I haven't had time to post on the blog lately, and I know that it's a bad time to be busy, as there's so much going on that I can talk about, and maybe even try to do something about. But it is what it is. I have been trying to follow the Wall Street meltdown and the proposed bailout as much as I can, and have many feelings about it. Naomi Klein was just on Bill Maher's show, and now I really want to read her book, "The Shock Doctrine", which basically foretells something like this occuring. One of her main points, which I haven't heard much discussion of, is that a financial crisis such as this would give the people in power who hate what remains of our fragile safety net (mainly, Social Security and Medicare) the ammunition to seriously weaken it, and even eliminate them entirely.
Anyway, Kimberly Wilder gives her thoughts on the bailout. I got it through email, and wanted to share it, it's very worthwhile reading.
I just did a really bad thing for one's head. I went to an event at a bar and started a conversation with a young politico and 2 Libertarians. Libertarians worry. I worry. Now I am freaked out. I hope some people will read through this and consider which parts are truly freaky, and which are me really, really worrying. I will confess that I was someone who had food stored in my cupboard for the projected 1999/2000 computer breakdown crisis.
The social justice movement has got to try one more time to stop the bank bailout.
The social justice movement has got to make a threat to the two parties for what if they pass the bailout.
And, the social justice movement has got to imagine what happens if this crisis gets real, real fast, which it looks like it will. What if there are hundreds of thousands of Americans suddenly out on the street with no home?
(And, what if any of the current conspiracy theories are true?: the camps being built around the country by Blackwater and friends are meant for homeless Americans; the Army is going to run 3 month war games in the NY metro area starting next week; the whole world is going to stop taking American dollars next week...???)
Let's start with ourselves and/or our relatives having no home, perhaps starting in a few days, weeks or months from now. What would we do? Perhaps we should put aside the more philosophical part of politics and do what our politicians should and won't do. Think: Where the heck would these people go? How could we use the resources of ourselves and our government to house people who get kicked out of an apartment, or can't keep their electricity on?
Some thoughts (I don't know the answers. This is my e-mail begging smarter people than me for answers after those 3 guys in a bar worried the cr-p out of me):
-Demand the absolute moratorium on foreclosures that some people have already envisioned might be needed.
-Demand a moratorium on apartment evictions.
-Encourage our friends and neighbors to truly evaluate their resources now, a few days or weeks before something happens: Make a network with 3 or 4 family members. Where would everyone go, who would they live with, if one by one they got kicked out of their homes?
-Start thinking of laws to propose, or amendments to this bailout bill, that either punish landlords with residential property not rented out, or make squatting rules so simple that there will not be empty apartments rotting around the country, while some people are homeless and looking for a place to lie their head.
-Start thinking about a way to put a moratorium on the enforcement of "keeping my neighborhood affluent laws" such as in the town I live in, where it is illegal to have a home with two front doors. Or, rules that only one family can live in a home. (Which should be well thought out, I realize. Because, they could be misapplied by bad landlords to overcrowd, or create burdens that make impossible parking/traffic situations if there is not an emergency.)
Inform the Community about the Bailout and the Current Housing Crisis
People never want to think that this might happen to them. We should study the statistics, imagine the possibilities, and communicate it to our neighbors and families about how bad this could be. We should think of names for what will really happen that make it less philosophical and more real. Maybe call it the: "Your House is Next" crisis. Or, "Homeless people will be roaming your neighborhood looking for food and shelter crisis". I am in the suburbs. People here will have trouble imagining what trouble will look like. Though, I think the trouble may be coming.
Pressure against a bailout
That bailout can't be a good idea. There is too much money get moved to fast, with too little authority by people who should not be trusted. And, the money is going to a lot of very rich people. I think Americans are going to need that money.
I think it is time for every non-violent threat in the book. What could people agree on?:
-A general strike the next day after any bailout goes through? (I have friends that have been working on the general strike for years....might be the sentiment for it now.)
-A demonstration at every Town Hall of City Hall at 6pm the day after any bailout goes through? (With the internet, we could make a pretty big strike. Town Hall is a good place to go, because housing and zoning issues might have to be adjusted locally.)
-A threat that since the two parties are getting together and doing this, and two parties are bailing out their rich corporate supporters, everyone immediately REGISTER in a third party to make a statement now. And VOTE in a third party for the election? (Which reveals my bias as a third party activist. But, I have heard regular people talking about the fact that they call for "bi"partisanship at every turn is really starting to sound suspicious.
-Calling officials of every level of government now to make them care about this. (I have heard some emphatic requests to call Congress, which is great, but maybe we should express our demands and fears locally as well.)
I do not think all of the above is factual, or the best thinking even of myself. But, hope it is a start to thinking about this. I believe that many of us have a sense that this bailout should not and cannot go through as is. I really don't want them to have my 7 billion dollars. What can we do today. We have a whole Sunday. Let's not just play around.
Peace and struggle,