About John Oliver Mason

I am a freelance writer, having worked for newspapers, magazines and blogs for over twenty-five years, covering neighborhood and working people making their communities and their lives better. I believe in the power of the written word to bring about change, and I put that into practice. I believe that when we become aware of the effect our small actions in the community have in improving lives, we can truly make a difference. I am also one of the leading poets in the Philadelphia area, and I also write fiction. I also act, performing on the public access channel PhillyCAM.

The Mason Missile, January 29, 2019

Greetings!

The shutdown of the federal government-and the forced unemployment, or employment without pay, of approximately 800,000 federal employees- is AT LAST over. The almost 800,000 federal workers included air-traffic controllers, TSA agents screening bags at airports, EPA and OSHA technicians inspecting the safety of the environment and worksites, inspectors of food and drugs, Coast Guard personnel and FBI agents; civil servants (like I was for the City of Philadelphia), not well paid but earning a living, sustaining our families and ourselves, working people like you, the focus of vilification by right-wing propagandists for decades; like the school teachers in Michigan under Scott Walker-how many bought into the slander that Walker put upon them, that they were such horrible people because they (allegedly) had such great pay and benefits, sue to their having a union-so, instead of breaking their union and taking away their benefits, why don’t such people JOIN a union, so THEY can get such goodies? There are people like this, who are in a miserable situation, and instead of joining others to alleviate their situation, they want others to also be miserable. (I grew up among people like that.)

THESE are the horrible federal “bureaucrats”  the right-wing propagandists have for decades, have vilified as oppressing the American people-particularly the entrepreneurs who just want to do their capitalist thing and make all Americans prosper-a myth typified in the ravings, uh, writings of Ayn Rand, and which they tried to implement into public policy-weaken workers’ unions; hamper regulations on their activities-pollution, investments, workplace safety, equal opportunity and discrimination; lessen taxes on corporations so they “can invest in new equipment and hire more workers”; and diminish welfare benefits, even those for the elderly, children, and retirees.

It never works out like that in real life. Taxes are cut for corporations and the uber-wealthy, and they invest their extra money in offshore bank accounts- as was shown in the cases of the Paradise Papers and the Panama Papers. The environment is mangled due to greater pollution from car exhaust, chemicals spilling into rivers (thus contaminating sources of drinking water), excessive mining creating earthquakes, polar icecaps melting, and other forms of meteorological disasters. Factories, instead of hiring more workers in THIS country, set up in low-wage regions that have no real worker protections-and finally end up in nations with repressive governments who happily accommodate the companies’ anti-union mood.

In the new model of capitalism-as was practiced my Mitt Romney and his alma mater, Bain Capital- a hedge fund purchases a corporation, loads it up with debt it could not possibly pay off, then sells off parts of it, increasing the profit for the investors-and leaving workers without pay, without work, and without hope-except for some raving maniac who wants to float into office by telling jobless workers that their REAL enemy is the dark-skinned “inferiors” who live off welfare, who commit crimes, who use the government for their advantage (like no one should?), and who want to rape your sister.  

I always wondered why conservatives and other corporate apologists have a hatred for welfare: it can’t just be their whining about “lazy welfare bums who don’t work”-cutting their welfare benefits would never close any federal deficit, and sick, elderly people and children, aren’t in any shape to work some jobs.

Plus, with the globalization of the economy, with the shifting of investments, and factories, from one low-wage regions of the country to the next-and even from one low-wage country to the next- jobs aren’t always available, with factories closing down, leaving workers unemployed, and so they’re not able to purchase goods at local stores, closing them down in turn; and local governments can’t collect as much as before in taxes, thereby having to cut back services.

There are several factors to this conservative welfare bashing;

With a welfare system and a labor movement, workers could maintain a level of independence-not complete, but some-from corporate managers, who believe their own propaganda about their own infallibility in managing the economy.

It creates a scapegoat like I said earlier, a THOSE PEOPLE for working people only slightly higher up the economic scale, who are also trying to pay bills and get by.  Throw race into the mix, and you get a source of division which politicians, subsidized by corporations, love to exploit-and working and low-income people of BOTH races remain in the same difficult economic situation. For the white working class, the false drug of “racial superiority” does no good.

As a working person, a trade unionist, and as a Democratic Socialist, I must continue to point this out and work to correct it. Bye!

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Town Hall for Medicare for All

On Saturday, January 26, I attended a town hall meeting held at the Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, for Medicare for All, sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), along with the National labor Campaign for Single Payer, CWA District 2-13, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees-IBT, PASNAP, and UNITE-HERE, among others.

The speakers included Ed Mooney, Vice-President of CWA District 2-13, who spoke of the health care issue from the perspective of contract negotiations, and of the fight to implement in this “land of the free” a national-wide health insurance plan, as in Canada; and Michael Lighty, a fellow in the Sanders Institute and leader in California’s campaign for a single-payer system. Questions were taken from the audience.

The idea of health care as a commodity has led to a deterioration in health care, in spite of increasing costs. The time is NOW for a single-payer plan , as in Canada, to cover every American, no matter what their station in life, for health insurance. That would be one less source of anxiety alleviated from the minds of most Americans.

‘Fundamentally inhumane’: 26 billionaires now own as much as the world’s 3.8 billion poorest people

While the wealth of billionaires increased by $900 billion last year, or $2.5 billion a day, latest Oxfam report on inequality shows ‘this bonanza has not been felt by the poorest half of the world, which saw its wealth decline by 11 percent.’

Source: ‘Fundamentally inhumane’: 26 billionaires now own as much as the world’s 3.8 billion poorest people

The extremes of wealth and poverty increase every day. The ancient Greeks knew this was the beginning of social upheaval, revolution, and the death of the nation. But does our “leadership” in Washington know this? Hell no!

So, we’ll just have to take maters into our own hands, Americans!

Boycott Airlines?

The shutdown of the federal government goes on, due to tRump’s insistence that a wall be built to protect us from immigrants seeking a better life than political repression, criminal gangs, domestic abuse, and corruption in their homelands. Included in those federal employees deemed “essential”-they have to work without pay during the shutdown-are TSA agents, the people who check airlines for security, and air traffic controllers.

What kind of morale could they have, working for nothing for a President who uses them like poker chips in a big political poker game? What kind of stresses could they be having-included with doing their jobs, they have to also worry about feeding the kids, paying the mortgage and bills; but certain members of CONgress, and definitely our commander-in-chief, don’t have to worry about that stuff. They are the handmaidens of corporations who pay them off to weaken regulations on food, occupational safety, mines, financial transactions, and environmental quality; and who skew the tax laws in their favor.

Included in these corporations are air lines. I propose boycotting air travel, since the quality of air travel safety is too compromised, and the stresses on TSA workers and air-traffic controllers are too great, to be relied on. It will relieve pressure on the TSA and air traffic workers, who are already too stressed to do their important jobs effectively; and it will pressure the airline companies to pressure tRump to give up his stupid-ass border wall. I think it’s an idea worth kicking around.

Delta Airline GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Donald Trump is the perfect Republican: A party built on lies has found a liar to lead them

It’s hard to put your finger on the foundational lie of the modern Republican Party, there are so many contenders. But I would date it back to Ronald Reagan and the lie of supply side economics. Remember that whopper? Even George Bush the First called it “voodoo economics” before he embraced it. The

Source: Donald Trump is the perfect Republican: A party built on lies has found a liar to lead them

tRump is bad enough on his own; but the Republican party has used fear and smear in its rhetorical arsenal for decades, lying through its teeth about their opponents and their policies, throwing in racial animosity in the mix. The republican party needs to go the way of the Whigs, the Federalists, and the dinosaur.

Moonstone, January 16, 2019

On Wednesday, January 16, 2019, I attended the poetry reading at Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom street in Philadelphia (https://www.fergies.com/), sponsored by the Moonstone Arts Center (http://moonstoneartscenter.org/) , one of the great promoters on poetry and poets in Philadelphia.

Larry Robin, Director of Moonstone and great promoter of poetic talent in Philadelphia, who hosted the open mic.
Jason Mitchell, featured poet
Joe Roarty, poet who read in the open mic, like I did.

Next Wednesday, January 16, the next Moonstone poetry reading will feature Jennifer Anolik and Amy Barone. Jennifer Hook and Anila MacNeal will host the open mic.This will again take place at Fergie’s.

On Sunday, January 27, Moonsoone will host a tribute to poet JC Todd, featuring her new book, Damages of Morning. The event will take place at 2:00 PM at Fergie’s.

On Wednesday, January 30, Moonstone will host Hive Night, Apiary magazine’s celebrate of local poets, which will include an open mic. This will also take place at Fergie’s.

Mitch McConnell essentially admits Republicans can only win if elections aren’t fair

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made himself scarce in recent weeks as he blocks any consideration of funding bills to reopen the government, leaving federal workers to suffer.But while he seems to have no time to deal with this crucial task, he somehow had the time to craft a

Source: Mitch McConnell essentially admits Republicans can only win if elections aren’t fair

Typical bully, like his master tRump, McConnell plays the victim when the people he terrorizes stand up to him. He’s full of shit.

Torah Portion Bo

This weekend we have studied the Torah portion Bo, Exodus 10.1-13:16. In this portion, Moses and Aaron continue to approach Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt to worship their God; but each time, Pharaoh refuses to allow it, no matter how severe the plague is on his nation and his people. God, through His prophet Moses, inflicts further plagues on Egypt-Locusts and Darkness. Pharaoh’s own courtiers plead with the king to give in, or the nation would be destroyed. But Pharaoh, still believing himself to be a god-despots develop big egos-refuses to budge, and does not allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt.

Then finally, there is the final plague, the Death of the First-Born, from the children pf Pharaoh to the children of the slave girls. Pharaoh’s will is finally broken, and he begs Moses to take the Israelite out of Egypt. the great thing is, Moses, once a prince of Egypt, was still respected in the court, and the Egyptians looked favorably upon the Israelites. The Egyptians, like all lower-class people, suffer from the stupidity and egotism of their rulers. In the portion is the beginning of the holiday Peach, the commemoration of the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery, with the origins of the Seder; and of the redeeming of the first-born.