Wisconsin provided inspiration for the effort by Van Jones and others to launch the American Dream Movement. Jones, the founder of Green For All, joined MoveOn.org, the Center for Community Change, the Campaign for America’s Future and dozens of unions and other progressive organizations to build an initiative that many activists can affiliate with and help to define.Just as the Tea Party provided an umbrella for conservative groups with disparate agendas, ranging from small-government purists to Christian fundamentalists to Citizens Council racists, so the American Dream Movement hopes to provide an umbrella and help mobilize energy for widespread progressive organizing efforts that are virtually invisible nationally. But unlike the Tea Party, the American Dream Movement is championing concerns that have broad popular support.As a first step, the initiative held more than 1,500 house parties across the country to help develop a “Contract for the American Dream.” More than 130,000 activists joined online and in person to define a reform agenda that challenges the limits of the current debate. It includes major initiatives for jobs and growth: a commitment to reinvest in our decrepit infrastructure and to recapture the lead in the green industrial revolution. It calls for repairing our basic social contract, with investment in education from preschool to affordable college, Medicare for all and protection of Social Security. It would make work pay, empowering employees to organize unions and championing a living wage. It advocates progressive tax reform and an end to America’s wars abroad to help get our domestic books in order. And it demands sweeping democratic reforms to curb the power of money politics and clean out the Washington swamp.Looking back at the labor movement late 19th and early 20th centuries, the women's suffrage movement, and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Borosage and Vanden Heuvel make a strong argument that it matters little who we elect in the coming years if we don't act on the ground. As they point out, King helped win civil rights reforms on the bridge at Selma, not by campaigning for Johnson. The movement came first, then the voting. The whole article is well worth your time. As they say, read the rest.
We've been waiting for something like this, and it's finally starting to happen. People are turning out in the streets to hold big banks accountable. Today in downtown Seattle, 175 people showed up outside Chase headquarters to hold them accountable for their behavior during the Great Recession and the taxpayer-funded bailout. 11 were arrested for their part in the large peaceful protest against J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, whose executives were all in town for a major business confab. After the building was completely locked down, the protestors overtook the intersection outside and held a mock trial for the CEOs of the three banks.
The action today was the first of a grassroots campaign by The New Bottom Line. Banks haven't had to answer for their actions that led to the Great Recession. If anything, they've taken taxpayer bailout money to gobble up smaller banks, pay bonuses, and lock down a seat at the table with members of Congress. They're sitting on a giant pool of money that could jumpstart businesses and put a floor back under the housing market.
And because the government continues to refuse to hold the banks accountable, it's going to take a wave of thousands of Americans to turn up the heat. This is just the beginning.
The Pay US Back campaign has three key demands:.
- Pay their fair share of taxes: Stop draining government of revenue and pay their statutorily required 35% corporate income tax. Stop gaming the system through off-shore tax shelters, loopholes and scams.
- Stabilize the housing market and revitalize the economy: Reduce principal for all underwater homeowners to current-market value. This would end the foreclosure crisis, reset the housing market, pump billions of dollars back into the economy and create 1 million jobs a year.
- Invest in American jobs: Stop sitting on trillions in cash reserves that could be invested into small businesses, the main source of jobs in the U.S. as well as into additional into job-generating investments.
By the way, those 11 who were arrested at the protest? That's 11 more than the total number of bankers who have been prosecuted for their part in the massive financial meltdown of 2008, including illegal foreclosures, robosigning, and knowingly packaging bad mortgages into securities that they then sold to unwitting investors.
"[B]e Patriotic. Go out there and get rich. Get so obnoxiously rich that when that tax bill comes , your first thought will be to choke on how big a check you have to write. Your 2nd thought will be “what a great problem to have”, and your 3rd should be a recognition that in paying your taxes you are helping to support millions of Americans that are not as fortunate as you."To pick a nit, there's a lot to be said for the young men and women who selflessly serve in the military, the teachers who work for low pay in rural communities not because they couldn't do better for themselves, but because they wanted to better others. Are businessmen and women more patriotic? It's hard to see it that way.But Cuban is right. There's also something to be said for entrepreneurs to take risks, to work hard at a business, to hire people and train them on new skillsets. And he's also right that if they are successful, they need to recognize their continued success depends on a healthy government role in stabilizing the economy.If you're wondering who Mark Cuban is, he's a billionaire who made his initial fortune in technology in the 1990s. He then bought the Dallas Mavericks pro basketball franchise, where he's made a name for himself by receiving massive fines for criticizing referees and matching them with equal contributions to charity. He paid for the team's victory parade in June when they won the league championship; like many cities around America, Dallas faced a cash crunch that would have taken away from essential services if they had to pay for the traditional victory parade.It's nice that Cuban, despite the fact that he's rich enough to not care a whit what anyone else thinks, still recognizes that millionaires and billionaires ought to pay their fair share and stop squawking about taxes. After all, 7000 millionaires didn't even pay income tax last year - zero dollars. Why should millionaires pay a lower rate than middle class Americans?