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Monday, September 03, 2012

Defending our class interests: Class war--What is to be done?

This is the first part of a series on fighting back against the rightwing attacks on the working class, the poor and the disadvantaged of this society.
In the past progressive, anti-war activists have taken part in protests, such as the anti-war movement. We stand there with our signs and get a 5 second sound bite on the evening news, IF we get enough people out. Then the country just continues to start new wars before we can stop the wars the US is already fighting. Many progressives work in campaigns for third party candidates. Others work for local Democrats, working phones, giving money and canvassing. None of this is working right now.
Last years Occupation movement was the first time a group of people directly challenged the system and that challenge was badly needed. Of course we need more of them. We also have the anarchist groups using black block techniques and there will an article on them in the future.
One thing we need to do in this country is to start countering the myths and lies from the people from Fox News, their pundits and similar pundits on other news channels. People hear certain phrases over and over until they believe them, then repeat them as their own opinion. One example is “government can’t get us out of the recession, history has taught us that.” Well….wrong! Franklin D Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler both used government jobs programs to employ people and put money in their pockets. Herbert Hoover did what our present Republicans suggest….just let corporations fix the problem on their own time. The corporations did nothing and Roosevelt (and Hitler) put people to work with government jobs programs. Also, Joseph Stalin industrialized the Soviet Union and created a modern economy using the government.  

Another myth is that poor people are poor by choice and lazy. Although our politicians rarely just come out and say this, many middle class people believe it.
According to CBS News;

“In a new report "Perceptions of Poverty"….., some 27 percent of Americans said they believe people are poor because they are lazy, not due to economic circumstances.
Forty-three percent of Americans surveyed said they believe people living in poverty can always find a job if they really want to work. The findings are based on a survey of more than 1,000 Americans conducted in February 2012.”

Pundits have chimed in on this with gross exaggeration, even blaming the poor for the nation’s economic problems. This poem can be found in Liberty Advocate;

The Lazy Poor in America


Karen Pansler-Lam, J.D.

America has become the land of the free –
free food, free housing, free medical care, free . . . . 

America has become a nation of freeloaders.

In II Thessalonians, Paul writes: 
“For even when we were with you,
this we commanded you,
that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

The lazy poor oppress hardworking Americans.

Politicians love to exploit this misconception that many people have. This is one reason for the constant attacks on entitlement programs. Many people complain that there are “all these people on welfare who don’t want to work and are living off of MY PAYYCHECK!”

Congressman John Boehner revealed his thoughts on the US unprecedented economic crisis in an interview with Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, reprinted in Rumermiller. Here are some excerpts;

Boehner: "Can't pay your student loan? Face it your parents were lazy and you couldn't afford college. The world needs ditch diggers and you were born into a family of them. Can't pay your mortgage? Your house was too expensive and you couldn't afford it. Your taxes going up too much? That's what you get for electing a democrat president. Never had a job after you got a degree? You learned nothing in school and you're lazy. I didn't get to be a congressman by watching jersey shore or playing xbox. You think there's no jobs for you? There used to be. There was when I was your age. You don't have fee time because you have to work all days of the week for 16 hours a day and you don't get paid hourly? Thank the unions. They made decent jobs so out of price range of the average American company that they can't hire anymore people and the works' gotta get done….."

Taibbi: "With mounting unemployment what do you think is the possibility that we'll see an Egyptian style uprising of the youth? Should we be worried?"

Boehner: "It's not going to happen in the US. The kids here are too fat, too lazy, to addicted to TV, fast food, cheap credit, and facebook. I have news for you- there are plenty of jobs out there- the unemployed don't want them. Today's college student feels entitled to make at least $24 right after college. When they find out they can collect unemployment they would rather do that. You know the average college educated unemployed person is collecting $60k a year? The CATO institute did a study- and I mean, you and me we're hard workers we could just sit around and live, but these kids today- that's all they've been doing their entire lives. I'm not worried for this country- there are a few of them who actually want to work, take Mark Zucker(sic). You don't build a site like facebook out of thin air- it takes talent and hard work. I went to a community college and all I saw were people sitting in front of computers typing away, their eyes were fixed. Probably just facebooking away."

Those of us who have, at one time, lived off of minimum wage jobs and lived among the poor know better than to believe what all these idiots say about the poor. It is scapegoating pure and simple.

Akhila Kolisetty, Writing for Journey Towards Justice, reports the same frustration with people who believe these myths about poor people;

“Hearing these types of arguments makes me angry; I feel like it’s a direct attack on my own deeply held beliefs, and certainly an attack on my lifestyle. I choose to work for non-profits because I want to play a role in combating injustice, inequality, and poverty. I see that poverty is not a lifestyle of choice: no one wants to be poor. And yet, the arguments above (not printed here, but similar to those I just gave) state just that: people enjoy living off the state and they choose to keep staying on welfare. I couldn’t disagree more.
In all my work experiences where I’ve worked with or spoken with poor people, I’ve seen that the vast majority are in fact hard working, kind, humble, and pretty darn smart. When I worked as a student advocate for LIFT, I met so many poor people who were living paycheck to paycheck, but were working hard to find a job and put their kids in good schools. They were struggling despite working multiple part-time minimum wage jobs to the point of exhaustion.”

For many of us it is clear that our elected leaders, with or without President Barack Obama’s help, plan to wage a relentless war on poor people and the working poor. They seem to believe it is OK to raise taxes on the working poor, cut all their safety nets, even unemployment insurance. While the rich 1 percent are touted as the great “job creators who will save us all,” the poor and working poor will continue to be single out as enemies of the middle class.
Also Congressman Boehner’s comments are probably typical of a lot of these older Tea Party politicians who are writing off the next generation as spoiled and lazy. They are worried about themselves and their own generation, not the one they are robbing to balance the budget on. Boehner may be grossly underestimating what this new generation is willing to do to this bunch of old codgers and this system they hold so dearly.

In the next article; a look at the black block actions and other anarchist tactics.
-សតិវ អតុ   

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