Who Will Tell the People

The CIA is pushing crack in the ghettos of LA
While the food crops in Colombia get sprayed by the DEA
The FBI is reading your email with something called the carnivore
And the rich are getting richer while the poor are staying poor
They’re launching nuclear-powered ships up into space
One little accident could wipe out half the human race
And they’re putting radioactive waste into your silverware
Or maybe your toaster or perhaps your wheelchair

The Air Force is bombing people in Iraq every other day
They don’t like the government so the children have to pay
The ozone hole is spreading and the sheep are going blind
While the US spends more on arms than the rest of the world combined
Journalists are getting fired from San Jose to Atlanta
When they write about reality, not a fluff piece for Fanta
A death threat every week and sometimes life is short
When the truth is too dangerous for someone to report

Who will tell the people that free speech is a ruse
The corporations run the country and then they make the news
Is it media or mind control, heroic victories or crimes
Who will tell the people that we’re living in these times

The cancer rates are skyrocketing though people are smoking less
If you live near a nuke your life is bound to be a mess
Clean water’s almost gone all over the earth
And what’s left they want to privatize and see how much it’s worth
Chevron is gunning down the students of Nigeria
Turning the land to waste while the babies die of diptheria
And the weather’s getting hotter, the world’s forests are on fire
Pretty soon Brazil will be one giant funeral pyre


One in three adult Americans cannot read or write
And their children go to bed hungry every night
And two million US citizens are rotting behind bars
And while they’re there they’re working hard building parts for cars
And the Army’s running torture schools to keep the earth under control
And they’re relocating Navajos so they can mine some extra coal
Our taxes pay McDonald’s to sell tumors in Shanghai
While a hundred thousand poisoned vets are just about to die


And the people are resisting wherever you may go
And this is the single biggest fact they don’t want you to know
From New Delhi to New Mexico there are battles going on
And the darkest hour is just before the dawn
And in Berkeley and New York they’re raiding radio stations
Trying to turn the voice of the people into the voice of the corporations
Will we seize the airwaves, wipe the sweat off of our brow
Stand and face the beast and shout, “Democracy Now!”


“Who Will Tell the People” appears on Living in These Times (CD, 2001).

A love song for alternative media. ¬†For years the song was used as the introductory music for Truthout’s audio news podcast, I’m happy to report.