Organizing, Live and with Impact

A couple weeks ago, amid the discussions of Egypt’s uprising, this came in to my email box:

What Country Is This?:

“The state was thus increasingly seen to be a state for the few. Its old base in the rural middle classes was rapidly declining as young people moved to the cities. It was doing little for the urban working and middle classes. An ostentatious state business class emerged, deeply dependent on government contracts and state good will, and meeting in the fancy tourist hotels. But the masses of high school and college graduates reduced to driving taxis or selling rugs (if they could even get those gigs) were not benefiting from the on-paper growth rates of the past decade.”

With a link to the following story, explaining, in depth, the background of what has been happening in Egypt: http://www.juancole.com/2011/01/egypts-class-conflict.html

How many of you read that paragraph and thought, “that doesn’t sound any different from what is happening here in America.”?  It was President Eisenhower who first spoke out in concern of the Military-Industrial Complex in his January, 1961 Farewell Address.  Since then, what have we really done to alleviate the dangers?  What would President Eisenhower have to say about behemoth defense/government contractors like Halliburton?  What about enormous subsidies to companies pulling in record profits and paying no federal taxes?  Of course, if you really wanted to piss him off, you could have had a large state, like say, Florida, tell him, “No thanks, we don’t want your stinkin’ Interstate Highways.”  Which is what Governor Rick Scott did this week.

Over at Hullabaloo, Digby posted a Judy Woodruff/PBS interview with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, talking about the budget proposals.  The piece that sticks out to me is Senator Bernie Sanders reminding us of this:

This year, ExxonMobil, the most profitable corporation in the history of the world, is not paying a nickel in federal income taxes, despite having made $19 billion last year. In 2005, one-quarter of corporation — large corporations in America making a trillion in revenue didn’t pay a nickel in taxes. You have got a military budget which in many ways is still fighting the old Cold War.

We have the Right banging the drums about regulation and tax oppression, crying that they can’t create jobs with out tax cuts.  But reality tells us that tax rates are at their lowest point since 1950 and most of the biggest corporations doing business in America are not paying any Federal taxes.  None.  Some of the largest recipients of government contracts have moved “off shore,” to avoid paying corporate taxes on their massive profits, including Halliburton.

Union membership has fallen to less than 12% of the American workforce, wages have been stagnant for decades, all the while executive compensation and the wealth gap have expanded exponentially.  Wall Street’s massive arrogant gambling led to economic collapse just a couple years ago, leading them to beg for relief from the tax payers.  Last year, Wall Street responded by paying out the most compensation EVER.  Huge bonuses, large salaries.  What lesson should they learn from this?

State Governments, like Wisconsin’s massive overreach by Governor Walker and Florida’s crushing proposals by Governor Rick Scott are all intent on dismantling unions and privatizing every aspect of the state.  No lessons were learned from the deregulation of California’s energy sector (Enron), from decades of data showing that union states outperform non-union states in nearly every educational metric, that costs go up, not down, when services are privatized.

So in Wisconsin, the teachers, students and so many of their supporters have stood up.  They have organized and acted.  They are living in the capitol and telling their government their voices will be heard.  Just as the people of Egypt stood tall against their repressive and corrupt regime, Americans are doing the same.  In Florida, organizing has begun, with more than 1000 people following “Awake the State“, an idea conceived just a couple days ago, which could lead to our own “Madison Moment.”

The focus I wish to convey is that it is organizing in action that drives these actions to success.  A few students showing up with signs at the capitol will be written off as nuisance and achieve nothing.  To make lasting change, one must make a case for such change, one must convince others, en mass, to stand up and express their belief in that change.  Violence is not the answer, organizing is.  Use your phone, your Facebook AND your twitter, not one or the other, to engage and activate your friends and family.  Give them a direct action to take, not just a vague statement of support.  Call your Governor, Congressman AND Senator.   Tell them it is time for the nonsense to end.  No more Corporate giveaways and worker sell-outs.  Education must be fully funded and accessible to every child, free and in their neighborhood.  Voting districts should be drawn with the communities interests first, not to benefit the incumbent office holder or party in power. Women should have the absolute right to make decisions about their bodies.  Human rights should be extended to all within the borders of our nation, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or how they came to be here.  Every man, woman and child should receive the absolute best health care possible, without having to sell their home to pay for it.  We must look forward with investment in infrastructure, innovation, imagination and inspiration.  The cost of not doing so is too great.  It is the permanent economic collapse of our great nation.

What are you doing to make your voice heard?  Are you calling the Governors office? You can reach Gov Rick Scott at: (850) 488-7146.  How about your Congressman?  Senator?  The time to act is now.

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