Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Homeless in America and the Occupy Movement

Some have come to occupy for political reasons. Others have been occupying most of their lives. Since the Occupy movement began it has become increasingly apparent that one of the biggest problems in America would take center stage: homelessness. It was inevitable that the two groups of occupiers would influence each other and change the nature of the movement. From LA to New York the homeless have found a community in local occupations. However, what happens to the homeless community once initial encampments are dissolved?

Once an eviction notice was released for Occupy Philly to vacate Dilworth Plaza, our original encampment, the previously homeless population started to organize their own community. A sizable contingent of tents and resources were transferred from our original encampment to a site much farther north and out of the way. This has led to two questions: 1) what is the nature of this Occupy annex and 2) how do we continue to support them?

The original Dilworth encampment accomplished a goal it didn’t even intend: it empowered the disenfranchised of America to work together to build an infrastructure for themselves. Our working group and general assembly structure now functions as a model for this 21st century Hooverville. They have taken donated materials such as tents, tables, and pallets to assemble their own occupation. In addition to their structural emulations they also have their own councils and caucuses. They have empowered themselves with a sense of purpose, cooperation, and community, that has been absent from their normal day-to-day for years, independent of the primarily political participants of OP.

Philosophically, this raises interesting and important question: if and/or how does the centralized occupation continue to support this expansion. The movement as whole was not intended as a direct action against homelessness. It has however become a possible champion of the cause. So how do we allocate resources in a way that supports the movement as a whole and yet is fair in its donations to the sustainability of tent city annexes? We need to very concretely create a structured plan of allocations including members of both the political off-siters and the citizens of the new tent city which includes a code of conduct, stipulations of support from both sides, and a third party check and balance for accountability and transparency.

Occupy 2.0 is about to begin but we cannot leave troops in the trenches. This expansion is a victory for our movement. The hardest hit of the victims we represent have empowered themselves to create their own community. As we take the battle to the top 1% we must not leave any of the 99% behind. As the old saying goes: united we will stand but divided we will fall.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Political Pandering and The Blame Game

The US government’s recent squabble regarding the national debt ceiling has finally revealed congress for what it is: 541 prepubescent monkeys throwing shit at each other. A democracy is based in open dialogue and a mutual understanding of compromise. Rational men elected to lead the “greatest nation on Earth” should be able to wisely rise above their ideological trappings for the good of their constituents. Alas! Republicans and Democrats instead spend their time alone, masturbating at the thought of their own superiority. The debt ceiling controversy was not a national crisis; it was a game of Risk played with the lives of common men by the powerful elite.

This charade was revealed to be a farce when House majority leader Mitch McConnell proposed a measure giving the President executive privilege to raise or lower the debt ceiling. Why? Because he wanted to see the problem solved and the “crisis” averted? From the Senator’s own mouth: “The single most important thing [Republicans] want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Millions of people’s jobs, medical care, and livelihoods were falling into the abyss of the political process while our countries leaders were playing politics. Thankfully, the American public has not turned a blind eye to Congress’ shortcomings.

In a recent New York Times/CBS News poll Congress received an 82% disapproval rating. 77% thought they acted like “spoiled children.” Even now, they cannot agree to stop wagging their genitals at each other. In response to the S&P’s degradation of the government’s credit rating John Boehner, the Speaker of the House and Republican mouthpiece, still pointed the finger at the Democrats. "It is my hope this wake-up call will convince Washington Democrats that they can no longer afford to tinker around the edges of our long-term debt problem.” The Republicans have suffered the greatest PR blow in this debacle and still they preach their Reaganesque mantras of tax cuts and smaller government. But nowhere has this cabaret stimulated more erections than in the 2012 Presidential race.

Michelle Bachman, the tea-bagging-fundamentalist-Neanderthal darling of the Republican party, suggested that the President fire his economic staff while Mitt Romney pronounced the death of the President’s policy, lauding America’s brand-spankin’ new AA credit rating as Obama’s “latest [economic] casualty.” I am sure that under their watchful eyes all this could have been averted.

The Democrats aren’t doing any better. A deep-set belief that your policies will better the country should thrust them into the public domain like an army on the shores of liberation. Instead, to maintain their golden thrones and comfortable paychecks, Democrats have fattened themselves with timidity. They have acted like puppies that have been beaten too much when they should have been the hounds of hell, come to gnaw on the bones of irresponsible government. They are pussies of the worst kind—cowards who call themselves kings.

“Bi-Partisan” politics is a joke. Democrats and Republicans care more for their legacies, luxuries, and opulence than they do about the well being of the American people. We now have heard from the horse’s ass, on so many occasions, that politicians would rather be re-elected than propagate progress. We must stand up to these megalomaniacs. Their egos grow a mile for every inch that we are set back, creating a chasm so wide that the Grand Canyon itself might groan in envy. It is time we take our lives back from these entitled and engorged enigmas. I call on our politicians to account for their crimes of omission and commission. Repent and we can be saved. Who knows? Maybe even shit-covered monkeys can make a difference.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Letter to America #1

Letter to America #1

Dear America,

Children file down the avenue absentmindedly waving their national pride
Their smiling faces stretch from east to west as they marvel at this
we have created

Their innocence is unblemished by the blood running in the streets of Kabul
Their happiness undisturbed by the cries of their freshly orphaned brothers
They do not know because we do not tell them
We do not speak because we are afraid
Afraid that we too will be labeled terrorists

And the dream we have slaved for
for years
will fall from our feet

I watched a Memorial Day parade today. Bright shiny fire engines slowly rolled by, reminding me of tornados and earthquakes. A drumline led the charade, keeping the pace steady. They looked like old time revolutionaries proud to march into battle, assured of the justice of their cause. Sharp notes rang out on the city air like gunshots. One after another: intimidating and mowing down all who would oppose. It frightened me to think of my country this way. It was like having a drunk father peering over his shoulder at you. He knew what you were up to. You just prayed he was too fucked up to notice. And just as I felt most like a helpless infant, my reflection stared at me from the face of a child in the throng. It was like looking back in time. Once upon a time I simply absorbed all the pretty colors and smiling faces at these things. In pre-logical bliss I would fly on the wings of the dream of what was America. Now I look at this parade of ignorance from the sidelines. When I was a child I thought like a child, acted like a child, and was ignorant like a child. Now I am a man. I think like a man, act like a man, and finally know like a man. I don’t fly flags anymore. I know that I am helpless in the face of my government. I am Jack without the benefit of a beanstalk. I am a lonely voice crying out in the desert “make straight the paths of progress: love, peace, joy, and happiness.” Yet still the flags fly. Our military industrial complex has festered into a disease yet we dress up our children in the garb of conquest: red, white, and blue. We adorn tyranny with the face of innocence and sell it at a discount rate. As long as flags fly and gods inspire America will march, in order, to the drum of greed.

I didn’t really watch the parade after that. I staggered home, grabbed a scotch, and poured it over my rebellious thoughts. I was scared. When did America become this whore? Have men always valued their fear over hope? They have told me over and over again that my neighbor is my enemy: that the color of his skin or the posture of his prayer is sufficient cause for death. Always draped in old glory and romanticized in hero worship. And here it was right outside my window on the painted faces of tomorrow. I cried. We have bought the lie. I don’t blame you. 99 cent security is an enticing offer. But you get what you pay for. You have traded your freedom for security and your soul for a big mac.

(Families are forced from their homes because malicious men gambled away their life savings. Meanwhile, rich men dominate Capitol Hill with a big green iron curtain. The corporation and the government have bonded themselves in a blood tie. The
harlot has wed the beast and the takeover is complete. You are not your own. You were bought with a price. You are a profitability factor. Your child’s health is a cost-benefit analysis. We live in the United Corporations of America.)

And so I think back to the parade. The fire trucks gleamed engine red as they slowly passed. The marines were in full dress reflecting American glory. And the children waved red, white, and blue as if to say “we’re the best!” We are the best. But we is they. Corporations and compromised governments have stolen old glory. We pledge our allegiance to the idea that greed can be used for good. And parade it around like it’s a blessing. You have been lied to America. We have traveled back to 1984 and we haven’t even noticed.

Sincerely Yours, Larry Swetman

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This Is Not Our America

Scheming investment bankers irresponsibly gambled away billions of dollars and the futures of our children in pursuit of the Almighty dollar. And when their empire crumbled under the weight of their own greed our government bailed them out with billions of dollars of our money. Money that should have been used for investment in education, infrastructure, and alternative energy was blown to the wind. It was given as bonuses for the very devils that caused the crisis. Not only were they not punished; they were rewarded. Meanwhile this very same government is pumping trillions of dollars into imperial war mongering while our children, our elderly, and our infirm suffer. In the name of “balancing the budget” services that people depend on are cut in order to keep bombing civilians in Afghanistan, torturing at Guantanamo, and aiding oppressive regimes. The Corporate giant has finally devoured the national interest. Big money finances big election campaigns and big lobbying produces a big conflict of interest. The United States government has finally been bought off.

Now we see them coming for the worker. It is not enough that the top 1% owns 90% of the wealth. They need more. They need cheaper labor so they can pay their executive more. Over the past 25 years productivity has increased several fold while the laborers earnings have remained the same. The profits go to the top while the worker fights to survive. And when we stand together to make sure that even the least of us is taken care of we are met with resistance. We are met with threats. We are met with tyranny. Corporate bought politicians defend the interests of big money and strip us of our god-given rights. Its in an Orwellian society when those who speak up for each other are silenced by their government. Not in America. Not in our America.

In our America food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and education are universal rights which are guaranteed to every man, woman, and child regardless of color, gender, sexuality, or religion. In our America governments do not spy on their own citizens. In our America children receive world class educations from teachers that are taken care of. In our America sick babies do not die from lack of insurance. In our America our mothers and fathers are do not choose between their groceries and their medicine. In our America we are all free people in the pursuit of happiness.

So here we gather across the nation. Holding hands in the solidarity of brotherhood. Demanding a new day. In this new day we will have a democracy. A real democracy where every man has a say and is fairly treated. We can longer stay silent. People all over the country are being robbed by the corporate giant while our supposedly representative government grants millions and billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 1%. America was built on the backs of the hard working everyman. Our country should not crumble under the weight of greed and special interests.

St. Augustine once said that an unjust law is no law at all. Therefore, we have the right, if not the duty, to rebel with violence or civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.