Monday, December 30, 2013

What's YOUR New Year Revolution?

"More than 100,000 people turned out in Seoul, South Korea to call for the resignation of right-wing President Park, the daughter of a former US puppet and brutal dictator.  The South Koreans have had it with their corporate dominated government that has drowned their democracy and they are non-violently pushing back." Source: Organizing Notes
My Codepink sister Pat Taub, a local organizer in Portland, Maine, spoke to her grandson on the phone yesterday.

Max asked, "Nana, what's your New Year revolution?"

An essential question indeed.

As Pat and I and other Codepink Mainers prepare to stage a Drone Die-In in front of Senator Susan Collins' Portland office today, we are feeling conflicted.

We're thrilled to be delivering a petition to Collins objecting to her vote against revealing the number of civilians killed by U.S. drones. More than 300 people signed it, and if her staff won't take it from us (which is how our "representatives" tend to handle petitions, almost as if they had never studied history) we plan to emulate Martin Luther and attach it to their door.

Probably with pink duct tape rather than nails.

We'll keep the die-in brief since the sidewalk will be snowy and the weather will be windy. Long enough to hold signs remembering each of the victims who died in the drone attack on a wedding party in Yemen December 12.

So why are we conflicted?

Because today is the day long term unemployed workers stop getting a check to tide them over until they can find the elusive next job. After having unemployment insurance deducted from their paychecks for years back when they did still have jobs.

Maine is a state with a high unemployment rate, a high childhood poverty rate, and a high domestic violence rate.

It is a state where our ALEC sponsored Tea Party governor won't take federal Medicaid funds.

It is a state where the savage inequalities of public education funding could not be more stark.

Most of the Mainers who will struggle with the loss of unemployment compensation will have very little in the way of social safety net under them to break their fall.

The low income families in my community are headed by parents who mostly work in the woods twitching out lumber or who commute into town to work at McDonald's, Walmart or Dunkin' Donuts.

If they aren't lucky enough to have a car or a ride with someone who does they are out of luck, because there is no public transportation system to get them to a job if they could find one.

College graduates in Maine are staggering under crushing debt loads -- and there are few jobs for them, and no unemployment compensation either.

Drug and alcohol addiction are rampant in Maine.

Our social workers are tapped out and exhausted.

Yet over the holidays, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2014 allocating around 60% of the spending in the coming year to the Pentagon and its contractors -- again. Over half the discretionary budget of the U.S. has gone to the military every single year Obama has been in office.

Oh, and that includes the NSA -- funded by the Pentagon -- which it was revealed yesterday halts shipments of computers bought online and installs spyware in them. That should be good for business.

Are we revolting yet?

The New Year revolution that I want is this: the people rise up and demand that the federal government bring the war dollars home and use them to meet people's actual needs. Or abolish the government.

Currently we pay taxes so that the CEOs of military contractors can become even more fabulously wealthy. The U.S. military is gobbling up territory all over the globe, at huge expense. Weapons and spying and military expansion are taking money from the mouths of children, 45% of whom are already growing up in poverty. And our elected officials mostly represent their campaign donors, those very same corporations who profit from their bad policies.

It's a system ripe for a New Year revolution.

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