Once upon a time, many years ago, when things weren’t quite so f’ed up here in Duh-merica, the Democratic candidate for president from Nowhereville, Arkansas made the expression, “It’s the economy, stupid,” a catch-phrase for his successful bid to unseat the incumbent, George H.W. Bush. Pappy Bush had been wildly popular (we love our “successful wars” here) after his attack on Iraq but had not addressed the recession we were suffering under at the time.
Now, as we all know, Bill Clinton was elected and enacted NAFTA, GATT and other so-called Free trade agreements, which had the affect of sending our decent paying jobs with benefits to other countries that didn’t have such “horrible” restrictions on them such as minimum wage laws, collective bargaining, worker safety, and environmental protection.
Besides the “free” trade agreements, Clinton’s administration all but made it a crime to be poor by publicly chastising and further impoverishing “welfare Queens” so his regime could repeal the Glass-Steagall Act to make the fat banker cats morbidly obese. Clinton was not and is not politically identified (by name) as one of them evil Republicans—but his regime advanced the neoliberalism of our economy further than Bush I could have.
The Glass-Steagall Act was one of the financial reforms enacted during the Great Depression to prevent just what happened in 2008 when the derivative and housing markets crashed on the poor, again. Glass-Steagall prevented financial institutions from going into partnerships that would make them “too big to fail.” When there is a failure of these “too big” cabals, it can be catastrophic—as witnessed in 2008. However, although many people in the working class lost pensions, savings, homes and jobs, the people who created the problem, however, received welfare from the US government in the form of “bailouts.” Barry O. is a big fan of bailing out his largest donor: Goldman Sachs.
I am bringing back these bad old times to remind everyone that the class war waged on us from above just didn’t start in 2009, or 2000, or 1776, even. This war has been being waged for centuries by the wealthy who treat the rest of us like slaves who are allowed to have just enough to be able to minimally nourish ourselves and keep ourselves just healthy enough to work for the peanut shells they toss us.
Here in the US we did enjoy a brief historical moment where it seemed like we got a small respite and we began to grow stronger with the democratization of the work place by unions that fought for labor rights, not for the bosses. Through the GI Bill and the advancement of free, or heavily subsidized state university education our access to education began to equalize. Everyone knows that knowledge is power.
The GI Bill also provided vets with the opportunity to participate in the “American Dream” of home ownership that has steadily descended into a nightmare.
The constant wars (both foreign and domestic) began to take a toll on our nation’s soul and the sweet smell of uprising was in the air until we descended into a false “peace dividend” and the somnambulance of the “Me” decade.” The crimes of Reagan/Bush began to pull us kicking and fighting out of our slumber until a plain-talking, intelligent, and charismatic savior for Capitalism took over and dramatically escalated the attacks on labor that began in earnest during Reagan’s years. Yet, Clinton was a Democrat, so those that should have been paying attention cut him an incredible amount of slack like (sometimes the same) people are doing for Obama, now.
So, for the last ten years, our nation has been waging a Global War of Terror against the world and the first person of color to occupy the Oval Office is dropping bombs on an African nation. Another military misadventure is plunging our nation further into economic despair, but Obama and the Congress just collaborated to cut 38 billion from Federal social programs and ZERO from the Pentagon and war budgets while retaining about 44 billion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy.
This is not just a Federal problem it is a state problem, too, as recently highlighted by the battle in Madison—where labor was pitted against a Republican governor and legislature. Are all 50 states ruled by Republicans? Are even the 46/50 states that are in budget crisis and cutting social services ruled by Republicans? No and NO!
I was driving on a treacherous road from Ukiah, Ca to Mendocino one treacherously rainy day and I heard my Democratic governor come on the car’s radio to congratulate the “courageous” California state legislature that had the courage to cut 13 billion from California’s 26 billion dollar deficit—but Jerry Brown’s voice became appropriately grave when he “regretted” the fact that the cuts were going to affect California’s most “vulnerable” citizens the most harshly.
Peace of the Action, Bay Area CODEPINK and many other endorsing organizations are calling for a March from San Francisco beginning on May 1st to conclude in Sacramento on May 9th, where we will construct a tent city on the grounds of the state capitol building calling for solidarity actions and demanding our People’s Agenda be instituted, including, but not limited to these points:
A) It doesn’t take “courage” to attack the already poor. Many “vulnerable” Californians from the disabled to the elderly to the young will suffer under Brown’s savage austerity measures.
B) I highly doubt that Brown is “sorry” about cutting more money from these people who have almost zero political clout in Sacramento, obviously.
C) Why don’t we try “savage austerity” measures for the rich? According to a 2009 report, the state of California “boasts” the most millionaires of any other state, by far—over 662,000 “millionaire households” in the Golden State. Instead of penalizing the already poor, how about an “excess wealth” tax to spread a little of the pain around? The rich won’t be deprived of any necessity and not having to cut back even more will benefit the poor immensely!
D) End California’s participation in the US’s global war of terror against the world. According to the CostofWar.com of the National Priorities Project, since 2001, Californian’s have ponied up 150 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) dollars to the Feds for these evil wars of aggression. Fifteen billion a year would go far to helping relieve our deficit.
E) Institute a state banking system. (See: Bank of North Dakota)
F) Retool our advanced weapon’s industry here in Cali for public transportation, environmental clean-up, and alternative forms of energy.
G) A moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions.
Admittedly, this is an aggressive pro-humanity agenda, but unless WE propose it and fight for it, the status quo will eat us alive.
Why aren’t labor unions and other social justice activists already camping on Jerry Browns’ state house lawn? Is it because he is a Democrat and unions just financially line the coffers of Democrats without expecting anything in return? Is it because most people don’t realize that an “Injury to one is an injury to all,” and that even though one is not jobless or homeless today, all that could easily change in a heartbeat?
Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of the people who attack our basic human rights with every move they make, or are you on the side of the people who are being attacked?
The organizers of this march and strike have been warned by some in the “Peace Industrial Complex” that we are not allowed to camp on the lawn of OUR State Capitol—but we are bringing our agenda and demands to the “belly of the beast,” and if Jerry Brown wants to be a jackass and have us arrested, or removed, that’s better for our cause—it will highlight the fraudulence of the “two” party system. There are also many tent cities in or near Sacramento that hide their poverty and forced-vulnerability under bridges or near the river—bring your problems to the lawn of the people who caused them—join us.
One of my favorite protest signs of all time reads, “THEY only call it class warfare when we fight back.”
Well, it’s way past time to fight back. We need to extend the protests in Madison against the repeal of the right to collective bargaining to the cuts against even people who don’t belong to unions—the most “vulnerable” of our society.
If anything, Jerry Brown and the California legislature are brilliant strategists who went after the vulnerable and not the ones who already know they have power—(Scott Walker screwed up on that one)—in this economy we are all vulnerable and we have to stick up for each other!
“An injury to one is an injury to all” and we are all brothers and sisters even if we don’t carry a union membership card in our wallets or purses.
Let’s make the ’10s the WE decade.
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FOR MORE INFO, EMAIL GREGORY VICKREY AT: [email protected]
CINDY SHEEHAN AT: [email protected]
XAN JOI (BAY AREA CODEPINK) AT: [email protected]