The Paywall Argument

Recently, the Lake Sun Leader went to a paywall web site.  This paywall has a limit of ‘free’ views (15) and encourages those who wish to view the paper’s site regularly to pay a subscription fee of $10.99 per month.  This allows for full use of their web site and the daily print version of the paper delivered to your home.  While there are many arguments against such a paywall, it was an inevitable transition, one we should have expected.  It was likely made above the head of Editor Joyce Miller and was a decision based on profitability.  There are other underlying factors, to be sure, but Gatehouse Media’s decision to utilize paywalls as a source of revenue has the undeniable ring of the bottom line.  Gatehouse faces a balloon payment in 2013 that looms over the corporation like Damocles’ sword.  The company’s balance sheet shows it’s assets to be valued at less than half the amount of the balloon payout.  Gatehouse Media is working short-term, attempting to solve an immediate business problem.  One way to do that is to implement a paywall for access to the digital version of the Lake Sun Leader.

The staff of the Lake Sun are simply doing their jobs by installing it.

Corporate media, such as Gatehouse, have to satisfy Wall Street and the debts they owe them.  The paywall works to the corporation’s benefit in ways that go beyond the bottom line.  As our Congress continues to take vacations on their march toward the neo-liberal economic goal of deregulating corporations, restriction of information becomes necessary.  In a democracy, in order to push through an agenda of this type, you MUST have control of the media.  The agenda of deregulating corporations is contrary to the good of the citizens of the country.  Destroying social safety nets, enacting legislation that requires we purchase health insurance or else, allowing Wall Street and Big Banks to raid our treasury unpunished, waging endless war via remote-controlled drones in far off lands, without debate, to benefit the military industrial complex and corporate resource, allowing for the silent creep of the police state and its surveillance networks; all of these require the silence of the media.  If these stories were reported in a concise way in the media, the public would see a clearer picture of the sins being committed in their names. We would see the grand illusion exposed, the sickening corruption of our democratic process by corporate lobbyists and interests.  We would have the information, the facts, to act against those who would continue their daily crime sprees.  We would see the Wall Street control of our government end.  We would see the corporate control of policy end.  We would see a return to peace as we would understand that we are the world’s leading exporter of terror.  We would understand the corporation unleashed is bad for us, as it will continue to drive down wages as we ‘must compete in the global market’.  We would see that England and the European Union are enforcing austerity right now, the will of Wall Street and their neo-liberal conspirators, against the will of the people.  We would see the pictures of police shooting into crowds of protesters in Spain, as they resist the decisions of government ‘leaders’, who are acting much like our own ‘representatives’.  We would know Greeks have had back-breaking taxes assessed on them through their electric bills, even in winter months.  We would see that the world is being pushed toward forced austerity at the end of a gun.  If we had information like that, ‘We The People’ would stand up as one and raise our voices, demanding the crime spree ends.  We would rise like a divine chorus, shouting that justice be done.

But that doesn’t serve the bottom line.  That doesn’t serve the corporate interest.  Therefore, information must be restricted, dispersed, glossed over, hidden.  If the public were well-informed, the corporate agenda would not be allowed to continue.  We would not let them destroy our children’s future.

Our Lake Sun staff was recently honored by the Missouri Press Association.  They were honored five times for their work.  Content Manager Eric Dundon received two awards for his design work, yet he might be the first to tell you that his artistic license was limited.  It was limited by Gatehouse’s decision earlier this year to centralize its operations.  Creativity, in corporate, cookie cutter media, is stifled in the name of ‘streamlining’ the processes to become more profitable.  It takes less work to have similar layouts for groups of papers.  That Mr. Dundon’s work was so well received is a high honor for him.  Perhaps his will be the vision for one of the cookie patterns.

We are lucky that we have a staff this well decorated.  Their awards are well-earned.  While I might not agree with all of their viewpoints or editorial decisions, I will give credit where credit is due.

It is a shame that we are being deprived the ability to view our paper without paying a monthly subscription fee.  It is a shame that their work it isn’t a part of the public record with access for anyone interested, instead of being restricted to those who can afford it.  It isn’t fair to us.  It isn’t fair to them.  The goal of any paper is circulation.  The unfortunate reality of the paywall restriction is that it won’t generate any raises for those who work at our papers.  Any increase in subscription dollars will go to the bottom line, not in their pockets.  They will be forced to make arguments about the value of their intellectual properties being worth something in cyberspace.  They will make them with straight faces.

The staff of the Lake Sun is just doing their job.

American Spring is going to do its job as well.

New email followers of http://www.americanspring2011.com will receive a free passport to information.  We will help anyone interested in being informed.  Simply go to http://www.americanspring2011.com and sign up to follow the blog.  You will receive updates to each new post straight to your email, twitter or phone.  You don’t have to agree with what you read there.  Just know that I’m happy you’re reading it.  It is a collection of articles and information from around the world and around the block.  It is free of corporate bias.  I have yet to receive a check from George Soros, contrary to popular assumption.  I am flattered, although I am not a ‘branch’ of Occupy Wall Street,  I sympathize with them.  I am a man who understands that when liberties are threatened, when our way of life is being undermined all around us in the name of a very select few, it is time to speak up.  It is time to tell the truth.  It is time for us all to have the information we need to make informed decisions based on our values and our children’s future.

It is time for us to stand.

We shouldn’t be deprived of the quality of our local newspaper because it will satisfy Gatehouse’s bottom line.  We should be able to support the Lake Sun’s staff’s work with our interest.

Truth shouldn’t come with a price tag.

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The Aftermath

Like most of you, I remember everything about Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.  From the first report of a plane hitting the World Trade Center to Congress singing on the steps of the Capitol.  I remember tracking down friends and loved ones, three of whom were in the air, on flights, when the attacks occurred.  I remember being in shock as I traveled down I-435 in Kansas City.  The interstate was almost empty.  The skies were.

I remember that day clearly, like those who saw Kennedy’s assassination remember where they were, what they were doing.  In many ways, the events in November 1963 and September 2011 have much in common, as both can be pointed to as examples of coups in the shell of American democracy.  It is with that in mind, that we turn and look back at the eleven years since the attacks of 9/11.  The facts bear out that, in the aftermath, a horrific agenda has been unleashed.  The evidence is in the laws that have been passed against the people of this country.  The proof is in the smoking rubble of Iraq.  The truth lies in the mountain passes of Afghanistan and on the blood stained streets of Yemen.  It is all around us, even though the propagandists attempt to keep it hidden with reality TV and news reports of celebrity missteps.

In the days since, America and her citizens have been hijacked.

From the Patriot Act to NDAA, the bars of a totalitarian regime have been constructed.  From Trapwire to Stellar Wind, the eyes of the Gestapo have access to our movements and electronic ‘footprints’.  From above, drones will patrol us, ready to hone in on signs of dissent.  Due to the steady, unchallenged power grab by the Executive Branch of our government in the wake of that Tuesday eleven years ago, they might fire on us.  A totalitarian regime has been created under our noses in the years since September 11, 2011.  The shock of the attacks was used as an anesthetic, dulling our resistance, while a fascist empire has been unleashed, first on Afghanistan, then Iraq, now in Yemen.  Soon, it will be enforced here, as the facade of political choice falls away.

They didn’t construct our prison without malice.  They built it with intent.  That intent is clear.

The facts are clear and not open to debate.  They have been recounted many times.  They are reinforced everyday in headlines scattered around the world.  They are written in blood and repeated in the mournful cries of children.  What has been done in the aftermath, both here and around the world, is tragic.  It is criminal.  It is barbaric.  It straight out of Revelation.

Monday’s headlines alone bear that out in a simple game of association.

The New York Times ran a report today that talked about a Chinese company called Foxconn.  Some of you may know Foxconn, as last year, they had a wave of suicides by workers who couldn’t escape the ‘militarylike atmosphere’ in their factories.  It would appear that now, child labor is being forced on children in school.  For those who don’t know, Foxconn is the primary producer of components for Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Apple.

Apple, whose iPhone5 is to hit the market soon, is expected to boost the GDP of the United States by anywhere from .25% to half a percent.  They plan to sell 8 million of them in the 4th quarter, at $600 per iPhone.  Apple, who last week was shown to be keeping unique device/owner ID’s and passing along your travel habits and who knows what else to…..well, that’s hard to say.  They don’t have to tell us.  Apple, who last week has shown the capability for remote camera deactivation.  Apple, a huge player in the Military Industrial Complex, is a founding member of the Surveillance State.  They have given willing governments, like China, the ability to keep such pesky stories like Foxconn labor conditions, quiet.  Unseen and unheard.

In contrast, Trapwire is all seeing.  It was originally sold to China, where it was refined and improved upon.  Our Department of Homeland Security, created immediately after the attacks in Sept. ’01, has begun using it here in the United States.  They have also enacted a ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign that encourages spying on your neighbor.

They are promoting domestic drone use in Congress, for surveillance purposes.  They killed 29 people in 8 days with these same drones, in use around the world, flown from places like Whiteman AFB in Missouri.  Today, protestors with Trifecta Resista, were in Federal Court in that state’s capitol, as they were charged with crimes for attempting to deliver an indictment for murder.

The murder of a union leader in Bangladesh shows the machine of refined fascism among the sewing machines that churn out Tommy Hilfiger, American Eagle and Gap clothes.  Workers looked to him for help and leadership.  Others were looking as well.  His phone was monitored.  Police harassed him.  He was abducted and beaten.  He was threatened.

He disappeared.

He was found tortured and murdered.  He was found with broken bones.  He was found with a hole drilled into the back of his knee.

In Chicago, 29,000 teachers have taken to the streets to oppose corporate education reforms.  They are fighting for smaller class sizes.  They are fighting against rote testing.  They are fighting to save our children.

And their phones, at least those who use Apple, are most definitely being monitored.

Education is under attack.  It has been undermined by policy decisions designed to create failure, thus opening the door to the privatization of education.  Private academies, like those in China.

Ironically, the Representative from my own district is pushing legislation that will allow for child labor.  Vigilant Vicky Hartzler, from the tree of religious extremism, would ask that you pray.  Take it on faith, instead of taking a close look at her bill, being passed off as a ‘pro-family farm’ bill.  At the same time, she has voted for legislation that will imprison us at the government’s discretion, a government owned by corporations.  She endorses drone use for domestic spying.  She voted to extend the Patriot Act.  She voted to make protest a felony.

My local paper ran a story about her being given a commendation from a minority group of elderly voters, RetireSafe.  The commendation was called the “Standing Up For America’s Seniors” Award.  This group awarded Bob Gibbs of Ohio the same.  And Ann Marie Buerkle. And Jeff Denham.  And Dan Lungren. They lobbied for Medicare Part D, which raised drug prices on seniors, have made this a regular practice, in order to manufacture support for candidates who will vote according to Big Pharma companies wishes.

In the UK, the elderly are suffering in areas represented by the ‘liberal’ party.  They are feeling the draconian cuts that are being made to their social programs across the board.  From forcing disabled people to work for their benefits to the dismantling of the National Health Service, the UK is undergoing a rapid, radical transformation.  The will of the people is being ignored, igniting talks of widespread public and private sector strikes.

This growing unrest in the UK is fueled (no pun intended) by record gas prices and fears of inflation.

Sound familiar?

Today, the ninth person died in Gitmo.  That’s more than those who have ever faced charges or a trial, of which there have been six. Today, the US handed over control of a prison to Afghanistan, although we are still ‘handling’ (torturing, if you prefer) prisoners.  Today, because our children do not know better, six in ten of them believe torture is acceptable.

Today, they know nothing of the kids in China, of the horrors of forced labor in a police state where Big Brother watches every move and Big Corporations rule the world.

It is our job to insure they never do.

What has risen from the ashes of 9/11 is demonic, it is psychotic.  It is the simple, brutal reality of the bottom line.  It is them and it is us.  There is no factor for human decency or kindness, no variable to be added for mercy.  There is only profit margin and collateral damage.

We are surrounded by the aftermath of that day.

It’s time to wake up and look around.