It’s a crazy late, I’ve been at my computer for over 14 hrs and I’m tired as shit…but I know that if I don’t put my thoughts down now and finish this piece, I’m NOT gonna be able to sleep anyway. So away away I go, deep into the latest Occupy can of worms about livestreaming, and debates about transparency, security and privacy.
I did some math after looking at this informational photo:
-25% of $21,600,000=$5,400,000
-13.9% of $21,600,000=$3,002,400
==>Mitt’s total tax dodging savings=$2,397,600
-25% of $40,000=$10,000
-13.9% of $$40,000=$5,560
==>if teachers paid taxes like Mitt their total tax savings=$4,440
I believe that Americans OTHER than the Koch’s, the Walton’s, and the Romney’s would like to see the disparity flipped, tax the wealthy a 25% tax rate like the teacher and tax the teacher 13.9%. There is a tiny but powerful fraction of people who have a greed driven interest in keeping the taxes low on the very rich: Under Romney’s 1st proposed tax plan each of the Koch Brothers alone would net at least $8.7 billion from just one part of the plan, the more recently proposed plan gives an additional tax cut to the wealthiest Americans while the poorest 20% will suffer a tax increase. And Mitt is the Rep front runner. Dem’s, anything?
Oh yeah, Dem’s like SuperPac money too, duh!
What if we taxed teachers (and other non-billionaires) the same as Mitt-13.9%, and taxed the 1% like teachers-25%?.
-The answer is that there would be a lot more tax revenues to pay for things like equal opportunity for quality education for everyone living in America, no matter what your zip code, immigration status, or ability to pay for private school:
“Ever wonder why private schools have Grandparents Day and public schools don’t?”
“The most obvious discrepancy between public and private schools comes down to cold, hard cash.”
What if we taxed teachers the same rate as Mitt and taxed ‘the 1%’ like teachers?.
-The answer is that there would be a lot more tax revenues to pay for things like equal access to quality healthcare no matter your job/insurance/bank account status.
All the other countries in this graphic have universal government funded healthcare. The photo has pertinent info about healthcare outcomes, but it also speaks to access; in France, Canada, Switzerland, and Germany everyone has access because healthcare is universal.
What if we taxed teachers the same rate as Mitt and taxed ‘the 1%’ like teachers?
-The answer is we would have $2,397,600 more dollars from Mitt Romney and he is just ONE mega-rich person who doesn’t even come close to making it on the Fortune 400.
How much money would be available year after year if the Koch’s, Walton’s, and other billionaires were taxed like the teacher in the photo? Or better yet, according to the ‘Buffet Rule’? (Under the Buffet Rule anyone making more than $1million/year would be taxed at a 30% tax rate.)
Six members of the Walton family have as much money as the entire bottom 30% of Americans combined, or in other words, 6 people have more money than 90,000,000 people.
(90,000,000 is 30% of 300,000,000. The total population of America is slightly over 300 million people, so I rounded down to 300 million for simplicity)
“Collectively the Waltons….are worth a combined total of $102.7 billion (as of 2012). They are robbing the American people of the billions of dollars they’ve escaped paying in taxes over the years that’s helped them buy** (not earn) their wealth. “…only 1.6% of all Americans receives an inheritance larger than $100,000. If this this is the case, why in the world do politicians worry so much about the tax impact of this?”
I believe the Romney’s, the Koch’s, the Walton’s, and all their friends in the elite and ultra-exclusive 1% club have the answer for that important question:
Their ‘good ole boys club’ (see photo just below for some club members) believes in and actively perpetuates what is “good for the few at the expense of the many”
Right now the hype is that the mega-wealthy need and deserve lower taxes because they are ‘job creators’. I would not believe the hype.
What the mega-wealthy need is an uneducated class of poor working people with no hope or opportunity, no mobility away from poverty, so they can continue their capitalist reign that depends on slavery of some sort to survive. Modern day slavery is not happening on the plantations, it’s happening every time a person is forced to take a minimum wage (or less) job because they lack proper education/opportunity to achieve anything better.
What happens with a minimum wage job is that the worker generates wealth, much more wealth than is needed to pay their wages, so already a disparity has been created. The minimum wage worker is working to not even be able to afford a two bedroom apt anywhere in this country working a 40hr work week while her/his employer is getting richer and richer off the difference between wealth generated by the worker and wage paid to the worker, i.e. ‘wage slavery’:
“Wage slavery refers to a situation of quasi-voluntary slavery where a person’s livelihood depends on wages, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. It is a negatively connoted term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor, and to highlight similarities between owning and employing a person.”
“19th century female workers in Lowell, Massachusetts arguably were the first inspiration for the wider labor movement to use the term “wage slave”"
I would imagine this is difficult for some to hear, not many like to think of themselves as slaves, but most Americans are slaves to their jobs in one way or another, if it’s not for the paycheck to pay inflated prices on everything from milk to rent, then it’s for the healthcare that is only affordable/available through adequate employment. Think about your own situation:
-How many times have you gone to work sick because you didn’t have any sick time and couldn’t afford to miss work?
-How many times have you made a healthcare decision based on finances 1st and what was actually medically indicated 2nd?
It’s pretty easy to think up instances where we’ve all gone to work sick or sent our kids to school sick because we could not afford to miss work to take an unpaid sick day; examples of finances guiding a health/medical decision may not be as obvious because we make them all the time everyday in small or large ways:
-housing, the only affordable place to live is also heavily polluted (by a corporation(s))
-housing, the only affordable place to live is also very unsafe
-food, not buying organic or healthy foods b/c ‘junk food’ is more affordable
-food, not buying food at all b/c shelter or electricity took precedence
-work, choosing to work full-time instead of part-time in order to be insured
-work, choosing not to retire due to medical or housing costs
-work, moms&dads returning to work too soon after the birth of their children
-work, going to work when we are injured/in pain/sick
-healthcare, not employing alternative therapies such as acupuncture/chiropractic care
-healthcare, not going to the dentist regularly because of lack of dental insurance
-healthcare, not getting routine health screening exams like mammograms and colonoscopies
-healthcare, not getting that little nagging pain checked out till it becomes raging pain
-healthcare, choosing between paying for your prescriptions or paying rent
-healthcare, not getting your eyes checked when you are having trouble seeing while driving at night
-healthcare, choosing not to have a baby because it is so expensive without insurance out of pocket
-healthcare, or choosing to take the risk of having your baby at home because of lack of insurance and the astronomical cost of delivering a baby in the hospital.
The above list is not at all comprehensive, but covers enough to illustrate my point that Americans make decisions everyday related to their finances vs their health.
Do you think the CEO of Cigna is forced to make these same decisions or can even begin to comprehend what it’s like to be denied access to necessary medical care?
The CEO of Cigna made $19 million or $52,054/day in 2011, I am fairly certain he did not make that money providing compassionate healthcare to his subscribers. According to Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Seblius, “we pay 2 1/2 times what anybody else pays in the world and our care outcomes are like we’re in a developing country.”
Six members of the Walton family have as much money as the entire bottom 30% of Americans combined. They use this massive wealth to lobby for lower taxes, hence why the rest of our taxes are so high, 6 people have the same amount of money as 90,000,000 BUT THEY DON’T WANT TO PAY TAXES, I guess because they are special?
What I am getting at here with the Cigna CEO and the Wal-Mart Waltons is that the income and wealth disparity in America is completely manufactured by them and necessary to keep a class of people who have systematically been denied access to basic things like quality education and healthcare that could be provided for everyone living in America if we just taxed the mega-rich the same as a teacher.
One time a friend treated me to a fancy expensive dinner, she was clearly a bit shocked when the bill came, she asked me “is there a certain point when the bill is so expensive that you don’t have to pay 15% tip anymore?”. I think that many super rich people think they no longer deserve to pay a 25% tax rate for the same reason my friend didn’t want to pay 15% tip on our large dinner bill: it’s a lot of money and they are greedy. Mitt can afford to pay 25% of his income in taxes and my friend could afford to pay 15% of our dinner bill in tip, they just don’t want to share the wealth, plain and simple. Mitt would still be very wealthy if he paid taxes equal to the teacher’s tax rate, even with a 25% tax rate he still makes $16,200,000 in one year.
What I am getting at is that rich people can still exist as far as I am concerned, but they are certainly neither more special nor more deserving than a teacher when it comes to a tax break. It is actually quite insane and cruel for our tax legislators to think that a teacher could live with any kind of deserved dignity on only 75% of a $40,000/year paycheck, therefore I propose that all teachers get Mitt’s 13.9% tax rate and all ’1%-ers’ are mandated to pay a minimum 25% income tax rate, they are encouraged to pay more, we all know they can afford to!
What can be done in the face of such greed to convince the Romney’s, Koch’s, and Walton’s to pay 25% (or more)?
==>the next 6 things will be my answer:
1) one more bit of math:
-approx. population of the United States=300,000,000
-99% of 300,000,000=297,000,000
-1% of 300,000,000=3,000,000.
-297,000,000 vs 3,000,000
-to make the numbers relatable because most of us do not deal in millions, remove the 6 zeros leaving: 297 vs 3.
3) **Ending corporations/mega-rich individuals sponsoring politics as usual:
4) Letting love & compassion rule:
5) Realizing that:
7) We should collectively demand:
The following is from some activists in Occupy Oakland. A solidarity protest is planned for Friday, June 1, 7pm at 19th and Telegraph in Oakland.
Over the last few months, we have been enheartened by the revolt taking shape in the streets of Montreal. The students of Quebec have taken a struggle against tuition hikes and mobilized hundreds of thousands against austerity and state repression.
Since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, there have been closed to 30 Black or Brown people shot and killed by law enforcement or in the case of Trayvon, wannabe law enforcement. Many of these shootings have been highly questionable, meaning the person killed was unarmed or there are strong conflicting statements from either the police or witnesses.
Here in Oakland, California, the shooting death…
Chicago Police Dept has added $1 million dollars of riot gear, aka 1st amendment repellant, to their arsenal against the tens of thousands of people, including RoseAnn DeMoro, marching and protesting at the annual NATO summit in Chicago. As Boots Riley says, pick a bigger weapon. What ‘weapon’ are we the people going to bring to this ‘gunfight’? And to be clear by ‘gunfight’ I do not only reference protesting at this NATO summit, I mean the ‘gunfight’ where many of us are fighting for justice with our various causes and organizations, like Occupy, National Nurses United, or Iraq Veterans Against the War. The ‘weapon’ I suggest bringing is a very large mass of people, such as Occupy Oakland amassed for the Nov. 2, 2011 Port of Oakland shutdown. According to many, including The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur, media reports grossly underestimated the crowd numbers at the General Strike and Port of Oakland shutdown on Nov. 2, most sources stated approximately 3,000 people showed up for the march, the highest crowd Cenk Uygur reported hearing about was on an ABC affiliate who reported 10,000 marchers. Whichever mainstream media (MSM) report you go by, there were far more than 3,000-10,000 people marching on Nov. 2, if you haven’t already, click this link and watch all 4min 30sec of our glorious march on the way to the port.
Why is it that the corporate sponsored MSM has continually skewed the coverage away from the favor of the protesters, whether they are nurses, veterans, Occupiers, or others? Why is is that all protesters, but Occupiers especially, are receiving such brutal and systematic police repression? My personal belief is that ‘the powers that be’, aka the mega rich, took notice of actions happening like the port shutdown on Nov. 2 and collectively said “oh fuck, the natives are restless!”. I say ‘collectively’ because unity is key for either side of this struggle. Right now those opposed to Occupy, either in principle or because corporate controlled MSM tells them we are ‘bad’, are winning the battle of acting collectively. The very small 1% is getting all sorts of potential supporters of Occupy/our associated ’causes’ to join their side, or at least not to join our side. Further support/sympathy for the Occupy protesters and our demands will lead to more solidarity which will lead to increased strength in numbers which leads to the true power of the people, to make a demand and act collectively until that demand is met. As Frederick Douglass said “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” On Nov. 2, 2011 Occupy Oakland and our supporters showed the world that we have demands. The ‘powers that be’ did not like that massive act of solidarity so they have been systematically repressing our message through both skewed MSM coverage as well as violent police suppression of peoples 1st amendment rights. This weekend in Chicago at the NATO summit protesters, Occupy or not, are already experiencing some this violence at the hands of the police.
There is a reason that most have never seen this powerful footage of tens of thousands, possibly 100,000 people marching to shut down the Port of Oakland, it’s the same reason that Chicago PD is spending $1 million on riot gear for use against protesters: top down suppression of the people’s collective voices demanding justice and a more equal playing field like for example what the Robin Hood tax would levy. The reason is the mega rich clearly do not want to share and they definitely do not want RoseAnn DeMoro’s Robin Hood message getting out, they are spending $1 million dollars on one weekend to suppress the nurses (and others) message of take from the rich and give to the poor. I use the term ‘mega rich’ because it is important to note $1 million is petty cash compared to the estimated $350 billion a year that the Robin Hood tax would collect from of Wall Street and distribute to job creation, equal access to healthcare for all, and many other things that our corporate[greed] sponsored government is failing to provide.
On Nov. 2, 2012 Occupy Oakland called for a General Strike, which means no work, no school, no business as usual. During the General Strikes people took to the streets; union member and non union worker, self-employed, underemployed, and unemployed alike all joining together in solidarity to make their demands be known. Many people participated in the General Strike, however, many more did not. The reason for this disparity in participation in the General Strike is not all attributable to laziness or complacency, it is also due to real fears, like debt, most people in America are slaves to their debt and rightfully so feel like taking a day off to join a strike will increase their debt. The problem is that this debt is manufactured by the mega rich who currently
own have all of the power over legislation determining the distribution of wealth. The reason why there is the ’1%’ and then ‘the rest of us’ is because they have used their wealth to get more wealth instead of using it to help others, like Robin Hood would have done.
We currently have a disparity in power because we have let the 1% define money as power. Where do the 1% get their ‘power’? From the fruits of the workers labor. So, following this logic, what power do the ’99%’ have? To collectively withhold our labor. The 1% are acting collectively right now based on fear against those standing up for justice, whether with Occupy, Iraq Veterans Against the War, or National Nurses United. The mega rich are showing their fear of the ‘serfs’ uniting and potentially rising up, this fear is evidenced by the amount of money spent on police repression, like $1 million to handle the protesters at the NATO summit, the fear is also demonstrated by the number of individual and collective civil rights the police, politicians, and others are willing to violate. Reclaiming power from the 1% is a numbers game, so the question is who has the larger numbers? While the ’1%’ model and ’99%’ model has it’s shortcomings, if we oversimplify the economic stratosphere for the purposes of math, we have the ’1%’ who have the ability to affect legislation and policy with their $power$, and then we have the rest of us, the ’99%’. According to the US Census Bureau there are 313,556,830 people living in the US as of May 16, 2012. Rounding down to the nearest million, 300,000,000, and using the 99% vs the 1% model, 99% equals 297,000,000 people while 1% equals 3,000,000 people. Just to make the math even simpler, take away all the zeros, 297 vs 3; those are the numbers and the actual power disparity if we realize that there is strength in numbers, not dollars. Right now Occupy may seem weak in numbers because those of you who might support us are afraid to join us/are against joining us due to false propaganda and rampant police repression. Or maybe you are not joining in because you are just too damn busy working trying to pay off debt or stay out of debt, debt that is manufactured by the 1%. The ‘powers that be’ founded our country on the backs of slaves, it was a wrong system put into place and it’s never been corrected, even by the 13th or subsequent amendments to the Constitution. While modern day wage slaves may not all suffer and struggle the same way as actual African slaves brought over on ships to support the colony, the point that slaves are the basis of our current capitalist system and without slaves the system as we know it will crumble is still a valid and important statement to be made. The 1% have worked too hard to let it all go just because a few Occupiers or a few nurses ask them to share and be nice.
The 1% are acting collectively right now, they have the corporate sponsored mainstream media (MSM) outlets broadcasting their coordinated message “the occupy protesters are violent” and “the occupy protesters are anarchists” and “occupy is dead” and “occupy has no leader” and “occupy has no goals” and “protesters clash with police” and “occupy hurts small local business” and “occupy is draining/diverting all the police resources away from protecting innocent citizens” and on and on and on with the blatant lies used to tell you all not to join us in our fight for justice, compassion, equality, and whatever else people are struggling for.
If Occupy wants to ‘play the game’ we should think about the PR war being waged on us and try to beat it/best it/join it to begin to get our real messages out and let the world see the real work we are doing. It is far different than the narrative being played out on TV, the newspapers, the magazines, the radio, etc….we are a very dedicated, organized, skilled, hardworking, and diverse group of people who do believe that a better Oakland, a better New York, a better America, a better Greece, a better world is possible if we all join together to make it so. By getting the real message about Occupy out, then some of the 297,000,000 who have not yet checked us out might want to give us a try and see what we are up to. I can’t speak for all of Occupy, but as one Occupier I think we should ask ourselves ‘what would Robin Hood do?’.
My video of MC Hammer!!!!!!
(Shameless plug to get your attention, I mean, this really is a video of Hammer, but he’s not singing or doing anything you may expect.)
I took this video yesterday in front of the Oakland Police Dept. The video is of Hammer, a personal friend of Alan Blueford’s family. Alan Blueford is the latest Trayvon Martin, or Oscar Grant. I do not say this to trivialize his murder or his families palpable pain, but to point out that there is an epidemic in Oakland, and elsewhere in America of young black men being murdered by cops, and of the rest of us ignoring it as “their problem”.
I will march today with Hammer, the Grant Family, the Blueford Family, and many many other families affected by the rampant police violence directed at young black men in Oakland, we can no longer sit idly by watching the news and tuning out our brain[pain] to the report of yet another black kid or young black man being shot[in the back] and killed by the police here in Oakland.
Why do you think all these people are shot in the back?
OPD is a paramilitary force that is out of control and completely corrupt, the fear they instill is very very real, hence why innocent people run. If you have had any dealings with OPD in the streets while protesting or just being black/brown in the wrong place at the wrong time, legal or not, you will know why people run from them when they see them coming, especially if you are guilty of the *crime* of being black/brown. This is nothing new. The Riders “incident” happened something like 10 years ago, OPD is on the verge of going into federal receivership because of the fallout from the Riders as well as recent riots related to Oscar Grant’s murder as well as even more recent acts related to Occupy; going into federal receivership is NOT a reward for a job well done. According to Jim Chanin, the civil rights attorney on the Rider’s case and OPD crowd control policy case, no police force in the US has ever been put under Federal receivership, or even come as close as OPD has.
I think that OPD is doing whatever the fuck they want because what does it matter anyway? There are no consequences for their actions except for paid administrative leave, dismissal of out right crimes and violations, or at worst a slap on the wrist[Johannes Mehserle---I know, he's a BART cop, but it still points to cop culture]. The link to the Riders case illustrates that OPD violated many civil rights and broke several laws leading them into possible federal receivership if they did not meet certain requirements and implement significant reforms. Not only has OPD not met those requirements nor implemented all the necessary reforms to keep them out of Federal receivership but they are now in further ‘trouble’ after their actions ‘handling’ Occupiers.
In addition to having a completely corrupt police force that act as if there are no consequences for their actions, we also have a culture in America that devalues black people. I know what I am talking about when I say we have a culture that devalues black people because I have been told by people of every color, ethnicity, and age that I am “lucky because I look white”. My cousins told me repeatedly growing up that I had “good hair” because it came out curly and not “nappy” like theirs. I live in two worlds, or really in between two worlds, I am too black to be white and too white to be black. I hear things that people don’t realize they are telling me, for example, how many people tell me they are racist against black people when they say to me “it’s ok, you look white” as their 1st reaction to me telling them my father is black. I hear my cousins telling me that they think their hair is not as good as mine because their hair is kinky African hair that won’t *behave* like white people’s hair.
I can go on an on with the unique things I have experienced being a colored girl “passing”, but I will leave it with this last story: in high school there was this Mormon boy who wanted to have sex with me. We were at my house fooling around in my bed, about to “do the deed”, and for whatever reason it came up that I am half black. That Mormon boy acted like my flesh was suddenly burning him. He said some stupid shit, that I don’t exactly remember, and then he literally grabbed his clothes and ran out of my room and out of my house, never to be seen again (I am thanking his Mormon god for that!). This hateful boy ran out so fast that I was still turned on by the time I realized he was gone, I mean, he left me in bed on the verge of having sex and I was something like 17 years old and I had a seriously hot and willing body, the last thing I expected was for him to run. He even left the battery charger to his car that he needed to start his car every time it sat overnight anywhere. Oh well.
The point of these very personal stories is to illustrate that disdain, racism and outright oppression against black people is very much alive and well in America. Young black men are preferentially targeted by police in Oakland and other communities in America further proving my point about racism and oppression of black people.
What I am asking is that we stop turning a blind eye, that we stop thinking of this as something that happens to “them”. I am also asking for people to stop thinking that Trayvon or Oscar or Alan somehow deserved what happened to them. The answer to violence is not silence. I am asking for a dialog to begin, for empathy to begin, and then if possible I am asking for action and solidarity in whatever way possible, even if it is just posting this blog or another link with info about Alan Blueford on your Facebook page or tweeting a link or emailing it to all of your friends; if you can’t join me in the streets, then use your voice in whatever way you can to say ENOUGH and to let Alan Blueford’s mom and dad know that you support them, they asked all of us there yesterday in front of the Oakland Police Dept to spread the word about their son’s unjust and cruel murder, they asked us all to use the power of social media and of our voices to let the world know what happen to Alan Blueford, an 18 year old boy with a mom and dad who love him and who was about to graduate from high school next month was shot and killed. Alan was unarmed, he was a kid still, he committed no crime before OPD shot him 3 times in the back*.
*The info in this blog is my opinion only, except where links are provided, and the content of this blog is intended for social activism and solidarity purposes rather than as evidentiary proof of what actually happened to Alan Blueford. The information in this blog regarding the details of the murder of Alan Blueford came from his mother, father, and cousin who spoke yesterday in front of the Oakland Police Dept.