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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wisconsin: The First Stop in An American Uprising?

It took awhile, but Wisconsin shows that the poor and middle class
of the U.S. may be ready to push back. Madison may be only the beginning.

By Sarah van Gelder

February 19, 2011 "YES! Magazine" -- - The uprising that swept Tunisia, Egypt, and parts of Europe is showing signs of blossoming across the United States.

In Wisconsin, public employees and their supporters are drawing
the line at Governor Scott Walker’s plan to eliminate collective
bargaining and unilaterally cut benefits.

School teachers, university students, firefighters, and others
descended on the capital in the tens of thousands, and even the
Superbowl champion Green Bay Packers have weighed in against
the bill.

Protests against similar anti-union measures are ramping up in Ohio.

Now, a US Uncut group has formed and announced a February 26 Day of Action here to coincide with UK Uncut's planned protests on the same day. Already, a dozen local events are planned.

Some groups are keeping quiet about their targets, but several are targeting Bank of America.

The goal, according to a statement on the US Uncut website, is “to draw attention to the fact that Bank of America received $45 billion in government bailout funds while funneling its tax dollars into 115 offshore tax havens [...] And to highlight the fact that the poor and middle class are now paying for this largess through drastic government cuts.”

The Politics of Class Warfare

Across the country, the poor and middle class have suffered from the economic collapse: jobs disappeared, mortgages sank underneath debt, and opportunities for a college education evaporated.

Much of the bailout that was supposed to fix the economy went to
the very institutions that caused the collapse.

Many of these institutions are now using tax loopholes and offshore tax shelters to avoid paying taxes.

It took some time for a political response to coalesce. The Tea Party movement was able to direct discontent away from the Wall Street titans who brought the economy to its knees.

Funding from the Koch brothers’ petro-fortune along with fawning
attention from Fox News helped get the libertarian movement off
the ground.

But progressives remained fragmented and few built active, organized bases. Many waited for President Obama to act.

The tide may now be turning. Inspired by people-power movements around the world, people in the United States are beginning push back.

The poor and middle class, those who didn't cause the collapse but have felt the most pain from the poor economy, are now being asked to sacrifice again.

Politicians are scurrying to cut spending, but fewer than one in five
Americans say the federal budget deficit is their chief worry about
the economy, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center;
44 percent say they're most worried about jobs.

Polls show that Americans also want spending for education,
investment in infrastructure, and environmental protection.
Yet spending in all these areas is up for drastic cuts in state
and federal budgets.

Likewise, on the tax side, 59 percent of Americans opposed
extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest, according to a
Bloomberg poll. Congress cut the taxes anyway, and the package
will cost $800 billion over just two years.

Until now, polls have been one of the few places where anger at
government policies that favor the rich while cutting service to
the middle-class has been visible.

But the crowds in Madison and the momentum of US Uncut tell
us that may be about to change.

As a statement on the US Uncut website puts it:

“We demand that before the hard-working, tax-paying families
of this country are once again forced to sacrifice, the corporations
who have so richly profited from our labor, our patronage, and our
bailouts be compelled to pay their taxes and contribute their fair
share to the continued prosperity of our nation. We will organize,
we will mobilize, and we will NOT be quiet!”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27523.htm

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