Alan Augustson’s in-absentia speech to Green convention-goers

Former Green Party presidential candidate now running for Congress, Alan Augustson, says he couldn’t afford to attend the Green Party’s national convention. Augustson, an economist, lives in Illinois, and the convention is taking place in Chicago.

Nevertheless, he says he “put every ounce of energy” he had into this speech, which he says should not be interpreted as “any kind of complaint or indictment against the Green Party, or against the organizers of the Green National Convention.”

The in-absentia speech is provided in its entirety below:

Ladies and gentlemen, Greens from across America and around the world, thank you for being here and for this opportunity to speak to you.

Right now, as we speak, Americans who thought they were middle-class, are losing their homes.

Right now, Americans who thought they were middle-class, are having their electricity or phone service shut off for non-payment.

Right now, Americans who thought they were middle-class, are having to tell their sons and daughters that they will have to put off going to college.

Right now, Americans who thought they were middle-class, are having to liquidate their retirement plans just to keep the bills paid.

Right now, American veterans are being billed for medical care, to treat injuries or mental illness received while serving their country.

Right now, Americans are having to do without needed medications, or without care for chronic conditions, because they have lost their health insurance.

Right now, American workers are watching their entire industries die, right before their eyes – perhaps even, for the second or third time in their lives.

These people and many others are witnessing the end of America as they understand it. America has failed these people – and, I am sorry to say, so have we.

While the people of the United States worry about gas, jobs and healthcare, we in the Green Party have been talking about the environment, the war and human rights. We have failed to speak to the people about their issues; rather, we have sought to impose our issues upon them.

None of us appears to realize: they are all the same issue.

The same consumer society that has poisoned our earth, enslaved whole societies, and waged wars for oil; all to maintain the flow of cheap consumer goods, is now creating the circumstances that will kill humans by the billions – including ourselves.

As sea levels rise, as crops wither, as water supplies are contaminated, as the blackouts roll, as whole species go extinct and as countries butcher each other over what remains; Americans will die, from conditions we have come to associate with the Third World.

I will say again, and I beg you mark my words: Americans will die, in vast numbers, from conditions we have come to associate with the Third World.

We will die from water-borne diseases such as cholera, and insect-borne diseases such as malaria. We will die from hunger and thirst and untreated illnesses. And many of us will die from warfare and violent crime.

And as an increasingly desperate population trades away its few remaining liberties, just to keep food on the table for one more day, the hammer stroke falls. America ends. That which remains will bear the name, but no resemblance to anything the Founding Fathers intended.

Don’t believe me? Still think it cannot happen here? Look for yourselves. Look at the corporate-run slave-labor camps that we call a prison system. Prison construction is at an all-time high – it just might be the only growth industry remaining in the United States. Whom do you think will fill those prisons?

Look at the provisions of the so-called “Patriot” Act. It is almost useless against a determined foe, against any dedicated terrorist or criminal element. It is only useful for gathering the lowest-hanging proverbial fruit. And whom might that be?

Look at our immigration policies. Or our policies towards family planning and birth control and abortion. Or our so-called War on Drugs. Or our increasingly sink-or-swim poverty-assistance programs.

I have said many times that we will be remembered, as is every society throughout history, for our treatment of those we valued least. And in America we criminalize our victims.

We cling to an outdated notion that people deserve what they get, and get what they deserve. Probably no lie ever told has done more damage to the human condition. That is the lie that allows a bare handful of Americans to flourish while the remainder suffer. That is the lie that increases, day by day, the gulf that separates our leaders from those whom they pretend to serve. And this is the lie that keeps us waving our cheap, plastic, Chinese-made flags and calling it “freedom”, as we descend deeper into poverty, dependency, and ultimately, slavery.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It is not the only possible outcome. But we are running out of time to do anything about it. The death of our economy and the death of our ecology have the same causes and many of the same effects, and they become harder to prevent with every instant we delay.

Those causes of which I spoke are, basically, coal, cars and consumption. We must design and implement a society that relies on none of these things. The effects of which I spoke are the depletion of food, fuel and water. Our new society must concentrate first and foremost on securing these things.

But, what about the War? An America that is perfectly self-sufficient has no need to wage wars over resources.

But, what about the continued abridgments of our freedoms? Remember that the freedom to starve is no freedom at all. Only as a sustainable society, will we be able to work to guarantee a free society.

But, what about China and India? What about their contributions to environmental and economic collapse? Remember that their boom economies are fueled by our insatiable hunger for cheap consumer goods. Take that away and their economies will have to adjust – scale back to meeting their own needs.

But, what about peace, and countering terrorism? As things stand now, America is the single greatest threat to global stability and peace. We have become the Great Vampire Nation, bent on draining all others of their very last drop. We are not “hated for our freedom” – we are hated for standing on the neck of the entire earth, for generations. If you want an end to terrorism, then let us cease to be a terrorist nation in our own right. If you want an end to aggression, then let us cease to be aggressors.

Economy and ecology – they are the same thing, for our purposes. If we want a sustainable America, then we must put our every resource to work on creating it. If we want an America where every man, woman and child has value, then we must create the environment wherein their needs are met. These are the things we must do, to achieve these ends:

We must cease to build fossil-fuel-powered electric plants, quickly phase out those that exist, and replace them with massive windfarms and solar collectors.

We must put an end to the devastatingly wasteful airline industry, and replace it with a high-speed, electrically-powered rail network.

We must get every last internal-combustion engine off the roads, and beef up our mass transit systems until they can carry every American wherever he or she needs to go.

We must end massive agriculture for global export, and replace it with smaller, more numerous, and more diverse farming to serve local and regional areas.

We must locate desalinization plants along our coastlines, and smarter stormwater and greywater capture systems for our inland areas. We must build seawalls to protect our coastal cities from rising sea levels, and we must eliminate water waste everywhere.

We must reduce the population of the United States by any humane means, until there is enough to meet everyone’s needs, and until every child born is wanted and provided for. Birth control for the poorest Americans must be subsidized and even incentivized.

We must guarantee access to healthcare for all, from proper prenatal care to the end of life.

We must guarantee access to education for all, emphasizing first and foremost those agricultural, mechanical and other practical skills that will keep America running and and keep Americans running it. Private companies, research institutions, labor unions and government must all work together in this endeavor, or all of these will grind to a halt.

And, for any of the above to happen, we must convince a government to act now, that is designed to do anything but. Our Constitution, our electoral system, our representational system and our political parties, combine to render impossible anything other than slow, incremental change. And incremental change will not work. We need a grand-scale mobilization that will put to shame, that which occurred during World War Two.

We are not just fighting for justice now; we are fighting for our survival. We have so much work to do, and we must waste no time. Let us get to work.

10 thoughts on “Alan Augustson’s in-absentia speech to Green convention-goers

  1. G.E. Post author

    I’m starting to think a Milnes/Augustson alliance ticket could get 2 votes.

  2. G.E. Post author

    Did you see mine in Denver? Everyone said it was great except my father-in-law, who gave me a “B” and said I was shrill.

  3. Mike Theodore

    I’ve been looking for it, but I couldn’t find it. I wasn’t able to watch the convention, as I was out fishing. Lance Brown had to call me with the results.

  4. G.E. Post author

    Augustson just notified me that the fee for attending the convention was nearly $300!

    I take back the pseudo-mockery of his inability to afford attending.

  5. Gregg Jocoy

    Actually G.E., I believe the registration fee was close to that figure. It’s a real problem I hope we Greens will address. Why do you think I didn’t go? I wasn’t kidding when I said I couldn’t afford to go.

  6. G.E. Post author

    A lot of people couldn’t afford to go to the LP convention, but that’s because of the high cost of traveling to Denver.

    Redpath and his cronies want it this way, of course. They got the results they wanted with the low turnout in Portland, and then again in Denver. I’ve heard they’re seriously talking about having the 2010 convention in Hawaii.

  7. Mike Theodore

    Anyone could, that’s why I was trying to talk my brother to go to Denver from Colorado Springs to do get some shots for you guys (he’s a photographer). But he couldn’t afford the gas, even though he could take the bus there for 9 bucks.

    How about in Chicago in 2010 or 2012? Or Schaumburg (cheaper), we just set up a convention center that I can walk to.

  8. patrickfkelly

    Registration was $225 for the whole weekend. A $150 student/low-income rate was available, open to anyone to take advantage of. Early registrants could register for $100. There was a one day registration fee of $50. And to get into the Saturday presidential nominating convention was only $30. We had lots of people from many communities, some on fixed income or otherwise tight budgets who saved up, did fundraising in their locals, etc. For someone who lives in town (so had no travel and lodging costs) that there was just no way they could afford to come to the convention, quite frankly, is a little off the mark.

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