The America that I belong to also buys into the Myth that we don't deserve to have healthy food, education, health care, a warm and non-leaking roof over our heads, without living as debt slaves, because we don't belong in the privileged "elite" class.
As I sit here at a Socialism conference in
Seattle, I am reminded of a recent humiliating experience that I went
To make a
long story short -- this past February, I received a letter from the DA's office
of my county. For the first time ever, I was informed that I "knowingly" passed
a "worthless check" and if I didn't immediately send a money order to pay for
the check, the store fee AND $130 to pay for a "bad check writer's class," that
I would be prosecuted for a FELONY!
I immediately did send a money order
and a letter saying that I felt that be threatened for a felony for something
that I didn't know happened, and for a first offense was a little over the top.
So, instead of taking a Saturday out of my life to take the naughty check
writer's class, I had to pay $35 to take the audio course that comes with a
"text" book and a workbook.
This audio program was completely humiliating
and degrading. I was told that writing a bad check was comparable to dealing
drugs, because I "knowingly" stole from the merchant and there is NO excuse for
passing a "bad check." And to get my finances under control I should shop at
thrift stores and not grocery shop when I am hungry, etc.
One of the
"tips" that I was told, also, was that I should never buy my son "designer
sneakers" because he can do with shoes from a discount store or a thrift store.
Of course we want to be able to tell the rich kids from the poor kids.
was instructed on how to balance a checkbook and to make a budget. The more I
listened to this program, the angrier I became because it just reinforced to me
the intense class divide that we have in this nation/world. If you are in what I
call the "Robbed Class," on one hand, we are force-fed a daily dose of Madison
Avenue propaganda and we are made to feel less than human if we don't have brand
new and brand name consumer goods.
Also, even though the Robber Class
mortgage companies and banks enticed and deceived millions of people into their
"high risk" low-interest (adjustable) mortgages that were then chopped up into a
million pieces in Mortgage Backed Derivatives -- and of course people were able
to be led like sheep to slaughter for these loans because we are also
mythologized of the "American Dream" of home ownership as the pinnacle of
Even discounting that our currency is mostly based on
magical thinking/credit -- the Robbed Class lives on credit and bases prosperity
on hardware that is visible but purchased on credit that is invisible. So, the
Robbed Class gets in a virtual cycle of debt slavery to try and keep pace with
the American Dream. We work (if we are lucky enough to have a job) real hours to
make phony money to pay off our credit obligations to pay for real goods.
However, I am convinced that many people are now using credit to buy essentials
such as gas and food, not luxuries.
What happens when the credit dries
up, like it has? How do we in the Robbed Classes feed our families and purchase
gas to get to work? Many people go into further debt by using these
check-cashing facilities. I recently saw a commercial for a "signature loan"
from one of these places -- it's a great deal -- you can borrow $2500 and pay
only 139% interest! Some people are so desperate that they will unfortunately go
So, I finished my bad check writer's course, and in my
evaluation, I said that there are worse things than writing a bad check: war and
economic exploitation being only two of those things.
I want to share my
recent exercise in humiliation to make a point. There ARE Two Americas that John
Edwards (former Senator, VP Candidate) knows nothing about.
America that I belong to. The one where mothers often have to miss work or send
their children to school or day care ill, because they CANNOT AFFORD to miss
work. There's the America where some families and especially seniors have to
choose between buying medicine and buying food.
However, the America that
I belong to also buys into the Myth that we don't deserve to have healthy food,
education, health care, a warm and non-leaking roof over our heads, without
living as debt slaves, because we don't belong in the privileged "elite"
My America sends our children off to fight and die and kill
innocent people in wars that the other America profits off of.
We need a
Robbed Class revolution, but before we can have one of those -- our class needs
to come to the conclusion that there is something deeply wrong with this U.S.
system of out-of-control crony Capitalism.
This Capitalism not only leads
to war, but economic and environmental devastation. The gusher in the Gulf of
Mexico is happening because of backroom deals between the companies involved and
the U.S. representatives who are purchased by oil companies.
has brought this world to the brink of disaster, now it's up to the people to
bring it back.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, who was KIA in Iraq on 04/04/04. She is a co-founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace and the author of two books: Not One More Mother's Child and Dear President Bush.