As a nation, we are facing a huge deficit, while the oil and defense industries are reaping huge financial profits and the gap between rich and poor gets bigger. We are deep in a war without the approval of the majority of the countries of the United Nations. Our president has authorized the wiretapping of citizens who are suspected of terrorist ties. Our government has arrested and imprisoned people who are detained in prisons without being given a lawyer or a fair trial. There is reason to believe that the voting machines were tampered with, and in some cases, there are no paper trails to back up the results. Just how blind will we be? The very fabric of our nation is unraveling.
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The media talks about the evil terrorists in different countries, but never once do they call President Bush the greatest American terrorist. We the people, under his leadership, are responsible for innocent deaths in Iraq. We had no right to go into a country and impose our will on them. We had no right to go against the decisions of the United Nations in going to war, especially when there were no weapons of mass destruction found.
We the people, talk of how we live in the greatest nation on Earth. Indeed, the nation with the greatest amount of garbage output, the greatest gas-guzzling vehicles and the greatest output toward ozone depletion in our world. Laws in our nation are set up to help the wealthiest individuals and corporations increase their profits and pay fewer taxes, while those who are poor suffer. Just how blind will Americans be?
In our state of Alaska, the wealthy cruise ship industry continues to profit and not give back to Alaska, except for a small percentage that their passengers pay to individual businesses. The cruise ship corporations are not held responsible for paying for the full cost of pollution, garbage and infrastructure spending costs they leave behind, as they take their profits with them to their foreign banking accounts. Just how blind will we be?
Many of the decent citizens in Juneau, back in the 1800s, avoided the South Franklin Street area, due to the sexual prostitution. Now, in a new millennium, many of the decent citizens in Juneau avoid the South Franklin area because of the way we have prostituted tourism. Many of the local mom and pop shops that were once a great part of South Franklin Street are being pushed out so that foreign-owned corporations can have their businesses and take their profits home with them.
Indeed, it is good to have a resource such as tourism, but the industry needs to pay the State of Alaska a greater percentage of their profits, so they can put back some of what they take out. Just how blind will we be?
The governor and Department of Transportation are planning to build a road out of Juneau that the majority of the people of Haines, Skagway and twice in Juneau have voted against. We all learned in our history classes that, in a democracy, majority rules. Just how blind will America be?
We have laws, such as the Clean Water Act, which protects our environment, yet the federal government wants to allow the mining industry to dump mine tailings into a highly used recreational, hunting and subsistence lake in Juneau - so that the profits of a mining company can increase. Just how blind will we be?
It seems that as Americans, we would rise up if our leaders told us that tomorrow they decided our television's remote control units would be taken away. That decision would surely anger citizens to rise up. I hope that the apathy that now exists in our nation, our state and our community, soon gets called into action. It is time for all of us to communicate with our leaders about how we want our communities, or nation and our world to be governed. Let it not just be something that our history books inform us happens in a democracy.
Joyce Levine is a Juneau resident and longtime advocate for environmental and transportation issues in Juneau.