Newsletter - Greater Austerity Coming Unless We Act

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Earlier this year, Google changed its algorithm to suppress ‘fake news’ and ever since then, our readership at Popular Resistance has dropped dramatically. Your help is needed to break through this censorship. If you see an article on Popular Resistance that you like, please take a minute to use the sharing buttons at the top to post it on Facebook, Twitter or whichever social media platform you use. With your help, we the people will be the media and build the movement for social and economic transformation. Thank you. -Popular Resistance

Popular Resistance and other people’s media outlets are not the only ones being targeted by Google. This summer, a group of ten people who study wealth inequality, led by Barry Lynn for the past 15 years at the New America Foundation, was fired after criticizing Google’s growing domination. Fortunately, they regrouped as an independent organization and they continue to research and expose the causes of wealth inequality in the United States.

As one of the world’s richest nations, the US stands out for having the greatest wealth divide and high levels of poverty. Over the past 40 years, wages have stagnated and, as Lynn points out, “the richest one percent took more than half of all income growth since 1979.” Currently, the top 0.1 percent have wealth equal to the bottom 90 percent. It isn’t a matter of whether the US has enough money to support basic necessities like health, education and housing, but who has the wealth in the US and where our tax dollars are being spent.

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The Rich Stealing from the Poor

The White House and leaders in Congress released their new tax proposal this week, and its no surprise that it is a huge gift to the wealthy and the President himself. Americans for Tax Fairness estimates that if the tax proposal were to become reality, it would mean a $6.7 to $8.3 trillion tax cut for the wealthy and leave us with a larger budget deficit. President Trump alone would gain over a billion dollars, which Bob Lord at Inequality.org describes as “Trump will be effectively cutting himself a check from the U.S. Treasury for several billion dollars.” But what else would we expect from a “Government by Goldman,” as Gary Rivlin and Michael Hudson describe it?

The budget deficit means greater austerity for the rest of us. Congress will use the deficit to cut important social safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and to cut spending on education, housing and other necessities. We can be certain that the war machine will not be cut. In fact Republicans and Democrats in the Senate recently voted 89-8 in favor of an $80 billion increase in military spending. The US spends more on its military than the next top ten nations combined.

This is what we mean when we say that the US is an Empire Economy. Imagine the great social uplift that could be created by dismantling the Empire and investing in a transition to a clean energy economy, high quality public education from preschool to higher education, comprehensive health care for everyone and affordable housing.

Beyond taxes, the wealthy steal from the poor through control over markets and workers. In “To Address Inequality, Let’s Take on Monopolies,” Barry Lynn explains that monopolies allow the rich to control prices and exploit workers. Trade agreements have allowed large corporations to seek out places where wages are low and regulations are lax. And the assault on labor unions has also weakened basic protections for workers in the US. The Supreme Court just agreed to hear another case that would attack public sector unions. Paddy Quick argues that we must fight for changes that redirect wealth to reduce our growing inequality.

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Fighting for Basic Needs

There are many efforts across the country to fight for our basic needs. This week, healthcare activists protested and defeated a Republican proposal that would cut Medicaid and cause millions to lose their health insurance. Hundreds of people turned out for and disrupted a Senate hearing on the plan. The next day, they protested outside the now-former Secretary of Health, Tom Price’s home in Georgetown. Now, we must turn that energy to fight for a National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system.

Education proponents formed a coalition called #WeChoose to fight for equity in public education and to counter the “illusion of school choice” offered by privateers. They are organizing in cities from coast to coast and protesting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at speaking events. This week, DeVos was confronted at Harvard University.

Last week, tenants rallied from coast to coast in 45 cities for the “Renter Week of Actions” organized by the Right to the City Alliance. The 2018 budget is set to slash $6 billion from housing, forcing many cities to sell their public housing off to private hands. In addition to protesting cuts, rising rents and poor living conditions, tenants in multiple cities are seeking ways to take control over their housing.

A victory was won this week for immigrants on hunger strike in a Washington State prison where they are forced to perform slave labor. Following a hunger strike, the state launched a lawsuit against the private prison corporation, GEO. Prisoners’ rights advocate Christina Fialho reports that, “Private prison corporations collect around $165 per person per day from the public. They then have immigrants work in their facilities for only $1 a day at most and cut corners where it matters, such as on medical care and food, and they then send the profits to their shareholders.”

In Los Angeles, a coalition of organizations formed to stop the expansion of jails. The group, JusticeLA, kicked off with an action outside a board of supervisor’s meeting where they blocked the street with one hundred beds to protest the plan to create 6,000 new jail beds. And powerful protests continue in St. Louis over the acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley, who murdered unarmed Anthony Lamar Smith. Residents are calling for the resignation of police chief Lawrence O’Toole.

A new coalition, Divest from the War Machine, was started this month to encourage large institutions to divest from the military industrial complex. In “Three Big Ways the Military Industrial Complex is Ruining Our Country,”Ria Modak  outlines how “taxpayers are getting screwed by every angle of the military industrial complex,” which includes counter-terrorism, homeland security and intelligence agencies. And while we are told that the US is promoting “freedom and democracy” around the world, Whitney Webb explains that the US is actually funding more than 70 percent of the world’s dictatorships.

In fact, we can say that rather than being promoted, democracy is under attack around the world and at home. Catalonians in Spain are facing repression for trying to vote on independence. The vote is scheduled for October 1. In the US, the very right to vote is under attack. The Kobach Commission, under the direction of Kris Kobach, is working at the federal level to find more ways to restrict who can vote. Kobach is pushing his agenda so blatantly that his own commission, and state officials, are pushing back.

A new bill would expand surveillance at or near the US border in new and invasive ways. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is fighting it and is suing the Department of Homeland Security, with the ACLU, over new rules allowing DHS to have greater surveillance of immigrants’ social media.

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Promoting Democracy at Home

Communities across the US are also organizing to create democratic structures and take power back. The People’s Congress of Resistance held its inaugural event at Howard University in September. Delegates from 38 states attended and agreed on the Manifesto: “Society for the Many.” One of the next tasks is to discuss the manifesto and how to make it a reality. Abby Martin of the Empire Files interviewed some of the attendees.

In East Oakland, hundreds of people are meeting as the new East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods. They will discuss critical issues facing their community and find ways to work together to make changes. They hope to build the “same kind of clout more affluent neighborhoods have.”

One example of making the manifesto a reality is building democratized economies. Organizers in Oakland recently won the next step towards creating a public bank in order to end its dependence on rip-off Wall Street banks. Another is the growth of urban farms that produce healthy food locally. There are grassroots initiatives like summer camps and farm-to-table programs that are teaching and supporting small farmers.

Finally, here are two actions that you can take to protect democracy.

Tell Congress to #FirePai - The Internet is an important tool for information and organizing, but FCC Chair Ajit Pai, a Verizon lawyer, is actively trying to reduce the quality of the Internet and gut our hard won net neutrality rules. He is up for reconfirmation by Congress. Here are five reasons why he should be fired. Our friends at Free Press created a tool you can use to contact your Senator.

Say #NoNAFTA2 - The Trump administration is currently re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to include Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions similar to the Trans-Pacific Partnership that allow corporations to sue governments if they pass laws such as worker or environmental protections that interfere with profits. Trade for People and Planet is working with allies to stop the new NAFTA and advocate for a new form of trade that raises standards and protects our communities. We are organizing a protest at the next round of negotiations in DC on October 11 and there are ways you can take action locally if you can’t make it to DC. Click here to sign up so we can send you tools and information.

  • Mrs. Fuxit

    American wars cost too much, and take too long. Presidents need to conclude two (2) wars for every planned, promoted, or promised war, or our peace on Earth must be cheerfully refunded. It’s in the social contract. Ask God why. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2b2450b65412164df665632aab8fb140f7679b07700cd67f87183b8e78acfcbc.jpg

  • Al

    What about an independent (of the electoral system) working/lower class movement against the oligarchy and the political duopoly? Or even a global working/lower class movement against rule by the rich? Any significant efforts happening on that front? Trying to get Congress to do anything in this national political system is useless. Ask Eugene Debs. Oh wait, that was a hundred years ago. How about another Occupy only this time for democracy, with efforts in all fifty state capitals?

  • Aquifer

    Well OK – its just like saying we need to “fix’ our voting machines so they can’t be hacked – when that is impossible – just get rid of the damn machines and go back to hand counted paper ballots – monitored at the point of use and passed through a secure chain of command … sure any one could be monkeyed with, but it would take a much more massive, being decentralized, effort to make much of a dent – here too, relying on the “internet” to get the word out is, IMO, going to be an increasingly losing battle ….

  • DHFabian

    The US began imposing severe austerity 20-some years ago, ending actual welfare aid, taking the first steps to similarly “reform” Social Security. Throughout this time, countless poor families were torn apart, and the overall life expectancy of the US poor fell below that of every developed nation. This issue has not resonated with the broader public.

    Predictably (and predicted), austerity trickles up. Public dollars have been drained out of everything from human needs to parks, education to public safety. Today’s budgets go into war/the military, prisons, corporate handouts and protecting the elite from “the grievous burdens of taxation.” As a result, the overall quality of life in the US went from a rating of #1 when Reagan was first elected, down to #48 by the time Obama was elected. It’s now out of our hands, and it really is too late to reverse course.

  • DHFabian

    What we’re actually talking about here has essentially been a corporate takeover of western nations since the 1980s. There have been some notable steps in a number of other countries, forming “people’s coalitions” that have been able to begin pushing back. This was anticipated in the US as far back as the Reagan/Gingrich era, and much work went into preventing such people’s coalitions here by focusing on pitting the middle class against the poor, workers against the jobless.

  • DHFabian

    The most critical issue related to elections is the lack of any viable candidates to vote for, and the 2016 election was a striking example of this. We were presented with two candidates who had strikingly similarly ideologies. Both were opposed by much of their own voting bases, for some of the same reasons. Roughly half of all voters rejected BOTH, and either voted third party or withheld their votes. In the end, Clinton got the most votes, but Trump got the most electoral votes, so that’s what we have to deal with.

    The fact is, Democrats have a problem. The Dem voting base had long consisted of the “masses,” poor and middle class. This base was split wide apart in the 1990s, and the past eight years only confirmed that this split is permanent. Democrats painted themselves into a corner, and they will probably move even further to the right in hopes of picking up the votes of disaffected Republicans.

  • Aquifer

    No “viable” candidates, eh – well one of those “non viable” candidates got elected – so viability doesn’t seem to be a barrier to getting elected ….

    In fact there were 4 candidates for Pres each of whom were on enough ballots to get enough of both the popular and EC votes to win ….i.e. quite “viable”

    The problem is not the lack of “viable” candidates – the problem is, in a good measure, folks like you who keep spewing out BS like this …