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On Tuesday evening, about 200 people gathered in Albuquerque to voice their desire to Save the American Dream and stand in solidarity with workers in Wisconsin and everywhere. MoveOn encouraged local members to organize rallies for the cause all over the nation. MoveOn member Gregory Sandoval stepped up and organized this one, and at very short notice to boot. We gathered at the corner of Tijeras and Third streets on a corner of Civic Plaza. The location had great visibility to commuters on their way home from work. There were many honking horns from the cars passing by, and cheers from the people who gathered.Gregory Sandoval chose the location perfectly. The rally was held at the foot of a monument dedicated to Dennis Chavez, the beloved U.S. Senator from New Mexico. It contains the quote, "I should like to be remembered as the man who raised a voice." Ever so true right now. We all must aspire to these words. There's no time to waste. Greg recalled Senator Chavez's legacy of service and speaking out on unpopular topics -- but always speaking out for the people -- and urged the crowd to do the same.
The speakers, from many walks of life and age groups, were clear in their messages. We cannot have a working democracy if all the money is in the hands of a few. It is clear that the middle class and unions are being blamed for and are being asked to carry the burden of the financial crisis gripping the country. We did not cause the crisis!
Stop Making the Workers Pay!
Meanwhile, a state budget was passed by the New Mexico legislature early Wednesday morning. Both Democrats and Republicans have been bragging that it includes no tax increases. I ask any Dem legislator to listen to these speechs and look at the surveys. New Mexicans are overwhelmingly in favor of rolling back taxes to the 2003 rates for higher income wage earners and making out-of-state corporations that operate here pay the same taxes as our local small businesses do.
Instead, for the third year in a row, lawmakers decided instead to make more cuts to both public and higher education, teacher and government employee paychecks, important government services and virtually every government agency -- to the tune of about $155 million. The previous years' cuts were in the neighborhood of $900 million! Politicos like to talk about making sure all of us share in the "belt tightening," but somehow our wealthiest citizens and big corporation businesses remain protected.
War, War, War
Joel Gallegos from the ANSWER coalition succinctly summed up all the factors at play in his speech. What's draining the economy? Unfair taxation, massive military funding and the Afghan and Iraq wars sucking $2 BILLION PER WEEK out of our country. And who is being asked to sacrifice to make up for it? Working class and middle class Americans. There are lots of myths out there about unions stealing our money, educators having lavish pensions and Social Security being broke.
However, one item is never mentioned by politicos or the corporate media -- our never-ending wars. The topic never, ever comes up. It's as if politicians and pundits are under some kind of mass amnesia. Meanwhile the wars continue on and on -- the 8-year anniversary for the Iraq War is on March 19, and we entered the 10th year of the Afghanistan War on October 7 of last year. Check out this link to remember the Iraq War timeline and this one to recall the long, long history of the conflicts in Afghanistan.
It is class warfare, as this speaker states. The government has been pandering to the wealthy and the super wealthy. From 1979 to 2006, the incomes of the bottom 20% of earners went up by a measly 0.3%, that of the middle 20% rose by a paltry 0.7% -- and the earnings of the top 1% went up by 260%. This huge gain was achieved at the expense of the middle class, poor people and working people. Period.
PRC Commissioner Jason Marks told us straight up about the desire of corporate America to break the unions, and what is causing the severe inequality of wealth at the top. Under sustained attacks by the super rich, the country we once knew has broken down. The top few percent have reaped all the benefits and shared very few of the burdens.
What can we do to turn this around? Stay informed and active. Organize protests and rallies. Contact members of Congress and the President. Write letters to the editors. Talk to friends, neighbors and family members. Keep the momentum going!