Speakout for the 99%

From the January-February 2012 issue of News & Letters:

Speakout for the 99%

Chicago—Dozens of activists from Occupy Chicago, Jobs with Justice, the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Iraq Veterans Against the War, News and Letters Committees and other groups rallied outside the American Economic Association (AEA) conference here on Jan. 6.

The establishment economists were invited to share a sidewalk meal of Rahm-en noodles (named in honor of anti-labor Mayor Rahm Emanuel). A banner was hung across from the Hyatt Hotel showing “Trickle Down Economics” as Mr. Moneybags pissing on the poor.

Spokespeople of the 99% delivered stories of how their lives have been harmed by the economic policies promoted by the AEA as apologists for the 1%:

Ruth Long: “I’ll be 86 years of age in March. I am a leader of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus here in Chicago. I depend upon SSI, Medicaid and public housing to meet my basic needs. Last week I got an increase of $24 in my monthly SSI allotment—but that is more than offset by the cost of living, which is going up higher and faster than funds are being allocated.

SHAME ON THE ONE PERCENTERS

“I know lots of vulnerable and defenseless Americans who depend on these safety net programs, and who are suffering because of the greed and selfishness of the 1%. There are 34 million children dependent on Medicaid. There are seniors—indeed whole families—living in abandoned vehicles and under viaducts, with no insurance if they fall ill.

“Shame on the one percenters for standing atop and perpetuating this economic gulag. Shame on the one percenters whose hearts are so closed that they don’t recognize the needs of ordinary people struggling to survive. And shame on those economists whose work renders such people and their suffering invisible.”

Fred M., News and Letters Committees: “Having been homeless, you learn that too many people are willing to step right past your body on the street. To the extent that the Occupy movement has given the homeless a place to be heard, it is a revolutionary development.

WHAT KIND OF WORLD TO LIVE IN?

“Homelessness is a world condition, and includes Mohamed Bouazizi with his vendor cart being brutalized by police, the landless movement of Brazil, the shackdwellers’ movement in South Africa, and the prison strikes in Georgia and Pelican Bay—the movement of those most dispossessed by the capitalist economy in its deep and bottomless crisis. We are rising up to demand our rights and dignity, not charity, which is a joke.”

Vince Emanuele: “I am a member of Iraq Veterans Against War. We support improved benefits for vets, and we also see the need for reparations being paid to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan for the damage we have done to those countries.

“There’s a very real human consequence to our government’s actions. This is not simply a financial issue. It’s a question of what kind of world do we want to live in.”

—Marxist-Humanist Participant

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