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The winter of our Occupation

Thursday, December 8th, 2011
A proposal from Michael Moore

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Friends,

And now it is winter. Wall Street rejoices, hoping that the change of seasons will mean a change in our spirit, our commitment to stop them.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Have they not heard of Washington and the troops at Valley Forge? The Great Flint Sit-Down Strike in the winter of 1936-37? The Michigan Wolverines crushing Ohio State in the 1950 Blizzard Bowl? When it comes to winter, it is the time historically when the people persevere and the forces of evil make their retreat!

We are not even 12 weeks old, yet Occupy Wall Street has grown so fast, so big, none of us can keep up with the hundreds of towns who have joined the movement, or the thousands of actions — some of them just simple ones in neighborhoods, schools and organizations — that have happened. The national conversation has been irreversibly changed. Now everyone is talking about how the 1% are getting away with all the money while the 99% struggle to make ends meet. People are no longer paralyzed by despair or apathy. Most know that now is the time to reclaim our country from the bankers, the lobbyists — and their gofers: the members of the United States Congress and the 50 state legislatures.

And they’re crazy if they think that a little climate chaos (otherwise known as winter in the 21st century) that they’ve helped to bring about is going to stop us.

I would like to propose to my Occupying sisters and brothers that there are many ways to keep Occupy Wall Street going through the winter months. There is perhaps no better time to move the movement indoors for a few months — and watch it grow even bigger! (For those who have the stamina to maintain the outdoor occupations, by all means, keep it up — and the rest of us will do our best to help you and keep you warm!)

The winter gives us an amazing opportunity to expand our actions against the captains of capitalism who have occupied our homes with their fraudulent mortgage system which has tossed millions of families out onto the curb; a cruel health care system that has told 50 million Americans “if you can’t afford a doctor, go F yourself”; a student loan system that sends 22-year-olds into an immediate “debtors’ prison” of working lousy jobs for which they didn’t go to school but now have to take because they’re in hock for tens of thousands of dollars for the next two decades; and a jobs market that keeps 25 million Americans un- or under-employed — and much of the rest of the workers forced to accept wage cuts, health care reductions and zero job security.

But we in the Occupy Movement reject this version of the “American Dream.” Instead, I suggest we shift our focus for this winter to the following actions:

OCCUPY THE WINTER
A proposal to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street from Michael Moore
 
 
1. Occupy Our Homes. Sorry, banks, a roof over one’s head is a human right, and you will no longer occupy our homes through foreclosure and eviction because well, you see, they are our homes, not yours. You may hold the mortgage; you don’t hold the right to throw us or our neighbors out into the cold. With almost one in three home mortgages currently in foreclosure, nearing foreclosure or “underwater,” the Occupy Movement must form local “Occupy Strike Forces” to create human shields when the banks come to throw people out of their homes. If the foreclosure has already happened, then we must help families move back into their foreclosed homes — literally (see this clip from my last film to watch how a home re-occupation is accomplished). Beginning today, Take Back the Land, plus many other citizens’ organizations nationwide, are kicking off Occupy Our Homes. Numerous actions throughout the day today have already resulted in many families physically taking back their homes. This will continue every day until the banks are forced to stop their fraudulent practices, until homeowners are allowed to change their mortgage so that it reflects the true value of their homes, and until those who can no longer afford a mortgage are allowed to stay in their homes and pay rent. I beseech the news media to cover these actions — they are happening everywhere. Evictions, though rarely covered (you need a Kardashian in your home as you’re being evicted to qualify for news coverage) are not a new story (see this scene I filmed in 1988). Also, please remember the words of Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Toledo (in ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’): Do not leave your homes if the bank forecloses on you! Let them take you to court and then YOU ask the judge to make them produce a copy of your mortgage. They can’t. It was chopped up a hundred different ways, bundled with a hundred other mortgages, and sold off to the Chinese. If they can’t produce the mortgage, they can’t evict you.

2. Occupy Your College. In nearly every other democracy on the planet, students go to college for free or almost free. Why do those countries do that? Because they know that for their society to advance, they must have an educated population. Without that, productivity, innovation and an informed electorate is stunted and everyone suffers as a result. Here’s how we do it in the U.S.A.: make education one of our lowest priorities, graduate students who know little about the world or their own government or the economy, and then force them into crushing debt before they even have their first job. That way has really worked well for us, hasn’t it? It’s made us the world leader in … in … well, ok, we’re like 27th or 34th in everything now (except war). This has to end. Students should spend this winter doing what they are already doing on dozens of campuses — holding sit-ins, occupying the student loan office, nonviolently disrupting the university regents meetings, and pitching their tents on the administration’s lawn. Young people — we, the ’60s generation, promised to create a better world for you. We got halfway there — now you have to complete the job. Do not stop until these wars are ended, the Pentagon budget is cut in half, and the rich are forced to pay their taxes. And demand that that money go to your education. We’ll be there with you on all of this! And when we get this fixed and you graduate, instead of being $40,000 in debt, go see the friggin’ world, or tinker around in your garage a la the two Steves, or start a band. Enjoy life, discover, explore, experiment, find your way. Anything but the assistant manager at Taco Bell.

3. Occupy Your Job. Let’s spend the winter organizing workplaces into unions. OR, if you already have a union, demand that your leaders get off their ass and get aggressive like our grandparents did. For chrissakes, surely you know we would not have a middle class if it weren’t for the strikes of the 1930s-1950s?! In three weeks we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the workers in my hometown of Flint, Michigan taking over and occupying the General Motors factories for 44 days in the dead of winter. Their actions ignited a labor movement that lifted tens of millions out of poverty and into the middle class. It’s time to do it again. (According to the Census Bureau and the New York Times, 100 million Americans either live in or near poverty. Disgraceful. Greed has destroyed the core fabric of our communities. Enough!) Here are two good unions to get your fellow workers to sign up and join: UE and SEIU. The CWA are also good. Here’s how to get a quick primer in organizing your place of employment (don’t forget to be careful while you do this!). If your company is threatening to close down and move the jobs elsewhere, then it’s time to occupy the workplace (again, you can get a lesson in how to successfully occupy your factory from my movie).

4. Occupy Your Bank. This is an easy one. Just leave them. Move your checking and your credit card to a nonprofit credit union. It’s safe and the decisions made there aren’t based on greed. And if a bank tries to evict your neighbor, Occupy the local branch with 20 other people and call the press. Post it on the internet.

5. Occupy the Insurance Man. It’s time to not only stand up for the 50 million without health insurance but to also issue a single, simple demand: The elimination of for-profit, privately-controlled health insurance companies. It is nothing short of barbaric to allow businesses to make a profit off people when they get sick. We don’t allow anyone to make a profit when we need the fire department or the police. Until recently we would never allow a company to make a profit by operating in a public school. The same should be true for when you need to see a doctor or stay in the hospital. So I say it’s long overdue for us to go and Occupy Humana, United Health, Cigna and even the supposed “nonprofit” Blue Crosses. An action on their lawns, in their lobbies, or at the for-profit hospitals — this is what is needed.

So — there are my ideas for the five places we can Occupy this winter. Help the foreclosed-upon to Occupy their homes. Occupy your college campus, especially the student loan office and the regents meetings. Occupy your job by getting everyone to sign a union card — or by refusing to let the CEO ship your job overseas. Occupy your Chase or Citi or Bank of America branch by closing your account and moving it to a credit union. And Occupy the insurance company offices, the pharmaceutical companies’ headquarters and the for-profit hospitals until the White House and Congress pass the true single-payer universal health care bill they failed to pass in 2010.

My friends, the rich are running scared right now. You need no further proof of this than to read this story from last week. The Republicans’ top strategist met privately with them and told them that they had better change their tune or they were going to be crushed by the Occupy Wall Street movement. They didn’t have to change their greedy actions, he assured them — just the way they talk and PR the situation. He told them never to use the word “capitalism” — it has now been made a dirty word by the Occupy movement, he said. Only say “economic freedom” from now on, he cautioned. And don’t criticize the movement — because the majority of Americans either agree with it or are feeling the same way. Just tell the Occupiers and the distressed Americans: “I get it.” Seriously.

Yes, in just 12 short weeks we have killed their most sacred word — Capitalism — and we have them on the run, on the defensive. They should be. Millions are coming after them and our only goal is to remove them from power and replace them with a fair system that is controlled by the 99%. The 1% have been able to get both political parties to do their bidding. Why should only 1% of the population get to have two parties — and the rest of us have none? That, too, is going to change. In my next letter, I will suggest what we can do to Occupy the Electoral Process. But first we must start with those who pull the strings of the puppets in the Congress. That’s why it’s called Occupy Wall Street. Always better to deal with man in charge, don’t you think?

Let’s Occupy the Winter! An #OWS Winter will certainly lead to a very hopeful American Spring.

Yours,

Michael Moore

Life among the 1%

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

By Michael Moore, filmmaker

October 27, 2011

Friends,

Twenty-two years ago this coming Tuesday, I stood with a group of factory workers, students and the unemployed in the middle of the downtown of my birthplace, Flint, Michigan, to announce that the Hollywood studio, Warner Bros., had purchased the world rights to distribute my first movie, ‘Roger & Me.’ A reporter asked me, “How much did you sell it for?”

“Three million dollars!” I proudly exclaimed. A cheer went up from the union guys surrounding me. It was absolutely unheard of for one of us in the working class of Flint (or anywhere) to receive such a sum of money unless one of us had either robbed a bank or, by luck, won the Michigan lottery. On that sunny November day in 1989, it was like I had won the lottery — and the people I had lived and struggled with in Michigan were thrilled with my success. It was like, one of us had made it, one of us finally had good fortune smile upon us. The day was filled with high-fives and “Way-ta-go Mike!”s. When you are from the working class you root for each other, and when one of you does well, the others are beaming with pride — not just for that one person’s success, but for the fact that the team had somehow won, beating the system that was brutal and unforgiving and which ran a game that was rigged against us. We knew the rules, and those rules said that we factory town rats do not get to make movies or be on TV talk shows or have our voice heard on any national stage. We were to shut up, keep our heads down, and get back to work. Click to continue »

9/11

Monday, September 12th, 2011

September 11th, 2011

 Friends,

There is not much more that needs to be said today. We all know how we felt on that day, and we all know what we’ve lost in this past decade. I said what I had to say about 9/11 seven years ago — and thanks to some kind stranger who has posted it for free on YouTube, I’d like to share it with you again today.

Let’s make the next decade one of peace.

Michael Moore

P.S. I’d also like to share this essay from former NY Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges. It is blunt and honest and worthy of reflection.

“My Terrorists” – the excerpt everyone’s talking about from “HERE COMES TROUBLE” by Michael Moore

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Friends,

Last week, I gave permission to London’s Guardian newspaper to publish an excerpt from my new book, HERE COMES TROUBLE, before it hits the shelves  (or, to put it another way, no American paper was going to run a 4,000-word piece from yours truly!).

This excerpt, which the Guardian entitled “I Was the Most Hated Man in America,” is from one of my nonfiction short stories in the book, a story called “The Execution of Michael Moore.” The publication of this piece has generated an intense reaction from those who’ve read it (mostly in the UK), so I thought those who live in my own country would also like to see it. Here is the link.

This story is from the first chapter in my book. It deals with terrorism after 9/11. Not terror perpetrated by al Qaeda, but terror and fear created by domestic terrorists who didn’t want anyone questioning the actions of George W. Bush. They had a way of “dealing with” people like me, and I’ve decided to tell the whole story for the first time. You can read the condensed version from this Guardian piece, but, if you can, read the whole story when the book comes out Tuesday.

Thank you!

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@MichaelMoore.com
MichaelMoore.com

30 years ago today: the day the American middle class died

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

By Michael Moore, filmmaker

From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, “When did this all begin, America’s downward slide?”

They say they’ve heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent’s income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how “lowly” your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.

Young people have heard of this mythical time — but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, “When did this all end?”, I say, “It ended on this day: August 5, 1981.”

Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to “go for it” — to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves.

And they’ve succeeded.

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who’d defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days. Click to continue »

Some final thoughts on the death of Osama bin Laden

Friday, May 13th, 2011

By Michael Moore

“The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we’re not like them. We’re Americans. We roll different.” – Michael Moore in an interview last week

Friends,

Last week, President Obama fulfilled a campaign promise and killed Osama bin Laden. Well he didn’t actually do the killing himself. It was carried out by a very brave and excellent team of Navy SEALs. Not only does Mr. Obama have the overwhelming support of the country, I think there are millions who gladly wish it could have been their finger on the gun that took out bin Laden.

When I heard the news a week ago Sunday, I immediately felt great. I felt relief. I thought of those who lost a loved one on 9/11. And I was glad we finally had a President who got something done. This is what I had to say on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet in that first hour or two:

I want to point out that Barack Obama took two years to do what Bush couldn’t do in over seven. That’s the difference between STUPID in charge and SMART in charge. STUPID pursues two reckless wars, lets OBL escape from Tora Bora, keeps looking for him in caves and invades the wrong country. He bankrupts us to the tune of $1.2 trillion for the Iraq War (it will eventually actually be over $3 trillion), and worse, he cost us the lives of almost 5,000 of our troops, not to mention hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan – and, after all that, he STILL couldn’t bring the perp to justice. In fact, in 2005, Bush closed down the CIA station that was devoted to looking for bin Laden! What does SMART do? He sends in a small elite strike force, no troops are killed, and the perpetrator is stopped for good.

I was thrilled that the Osama bin Laden era was over. There was now an end to the madness.

Being near Ground Zero that night, I decided to head over there and join with others who saw this event as a chance to have some closure. On 9/11, Bill Weems, a good and decent man I knew and worked with (we had just recently completed a shoot together in Boston), was on the plane that was flown into the Twin Towers. I dedicated ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ in part, to him. Click to continue »

Yes! You can leave a comment at our ICT website!

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

By Rosalie Tirella

We’ve heard some grumbling about not being able to post comments on this website. I called my web people and they said not true! They explained to me that if you want to leave a comment after reading an ICT story, you must first:

* click on the title of the story

* that click will get you the ICT story and comment box and the end of the story

* next, you must register at Word Press

* after you register, you can leave your comment, which will still be read (by moi) prior to posting

Even though our blogger commentators are very different from our InCity Times newspaper letter writers (ICT newspaper readers/writers are a different group, totally – they dig the paper and often write lengthier pieces on subjects that matter to them. Blogger types tend to carp/be critical/play gotcha … .), yet it’s still good to get feedback.

Hey, exercise your First Amendment rights, guys and gals! The filmmaker Michael Moore gave his nemesis – a guy who has an-anti Michael Moore website – $12,000 so the blogger didn’t have to choose between running his anti-Morre website and paying for his wife’s cancer treatments. Moore is one of my heroes. So in honor of Mike M. … And if your comment is interesting, we will run it in InCity Times.

This Tax Day, Make THEM Pay …a letter about April 18th from Michael Moore

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friends,

Do you wonder (like I do) what the tax accountants and executives are doing over at GE [General Electric] this weekend? Frantically rushing to fill out their IRS returns like the rest of us?

Hardly.

They’re taking the weekend off to throw themselves a big party and have a hearty laugh at all of us. It must really crack them up to see us like suckers scurrying around to make sure we report everything to Uncle Sam — and even send him a check, if necessary.

The joke’s on us, folks.

GE and tons of other corporations will have a tax bill for 2010 of ZERO.

GE had $14.2 billion in profits in 2010. Yet they will contribute NOTHING to the federal government while every last dime is soaked from us.

In the latest budget deal, our politicians could have tackled the deficit by stopping the flow of these ill-gotten billions to corporations. Instead, they cut billions from “wasteful” programs that do “wasteful” things, like create new jobs, drive economic growth, and help the needy and our nation’s children.

It’s Democracy in reverse and it sickens me.

GE spends $20 million a year to lobby Congress to throw themselves this party.

But do you know what speaks louder than $20 million? 20 million votes! 20 million people, and more, standing together and taking to the streets. That starts now, with you.

This coming Monday, April 18th is Tax Day — and that’s the day when “we the people” will demand our country back from these corporations in events all across the country. MoveOn members — along with union, community, and environmental allies — will gather outside the headquarters and local offices of the biggest corporate tax dodgers to deliver tax bills from the American people. And we’ll demand that our leaders make these corporate deadbeats pay.

We’re doing this because we don’t buy into the Big Lie: that greedy teachers caused the crash on Wall Street! That the selfish firefighters sent millions of jobs overseas! That pregnant woman, infants, and children are sending us into deficit!

No, it was the big corporations that did this. It was the CEOs and the top 1% of the country. THEY brought on the mortgage crisis. THEY made off with trillions of dollars from our economy. THEY are systematically destroying the middle class. And THEY have bought and sold the very people elected to represent us!

On Monday, we will have something to say to Exxon, Chevron, and the big banks that crashed our economy and got billions in bailouts, like Citigroup and Bank of America, who pay little or no federal income tax. In fact, the IRS will likely give them a tax REBATE. If that doesn’t boggle your mind then nothing will.

The Tax Day events are about sending this message: We are coming after you, we are stopping you and we are going to return the money, jobs, and homes you stole from the people. This is your tipping point, Corporate America. And I, for one, am glad it’s going to happen this Monday.

If you’ve never been to an event like this before, this is the time. And don’t go alone, because none of us can win this fight by ourselves. Plus, it’s more fun and exciting to go along with friends and family to be part of real democracy in action — not the store-bought kind Big Business gets on Capitol Hill.

I really hope you can make it. This is our chance, my friends. Take the time on Monday to make your voice heard. I can guarantee you I will. Please join me.

editor’s note: to learn more about these protests and to find transportation to get to them, please go to MichaelMoore.com

America is not broke!

Monday, March 7th, 2011

By filmmaker Michael Moore

America is not broke.

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Today just 400 Americans have the same wealth as half of all Americans combined.

Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer “bailout” of 2008, now have as much loot, stock and property as the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.

And I can see why. For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy, would mean that we’d have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the moneyed elite. Click to continue »

A note to all high school students

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

From Michael Moore

Dear High School Students:

How inspired are you by the thousands of students from Wisconsin high schools who began walking out of class four days ago and have now occupied the State Capitol building and its grounds in Madison, demanding that the governor stop his assault on teachers and other government workers? I have to say it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in years.

We are, right now, living in an amazing moment of history. And this moment has happened because the youth around the world have decided they’ve had enough. Young people are in revolt — and it’s about time.

You, the students and young adults, from Cairo, Egypt to Madison, Wisconsin, are now rising up, taking to the streets, organizing, protesting and refusing to move until your voices are heard. Effing amazing!! It has scared the pants off those in power, the adults who were so convinced they had done a heckuva job trying to dumb you down and distract you with useless nonsense so that you’d end up feeling powerless, just another cog in the wheel, another brick in the wall. You’ve been fed a lot of propaganda about “how the system works” and so many lies about what took place in history that I’m amazed you’ve been able to sort through all the bs and see the truth for what it is. Click to continue »