UPDATE: The Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) has refused Gov. Walker’s request to clear out the State Capitol. To show support for the peaceful protesters who clean up after themselves, they are asking WPPA members to come sleep among the protesters tonight. Read the full press release at http://www.thewheelerreport.com/releases/February11/0225/0225wppa.pdf
The Chant That Crossed The Pond
The United Kingdom and the United States are in the midst of an economic downturn. Just as a household would trim a budget, the governments want to cut spending in their budget. However, these cuts effect the poor and working class by reducing or even eliminating programs. Education funding is being cut in both countries. Here in the US some members of congress and state legislatures want to end collective bargaining for unions and they want to reduce spending on health programs such as Planned Parent Hood and MediCaid. On Saturday, citizens across the US and the UK will be asking their governments to instead force gigantic corporations to pay their share of taxes rather than receive bail outs and tax exemptions.
This movement which spans the Atlantic began in January in the UK when students and citizens organized as UK Uncut to protest corporations that weren’t paying their taxes and proposed cuts to education and other social programs.
“Pay your tax!”
1) Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and the rich, estimated to cost the state £95bn a year.
2) Make the banks pay for a crisis they created: last year they paid out over £7bn in bonuses and just four banks made £24bn in profit
UK Uncut Inspires Us Uncut
US corporations, and we aren’t talking about small business owners, are enjoying record profits without paying taxes. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office study reported that 83 of the top 100 publicly traded corporations operating in the US exploit corporate tax havens. levin.senate.gov/newsroom/supporting/2009/PSI.GAOtaxhavensreport.011609.pdf America’s most profitable companies such as ExxonMobil, General Electric, Bank of America and Citigroup all paid NO federal income taxes. $1 trillion in revenue is lost each decade to Tax havens.
In 2009, Bank of America received a net tax benefit. Basically they were given tax payer money. $2.3 billion to be exact. That would almost cover the proposed $2.5 billion cuts to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). That program assists 34 million low-income families pay heating and cooling bills.
The Madison Movement or How to Walk Like an Egyptian
image: Thousands fill the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda in protest of Gov. Scott Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill.” Wikimedia Commons CC License
On February 15 at the Madison, Wisconsin State Capitol tens of thousands citizens mainly public employees, union members, students began a series of demonstrations against Wisconsin’s proposed 2011 budget. “The changes were proposed in response to record state budget deficits.” Governor Scott Walker’s proposal required state employees to, for the first time, pay toward their pensions. It would also eliminate or weaken collective bargaining rights of public employee union members. “Many journalists, politicians, and political commentators considered the Middle East and North African protests an inspiration for the Wisconsin protests.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Wisconsin_budget_protests
Granted, there is a serious danger level difference between revolutions to over throw dictators and budget cut protests. Yet when the populace demands to be heard by their government, they share in the Spirit of Community. The Spirit of Community is the concept that we are all in this together. I’ll help you because in order to survive I’ll need help one day, too. Not a single living thing on this planet is completely autonomous.
Selena Fox is the founder of Circle Sanctuary. Circle Sanctuary was one of the organizations that successfully petitioned the Veterans Administration to allow pentacle on Pagan soldier’s tombstones. After returning from PantheaCon in San Jose, California, Selena went directly to the protests in Madison. Jason at the Wild Hunt blog spoke with her about the “exuberant energy”
“I am continuing to hear from a variety of people concerned about upholding public workers’ rights, including from the interfaith community. Today two dozen clergy of different traditions joined together with others in the Capitol rotunda and then were part of a press conference afterwards. […] In the center of the ground floor was the hub of the indoor rally. Various demonstrators were taking turns leading chants and expressing perspectives in a microphone within a circle of drummers. In addition to the ground floor, there were people circled around the rotunda on the second and third floors all joining in chanting. As I walked around each floor, I talked with some of those who had gathered as well as some of the media covering the rally, which has been going round the clock for more than a week. The energy inside the Capitol was exhuberant. The passion to stand up for public workers and their collective bargaining rights there was and continues to be strong.” wildhunt.org/blog/2011/02/pagan-community-notes-protecting-a-sacred-altar-in-athens-selena-fox-in-madison-american-mystic-and-more.html
Video: “Inside the capital… Wisconsin Teachers Union protest Scott Walker’s Bill in Madison” by derekjmeissner
The energy of the demonstrations in Madison rippled outward inspiring protests in Ohio and Indiana against budget cuts and union busting. This video by Sum of Change about the protests in Ohio against Senate Bill 5 explains why we need Unions.
Firefighters also joined the Ohio protests.
Video: Firefighters rock the drum and bagpipes by plunderbund
This swelling of citizen voices in the US is now being called the Madison Movement. Michael Moore, activist film maker, suggested the name based on the Madison, Wisconsin protests and President James Madison. Madison was the 4th President of the US. He was part of the Constitutional Congress and one of the composers of the Bill of Rights.
Show Courage for Yourself and Those Effected by the Cuts. Take Action.
There are two major actions being held across the US on Saturday, Feb. 26 and actions across the UK.
If you are in the UK and want to participate visit www.ukuncut.org.uk/
US Uncut demonstrations will be held at Bank Of America branches. www.usuncut.org/blog/press-release-protests-at-bank-of-america-50-cities
Moveon.org is sponsoring rallies to protest cuts to social programs and to support Union members, especially in Wisconsin. pol.moveon.org/event/events/index.html?action_id=238
Though I support the spirit of the moveon.org actions, I don’t agree with their wording. I added the emphasis for clarification.
“In Wisconsin and around our country, the American Dream is under fierce attack. Instead of creating jobs, Republicans are giving tax breaks to corporations and the very rich—and then cutting funding for education, police, emergency response, and vital human services.”
As long as the citizens in the US are divided by party lines with liberals blaming the conservatives, or Republicans blaming the Democrats, the corporate CEOs will sit back and continue living the high life by feeding off of the American Dream. That dream originally was life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That dream has instead become a lie, an illusion, that if you work hard enough you to can be filthy rich.
Bank of America is the largest bank and 5th largest US corporation over all with over $2.2 trillion in assets, yet it pays less in taxes than the average American household. In case you are one of the lucky to be in the top 1% of the rich you are an average American whose household’s income is between $35,400 and $52,100. That really blows away the idea that if you work hard enough you can be rich!
When Madison was referred to as the “Father of the Constitution,” he protested that the document was not “the off-spring of a single brain,” but “the work of many heads and many hands.” We’ll need the people united, hand in hand, to build a strong community where we aid each other in good times and bad.
Image: US President Franklin Roosevelt in wheelchair due to Polio poliomyelitis. Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
Sixty years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt shared his vision for the security and economic liberty of the American people in war and peace. His “Economic Bill of Rights” was presented in his January 11, 1944 State of the Union address.
“We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.”
American Heritage Center www.fdrheritage.org/bill_of_rights.htm
So Be It!
Other Sites and Articles of Interest
Staff of Asclepius “American Pagans Want to Change Health Care Legislation to Do More” www.patheos.com/community/paganswithdisabilities/2011/02/23/american-pagans-want-to-change-health-care-legislation-to-do-more/
An editorial at Pagans + Politics “Wisconsin is none of my business…” by Cara a Hellenic Polytheist with Libertarian leanings. politics.pagannewswirecollective.com/2011/02/25/wisconsin-is-none-of-my-business/
Pantheos the Pagan Portal at Patheos “A Moral Response to Wisconsin” by Star Foster www.patheos.com/community/paganportal/2011/02/23/a-moral-response-to-wisconsin/
Indy Star “Exodus: Dems trigger Statehouse showdown” by Mary Beth Schneider
“Ohio police and firefighters urge lawmakers to slow down effort to replace collective bargaining law”
by Joe Guillen www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2011/02/ohio_police_and_firefighters_u.htm
Reclaiming – Pagan activism tradition started in 1979 www.reclaiming.org/
Pagan Cluster www.pagancluster.org/
Dirt Worship blog by Starhawk “On Egypt” starhawksblog.org/