only the tax gap that can be worked on; huge sums of money are wasted on private consultants in the armed services or in education and multiple other areas, fields that could be easily staffed by the armies of unemployed with proper training. Again, this would not please the Tory donors so...keep holding that breath.

Even more money is thrown into the totally unnecessary Trident program, not to mention the bottomless hole also known as the Afghanistan War, and let's not forget our proud military adventures in Libya, where we saw costs like 183,000 pounds for a Brimstone missile and 50,000 pounds per Paveway guided bomb (see article for the full scandalous list).

No, instead we are told young people and single mothers have to pay instead.

And what will happen to young people when you take away their benefits and not create jobs for them? This comment from 'Obbsie' in the Guardian, who says he/she is a retired police officer, sums up one ominous route (edited slightly for punctuation):

"As an ex-cop, I can only say that this will drive more young people who live in inner city areas into the arms of the gangs who, despite what senior police and politicians say, control swathes of territory in those areas where poverty is prevalent. Gangs thrive where hopelessness exists and this announcement itself will build up the pressure of resentment. When it all explodes again, Dave 'we're all in this together' Cameron, his expense fiddling MPs and tax dodging millionaire supporters will once again hide behind the ‘old bill’ who now loathe Cameron and his government. As a recently retired police officer I never thought I'd be making this sort of statement."

It is not all bad news, of course: the much-loved Queen Elizabeth will receive an annual 20% pay rise to 36 million pounds. She does a great job, does she not?

There is no point asking in outraged tones why the government is doing this? If you don't know that this is quite simply an unprecedented power and money grab by the rich at the expense of the poor and democracy itself, you're either staggeringly naive or you have not been paying attention. Or perhaps you don't care. Well, unless you are one of the beneficiaries of said grab, you most definitely will care very soon.

We have been brought to these straits by a hopelessly flawed election system that allows parties with only around 35% national support to force radical policies on a nation that doesn't want them. The system of representative democracy has proved easy to rig in favor of the people with the power, money and will to do so.

There is only one escape from this: to create a grassroots system which puts at the very least the power of veto over government policy directly into the hands of the people. Even digging out the old pitchforks will not work in the long-term, as in most cases, even revolutions lead to regimes which are no better than those that came before, Egypt being one glaring example.

We must all, ALL, work to discard these old and rigged systems, along with the cynical, opportunistic politicians and their enablers in the media, and urgently consider a more direct form of democracy.

'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
Simon Wood on twitter (simonwood11) and Facebook or at his blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Update: Assange Seeks Asylum in Ecuador

When Julian Assange walked into the Ecuadorian embassy and formally requested political asylum yesterday, Twitter and the media went, to put it mildly, batshit. There were numerous tweets from people saying things like: 'Nothing says I'm innocent like fleeing to Ecuador'.

We even have Max Fisher at the Atlantic writing that 'it would appear to be a last-ditch effort to escape the Swedish criminal charges against him'. This kind of inaccuracy in even serious media publications is commonplace...and unforgivable. These 'criminal charges' do not exist. Congratulations, Mr Fisher: you are either a propagandist or incompetent. Take your pick.

It is a measure of the level of misinformation throughout the establishment media that such inaccuracies are still reported as fact. We saw the same phenomenon in the US - huge numbers of people believing that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. It happens all the time because the establishment media is, in the main, a festering pit of incompetent, cynical hacks who are either out to make a name for themselves at the expense of journalistic integrity, or out to make a fast dollar by jumping on a bandwagon here and there.

Put yourself in Assange's shoes and things become a little easier to understand.

You know that Sweden is chasing you desperately, insisting on you being extradited despite being charged with no crime in order to question you regarding allegations of sexual assault. You have offered numerous times to answer the allegations by Skype, perfectly acceptable under Swedish law, but you have been rebuffed every time. You understandably wonder why Sweden absolutely has to have you questioned on its territory, and your fears are ratcheted up even further on hearing that in 2006, the UN found Sweden to be in violation of the global ban on torture for turning over 2 people to the CIA to be rendered to Egypt. Even worse, as if that isn't bad enough: both turned out to be completely innocent (one was convicted in a 'flagrantly unfair' trial and the other released without charge). If Sweden did it once, they can do it again.

You have seen also what happens to prisoners awaiting trial in the US, and you know full well that almost every single authority figure in the US hates your guts. You know that sending a person to a country where they may be tortured is illegal under international law, but you also know you can't trust Sweden, especially with the likes of Carl Bildt possibly having influence over proceedings.

What do you do? I know I would consider every legal (and probably even illegal) avenue of escape. Julian Assange, to his credit, has gone for the perfectly legal option of requesting political asylum under the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If any person is deemed at risk of torture or mistreatment, decent members of the international community have a duty to step in and ensure their safety.

Regarding the allegations, Assange can still answer those from anywhere in the world on Skype, and if Sweden then decides it has enough evidence to charge him, we can go from there.

Julian Assange has done the only thing he can legally do to attempt to escape what is likely to be political persecution. It now remains to be seen whether Ecuador has the balls to invite the wrath of the empire. If not, it will be Sweden.

'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
Simon Wood on twitter (simonwood11) and Facebook or at his blog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sweden: Poodle of the Empire?

"I love Sweden. The entire world should be like Sweden. They all like to drink and get naked, and the women are hot. I can't think of a better nation on the planet" - Drew Curtis

Sweden has held my highest esteem since childhood; for as long as I can remember, I have thought of Sweden as a highly advanced, peaceful, just and democratic nation. This impression was greatly strengthened on reading Catch-22 at the age of 18 and finding the main character, Yossarian's view of Sweden to be thus:

He (Yossarian) would certainly have preferred Sweden, where the level of intelligence was high and where he could swim with nude beautiful girls with low, demurring voices and sire whole happy, undisciplined tribes of illegitimate Yossarians that the state would assist through parturition and launch into life without stigma.

I was sold. If a character born of the genius of Joseph Heller preferred Sweden as a place to live above all others, then so did I. In addition, the few Swedish people I have met in my life have been unfailingly kind, intelligent and thoughtful people.

It has therefore been a source of great dismay to witness a possible travesty of justice being played out in Sweden with regard to Julian Assange.

Mr. Assange will be extradited to Sweden within ten days of June 28th and will then face a hearing within four days of his arrival to decide whether or not he will be remanded in custody for questioning by the prosecution, which will be led by Marianne Ny, the same woman who gave him approval to leave Sweden in the first place after five weeks of Assange himself attempting to arrange interviews to answer the allegations against him. That these attempts were ignored along with the fact that Sweden is now so desperate to get their hands on him now should start the first alarm bells ringing.

Helene Bergman, a Swedish journalist, feminist and former radio host came out in defense of Mr. Assange last week. She expressed disgust that the empowerment of women that she fought for has led to the absurd legal circumstances Sweden now has with regard to this case and others like it.

I recommend reading the entire article as it is not long, but here is an excerpt from her blog posting:

I could never have dreamt that a legitimate struggle for equal rights and opportunities for both women and men would degenerate into state feminism devoid of common sense and reason.

Those of us who pioneered feminism in Sweden in the 1970s fought for our sexual freedom and for the right to take responsibility for ourselves, but we also fought to be able to, like men already do, enjoy sex.

Sexual liberation went hand-in-hand with the demand that we as women must be able to support ourselves and not be economically dependent on men. This is essential because only when we women are economically independent will we be able say 'no' if we feel we are being sexually used. Being a feminist is not about hating men. Feminism is about strengthening women’s self esteem, not about making ourselves into victims or being categorized by the state as victims by default.

But in today's feminist Sweden, the following can happen. In the preliminary investigation minutes for the case of Julian Assange in Sweden, I read: Woman A. says about her relationship with Julian Assange: "I was proud as hell to get the world's coolest man in bed and living in my apartment." After having sexual intercourse on numerous occasions, she goes to the police.

How did Sweden's sexual revolution of the 1970s transform into an oppressive 21st century power apparatus where men are portrayed as potential enemies and threats to the state? A state in which those who criticize the prevailing system are denied a voice in the media.

She also writes of a media witch hunt for Assange in Sweden, the kind of sensationalist shenanigans I had subconsciously believed rare or non-existent for such a serious, advanced democracy.

What's the big deal? Julian Assange is very justifiably concerned that he will be further extradited from Sweden to the US. While there is no smoking gun evidence that this will occur, leaked emails from the Stratfor security firm published by Wikileaks showed the vice president, Fred Burton, writing in an email marked 'Text Not For Pub' that 'We (the US government) have a sealed indictment against Assange. Pls protect'.

Burton also had the following sentiments, among others, to offer:

"Bankrupt the arsehole first, ruin his life. Give him 7-12 yrs for conspiracy."

"Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist. He'll be eating cat food forever."

A peek there, readers, into a rotten, sociopathic soul.

Credence for the existence of this elusive sealed indictment is added by the fact that the US has demonstrated its hunger to get its hands on Assange via multiple statements, some violent, by high-level officials throughout the US government (and others) and intelligence community.

Further, given the fact that the Burton never dreamed his internal emails would be leaked to the public and was therefore likely to be writing his true feelings, there is a strong likelihood that the indictment does indeed exist, and that it is quite understandable for Mr. Assange to be deeply concerned. We already know how the US treats prisoners it doesn't like, before or after being found guilty of any crime. And speaking of (see previous link) Bradley Manning, the young army analyst suspected of leaking the US diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, Barack Obama himself, formerly a constitutional law professor, said that Manning had "broke[n] the law". Hmmm...someone needs to re-take their first year in law school.

Put yourself in the shoes of Assange? Wouldn't you be concerned? I know I would.

Meanwhile, the US ambassador to Australia denied this month that there is a 'secret warrant' for Mr. Assange.

But he's a 'terrorist', goddammit!? He has done great harm to the national security of the United States and put at risk the lives of hundreds of other people, no?

The US State Department itself said that there was little lasting damage from the leaks, and that the main problem was 'bad public relations'. To date, no one to my knowledge has died as a consequence of the leaks, and as the information is now in many cases out of date, it is highly unlikely any damage can be caused in the future.

Academics at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism responded to the leaks by saying that publishing the cables was 'journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment'.

There is also the matter of a trove of around 100 text messages from the alleged victims of Mr. Assange. If, and I stress if, this is true, as the article says, that the women expected to 'be paid' and get 'revenge', then the credibility of his accusers would be precisely zero. I stress this because the crime of rape, whatever the circumstances or legal definitions, must never be trivialized for any reason.

Behind all of this it is quite clear, as it has been all along, that the US government not only wants payback against Mr. Assange and Mr. Manning, but that it also wants to send a message to other future whistleblowers. We should not forget that the Obama administration has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, so there are no surprises here.

Using executive power to defend state secrecy, especially when the actions shielded are extremely serious crimes, is a signature action of an oppressive regime, the kind of behavior the US routinely condemns in China and other countries. The United States can lay no claim whatsoever to being a democracy.

We can only hope that Sweden is in fact the country of justice and human rights that I had always naively believed it to be; I say naively because I never actually bothered to go and find out for myself.

If Mr. Assange ends up extradited to the US from Sweden, however it is justified, in full knowledge of how the US treats whistleblowers even before they are found guilty of any crime, then for the rest of time I will think of that nation as I already do the UK: just another poodle of the Empire.

And if Sweden does not extradite him, I might just go and live there myself someday.

The Swedish government does not care what I think, but those few Swedish people I mentioned earlier would be horrified to hear their nation described as America's fawning pet, and I know they represent the vast majority of their countrymen and women. One hopes the people of Sweden will see past the sensationalizing of Julian Assange in the media and put pressure on their elected officials to keep him from the grasp of his demonstrably corrupt enemies.

'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
Simon Wood on twitter (simonwood11) and Facebook or at his blog.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

System Justification

"We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." -George Orwell

Note: A month ago I wrote a long post on the psychological phenomenon of 'system justification'. I recommend reading it before beginning this.

Throughout history as well as in ordinary everyday life there is plenty of evidence that humans are irrational creatures. Everyone has rolled their eyes at the television on seeing someone having behaved in a way that seems beyond comprehension to 'normal' people. We even celebrate it with movies and comedy, or with related concepts like the Darwin Awards.

One particularly fascinating, not to mention tragic, aspect of human irrationality can be found in the tendency for those in a position of submission to learn to accept their lot, even when in possession of incontrovertible evidence that it is unfair, and despite the fact that many live in 'democracies' where all are supposedly equal under the law. One famous and interesting direct example of this tendency is the Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971.

To summarize, (from the link above):

Twenty-four male students out of 75 were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond Zimbardo's expectations, as the guards enforced authoritarian measures and ultimately subjected some of the prisoners to psychological torture. Many of the prisoners passively accepted psychological abuse and, at the request of the guards, readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his role as the superintendent, permitted the abuse to continue. Two of the prisoners quit the experiment early and the entire experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days. Certain portions of the experiment were filmed and excerpts of footage are publicly available.

After a relatively uneventful first day, on the second day the prisoners in Cell 1 blockaded their cell door with their beds and took off their stocking caps, refusing to come out or follow the guards' instructions. Guards from other shifts volunteered to work extra hours in order to assist in subduing the revolt, and subsequently attacked the prisoners with fire extinguishers without being supervised by the research staff. Finding that handling nine cell mates with only three guards per shift was challenging, one of the guards suggested that they use psychological tactics to control them. They set up a 'privilege cell' in which prisoners who were not involved in the riot were treated with special rewards, such as higher quality meals. The 'privileged' inmates chose not to eat the meal in order to stay uniform with their fellow prisoners.

After only 36 hours, one prisoner began to act 'crazy', as Zimbardo described: "#8612 then began to act crazy, to scream, to curse, to go into a rage that seemed out of control. It took quite a while before we became convinced that he was really suffering and that we had to release him."

Guards forced the prisoners to repeat their assigned numbers in order to reinforce the idea that this was their new identity. Guards soon used these prisoner counts to harass the prisoners, using physical punishment such as protracted exercise for errors in the prisoner count. Sanitary conditions declined rapidly, exacerbated by the guards' refusal to allow some prisoners to urinate or defecate anywhere but in a bucket placed in their cell. As punishment, the guards would not let the prisoners empty the sanitation bucket. Mattresses were a valued item in the prison, so the guards would punish prisoners by removing their mattresses, leaving them to sleep on concrete. Some prisoners were forced to be naked as a method of degradation. Several guards became increasingly cruel as the experiment continued; experimenters reported that approximately one-third of the guards exhibited genuine sadistic tendencies. Most of the guards were upset when the experiment concluded after only 6 days.

There is plenty of criticism surrounding the study, not least the ethical concerns, the difficulty in replicating the results, and also selection bias. Nevertheless, it caught the imagination, partly because while the results may have surprised many, deep down we can all on some level appreciate that we are indeed not rational beings, and that some of us can be pretty damned evil when we are given the chance. The Abu Ghraib prisoner torture and abuse scandal serves well as a real-world example.

I was reminded of the experiment today on reading this horror story in The Guardian. In brief, up to 30 long-term unemployed people and another 50 on 'apprentice wages' were bussed to London to work as stewards for the jubilee celebrations. According to two of them, they had to sleep under London Bridge the night before, had no access to toilets for 24 hours, were forced to change into their gear in public, and were then taken to a 'swampy' campsite outside London after working unpaid for 14 hours in the pouring rain.

First, paid workers would never be treated like this - not out of any kind of altruism, but because those in charge would not want to fall foul of any labor laws. In other words, they were treated like shit because, in the eyes of the people behind this, they are shit. There's human nature right there. Second, a glance through the reader comments beneath the article unearths more than a few people who see nothing wrong with this. A standard such comment goes along these lines: I have a job and pay their benefits so they actually ought to be doing this kind of thing instead of sitting around doing nothing all day.

This lack of compassion should not come as a shock. In an age where materialism rules, and the going mantra for 'success' is: look out for number one, it is not in any way surprising.

What is sad, however, is the fact that these unemployed people did not complain about these conditions at all, and neither did they refuse to comply. Obviously, they would fear losing their benefits, but that is just the point: it is so easy for the state to make the downtrodden, the poor, the helpless and the weak do what it wants. All it has to do is hold power over them, even a short-term power like cutting off benefits, to ensure obedience and compliance every time. Just as with the Stanford Prison Experiment, the weak come to expect bad treatment, and even disapprove of others in the same position stepping out of line, causing 'trouble'.

System justification.

Further, the poor who endure such treatment at the hands of the state will avoid seriously questioning the status quo as that would necessarily require them to examine their own beliefs. As stated in my main post on this topic, no one likes to admit they were wrong or stupid, and no one can easily stand up and say that the way they have lived for years, all their life in many cases, was a sham. This unfortunate aspect of human nature also explains the pathetic Obama supporters who refuse to condemn his murderous drone program and kill list, the very same supporters who would have screamed for the impeachment of George W Bush if he had done such a thing on the scale we see today.

What to do. There used to be a time, back in the day, when one could take one's grievances to the man in charge. I remember a scene from the Sopranos where the local wise guys approach the manager a new restaurant, telling him that he needs to pay protection money. The manager refuses, and when the mafia guys start talking tough, he reasons with them, saying that he has no control over the money, and that every dollar has to be accounted for, and that if it isn't or if anything happens to him, he will simply be replaced so there is nothing he can do.

Bemused, the gangsters walk away empty-handed. A different world.

We are faced with the same issue. No doubt an inquiry into this debacle with the unemployed will be demanded and David Cameron will have to sweat a bit for the cameras, but when the dust settles, and it will, the same old dysfunctional systems will still be in place. Heads might roll, but they'll be replaced by equally rotten heads. The outrage will last until the next scandal, and then it will be forgotten. The inquiry will announce its findings in a few months, but with the passion of the moment gone, most will not care. Some changes might even be made, but as they will be rooted in the same fundamentally broken system, they will not necessarily be effective.

Our elected leaders are now simply fronts for those who really call the shots: the super rich, the corporations and the banks. These people do not care about societal issues in the slightest - they are insulated from them in every way. They do not need infrastructure because they can simply buy it. They have private security, we need the police. They have private tutors for their kids, we need a national education system. They have private jets, we queue up at the airport. When they get sick, they have private doctors; when we do, unless we have ready cash, we need a national health infrastructure.

So you see, they don't give a flying damn about society because they are beyond it, living in gated mansions on islands and the like. All they care about is keeping the citizenry under control as it feeds them steady waves of cash, the green blood that sustains them. They even make dodgy deals and bet against them succeeding (watch the award-winning documentary, Inside Job for details), knowing full well that they will fail because they have lied to the investors. And yes, they even help to destroy entire nations.

Who do we have to fight these forces? Not our governments - they are in their pockets. Not the media: there are 1500 newspapers, 1100 magazines, 9000 radio stations, 1500 TV stations, 2400 publishers owned by only 3 corporations. All we have is little old us.

This is why it is so tragic and dangerous that the sense of community is falling apart in certain countries. Every time someone complains about paying some unfortunate's benefits, attacking the weak, it makes the fabric of a society weaker. A strong society looks out for its own, helping those down on their luck, while celebrating and lauding those who do well, in whatever way that might be, partly because one day, should bad luck strike, Mr Proud Wage-Earner may fall down some stairs and do his back in, and may be severely handicapped for the rest of his life, and therefore may need to depend on those maligned benefits himself.

I have demonstrated many times on this blog over the last three or four months that we live in broken societies. Demonstrably flawed elections serve to keep elites who do not represent the true wishes of the people in power. These elites in turn serve those who bankroll their campaigns and who keep the corporate media off their backs as long as they dance to their tune.

These systems, rotten to the very core, have to be rebuilt from the ground up. Direct democracy is the only viable way to remove the corporate lobbyists and the elites out of the equation, but even that is not enough. Simply introducing direct democracy into a flawed infrastructure would not necessarily work; it would only paper over the cracks. A media that actually does its job is vital. An education system that actually prepares people to be active, productive and happy members of their societies instead of simply grooming them for a life of miserable drudgery in some bland office somewhere is also a prerequisite.

There is a lot of work to do to attain such a goal. You can start by helping bring about a grassroots movement towards direct democracy. My free book (see postscript below) tells all.

The alternative is not something you want your children to experience. It is tempting to use apocalyptic language to describe what awaits us if we keep allowing the sociopathic financial elites to do what they want. Accelerating change means that very soon the power to do anything about it will be gone...all avenues of possible change will be closed off, including the last bastion of freedom: the internet, as the people with all the power and money will ensure it is heavily censored and controlled. Protest? Have a look at Egypt to see where protest gets you these days: the same old scoundrels still in key positions of power. Or ask the Occupy Wall Street protesters how they have changed society beyond raising inequality to the global debate; important in itself, but simply not enough.

These are tumultuous times. Nation states are becoming debt slaves to the banks. The trans-national corporations are running riot. Millions are in slavery, billions in abject poverty. It is obvious to state this, but it must be said nonetheless: things are only going to get worse. Unless.

'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
Simon Wood on twitter (simonwood11) and Facebook or at his blog.