Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gotta Revolution! Thousands Inspired! Resistance Rising! Occupy Greensboro Marches In Solidarity with OccupyWallStreet October 15, 2011!

We Was Robbed!

In solidarity with OccupyWallStreet, between 300 to 400 people have joined together in the Greensboro, North Carolina, area and formed OccupyGreensboro.

Having met to discuss strategy four times previously, and each time the number attending multiplied, tonight they voted to march downtown on Saturday, October 15, 2011, in the spirit of the Greensboro Four, who sat-in at Woolworth's in Greensboro in 1960 and became one of the great resistance efforts of the Civil Rights movement. The march will begin at 3 PM and progress from the site of the original sit-in, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, marching past the financial district and culminating in a rally at Festival Park.

Spread the word, friends. Arise and organize!

I've written about some of the following events previously, but they can't be reported too often.

Like the dictators in Tahrir Square and Cairo before them the corporate state is terrified. Every attempt to suppress and destroy this movement has failed and they are indeed doing damage to arms of their own power structures as the people of this nation are faced with the undeniable realities of their corruption.

The brutality of their law enforcement and the fraudulence and ineptitude of their media is now exposed, naked and ugly before a people who are increasingly shocked, outraged, and moved to action.

They try to provoke violence but the people refuse to take the bait and fight back with the weapons of peaceful resistance and citizen journalism as we have seen during several brutal pepper-spraying incidents.

They cannot assault the the leaders of the movement because they do not exist.

They cannot defame the organizations behind the movement because no one organization is responsible.

They cannot prevent the funding of the movement because it is originates from too many sources and the movement requires little beyond the essentials to thrive.

So what is the corporate state to do in order destroy this threat? What can they do aside from levelling flaccid criticisms of “confusion” and “lack of direction” at the movement via their propaganda machine?

They can hope that the people lose interest. They can hope that too many will nod their heads in agreement from their homes and do nothing. Apathy is the greatest friend of the oppressor in this nation and it is the apathy we must speak to in ourselves and in others.

And on another front:

Rebuild The Dream

News Analysis
Thursday 6 October 2011
Bruce Colburn: “One thing you can say, there WILL be a recall of Scott Walker in Wisconsin this year.”

A high­light of yes­ter­day’s con­fer­ence was a break­out panel on the leg­endary move­ments in Wis­con­sin and Ohio, which have in­spired thou­sands across the coun­try to stand up and fight back.

Fea­tured speak­ers in­cluded John Nichols of The Na­tion mag­a­zine; pres­i­dent of the Wis­con­sin State Fire­fight­ers Union, Mahlon Mitchell; Mike Pyne of the United Steel Work­ers; Doug Bur­nett of AF­SCME; Court­ney Fully from United Food and Com­mer­cial Work­ers; Bruce Col­burn from SEIU; Mary Bell from Wis­con­sin Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion Coun­cil; and so­cial media guru Scott Good­stein.

The panel opened with Mahlon Mitchell, who re­counted the events pre­ced­ing Gov­er­nor Scott Walker’s (R-WI)  so-called Bud­get Re­pair Bill. In Jan­u­ary, the same month Mitchell be­came pres­i­dent of the state’s fire­fighter union, Wis­con­sin’s gov­ern­ment gave tax breaks to cor­po­ra­tions, but told peo­ple the state was broke. Then Walker tried to take away the rights of state and mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees and teach­ers.

The fire­fight­ers de­cided they could not sit idle.
“We could be next,” said Mitchell. “We were just re­spond­ing to an emer­gency; there was an emer­gency in our state.” Mike Pyne of United Steel Work­ers saw the strug­gle as shared among all his broth­ers and sis­ters in the pub­lic sec­tor.

While the demon­stra­tions drew the na­tion’s at­ten­tion, grow­ing to thou­sands of peo­ple, Pyne pointed out that for change to be pos­si­ble they needed a po­lit­i­cal com­po­nent. “We had to take po­lit­i­cal ac­tion to in­ter­vene,” he said.

And for­tu­nately, as­sert­ing power through the po­lit­i­cal process is a well-es­tab­lished prac­tice in the state. Doug Bur­nett broke down Wis­con­sin’s his­tory of fight­ing po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion as home of the re­call elec­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Bur­nett, the re­call was cre­ated to take those peo­ple out of of­fice who had turned their back on the peo­ple. Or, for those “who had per­haps not dis­closed when they ran for elec­tion that their real agenda was to elim­i­nate the right to union­ize in Wis­con­sin.” Hav­ing that law proved crit­i­cal in the strug­gle.

For Bur­nett, Wis­con­sin’s move­ment was about step­ping up to the chal­lenge that was Walker’s bud­get bill.

“We did not choose that re­call fight, and we didn’t choose the fight over col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing. They chose it. But once they chose it and once we un­der­stood the mag­ni­tude of the move­ment that had been cre­ated in Wis­con­sin, we joined it in a big way,” he said. “The les­son is: they picked a fight and we beat them back and beat them back hard.”

But the fight didn’t end in Wis­con­sin. Court­ney Foley of United Food & Com­mer­cial Work­ers rep­re­sented the new front – Ohio – where the at­tack on col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing and the re­sponse it has trig­gered are de­vel­op­ing rapidly.

“It’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing when you look at the short time­line of what hap­pened in Ohio” said Foley. “On Feb­ru­ary 7th, SB5 was in­tro­duced. By March 30th, Gov­er­nor Ka­sich had signed it into law. And in 8 weeks, on June 16th, We Are Ohio had more sig­na­tures than we needed to file al­ready. In 8 weeks!”

Foley re­called that as they un­loaded all the pe­ti­tions, en­gi­neers had to come weigh the room be­cause they thought they’d break the floor. They’d never seen so many pe­ti­tions in an of­fice be­fore.

Bruce Col­burn of Wis­con­sin’s SEIU shared his thoughts on the com­ing year.  “One thing you can say, there WILL be a re­call of Scott Walker in Wis­con­sin this year.”

And the fight won’t stop there. Peo­ple na­tion-wide will have to stand up and make sure their state gov­ern­ments feel the mag­ni­tude of the strug­gles that have set a prece­dent in Wis­con­sin and Ohio.

In the words of Col­burn, “We have to start fight­ing not just not to lose, but to start to win.”

And one more for your further viewing pleasure from Nation of Change:

Food pantries picked over. In­comes dry­ing up. Shel­ters burst­ing with the home­less. Job seek­ers spilling out the doors of em­ploy­ment cen­ters. Col­lege grads mov­ing back in with their par­ents. The angry and dis­il­lu­sioned fill­ing the streets. Pan your cam­era from one coast to the other, from city to sub­urb to farm and back again, and you'll wit­ness scenes like these. They are the legacy of the Great Re­ces­sion, the Lesser De­pres­sion, or what­ever you choose to call it.
In re­cent months, a bliz­zard of new data, the hard­est of hard num­bers, has laid bare the di­lap­i­dated con­di­tion of the Amer­i­can econ­omy, and par­tic­u­larly of the once-mighty Amer­i­can mid­dle class. Each re­port sparks a flurry of news sto­ries and pun­dit chat­ter, but never much re­flec­tion on what it all means now that we have just enough dis­tance to look back on the first decade of the twenty-first cen­tury and see how Amer­i­cans fared in that tur­bu­lent pe­riod.
And yet the ver­dict couldn’t be more clear-cut. For the Amer­i­can mid­dle class, long the pride of this coun­try and the envy of the world, the past 10 years were a bust. A washout. A decade from hell.
Pay­checks shrank. House­hold wealth melted away like so many sand­cas­tles swept off by the in­com­ing tide. Poverty spiked, swal­low­ing an ever-greater share of the pop­u­la­tion, young and old. "This is truly a lost decade," Har­vard Uni­ver­sity econ­o­mist Lawrence Katz said of these last years. "We think of Amer­ica as a place where every gen­er­a­tion is doing bet­ter, but we're look­ing at a pe­riod when the me­dian fam­ily is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s."
Poverty Swal­lows Amer­ica
Not even a full year has passed and yet the signs of wreck­age couldn’t be clearer. It’s as if Hur­ri­cane Irene had swept through the Amer­i­can econ­omy. Con­sider this sta­tis­tic: be­tween 1999 and 2009, the net jobs gain in the Amer­i­can work­force was zero. In the six pre­vi­ous decades, the num­ber of jobs added rose by at least 20% per decade.
Then there's in­come. In 2010, the av­er­age mid­dle-class fam­ily took home $49,445, a drop of $3,719 or 7%, in yearly earn­ings from 10 years ear­lier. In other words, that fam­ily now earns the same amount as in 1996. After peak­ing in 1999, mid­dle-class in­come dwin­dled through the early years of the George W. Bush pres­i­dency, climb­ing briefly dur­ing the hous­ing boom, then nose­div­ing in its af­ter­math.
Article image
In this lost decade, ac­cord­ing to econ­o­mist Jared Bern­stein, poor fam­i­lies watched their in­come shrivel by 12%, falling from $13,538 to $11,904. Even fam­i­lies in the 90th per­centile of earn­ers suf­fered a 1% per­cent hit, drop­ping on av­er­age from $141,032 to $138,923. Only among the stag­ger­ingly wealthy was this not a lost decade: the top 1% of earn­ers en­joyed 65% of all in­come growth in Amer­ica for much of the decade, one hell of a run, only briefly in­ter­rupted by the fi­nan­cial melt­down of 2008 and now, by the look of things, back on track. The swelling ranks of the Amer­i­can poor tell an even more dis­mal story. In Sep­tem­ber, the Cen­sus Bu­reau rolled out its lat­est snap­shot of poverty in the United States, count­ing more than 46 mil­lion men, women, and chil­dren among this coun­try's poor. In other words, 15.1% of all Amer­i­cans are now liv­ing in of­fi­cially de­fined poverty, the most since 1993. (Last year, the poverty line for a fam­ily of four was set at $22,113; for a sin­gle work­ing-age per­son, $11,334.) Un­like in the lost decade, the poverty rate de­creased for much of the 1990s, and in 2000 was at about 11%.

Even be­fore the hous­ing mar­ket im­ploded, dur­ing the post-dot-com-bust years of “re­cov­ery” from 2001 to 2007, poverty fig­ures were the worst for any re­cov­ery on record, ac­cord­ing to Arloc Sher­man, a se­nior re­searcher at the Cen­ter on Bud­get and Pol­icy Pri­or­i­ties. The Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, mean­while, pre­dicts that the ranks of the poor will con­tinue to grow steadily dur­ing the years of the Great Re­ces­sion, which of­fi­cially began in De­cem­ber 2007, and are ex­pected to reach 50 mil­lion by 2015, al­most 10 mil­lion more than in 2007.

Hit­ting sim­i­lar record highs are the num­bers of "deep" poor, Amer­i­cans liv­ing way below the poverty line. In 2010, 20.5 mil­lion peo­ple, or 6.7% of all Amer­i­cans, scraped by with less than $11,157 for a fam­ily of four -- that is, less than half of the poverty line.

The ranks of the poor are no longer con­cen­trated in inner cities or ghet­tos in the coun­try’s major urban areas as in decades past. Poverty has now ex­ploded in the sub­urbs. Last year, more than 15 mil­lion sub­ur­ban­ites -- or one-third of all poor Amer­i­cans -- fell below the poverty line, an in­crease of 11.5% from the pre­vi­ous year.

This is a de­vel­op­ment of the last decade. Those sub­urbs, once the sym­bol of by-the-boot­straps mo­bil­ity and eco­nomic pros­per­ity in Amer­ica, saw poverty spike by 53% since 2000.  Four of the ten poor­est sub­urbs in Amer­ica -- Fresno, Bak­ers­field, Stock­ton, and Modesto -- sit side by side on a map of Cal­i­for­nia's Cen­tral Val­ley like a row of bro­ken knuck­les.  The poor are also con­cen­trated in bor­der towns like El Paso and McAllen, Texas, and urban areas cratered by the hous­ing crash like Fort Myers and Lake­land, Florida.

The epi­demic of poverty has hit mi­nori­ties es­pe­cially hard. Ac­cord­ing to Cen­sus data, be­tween 2009 and 2010 alone the black poverty rate jumped from 25% to 27%. For His­pan­ics, it climbed from 25% to 26%, and for whites, from 9.4% to 9.9%. At 16.4 mil­lion, more chil­dren now live in poverty than at any time since 1962.  Put an­other way, 22% of kids cur­rently live below the poverty line, a 17-year record.

Amer­ica’s lost decade also did a re­mark­able job of de­stroy­ing the wealth of non­white fam­i­lies, the Pew Re­search Cen­ter re­ported in July. Be­tween 2005 and 2009, the house­hold wealth of a typ­i­cal black fam­ily dropped off a cliff, plung­ing by a whop­ping 53%; for a typ­i­cal His­panic fam­ily, it was even worse, at 66%. For white mid­dle-class house­holds, losses on av­er­age to­taled “only” 16%.

Here's a more eye-open­ing way to look at it: in 2009, the me­dian wealth for a white fam­ily was $113,149, for a black fam­ily $5,677, and for a His­panic fam­ily $6,325. The sec­ond half of the lost decade, in other words, laid ruin to what­ever wealth was pos­sessed by blacks and His­pan­ics -- largely home own­er­ship dev­as­tated by the pop­ping of the hous­ing bub­ble.

The New Lost Decade

As for this decade, less than two years in, we al­ready know that the news isn't likely to be much bet­ter. The prob­lems that plagued Amer­i­cans in the pre­vi­ous decade show lit­tle sign of im­prove­ment.

Take the jobs mar­ket. Tally the num­ber of jobs elim­i­nated since the re­ces­sion began and also the labor mar­ket's fail­ure to cre­ate enough jobs to keep up with nor­mal pop­u­la­tion growth, and you're left with an 11.2 mil­lion jobs deficit, a chasm be­tween where the econ­omy should be and where it is now. Fill­ing that gap is the key to any re­cov­ery, but to do so by mid-2016 would mean adding 280,000 jobs a month -- a pipe dream in an econ­omy limp­ing along cre­at­ing an av­er­age of just 35,000 jobs a month for the past three months. Un­less the coun­try's jobs en­gine were some­how jump-started, 11.2 mil­lion jobs in this decade would be a real stretch.

But few in Con­gress, and none of the con­trol­ling Re­pub­li­can politi­cians, will even think about using the jumper ca­bles. Pres­i­dent Obama's rel­a­tively mod­est Amer­i­can Jobs Act, for in­stance, was de­clared a corpse on ar­rival at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. On Mon­day, a re­porter asked House Ma­jor­ity Leader Eric Can­tor (R-Va.), "The $447 bil­lion jobs pack­age as a pack­age: dead?" Yes, Can­tor as­sured him, in­deed it was.

The pres­i­dent and his ad­min­is­tra­tion watch de­spon­dently from the other end of Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue. And for the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans, a job­less “re­cov­ery” ex­acts an ever-greater toll on their earn­ings, their fam­i­lies, their health, their basic abil­ity to make ends meet.

The ques­tion on many econ­o­mists' minds is: Will the U.S. slump into a dou­ble-dip re­ces­sion? But for so many Amer­i­cans liv­ing out­side the po­lit­i­cal and media hot­houses of Wash­ing­ton and New York, this ques­tion is silly.  After all, how can the econ­omy tum­ble back into re­ces­sion if it never left in the first place?

No one can say for cer­tain how many years will pass be­fore Amer­ica re­gains any­thing like its pre-re­ces­sion swag­ger -- and even then, there's lit­tle to sug­gest that the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of the mid­dle class's lost decade won’t have changed this coun­try in ways that will prove per­ma­nent, or that the gap be­tween the wealthy and every­one else will do any­thing but in­crease in good times or bad in the decade to come. The deep po­lar­iza­tion be­tween the very rich and every­one else has been decades in the mak­ing and is a global phe­nom­e­non. Re­vers­ing it could be the task of a life­time.

In the mean­time, the mid­dle class has flat-lined. Life sup­port is nowhere close to ar­riv­ing. One lost decade may have ended, but the next one has likely only begun.

This piece was writ­ten in re­sponse to: Andy Kroll, Amer­ica's Lost Decade.


Nance said...

Good on Greensboro, my home town! And, just to prove that pigs can fly over a frozen hell, would you believe that right here in All Sphincters Red South Carolina, we now have Occupy Irmo, Occupy Florence, and Occupy Charleston!?

Could there ever be an Occupy Myrtle Beach?

Suzan said...

Occupy Charleston?



Wow, Nance!

We must be doing something right.

You go girl. And come see me in GSO sometime.