To speak about morals and ethics in US governance we first have to look broadly and through history to understand where modern America came to its STRONG system of governance steeped in morals, ethics, and Rule of Law. It defines what the words duty, community, and family means. Overseas in Asia those nations' citizens had these same values that were killed by MAOIST GREAT LEAP FORWARD expanding from China to other Asian nations. This was global 1% far-right wing Chinese rich changing their society to global neo-liberalism industrialization. The concepts of morality, ethics, family, and duty were washed away and made into duty and honor tied to the ONE PARTY OF INDUSTRIAL RICH in China. So, today our 99% of Asian global labor pool are being brought to US wanting our American freedom, liberty, justice, rights as citizens but they have spent several decades under a naked capitalist neo-liberalism and a MARXISM killing religious ties to morality, ethics, Rule of Law, family, and duty.
Family honor is tied to class------class is tied to proximity to a ruling class or emperor as we discussed in Japanese society. What our global 99% of Asian citizens must understand about America----is we do not honor a higher class of people-----there is no class as regards citizens rights, equal protection under law, equal opportunity and access. We do not tie family honor to corporations owned by the rich. In fact, 99% OF WE THE PEOPLE create laws around MONOPOLY and estate taxes and property laws keeping any US citizen from attaining extreme wealth and corporations killing a real FREE MARKET ECONOMY.
It is more or less a moral duty. It is the duty of a good citizen to resist injustice from any quarter. If the government is unjust, it may also be resisted'.
What our new immigrant citizens and our US young adults must remember, our US and State Constitutions and founding fathers fully expected US citizens to get rid of rogue governments as today's CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA----it was as the article states above our RESPONSIBILITY AND DUTY to keep our state honest, civil, working for the success of communities and families. Almost every one of these DUTIES OF CITIZENS have these few decades been corrupted ---we need our new citizens to understand they should NOT find it their DUTY TO HONOR this governance.
9 most important duties of a citizen towards his State
Every citizen is expected to be loyal to the state. His or her loyalty should, in no case, be divided. The state expects unstinted allegiance from its citizens.
All the citizens should willingly and habitually obey the laws of the state. A democratic government is a government of the people themselves. Laws reflect their own will. There should not be, therefore, any hesitation in the obedience of laws.
(c) Payment of Taxes:
The administration of a country involves a certain amount of expenditure. This expenditure cannot be met without raising certain taxes. Citizens in their own interest, should, therefore willingly and honestly make payment of their taxes.
(d) Public Spirit:
Every citizen should be public spirited. He should not seek his self-interest and should always be ready to contribute his mite to the welfare of society.
(e) Honest exercise of Franchise:
Vote is a sacred trust in the hands of the citizens. It should always be used judiciously. Suitable representatives should be sent to the legislatures. A wrong use of vote may result in a bad government.
(J) Help to Public Officials in the maintenance of Law and Order:
It is the duty of every citizen to lend a hand of co-operation to public officials in the discharge of their duties. Every citizen should try to remove evils and crimes from society by rendering help to the officials concerned.
Every able-bodied citizen should work and try to add something to the social fund. Idlers are a parasite on the society. Work brings in wealth and prosperity in the country. In countries like Russia work is considered to be a legal duty.
Every citizen is expected to be tolerant towards others. Their religions beliefs "Do unto others what you wish to be done by," should be the motto before every citizen.
It is more or less a moral duty. It is the duty of a good citizen to resist injustice from any quarter. If the government is unjust, it may also be resisted.
GOODNESS AND RIGHTNESS-------we wanted to share the great religions of the world to understand we actually have a shared understanding through these religions what goodness and rightness looks like for our families, communities, and our governance. When we leave a religious stance for guidance in what is GOOD OR RIGHT and only allow a government/state/the rich and their corporations tell us what GOOD AND RIGHTNESS will be--------it creates FAILED STATES as we have in our US cities------as this definition states----it does not have to be a religious definition----it has been philosophical for thousands of years.......what happened during CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA and what MOVING FORWARD intends for the future of US CITIES DEEMED FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONES is a philosophy of NIHILISM -----no morals, ethics, Rule of Law----anything goes for the rich who then use authoritarianism to keep 99% from ANY FREEDOM.
'Morality (from the Latin moralis "manner, character, proper behavior") is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal.
Morality may also be specifically synonymous with "goodness" or "rightness"'.
When we lose morality and ethics in governance as we shout over and again----that lying, cheating, stealing, no morals or ethics filling our governance and corporate operations steeps down to communities, families, and individuals. This is what 99% OF WE THE PEOPLE and our global 99% of labor pool immigrants must STOP MOVING FORWARD and reverse. We will not survive as a nation, a state, a community, a population group if we allow for AMORAL AND UNETHICAL SOCIETAL STRUCTURES to take hold. A family is not an ISOLATED group----a community is not an ISOLATED GROUP----it all works as any ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM.
When we shout PEOPLE NOT PROFITS------this is what defines REAL LEFT SOCIAL PROGRESSIVE public policy. We discussed in detail the move during Reagan----towards what was a corporate profit first legislative stance killing last century's public interest as the priority first in legislation. As this article states all this started earlier-----it is why the US FED was allowed to be installed in early 1900s-----US citizens must understand this is not just another phase of Western or US boom and bust---MOVING FORWARD has a goal of permanently installing a hyper-wealth and power agenda they want to assure cannot be reversed as happened over and again through revolutions in past.
'[A U.S.] Supreme Court ruling in 1886 ... arguably set the stage for the full-scale development of the culture of capitalism, by handing to corporations the right to use their economic power in a way they never had before'.
CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA used the above US Supreme Court ruling from back in late 1800s to take today's stance of CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE. There was no precedence before this SUPREME COURT RULING and a century of court rulings and Federal laws kept corporate monopoly at bay. It was illegal for US Supreme Court to ignore a century of court precedence to come to CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE-----we simply need to VOID THOSE RULINGS. If we allow these stances -----we know corporations are not moral or ethical and driven by profiteering at all cost.
We are not going into a discussion of corporations are not people----what we want to remind folks is this------the turning of America from being PUBLIC INTEREST and community and civil responsibility to voters and citizens was this stance that corporations are people ----and this stance was taken these few decades ILLEGALLY from a single US Supreme Court ruling in 1880s. This article in GLOBAL ISSUES tells a good history but it fails to identify the illegality that corrupts today's stance in MOVING FORWARD SOCIETAL CHANGES FOR ONLY GLOBAL 1% CORPORATE POWER.
CORPORATE BENEFIT PATRONAGE IS ALWAYS CORRUPT-----
This is a long article but please glance through to see the stages of breaking down our US stance against CORPORATE MONOPOLY, DUTY AND HONOR TO STATE.
The Rise of Corporations
- by Anup Shah
- This Page Last Updated Thursday, December 05, 2002
[The section is a very broad and high-level overview of the history of corporations. It largely summarizes from the works of people like J.W. Smith, author of World’s Wasted Wealth II (Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994) and Economic Democracy; Political Struggle of the 21st Century (M.E. Sharpe, 2000); Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century (Verso Press, 1994 reprinted 2000); Richard Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (Allyn and Bacon, 1999). Of course, while I do recommend these sources, many, many other sources out there offer similar perspectives and insights.]
The Rise of the Corporation
Corporations, as we tend to think of them, have been around for a few centuries, the earliest of which were chartered around the sixteenth century in places like England, Holland etc. Technically speaking, a corporation is what Robbins describes as a social invention of the state (Robbins: p.98). That is, a state grants a corporate charter, permitting private financial resources being used for public purposes. As Arrighi points out, this initial creation of private finance and merchants, etc was to aid in the expansion of a state to which it belonged, and as Arrighi and Smith detail, served to expand colonial and imperial interests to start with, as well as help in war efforts between empires.
The advantage of having a corporation over being an individual investing in trade voyages etc, was that an individual’s debts could be inherited by descendants (and hence, one could be jailed for debts of other family members, for example). A corporate charter however, was limited in its risks, to just the amount that was invested. A right not accorded to individuals. (Robbins: p.98)
Corporations had therefore the potential, from the onset, to become very powerful. Even Abraham Lincoln recognized this:
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. ... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 (letter to Col. William F. Elkins) Ref: The Lincoln Encyclopedia, Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY)
Adam Smith, in his famous book the Wealth of Nations, the bible of capitalism, was also critical of some aspects of corporate activity. He saw corporations as working to evade the laws of the market, trying to interfere with prices and controlling trade etc.
The Rights of the Corporation
As corporations did manage to increase their wealth and therefore political power, laws that initially tried to manage them were further relaxed. As Arrighi mentions throughout his book, corporations would benefit from the State’s war-making activities, further increasing their wealth and influence.
Yet, it was claiming of a corporation to be an individual in the United States in the 1800s, and claiming the same rights as a person that helped to provide for large expansion of corporate capitalism:
[A U.S.] Supreme Court ruling in 1886 ... arguably set the stage for the full-scale development of the culture of capitalism, by handing to corporations the right to use their economic power in a way they never had before.
Relying on the Fourteenth Amendment, added to the Constitution in 1868 to protect the rights of freed slaves, the Court ruled that a private corporation is a natural person under the U.S. Constitution, and consequently has the same rights and protection extended to persons by the Bill of Rights, including the right to free speech. Thus corporations were given the same rights to influence the government in their own interests as were extended to individual citizens, paving the way for corporations to use their wealth to dominate public thought and discourse. The debates in the United States in the 1990s over campaign finance reform, in which corporate bodies can donate millions of dollars to political candidates stem from this ruling although rarely if ever is that mentioned. Thus, corporations, as persons, were free to lobby legislatures, use the mass media, establish educational institutions such as many business schools founded by corporate leaders in the early twentieth century, found charitable organizations to convince the public of their lofty intent, and in general construct an image that they believed would be in their best interests. All of this in the interest of free speech.
Richard Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p.100 (Bold Emphasis Added)
As Robbins further points out, from this ability to influence, corporate libertarianism emerged, which placed the rights and freedoms of corporations above that of individuals. This influence also led to cultural and economic ideologies known by numerous names such as neoliberal, libertarian economics, market capitalism, market liberalism etc.
Some of the guiding principles of this ideology, as Robbins continues, included:
- Sustained economic growth as the way to human progress
- Free markets without government interference would be the most efficient and socially optimal allocation of resources
- Economic globalization would be beneficial to everyone
- Privatization removes inefficiencies of public sector
- Governments should mainly function to provide the infrastructure to advance the rule of law with respect to property rights and contracts.
The other issue this GLOBAL ISSUES fails to define correctly is this concept of NEO-LIBERALISM being tied to FREE MARKET-----neo-liberalism KILLED FREE MARKET ECONOMICS in US and all other nations-------it is NOT FREE MARKET
The Rise of Corporate Influence
From this right of the corporation, how has it affected the rights of others? Corporations in and of themselves may not be a bad thing. They can be engines of positive change. But, especially when they become excessively large, and concentrated in terms of ownership of an industry and in wealth, they can also be engines for negative change, as seems to have happened. There is of course, the common concern about the drive for profit as the end goal sometimes contradicting the social good, even though it is claimed that the invisible hand ensures the drive for profit is also good for society. Sometimes this has surely been the case. But other times, it has not.
There is much recognized and unrecognized corporate influence in our lives. Indeed, much of western culture and increasingly, around the world, consumerism is expanding.
Corporate influence can reach various parts of societies through various means, which many other entities don’t have the ability to do, as they lack the financial resources that corporations have:
- Influence on general populations via advertising and control and influence in the mainstream media.
- Influence on public policy and over governments, as hinted to above. This can range from financing large parts of elections, to creating corporate-funded think tanks and citizen groups, to support from very influential political bodies such as the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg group, etc.
- Influence on international institutions, such as the World Trade Organization, as well as international economic and political agreements.
Thom Hartmann, a writer and reporter, describes at length how corporations co-opted the use of human rights, in his book Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights (Rodale Press, October 2002). It details the 1886 ruling also mentioned above on this page. With kind permission, a table contrasting implications before and after that ruling is reproduced here, from a summary page on the web site for the book:
Before 1886: When Only Humans Had Human Rights
After 1886: After the Corporate Theft of Human Rights
Rights and Privileges
Only humans were endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights and those human rights included the right to free speech, the right to privacy, the right to silence in the face of accusation, and the right to live free of discrimination or slavery.While to this day unions, churches, governments, and small unincorporated businesses do not have human rights (but only privileges humans give them), corporations alone have moved into the category with humans as claiming rights instead of just privileges.
In many states, it was a felony for corporations to give money to politicians, political parties, or try to influence elections: They can’t vote, so what are they doing involved in politics?!Corporations claimed the human right of free speech, expanded that to mean the unlimited right to put corporate money into politics, and have thus taken control of our major political parties and politicians
States and local communities had laws to protect and nurture entrepreneurs and local businesses, and to keep out companies that had been convicted of crimes.Multi-state corporations claimed such laws were discrimination under the 14th Amendment (passed to free the slaves) and got such laws struck down; local communities can no longer stop a predatory corporation.
THEY CAN STOP A MULTI-NATIONAL CORPORATION FROM KILLING LOCAL FREE MARKET ECONOMIC GROWTH.
Government, elected by and for We, The People, made decisions about how armies would be equipped and, based on the will of the general populace, if and when we would go to war. Prior to WWII there were no permanent military manufacturing companies of significant size.Military contractors grew to enormous size as a result of WWII and a permanent arms industry came into being, what Dwight Eisenhower called the military/industrial complex. It now lobbies government to buy its products and use them in wars around the world.
Corporations had to submit to the scrutiny of the representatives of We, The People, our elected government.Corporations have claimed 4th Amendment human right to privacy and used it to keep out OSHA, EPA, and to hide crimes.
Corporations were chartered for a single purpose, had to also serve the public good, and had fixed/limited life spans.Corporations lobbied states to change corporate charter laws to eliminate public good provisions from charters, to allow multiple purposes, and to exist forever.
Just as human persons couldn’t own other persons, corporations couldn’t own the stock of other corporations (mergers and acquisitions were banned).
Corporations claim the human right to economic activity free of regulatory restraint, and the still-banned-for-humans right to own others of their own kind.
Hartmann actually goes further saying that the ruling never happened:
the Supreme Court ruled no such thing in 1886. The 'corporations are persons' ruling was a fiction created by the court’s reporter. He simply wrote the words into the headnote of the decision. The words contradict what the court actually said. There is, in fact, in the US National Archives a note by the Supreme Court Chief Justice of the time explicitly informing the reporter that the court had not ruled on corporate personhood in the Santa Clara case.
Thom Hartmann, Dinosaur War, The Ecologist, December/January 2002 Issue
But since then, either way, the influence and power of large corporations has increased and is an undeniable facet of the 'global village' and corporate globalization. Of course, the influence of various groups and entities is nothing new. But today, the increasing size and wealth of corporations point to more concentration of wealth and of political and economic power and influence than before. Indeed, today as mentioned above, of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; only 49 are countries (based on a comparison of corporate sales and country GDPs).
Adam Smith, often regarded as the father of modern capitalism, wrote the influential famous book, The Wealth of Nations in 1776. This book exposed the mercantile and monopoly capitalism of the preceeding centuries as unjust and unfair, and proposed a free market system. He himself was very critical of the influences of concentrated ownership (which is also a way to reduce competition) and large corporations as interfering with free market capitalism (although many who do exert influence don’t mind doing so in his name, and calling it free market!) Smith is worth quoting at length:
What has devastated our US communities and by extension our families, and children is these few decades of ROBBER BARON FRAUDS AND CORRUPTIONS by corporations and their 5% pols and players literally forcing US citizens wanting employment to operate within this ethos of lying, cheating, stealing, no morals or ethics, no Rule of Law, no God's Natural Law. This is why our US cities are filled with black market economies, violence, where individual US citizens are living in moral and ethical decay.
IF LAWS REFLECT THE WILL OF 99% OF CITIZENS PEOPLE ABIDE BY THEM----CORRUPT ELECTIONS INSTALLING POLS WORKING FOR ONLY THE GLOBAL 1% ----THERE IS NO MORAL DUTY TOWARDS OBEDIENCE.
All the citizens should willingly and habitually obey the laws of the state. A democratic government is a government of the people themselves. Laws reflect their own will. There should not be, therefore, any hesitation in the obedience of laws'.
So, that is why a TRUMP FAMILY was installed in 2016 elections----making a mockery of all that is fundamental in governance tied to MORALS, ETHICS, DUTY, HONOR ------
MOVING FORWARD TO FAR-RIGHT WING EXTREME WEALTH EXTREME POVERTY LIBERTARIAN MARXISM.
As US citizens move away from feeling that tie to DUTY AND HONOR with obedience slipping ---in comes that far-right wing AUTHORITARIANISM to assure we continue MOVING FORWARD. This same thing happened in Asian nations and Latin American nations as neo-liberalism and global 1% wealth broke down all those nations' societal structures tied to MORALS, ETHICS, DUTY, HONOR, COMMUNITY, FAMILY. That was what several decades of civil unrest and wars were about in southeast Asia.
The fact that national news and 5% pols and players work so hard to pretend our US elections are not as corrupt as they are is that statement---LAWS REFLECT THEIR OWN WILL------99% US WE THE PEOPLE of course know that is not true.
What happens in poor communities when our government if filled with fraud, corruption, open stealing-----when families go to work each day tied to MOVING FORWARD these laissez faire OLD WORLD attitudes?
There is a loss of RESPECT, HONOR, DUTY IN FAMILY AND COMMUNITY------
Our children have grown up these few decades in families they know are tied to ROBBER BARON FRAUDS AND CORRUPTIONS and yet we are shouting that our US city young adults have no MORALS, ETHICS, NO REGARD TO RULE OF LAW....no tie to family and honor. We do not believe US polls because these polling corporations are CORRUPT.....the corruption goes throughout---state and local especially.
Perception of government could affect agency hiring
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Apr 30, 2012
A majority of Americans in a recent survey said they view the federal government as mostly corrupt--an opinion that a public service advocate said was likely to make it more difficult to recruit top talent to federal agencies.
The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press interviewed more than 3,000 adults about their views of government in the second week of April. They released a report on the results on April 26.
Fifty-four percent of the respondents said the federal government is “mostly corrupt,” while 31 percent said “mostly honest,” and 11 percent said they did not know, or neither.
“That is really quite disturbing,” John Palguta, vice president for policy with the Partnership for Public Service, told Federal Computer Week.
"Certainly it does not help recruitment," Palguta said. "I am worried about the negative attitudes turning people off about working for the government."
He said the dampening effect could be subtle because many people are looking for work and there is competition for federal jobs. However, pervasive negative attitudes make it harder to attract the best qualified talent, he added.
Morale of the current 2 million federal employees also is likely to be hurt, but to a lesser degree, Palguta said.
"When people badmouth the government, it takes a toll," Palguta said. At the same time, he added, federal employee morale is somewhat resilient because the public recognizes some of the benefits of government, such as Social Security and national defense.
Federal agencies "will have to work harder" to reduce the negative perceptions, Palguta said. "Fight perceptions with facts. Tell people about the outstanding work of government."
Other measures of corruption have shown the United States government to be among the least corrupt. For example, Globalintegrity.org recently rated the U.S. as scoring 85 out of 100 for its strong integrity laws.
In the Pew report, state governments got higher ratings than the federal government for honesty. Forty-nine percent said state governments are mostly honest, while 37 percent said they are mostly corrupt.
It was the first time Pew had asked the question about corruption, said Scott Keeter, director of survey research. The goal was to probe voters’ attitudes more deeply, he said..
Overall, the Pew survey also showed that just a third of Americans have a favorable opinion of the federal government, the lowest positive rating in 15 years.
Palguta suggested several reasons why the survey results were so negative. For one, with Congress experiencing partisan gridlock, its favorability ratings also are at historic lows. For example, a poll by Rasmussen Reports in early April said only 6 percent of respondents rated Congress’ performance as good or excellent. Many people also paint the federal government with the same brush, Palguta said.
“If the pollsters do not distinguish between elected officials and the government workforce, you get this blurring of opinion, and the negative opinion of Congress tends to bleed over,” Palguta said.
Keeter agreed that might be the case to some extent, saying that the respondents were not asked to distinguish between elected and politically-appointed officials and career government workers.
Another factor possibly contributing to the perception of corruption could be the recent General Services Administration scandal over conference spending, and the Secret Service scandal over hiring prostitutes in Columbia. People tend to remember the most recent incidents of misconduct the most, Palguta said.
Palguta also suggested that people may misperceive the integrity of federal workers because they seldom interact with them on a one-to-one basis. When there is close interaction, the views of integrity probably would be much higher, he suggested.
He also said that presidential election rhetoric likely is contributing to the strongly negative views of the federal government. The candidates often talk about government being broken and needing to be fixed, he said.
Candidates running for office against an incumbent will tend to say “Elect me and I will fix it,” Palguta said. “It does not pay, if you want to win, to talk about what the government does well.”
Other views expressed by the survey respondents also were negative about federal agencies.
Seventy-one percent of respondents said the federal government is “generally inefficient,” while only 24 percent said it is generally efficient. By contrast, 51 percent said state governments were inefficient and 38 percent said they were efficient.
In addition, 79 percent of respondents said the federal government was “not careful with people’s money,” 75 percent said it is “too divided along party lines.” And 66 percent said it “does not address people’s needs.”
We watch here in Baltimore as all our global Wall Street Baltimore Development 'labor and justice' and community organizations have leaders we all know are 5% to the 1% players-----they are in up to their elbows in lying, cheating, stealing, no morals or ethics, no Rule of Law, no God's Natural law promoting OLD WORLD MERCHANTS OF VENICE GLOBAL LAISSEZ FAIRE NEO-LIBERALISM ------all while pressuring 99% of Baltimore citizens to HAVE PUBLIC SPIRIT. So, corporations are being allowed to force people LEFT BEHIND to maintain a community spirit even though everyone knows MOVING FORWARD has goals of pushing all of today's Baltimore citizens out---bringing in a global 1% foreign corporations having that voice 99% WE THE PEOPLE are required under law to have in writing PUBLIC POLICY.
WHEN A NATION MOVES TOWARDS FORCING CITIZENS TO PRETEND TO HAVE PUBLIC SPIRIT WHEN GOVERNMENT IS KILLING THE PUBLIC-----WE HAVE FAR-RIGHT WING AUTHORITARIANISM.
'(d) Public Spirit:
Every citizen should be public spirited. He should not seek his self-interest and should always be ready to contribute his mite to the welfare of society'.
SHOULD NOT SEEK SELF-INTEREST-----wait! Doesn't CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA far-right wing global Wall Street neo-liberal and neo-con PROMOTE SELF-INTEREST----that LIBERTARIAN accumulate wealth anyway you can -------we are in the midst of hyper -self interest ----LIVING FOR TODAY.
Corporations forcing their employees to volunteer to do public sector work not being done because corporations are not PAYING TAXES.
If 99% US WE THE PEOPLE allow MOVING FORWARD US CITIES DEEMED FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONES-----as we know these few decades we have a global labor pool being brought into US experiencing all that is illegal, corrupt, killing family and honor-----and it is being done by US CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA and their 5% to the 1% black, white, and brown citizens. Our US citizens are being left unemployed and told they are worthless-----PUBLIC SPIRIT=====duty, honor, family, community being killed.
We are coming to yet another US election in 2018 and we see it filled yet again with GLOBAL 1% PLAYERS----the only ones willing to pretend elections are rigged and fraudulent beyond belief-----they will not be leading rolling peaceful protests for weeks and months to demand all global 1% pols and players get out of our people's government....they are mostly the LABOR BROKERS or working for those enslaving structures.
Wanted: foreign workers — and the labor brokers accused of illegally profiting from them
FAR AFIELD: Using a U.S. visa program, Nestor Molina, left, recruited foreign workers from Honduras to come to these fields in Florida to pick strawberries. Now, Molina faces allegations that he exploited those workers, and attorneys have been unable to locate him.
Vast numbers of foreign workers come to the United States with the help of labor brokers. These middlemen recruit them for temporary jobs. But Reuters found that brokers also can compound abuses workers face even before entering America.
NEW YORK – Nestor Molina has made a living looking for Honduran workers to pick fruit in Florida. Now, some of the workers he recruited, their lawyers, and the U.S. government are looking for him.
Molina, 53, is among the middlemen hired by companies to help bring foreign workers to the United States for temporary jobs.
The jobs span almost every industry, from agriculture to hospitality, and the numbers of foreign workers brought to the United States have swelled in the past two decades. In the fiscal year ending last August, the government issued more than 350,000 temporary work visas.
Public attention has focused largely on U.S. employers that exploit foreign workers. But Reuters identified an insidious problem that precedes and can compound the abuses workers face when they arrive in America – and one that authorities say can be even more difficult to address.
In more than 200 civil and criminal cases Reuters examined that were filed in federal court, lawyers representing the government and tens of thousands of foreign workers allege myriad misdeeds committed by middlemen such as Molina – labor brokers enlisted by U.S. companies to navigate government bureaucracy, recruit workers, help secure visas, and arrange transportation for those who are hired.
The alleged transgressions range from wage theft to human trafficking. Molina has been accused in a lawsuit by a group of Honduran migrant workers of charging them thousands of dollars apiece in illegal recruitment fees, among other abuses. U.S. authorities told Reuters they are investigating the allegations against Molina, whose whereabouts are unknown and who couldn’t be reached for comment.
One non-profit group that counsels American corporations on labor matters warns its clients that hiring intermediaries to recruit workers increases the likelihood of illicit activity within labor networks. In part, that’s because the brokers operate as independent contractors, essentially answering to no one.
“These brokers are outside anyone’s control,” said Quinn Kepes, a program director at the non-profit group Verite.
Anna Park, an attorney with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who has brought civil cases against brokers and employers on behalf of foreign workers, said the middlemen are hard to hold accountable if workers are exploited.
“These companies are fly-by-night. They are able to secure legitimate visas and operate within the system,” Park said. “When their practices are scrutinized, they often disappear and reinvent as a new company.”
The cases that Reuters examined dated from 2005 to 2015 and describe alleged abuses by labor brokers that began outside America’s borders – in Mexico, India, the Philippines and other countries where brokers recruit.
The cases illustrate how the absence of government oversight has allegedly enabled some brokers to exploit workers – and how intermediaries can insulate U.S. companies, providing them plausible deniability about the circumstances under which workers were recruited.
Fake school helped broker lure workers
By Megan Twohey
Regulators at the U.S. Department of Labor say they have few legal tools and resources to scrutinize the claims made by employers — and brokers — seeking to import foreign workers. That’s how labor broker Kizzy Kalu secured government approval to bring in Filipino nurses under a government visa program, claiming they would be paid up to $72,000 as instructors at Adam University in Colorado, according to a 2012 criminal indictment of the labor broker.
In fact, the university existed in name only. The nurses were farmed out to long-term care companies, according to court records, and Kalu pocketed almost half of their wages and charged thousands of dollars in fees.
In 2014, a Colorado judge sentenced Kalu to 130 months in prison and ordered him to pay $3.7 million in restitution for mail fraud, visa fraud, human trafficking and money laundering. Kalu had made more than $1 million off the scheme, prosecutors alleged. Kalu declined to comment.
Efforts by Congress to tighten scrutiny of labor brokers during the past decade have failed to gain traction. In 2013, oversight measures passed the Senate as part of broader package of immigration reforms that later died in the House. The measures were opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others. It argued that adding regulations would do little to prevent wrongdoing and would prove cumbersome and costly for U.S. companies seeking foreign help.
But Randy Johnson, a vice president at the Chamber of Commerce, told Reuters that government oversight of foreign labor brokers is “an area that could use closer examination to get the facts straight and identify the true areas of problems so appropriate solutions can be crafted.”
Federal regulators with the U.S. State Department and the Department of Labor said they have increased oversight of brokers in recent years. But they lament that they have been unable to do more.
“Until we have the authority to hold U.S. employers accountable when they rely on unscrupulous labor recruiters, our ability to deal with these practices remains limited,” a Department of Labor spokesman said in a statement to Reuters.
Indeed, Reuters found that even if allegations of misconduct come to light, brokers such as Molina have continued to operate.
Last summer, in the largest labor trafficking settlement in U.S. history, Signal International agreed to pay around $20 million to 500 Indian workers brought to Louisiana to work for the marine services company. The settlement came after a federal jury in New Orleans determined that Signal and other defendants, including labor broker Malvern Burnett, engaged in labor trafficking, fraud, and racketeering.
Burnett, who declined to comment, initially contested the ruling but then reached a settlement in the case and dropped his appeal, according to court records.
Today, he continues to operate his New Orleans law firm. Among the services he offers: assistance securing temporary work visas.
BROKERS KEY TO HIRING
Brokers are active across a variety of visa programs that allow American companies to hire temporary foreign workers. Since the 2007 fiscal year, for instance, Reuters found that intermediaries were involved in helping secure visas for 80 percent of the 2 million foreign workers approved for agricultural and other low-skill jobs.
FEELING DUPED: A Honduran worker who was recruited by Nestor Molina remains in the United States under a humanitarian visa. He and other workers say they paid Molina thousands of dollars in fees in order to get the jobs. Collecting such fees from workers violates U.S. visa regulations. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
“Everything was a lie. There was no job, no boss, no company. Nothing.”
Foreign worker recruited by labor broker
Some of those middlemen do little more than file government paperwork on behalf of U.S. employers. But Reuters found that many, such as Molina, play a hands-on role in recruiting the workers.
A former car salesman who has recruited workers from Central America, Molina told prospective clients in his promotional materials that he would “go the extra mile to meet your workforce needs.”
According to two lawsuits filed by Florida Legal Services Inc and Florida Rural Legal Services Inc in U.S. District Court in Florida, Molina did more than go the extra mile: The suits accuse him of illegally enriching himself at the expense of the workers he recruited.
In the civil suits, dozens of workers from Honduras say Molina charged them thousands of dollars in recruitment fees for jobs picking strawberries in Florida. Charging recruitment fees violates U.S. law, and workers involved in the lawsuits said they were instructed to say nothing of the payments during their visa interviews with U.S. consular agents.
Molina, the suits allege, promised that the workers would be paid well and that the jobs would lead to a benefit that was tantalizing but fictitious: permanent residency in the United States.
By the time workers realized the promises were hollow, they were deep in debt and scared to speak out, the suits allege. Molina and others working with him threatened to physically harm not only those who complained but also the families that the workers left behind in Honduras, according to the lawsuits.
If the allegations are true, Molina may have made more than $2 million in illegal recruitment fees. According to a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Molina is now under investigation by U.S. authorities for trafficking and forced labor. The spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
Criminal investigators, civil attorneys and Reuters have been unable to locate Molina. And despite the lawsuits and scrutiny, nothing bars Molina from continuing to work as a labor broker. Lawyers involved in the civil suit said that Molina secured visas for a group of Honduran workers as recently as November. Reuters could not corroborate the lawyers’ account.
The news agency also found that U.S. regulators do little to ensure that American employers — and the brokers that many of them use — follow through on the promises made to the workers.
In 2011, the Department of Labor began auditing companies that use foreign workers for agricultural and other low-skill jobs. The goal: to ensure that the jobs, pay and other working conditions are as claimed. Fewer than 15 percent of petitions for foreign workers were scrutinized each year, Reuters found. And even when audits were done, many were performed months after workers had already left the jobs.
Today, such audits no longer take place; Congress cut funding for them.
The cases Reuters collected and reviewed illuminate how brokers operate – and how regulators fail.
Cases that were resolved in favor of workers show that brokers have forced their foreign recruits to live in decrepit conditions, such as in a condemned hotel and trailers with no heat or running water. Middlemen charged workers illicit fees and misled them about the terms of their employment, whether salary, location or even industry. Other intermediaries operated through shell companies, apparently to help hide their schemes.
The suits that have involved Molina are unresolved.
Before 2009, when Molina first surfaced in government paperwork as a broker providing foreign workers for U.S. firms, he was mentioned in a half dozen police reports, Reuters found. The reports had nothing to do with recruiting foreign labor. But the accounts in some of the reports echo the accusations of some of the Honduran workers: that Molina has made threats of physical violence.
In one police report from May 1998, a girlfriend whom police described as having scrapes on her face and puffy eyes told authorities that Molina had beaten her. She later told police she would not testify against him because she feared he would attack her again.
In another police report, a Miami man was described by authorities as “in great fear” of Molina. On the day the 2001 police report was taken, authorities wrote that the man told them Molina had threatened him daily and told the man’s wife he was going to “beat her husband down to the ground then put his gun in the husband’s mouth and blow his head off.” Miami police could not say whether the matter was investigated further.
Molina’s associate at his labor broker company, All Nation Staffing, was a Florida man named Patrick Damian Burns, according to one of the lawsuits filed by the Honduran workers. Burns, Reuters found, is a felon who was sentenced to a year in prison in 1991 for intent to violate the RICO Act in connection with a bookmaking operation he helped run. The 49-year-old Burns was listed as a co-defendant in the lawsuit against Molina. Burns could not be located by the attorneys or by Reuters.
MOLINA PARTNER: Patrick Damian Burns was Molina’s associate at All Nation Staffing, a lawsuit alleges. Burns is a felon who was sentenced to a year in prison in 1991 for intent to violate the RICO Act in connection with a bookmaking operation he helped run.
How Molina and Burns entered the labor broker business is unclear.
All Nation Staffing provided workers for at least two companies: Fancy Farms Inc and G&D Farms Inc, strawberry growers located in Florida.
Carl Grooms, owner of Fancy Farms, said he hired All Nation Staffing in 2013, the year the federal government gave Grooms approval to bring in 175 foreign workers for seasonal jobs picking strawberries.
Grooms said only that he had “learned about (Molina) on his website,” which has since been taken down.
In his promotional material, Molina offered to recruit the workers, help them secure visas, get them to the job site and even help oversee them.
“Our staff has helped many employers bring reliable, productive, documented workers,” Molina wrote in a company brochure.
G&D Farms, which received government approval in 2013 to bring in 512 foreign workers for strawberry picking, also hired All Nation Staffing, said Amber Maloney, who does marketing for the farm.
G&D had never used foreign workers before but turned to a labor broker after it found itself understaffed the previous season, Maloney said. She declined to comment on the farm’s experience with Molina and All Nation Staffing but said the farm has not used foreign workers since.
Andrew Jackson, a North Carolina attorney who files requests with the government on behalf of employers seeking temporary workers, said he spoke with Molina several years ago, when Molina was working for another Florida farm.
Each year, Jackson said, he is approached by aspiring labor brokers looking to connect with U.S. companies.
He remembered Molina as a polite man with dark hair and a colorful business card that featured a graphic of farm workers. “He must have made a good impression on those growers,” Jackson said.
“EVERYTHING WAS A LIE”
Four of the workers Molina recruited agreed to describe their experiences to Reuters if their names were not used. The experiences they described were consistent with those contained in the lawsuits.
The workers said Molina recruited in many of the poorest, most isolated parts of Honduras, and that some of the workers couldn’t read or write.
Types of U.S. work-visa programs
H2A visas enable U.S. employers to hire foreign workers for temporary agricultural jobs for a maximum of three years, if the U.S. employer can demonstrate that American workers weren’t available. Employers often seek workers with the help of a labor broker. The visa program is overseen primarily by the U.S. Department of Labor
H2B visas enable U.S. employers to hire foreign workers for hospitality, construction and other low-skill jobs for a maximum of three years, if the U.S. employer can demonstrate American workers weren’t available. Employers often seek workers with the help of a labor broker. The visa program is overseen primarily by the U.S. Department of Labor.
H1B visas enable U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in technology and other specialty occupations on a temporary basis. The initial visa is good for up to three years, but workers can be eligible for extensions and can pursue permanent residence in the United States. Among the companies approved for large numbers of H1B workers are staffing companies that turn around and place the workers with other employers. The visa program is overseen primarily by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Certain categories of the J1 visitor exchange visa allow foreigners to work temporary positions as au pairs, camp counselors, interns, teachers, trainees, and in summer jobs, such as hotel maid. The foreign worker must use an intermediary to obtain a visa. This visa program is overseen by the U.S. Department of State.
No one at the company, called H2A Labor Force Inc, has responded to messages left by Reuters.
'When looking back from the perspective of the 1800’s America, the experience in the 20th and certainly the 21th centuries, has been a consistent and total repudiation of the underpinnings of civil liberties'
Here is a right wing version attaching to this same period in US history----1880s-----when US Supreme Court ruled to a small extent corporations are people. Notice how the right wing likes to state things were great in US back in 1880s------that is of course when landed gentry and wealth and class had the power of voting, public policy, and corporate wealth and power. OF COURSE THAT WAS A GREAT TIME FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES.
The issue for personal freedoms and individual responsibility were indeed our early US standards for honor, duty, morals and ethics. The problem for those waxing poetic on early America is this-----the AMENDED CONSTITUTION broadening who is a voting citizen with civil liberties, freedoms, and rights. To move from a nation where only white, landed gentry voted, owned property et al those people lost unlimited civil liberties so 99% of WE THE PEOPLE could have freedom, rights, civil liberties and in the process stand with personal responsibility. Last century was about handing broad economic opportunities and access to all US citizens in turn allowing them to meet the goals of personal responsibility. The building of Western US with wide-open land, natural resources open for public use were long gone-----
FULL EMPLOYMENT GOALS FROM FDR FORWARD RECOGNIZED THE US WAS NO LONGER IN WESTERN EXPANSION OPPORTUNITY====THE GOVERNMENT AND CORPORATIONS ENRICHED FROM WESTWARD EXPANSION NEEDED TO CREATE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR EMPLOYMENT.
It is not that the 99% of WE THE PEOPLE do not want to be personally responsible-----it is not that we no longer want freedom and liberty----FDR installed REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH after roaring 20s massive economic frauds and crash to assure that opportunity----
CIVIL LIBERTIES AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY CANNOT HAPPEN IN EXTREME WEALTH EXTREME POVERTY.
Why Civil Liberties Are No Longer Defended?
Posted by James Hall
Date: February 05, 2016
“In the 1880s, people all over the world looked to America for inspiration. Its very existence was proof that it was possible to have a relatively free and peaceful country. No income tax, no foreign wars, no welfare state, no intrusions on civil liberties.” – Harry Browne
When looking back from the perspective of the 1800’s America, the experience in the 20th and certainly the 21th centuries, has been a consistent and total repudiation of the underpinnings of civil liberties. With the widespread rejection of natural law, the secular humanism of the worldly culture has replaced the time tested and well-grounded principles that are the basis of Western Civilization. The sacredness of the individual has withered to the winds and drifts of arbitrary circumstance. Relative significance has replaced timeless permanence. Civil Liberties are not temporary or discretionary. Society cannot exist as an educated and respectful union among variegated parts, when the sanctity of personhood is not respected and protected.
Some might argue that the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, a product of the Enlightenment, was the essence of glorifying Human Rights. This proclamation “brought together two streams of thought: one springing from the Anglo-American tradition of legal and constitutional guarantees of individual liberties, the other from the Enlightenment’s belief that reason should guide all human affairs.”
The quest for reason has a sordid record. Before Jean-Paul Marat lost the last drop of blood soaking in his bath, the residue of collective madness in the name of the revolution stained the tub. Liberté, égalité, fraternité was practiced selectively. Such excess attained a raw level of retribution with each dropping of the guillotine blade. The “National Razor” became the great equalizer for priests and the aristocracy.
Contrast this “Cult of Reason” with the National Law tradition best embodied by John Locke.
“Locke speaks of a state of nature where men are free, equal, and independent. He champions the social contract and government by consent. He goes even farther than Hobbes in arguing that government must respect the rights of individuals. It was Locke’s formula for limited government, more than Hobbes’s that inspired the American Founding Fathers. But what is the basis of Locke’s theory? Is it natural law or Hobbesian natural right? The Founding Fathers, in the Declaration of Independence, speak of both natural rights and natural laws. Locke does likewise. Natural law and natural right may be combined, but if they are, one must take precedence over the other. Either the individual’s right, or his duty to moral law, must come first.”
What presupposes this difference between natural law and natural rights? Who else could provide a definitive and valuable insight into this issue, but the celebrated polemicist Voltaire, the master of wit and elegant expression?
“Voltaire is often thought of as an atheist, although he did in fact take part in religious activities and even built a chapel at his estate at Ferney. The chief source for the misconception is a line from one of his poems (called “Epistle to the author of the book, The Three Impostors”) which is usually translated as: “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him”. Many commentators have argued that this is an ironical way of saying that that it does not matter whether God exists or not, although others claim that it is clear from the rest of the poem that any criticism was more focused towards the actions of organized religion, rather than towards the concept of religion itself.”
Without the presence of the divine, the intrinsic source of the bestowed natural law could never justify the natural rights of the individual. In order to avoid this maxim, secular humanism has indeed invented their personal version of god, at the cost of denying and burying the one and only Supreme Being as a matter of course.
The formative progression in thinking that developed institutional safeguards and instilled in the hearts and minds of mankind, respect for their neighbor, was not the product of enlightened evolution. The basis and origin of civil liberties is founded and rests upon the authority of Christian teachings.
Illustrating the concern that Voltaire expresses about the Church, both its authority and its deviation from following the Gospels has only magnified during the last century. Religious liberty contradicts Tradition states: “The years following Vatican II have shown the truth of Leo XIII’s statement that religious liberty necessarily leads to immorality. In formerly Catholic countries, it is not only faith that has disappeared, but also Christian morality.”
The declaration of Vatican II on religious liberty, Dignitatis Humanae (§2), affirms:
This Vatican Synod declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs. Nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.” (Walter M. Abbott, S.J., Editor, The Documents of Vatican II (New York: The America Press, 1966), pp. 678-79.)
What is noteworthy in this passage from Vatican II?
First, Vatican II not only says that no one should be forced to believe (which the Church has always taught), but also claims that no one can be restrained from practicing the religion of his choice.
Then, and this is paramount, Vatican II no longer speaks of tolerance alone, but actually recognizes a real natural right of the adepts of all religions not to be hindered in the practice of their religion.
Finally, this right not only concerns practice in private, but also public worship and propagation of the religion. Thus Vatican II promotes something the Church always condemned previously.
One need not be a believer to recognize that “a real natural right of the adepts of all religions” is a departure from millenniums of traditional Christian teachings. Only the misguided will read into Vatican II that civil liberties are being defended. The correct understanding is that the Roman Catholic Papacy’s authority is anything but universal.
In an abstract authored by Antonio Thompson, Approaches to Teaching Civil Liberties in 21st Century, case studies are cited. The context used for civil liberty is obviously a secular definition. “Civil liberties, by any other name, are still liberties guaranteed by law . . . A textbook definition refers to civil liberties as “freedoms guaranteed to the individual” that “declare what the government cannot do”.
Accepting this designation avoids the fundamental source of where exactly does the freedom come from? In order to guarantee individual freedoms, much less authentic liberties, the very government that routinely violates the inalienable authority bestowed upon man by God is absent from the analysis. How can a civil self-ordained authority possess the legitimacy to protect the natural law when their entire conduct of existence is to oppress every human being under their control?
People are usually obsessed with their own notion of their personage freedom. Much like the postulate that no one can be restrained from practicing the religion of his choice, the cultural relativist demands that they can exercise any conduct that makes them feel good . . . just so long as they do not hurt someone else, has become a quaint euphemism for what Voltaire would say: “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”
Civil liberties are not championed by the masses because they are clueless as to the nature of the most basic of social relationship with their fellow citizens, and more important; especially what actual authenticity does the state possess, outside the shedding of your blood.
Understanding the meaning of Inherent Autonomy is no longer taught nor is it practiced. When in doubt turn to a modern day sophist, like Hunter S. Thompson: “In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.” He perfectly reflects the debased culture and the absurdity of life without a genuine acceptance of divine authority.
Our Stuck on Stupid series addresses this aspect of the human condition. While politics is unavoidable, absence of belief is unredeemable. Yes, crooks permeate the planet, but repentance is found in accepting the gospels.
A profound fear of God was instilled in the social order and most individuals adhered to the dread of eternal hell in past centuries. Towards a singular society is all the rage. There is no need for civil liberties if one becomes their own god.
Why worry about the loss of your soul when you will live forever? The rejection of natural law is at the essence of the spiritual crisis that plagues Omega Man. The biological warfare of our collective Armageddon is an internal struggle in each of us, which can only be rescued by a revival in traditional values and faith.
Trust in our fellow man, seldom seems to be warranted. Yet, adhering to a universal practice, based upon civil liberties is the belief that we all should share. Regain your deliverance from the Hobbesian State of Nature and believe that salvation is found in the blood of Christ.
There is a reason our journalism is taking a turn towards DYSTOPIA-----without going to extremes in societal decay----dystopia merely indicates a breakdown in societal structures making it impossible for 99% of citizens to perform ordinary actions like MORALS, ETHICS, RULE OF LAW, HONOR, FAMILY, COMMUNITY'
June 5 & 12, 2017 Issue
A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction
What to make of our new literature of radical pessimism.
We love ANNIE PROULX as we do UMBERTO ECO in creating great HISTORICAL FICTION. Both are those global 1% STARS who write on topics tied to MOVING FORWARD ONE WORLD ONE GOVERNANCE. Both Proulx and Eco use terms like WINNERS AND LOSERS----position people wanting to play by the rules and be employed by business as LOSERS---and those going off to do anything they can to be rich climbing over bodies to do it as WINNERS.
We can be pretty sure PROULX's Charles Duquet is fictional in development ----one would have to be blessed beyond belief to achieve what Duquet did in his quest to be rich. Of course Proulx installs the need for a poor indentured servant to go global to get that fortune. Meanwhile, the Sel character who tries to do everything right---work off his indenture to own his own land and independence----is plagued as his children and grandchildren with being losers.
The dynamic of wild laissez faire empire-building from back in 1500-1600s does show us what MOVING FORWARD US CITIES DEEMED FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONES filling with global labor pool looks like. The difference for today's immigrants to US-----where America was a utopia of unlimited resources for citizens working hard ----the US is now a DYSTOPIA-----it is being made a TRIBUTE STATE COLONIAL ENTITY with slave labor.
'Dystopian societies appear in many artistic works, particularly in stories set in the future. Some of the most famous examples are George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. Dystopian societies appear in many sub-genres of fiction and are often used to draw attention to real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, economics, religion, psychology, ethics, science, or technology. However, some authors also use the term to refer to actually-existing societies, many of which are or have been totalitarian states, or societies in an advanced state of collapse and disintegration'.
To Fell a Forest
"Barkskins," Annie Proulx’s first novel in more than a decade, is a sweeping epic told through the history of America’s woodlands.
By Jeffrey Zuckerman
June 15, 2016
The opening line of Barkskins, Annie Proulx’s first novel in 14 years, mentions how a pair of boys en route to the New World “passed bloody Tadoussac,” leaving the tantalizing adjective unexplained. What eventually becomes clear, however, is that bloodshed, so common in historical literature, has been left behind for a different kind of wounding.
Proulx’s saga, which will consume more than 700 pages, takes as its focus the woodlands and forests of North America. It is about how trees that once “rejected the puny efforts of men” would be demolished as successive generations razed hectares of land and imposed their sense of order upon the entire continent. Barkskins starts off in Quebec so untamed that the French have not yet given it their own spelling. Those two boys, René Sel and Charles Duquet, have come from France and will work three years for Monsieur Trépagny, an established settler and seigneur who prizes their experience in chopping down trees and clearing forests. One boy will run away and eventually start Duquet et Fils, a timber empire (he will later change his name and the company’s to Duke); the other will be forced into marriage to an indigenous Mi’kmaq woman. Both men will sire bloodlines that unfurl across the three centuries that Barkskins chronicles in dazzling detail.
Proulx’s narrative sprawls across the northern reaches of the Americas, and tracks a westward expansion fired by the principle of Manifest Destiny. It stretches to France, England and the Netherlands, from which many of the book’s immigrants hail; to China and the Pacific, where men spend months and years trading furs and establishing commerce; and, as the book meanders toward its final pages, to the reaches of New Zealand and Brazil. “My life has ever been dedicated to the removal of the forest for the good of men,” one man insists as he plans an expansion of the timber industry, suggesting an intractable duality at the heart of Barkskins: a finite natural world and a drove of men intent on harvesting and destroying it for their own benefit.
But Barkskins is not a polemic. The beauty of Proulx’s book is how it illuminates the lives of characters who have been affected by this foundational exploitation. With so many pages, and so many characters, a reader can trace various evolutions of viewpoint, such as on the question of the colonizer’s relation to the colonized. Out of Monsieur Trépagny’s marriage of convenience to a Mi’kmaq woman in 1693 comes the angry righteousness of a character named Felix in 2013, who reproaches his cousin Jeanne: “You don’t think it was a favor for the French and the English to ‘bring’ the Mi’kmaq into their idea of modern life. I know you don’t.” And that is just one connection; hundreds of characters are sketched out as they trace minuscule paths across the large canvas of history.
There’s an intractable duality at the heart of Barkskins: a finite natural world and a drove of men intent on harvesting and destroying it for their own benefit.
Many of these not-so-small characters come to bloody ends. Most do, in fact: by fire, by ice, by grisly murder, by their own hand, by sheer stupidity. Medicine, for much of this book’s timeline, was primitive: either rooted in natural herbs and Indian lore or traded away by quack doctors for jenever liquor. Proulx says she researched the book for more than 30 years, and nary a page goes by without a few exquisitely observed historical details. The spellings of various words and places change with the times—Micmac and Mi’kmaq, Kébec and Quebec—while various foodstuffs—syllabub, apple slump, waterzooi, larded capons—make their appearance as culinary fashions come and go over the decades. Sometimes it seems that Proulx is doomed to historical accuracy, in which men must dominate the discourse and action. Even when woman are given prominence (as in the case of René Sel’s Native-American wife Mari), they can only do so much within the social and political climate in which they live.
But this precedent sets the stage for one of Barkskins’s most striking reversals halfway through its pages. The sole union between the Sel and Duquet bloodlines gives rise to two female characters. The first is Posey Breeley Brandon Duke, who gives birth late in life to the second, Lavinia, her only daughter. She dominates the next 200 pages in a bravura performance of raw ambition and ruthless gamesmanship, set in the second half of the nineteenth century. As family members die out or sell out, she becomes the de facto chief of Duke and Sons—“they may have to change their name to Duke and Daughter,” one rival quips—and proves her shrewdness both in ferreting out dangerous threats and defanging them. (Comparisons to Elizabeth I are inevitable, and explicitly made by a historian much later in Barkskins.) Some of the book’s juiciest passages are those in which Lavinia visits various mills or plots of land and tells men who give her trouble, quite simply: “Go now. Now! Or I will fire you from your job.” Her struggles for legitimacy and success are a remarkable rags-to-riches tale. Even as she marries, late in life, a man who should have been her rival, Lavinia proves to be one of the most brilliantly rendered and memorable characters Annie Proulx has ever invented.
At times, especially in the sections where decades are condensed, a reader’s wrists might strain under so many pages. Barkskins is a heavy enough tome that one wonders just how many forests have been cleared for the book’s first printing. But such moments of boredom are rare. Paradoxically, the pages speed by when time is slowed down, because Proulx’s characters are vivid, insistent, captivating. They are hungry for money or romance or power, and that hunger drives them insistently forward. Never are they more fascinating than when she dwells on them and breathes life into their travails.
The temptation to consider Barkskins under the rubric of a Great American Novel is difficult to resist, given its scope. But Proulx’s ambitions seem to be keyed differently. Melville’s Moby-Dick, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Morrison’s Beloved—all of these books might be doomed in their respective attempts to somehow encompass the United States in its full complexity, but they at least focus on that burgeoning and manifold nation. Proulx, in contrast, establishes in Barkskins a narrative so grand in spatial and temporal scope, so broad in theme, that it cannot conceivably be strictly American. Her pitch-perfect sentences, instead, encompass the entire Western world, and its ever-growing concern with ecological and environmental change.
The final pages of Barkskins are set in 2013, and an ecologist muses aloud: “Say there is a particular rare plant that influences the trees and plants near it. Say conditions change and our rare plant goes extinct and its absence affects the remaining plants.” The environmentalist is not hopeful: He is aware that the past weighs heavily on the present, and that the future cannot undo the ruination of the past. Descriptions of melting glaciers and rampant erosion underscore the terrifying prospects of climate change—the result of a consumerism driven by greed. Beneath all the anecdotal and carefully researched strata of Proulx’s saga is a need to remind readers that the world they have seen cut down, page by page, is the world they themselves live in and must tend to. History, indeed, is a nightmare from which we cannot awake—only one from which we can learn.
The two boys introduced in the first pages, René Sel and Charles Duquet, are the book’s eponymous “barkskins”—a word that, at the time, simply meant woodcutters. Proulx, however, dedicates her book to “barkskins of all kinds—loggers, ecologists, sawyers, sculptors, hotshots, planters, students, scientists, leaf eaters, photographers, practitioners of shinrin-yoku, land-sat interpreters, climatologists, wood butchers, picnickers, foresters, ring counters, and the rest of us.” The gesture is unmistakable: Barkskins is a massive book that uproots many stories of the past and the present, but its story has hardly ended. When we turn the final pages, the onus is put upon us to imagine the next chapter of our earth’s ecosystems—a positive and promising and restorative one—and make that ecological possibility a reality.
'There is perhaps no more solid foundation for human rights than a widespread awakening to the human dignity that resides in every one of us'.
As we said all world religions carry very similar moral and ethical values------human dignity is tied to family duty and honor---to community. In US today in MOVING FORWARD US CITIES DEEMED FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONES with SMART CITIES complete automation of industries leaving great unemployment as A GOAL-------we cannot inspire our US youth ----our global immigrants coming to US cities ------with these MOVING FORWARD GOALS.
Want to inspire our US city youth towards morals, ethics, Rule of Law, God's Natural Law?
MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR BALTIMORE ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS TO BE FILLED WITH LYING, CHEATING, AND STEALING 5% TO THE 1% CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA---NOW TRUMP.
It seems Chinese 99% are as religious and moral as 99% of US WE THE PEOPLE----it is only those dastardly global 1% and their 2% making China a human rights disaster
'CHINA: A NATION WITH A DISTINCT BUDDHIST CHARACTER - lankaweb.com
May 29, 2013 · China is the largest Buddhist country on earth in terms of its size and associated 1,070,893,447 Buddhist population'.
Buddhism and Human Dignity
[© iStock.com/Isabel Massé]
The global debate about human rights—taking place in venues from the halls of the United Nations to the street corners of impoverished communities—has brought to the fore many conflicting value systems and worldviews. Individualism vs. communalism. Modernity vs. tradition. East vs. West. North vs. South. Economic and social rights such as the right to employment and decent housing vs. the civil and political rights to free speech and expression.
In the end, however, all concepts of human rights—including those that do not necessarily use the language of “human rights”—have their basis in some understanding of human dignity. In other words, people merit decent treatment because they possess human dignity, some kind of inherent worth that is theirs by the simple fact of being human.
In some traditions, this dignity derives from God, in whose image humanity was created. In other traditions, the unique capacity to think and reason is said to be the source of human dignity. More and more, however, the idea of human dignity as the basis for rights and prerogatives over nonhuman nature is being supplanted by the idea of special human responsibilities—to exercise responsible stewardship in nature and to treat all life with respect.
How does Buddhism understand human dignity?
From where does it spring? What supports and sustains it?
An Incalculable Value
The starting point for Buddhism is the value and sanctity of life. For example, in one letter to a follower, Nichiren states that the value of a single day of life exceeds all other treasures. Buddhism further views each individual life as a manifestation of a universal life force.
As the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore put it, “The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.”
From the Buddhist perspective, given the mind-boggling number of life-forms that fill the universe, human life is a rare privilege with special responsibilities. As Nichiren, referring to a passage from the Nirvana Sutra, states: “It is rare to be born a human being. The number of those endowed with human life is as small as the amount of earth one can place on a fingernail.”
What makes human life unique is the scale of our choice, the degree to which we are free to choose to act for good or evil, to help or to harm.
A recent book on the challenges of aging introduces the story of a young woman, married and with young children, who found herself suddenly in the position of having to care for her mother-in-law, bedridden following a stroke. At first the young woman could not understand why this had happened to her, why her already demanding life should be further burdened in this way. Through her Buddhist practice she was able to realize that she could, depending on how she chose to approach this situation, make of it an opportunity to create value. She was able to transform her initial feelings of resentment toward the older woman into a sense of appreciation.
Ultimately, the Buddhist understanding of human dignity is rooted in the idea that we are able to choose the path of self-perfection. Ultimately, the Buddhist understanding of human dignity is rooted in the idea that we are able to choose the path of self-perfection. We can, in other words, consistently make those difficult choices for creativity, growth and development. This state of self-perfection—a condition of fully developed courage, wisdom and compassion—is described as Buddhahood or enlightenment. The idea that all people—all life, in fact—have this potential is expressed by the concept, stressed particularly in the Mahayana tradition, that all living beings possess Buddha nature.
In concrete, practical terms, this comes down to the idea that everyone has a mission—a unique role that only she or he can play, a unique perspective to offer, a unique contribution to make. As SGI President Daisaku Ikeda recently wrote in a book for high school students, “Everyone has a mission. The universe does nothing without purpose. The fact that we exist means that we have purpose.”
The older woman in the story likewise sought to find a way to use her severely limited capacities to contribute to the well-being of the household. Since she still had use of her hands, she took up knitting—partly as a form of therapy, partly to make useful things for the family. She also enjoyed keeping watch over the home when the others were away.
From the Buddhist perspective, we always have the option of choosing to create value from even the most difficult situation. Through such choices we can fulfill our unique purpose and mission in life, and in this way give fullest expression to the inherent treasure of our human dignity. There is perhaps no more solid foundation for human rights than a widespread awakening to the human dignity that resides in every one of us.