Tag Archives: recession

Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here? A proposal from Michael Moore

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and goals of the movement. It was attended by 40+ people and the discussion was both inspiring and invigorating. Here is what we ended up proposing as the movement’s “vision statement” to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

We Envision: [1] a truly free, democratic, and just society; [2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus; [3] where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making; [4] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others; [5] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments; [6] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few; [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings; [8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible; [9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

The next step will be to develop a specific list of goals and demands. As one of the millions of people who are participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I would like to respectfully offer my suggestions of what we can all get behind now to wrestle the control of our country out of the hands of the 1% and place it squarely with the 99% majority.

Here is what I will propose to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

10 Things We Want
A Proposal for Occupy Wall Street
Submitted by Michael Moore 

1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations, including a tax on all trading on Wall Street (where they currently pay 0%).

2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America. Our jobs are the most important national treasure and they cannot be removed from the country simply because someone wants to make more money.

3. Require that all Americans pay the same Social Security tax on all of their earnings (normally, the middle class pays about 6% of their income to Social Security; someone making $1 million a year pays about 0.6% (or 90% less than the average person). This law would simply make the rich pay what everyone else pays.

4. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.

5. Investigate the Crash of 2008, and bring to justice those who committed any crimes.

6. Reorder our nation’s spending priorities (including the ending of all foreign wars and their cost of over $2 billion a week). This will re-open libraries, reinstate band and art and civics classes in our schools, fix our roads and bridges and infrastructure, wire the entire country for 21st century internet, and support scientific research that improves our lives.

7. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.

8. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.

9. Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company’s workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job. (For any U.S. businesspeople freaking out at this idea because you think workers can’t run a successful company: Germany has a law like this and it has helped to make Germany the world’s leading manufacturing exporter.)

10. We, the people, must pass three constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:

a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.

b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.

c) A constitutional amendment that will act as a “second bill of rights” as proposed by President Frankin D. Roosevelt: that every American has a human right to employment, to health care, to a free and full education, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food, and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age.

Let me know what you think. Occupy Wall Street enjoys the support of millions. It is a movement that cannot be stopped. Become part of it by sharing your thoughts with me or online (at OccupyWallSt.org). Get involved in (or start!) your own local Occupy movement. Make some noise. You don’t have to pitch a tent in lower Manhattan to be an Occupier. You are one just by saying you are. This movement has no singular leader or spokesperson; every participant is a leader in their neighborhood, their school, their place of work. Each of you is a spokesperson to those whom you encounter. There are no dues to pay, no permission to seek in order to create an action.

We are but ten weeks old, yet we have already changed the national conversation. This is our moment, the one we’ve been hoping for, waiting for. If it’s going to happen it has to happen now. Don’t sit this one out. This is the real deal. This is it.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Michael Moore

Conversations on the road

By Chris Horton

A retired construction worker in northern Maine, a leader in his town, says that we’re headed for a revolution, that things are getting so bad because most people are so stupid that they believe the lies they’re told and don’t really care, but he hopes things keep getting worse and worse for them until they’ve paid the price for being so stupid, and when the revolution comes he’ll sit and watch the rich folk being carted through the streets and laugh while their heads roll.

I asked if he knew any of the stupid people he was talking about, and after some thought he confessed he couldn’t name one, “but believe me, they’re out there!”

A tattooed young man with a hardened face in Northern Vermont – with roots in Massachusetts – talked about all the jobs he’d done and how he hadn’t been able to find work since he got out of prison two years ago. Says he’ll never touch marijuana again because it’s ruined his life. I asked him how many people he knew in Northern Vermont who were involved with the marijuana business. His answer: everyone I know. Would things ever get better? No, people are too stupid.

Crossing the highlands of New Brunswick on Highway 108, the sign said 138 km – 86 miles – to the next gas station. I checked my gas gauge and kept driving. No houses, no crossroads, no stores, just a road through the woods. Or what used to be woods; apart from a few tall trees here or there and sometimes a thin screen of trees on both sides of the road, the forest, for 86 miles, had been stripped bare. Sometimes I could see ridgelines three, five or more miles away, and even from a distance I could see that they too had been stripped bare.

About 50 miles in I stopped at a log building with a sign saying “halfway camp.” There were some men sitting out front and I asked them for coffee. They did up some instant for me and offered me a donut, no charge, and we talked some. The Irving Family they said owned all these woods, owned the provincial legislature and the paper mills and newspapers, TV stations and the gas stations and just about everything else around. There would be houses along the road soon because they were done with the woods for now. Did these guys think this was OK? H*** no but lots of folks like the Irvings because they’ve made everything so green. Did they know any such people? No, they couldn’t say they did.

The sign read Restaurant 11 km ahead, the first store along the road. I stopped when I got there, ordered fish and chips, and fell to talking with a retired military man and his wife who sat across from me. They started in on the Irving story, and added that Irving has been killing all the hardwoods with areal spraying and reseeding with Jack Pines because they grow fast, and that now that the forest has been stripped the (Irving) paper mills are laying off or closing because there’s no pulp wood. But, they said, people still like the Irvings because they do so many good things.

I asked if they actually knew anyone who liked the Irving family, and they couldn’t think of anyone.

I told this story to a man I met in Miramichi, NB, and he told me that they think there’s gas in that highland, that they’ll be drilling for it using “fracking”. But that won’t be the Irving family, because they don’t own the mineral rights. I asked if he believed that and he said No, but that’s what they’re saying.

Visiting with a young farm family in the rural Maritimes – both parents also do work over the Internet – they shared that things were bad and going to get worse, and the problem was caused by stupid people. People like them who really understood were rare. They actually claimed to know these bone-achingly stupid people, but they couldn’t name one.

Watching TV in a Halifax bar, a wonderful folksy ad came on about how the Wells Fargo Bank had been helping this man find success and happiness for a lifetime. I found myself fighting against believing this heart-warming ad, fighting against liking Wells Fargo. I reminded myself of the people I knew whose homes they were trying to foreclose and all the lies they were telling. I found myself feeling helpless in the face of all that great story-telling, angry at all the stupid people who were watching the ad and believing it. I asked the guy sitting next to me, an older truck driver, if he could believe that s***, and he said h*** no! Did he think anyone else did? His answer: “you’ve got to understand, people are stupid!”

So it seems we all believe in a world full of the stupid people who believe the stuff they see on TV. Maybe that’s enough for it to do its job, to leave us feeling helpless and po

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

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.

It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only three unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?

Reagan had been backed by Wall Street in his run for the White House and they, along with right-wing Christians, wanted to restructure America and turn back the tide that President Franklin D. Roosevelt started — a tide that was intended to make life better for the average working person. The rich hated paying better wages and providing benefits. They hated paying taxes even more. And they despised unions. The right-wing Christians hated anything that sounded like socialism or holding out a helping hand to minorities or women.

Reagan promised to end all that. So when the air traffic controllers went on strike, he seized the moment. In getting rid of every single last one of them and outlawing their union, he sent a clear and strong message: The days of everyone having a comfortable middle class life were over. America, from now on, would be run this way:

* The super-rich will make more, much much more, and the rest of you will scramble for the crumbs that are left.

* Everyone must work! Mom, Dad, the teenagers in the house! Dad, you work a second job! Kids, here’s your latch-key! Your parents might be home in time to put you to bed.

* 50 million of you must go without health insurance! And health insurance companies: you go ahead and decide who you want to help — or not.

* Unions are evil! You will not belong to a union! You do not need an advocate! Shut up and get back to work! No, you can’t leave now, we’re not done. Your kids can make their own dinner.

* You want to go to college? No problem — just sign here and be in hock to a bank for the next 20 years!

* What’s “a raise”? Get back to work and shut up!

And so it went. But Reagan could not have pulled this off by himself in 1981. He had some big help:


The biggest organization of unions in America told its members to cross the picket lines of the air traffic controllers and go to work. And that’s just what these union members did. Union pilots, flight attendants, delivery truck drivers, baggage handlers — they all crossed the line and helped to break the strike. And union members of all stripes crossed the picket lines and continued to fly.

Reagan and Wall Street could not believe their eyes! Hundreds of thousands of working people and union members endorsing the firing of fellow union members. It was Christmas in August for Corporate America.

And that was the beginning of the end. Reagan and the Republicans knew they could get away with anything — and they did. They slashed taxes on the rich. They made it harder for you to start a union at your workplace. They eliminated safety regulations on the job. They ignored the monopoly laws and allowed thousands of companies to merge or be bought out and closed down. Corporations froze wages and threatened to move overseas if the workers didn’t accept lower pay and less benefits. And when the workers agreed to work for less, they moved the jobs overseas anyway.

And at every step along the way, the majority of Americans went along with this. There was little opposition or fight-back. The “masses” did not rise up and protect their jobs, their homes, their schools (which used to be the best in the world). They just accepted their fate and took the beating.

I have often wondered what would have happened had we all just stopped flying, period, back in 1981. What if all the unions had said to Reagan, “Give those controllers their jobs back or we’re shutting the country down!”? You know what would have happened. The corporate elite and their boy Reagan would have buckled.

But we didn’t do it. And so, bit by bit, piece by piece, in the ensuing 30 years, those in power have destroyed the middle class of our country and, in turn, have wrecked the future for our young people. Wages have remained stagnant for 30 years. Take a look at the statistics and you can see that every decline we’re now suffering with had its beginning in 1981 (here’s a little scene to illustrate that from my last movie).

It all began on this day, 30 years ago. One of the darkest days in American history. And we let it happen to us. Yes, they had the money, and the media and the cops. But we had 200 million of us. Ever wonder what it would look like if 200 million got truly upset and wanted their country, their life, their job, their weekend, their time with their kids back?

Have we all just given up? What are we waiting for? Forget about the 20% who support the Tea Party — we are the other 80%! This decline will only end when we demand it. And not through an online petition or a tweet. We are going to have to turn the TV and the computer and the video games off and get out in the streets (like they’ve done in Wisconsin). Some of you need to run for local office next year. We need to demand that the Democrats either get a spine and stop taking corporate money — or step aside.

When is enough, enough? The middle class dream will not just magically reappear. Wall Street’s plan is clear: America is to be a nation of Haves and Have Nothings. Is that OK for you?

Why not use today to pause and think about the little steps you can take to turn this around in your neighborhood, at your workplace, in your school? Is there any better day to start than today?

In debt vote, Senator Scott Brown has a choice: Medicaid or the super wealthy

By Jason A. Stephany

Tuesday, August 2, marks a critical deadline for the United States economy: for the first time in our nation’s history, the government may default on its debts. And should that happen, the ripple effects will be felt by every American consumer and taxpayer. A downgrade of the United States’ credit rating, higher interest rates on our credit cards, mortgages and car loans, and investor uncertainty that will leave already-fragile markets reeling. Our slow-but-sureeconomic recovery could revert to a full-on recession in a matter of days.

The clock is running out on the debt debate, and responsible lawmakers agree that default is not an option. So why are some in congress – including US Senator Scott Brown – refusing to state a position on key aspects of the debt proposals before them? One would think big ticket items like $500 billion in proposed health care cuts would call for an immediate rebuke from the commonwealth’s junior senator. Yet questions from constituents and journalists on debt-related health care cuts have gone unanswered for weeks, as Brown and his staff continue to avoid taking a position on a host of programs, including Medicaid.

Over the last week, large coalitions of healthcare providers, patients, consumer advocates – even insurance company representatives – have gathered to call on Brown and his fellow lawmakers to do the right thing and take a stand in support of Medicare, Medicaid and other critical health care programs that are now on the chopping block. At one gathering, many pointed to the key decision that remains at the crux of the debt negotiations: protecting tax breaks for major corporations and our wealthiest citizens or preserving funding for federal health care programs.

Among them was David Sandison, a disabled Medicaid recipient who relies on in-home assistance, who addressed the issue head-on.“Because of my disability, I depend on Medicaid funds to live and work independently,” said Sandison. “So I have a question for Scott Brown: will you vote to save Medicaid, or will you support tax breaks for oil companies and billionaires?”

Stacy Hart, a consumer advocate with the Boston Center for Independent Living, explained that for many families – including her own – the funding of Medicaid programs is a matter of life and death. “Medicaid saved my husband’s life. He was in a coma for several months until the doctors could address a very serious medical condition,” said Hart. “Without Medicaid, my husband never would have woken up, rejoined his family, or come back to work as a member of the community. We need to know where Scott Brown stands on these cuts.”

The cuts Sandison and Hart describe aren’t just abstract numbers orhypotheticals. Health care providers estimate the cuts being contemplated could anywhere from $1 billion to $3 billion from state coffers – a full tenth of the overall Massachusetts budget. A recent report by Families USA, the non-partisan health care consumer organization, shows the funding shortfall would not only slash assistance for the poor, elderly and disabled; it would also jeopardize as many as 50,180 jobs and $6.8 billion in economic activity in the Bay State.

With so much at risk for Massachusetts citizens, the choice for any representative of the people should be clear. Yet Senator Brown continues his silence, reinforcing a “no position” position on what would certainly be disastrous cuts to health care. The question remains: why? What is keeping Brown from doing what’s right for Massachusetts? Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director of Health Care for All, put the decision before Brown in the starkest of terms. “I know it’s tough for Senator Brown to balance serving his party and serving the people of Massachusetts – but there should be no choice between maintaining the health of our state’s elderly and disabled residents and cutting taxes for the most wealthy among us,” said Whitcomb Slemmer. “Hundreds of billions of dollars in health care cuts, and millions of lives, are at stake. We call on Senator Brown to show leadership by supporting health care for our state’s most vulnerable populations.”

Whitcomb Slemmer’s pointed analysis lays the terms out plain. But at the end of the day, will Scott Brown do the right thing for Massachusetts? Will our Senator choose Medicaid or millionaires in the fight to address the national debt? Only time will tell – but withan August 2 deadline rapidly approaching, the clock is ticking.

Constituents may reach US Senator Scott Brown on this or any other issue of interest by calling (617) 565-3170.

Jason Stephany is the spokesman for MASSUNITING – a non-partisan coalition of neighbors, community groups, faith organizations and labor united in the fight for good jobs, corporate accountability and stronger communities.

Tough times

By Chris Horton

Today it’s very hard to be a father, and that can be hard for everyone in the family.

For men, who see our ability to bring home a paycheck as a big part of what makes us a man, of what makes us worthy to belong to a family, not being able to provide for them can be devastating. But we are worth much more than that to our children. This is a good day for us and for our families to reflect on what we’re worth, what we bring, why we’re needed.

Times are hard, and it’s natural to feel that it’s our fault, our personal failure. The “great ones”, the ones who’ve made it and the ones who were “born on third base and think they hit a triple”, are trying to blame this disaster on us and get us blaming ourselves and on each other for it, but it’s really not our fault. When you’re struggling to survive and it’s not working, you have to keep on trying – and to do that well you have to take responsibility for the results you get. But when it’s not working no matter how hard you try because of things beyond your control, there’s nothing to be gained and everything to lose from beating yourself up, drugging yourself and taking it out on your family.

Unemployment levels are higher than at any time since the Great Depression. The De Facto Unemployment Rate (DUFR, calculated by the Center for Working Class Studies, counting everyone who would be working full time if they could but can’t) is hovering around 30%. And that’s not Dad’s fault. Continue reading Tough times

Whom should we trust?

By Richard Schmitt

A Boston business owner has entered the primaries to fill the seat of the late Senator Kennedy. He believes himself particularly well-qualified because he is a successful business man.

Where has he been during the last year?

We are in the middle of the worst recession in eighty years; unemployment is inching up to 10%. Millions of families have lost their homes. Homelessness is up; more and more families must depend on food banks to feed their children. Governments at all levels are short of money because of falling tax revenues. Continue reading Whom should we trust?

City Clerk David Rushford: The Marrying Man?

By Rosalie Tirella

Let’s see: the city is cash strapped, the state is cash strapped (until the new MA state sales tax kicks in!) and the country is searching for the bootstraps it needs to pull itself out of this financial hell hole. What better time for Worcester City Clerk David Rushford to add as much as $95,000 to his base salary of $131,000!

Meet David Rushford – Worcester’s Marrying Man. This Sunday we learned that Rushford, who is already closing the Worcester City Clerk’s office a couple of hours earlier than 5 p.m (creating banking hours for himself and his staff while still collecting the same pay check) has been making some serious side money ON CITY TIME and CITY PROPERTY marrying people.  He won’t say how much he charges, but thanks to yet another whacky Massachusetts law, Rushford, or any city/town clerk in Massachusetts can charge $50 – $95 every time he/she officially marries a couple.

You would think that the fee would go to the city or town. After all, the momentous event is happening in a city or town hall. It is being performed by a city/town clerk who is working at his city/town job in a city/town hall (thus collecting his/her city/town pay check). You would think with all the whining David Rushford has done about losing a few city clerks and not being able to perform all his work with the staff he’s got, that he would be tickled pink if marrying people meant more moeny for the City of Worcester. Maybe then City Manager Mike O’Brien could rehire some of Rushford’s city clerks he laid off earlier. 

Nope. The dough goes to the city/town clerk doing the marrying.

Last year, Rushford married 950 couples. Do the math: 950  x $100 = $95,000!



Here’s hoping city councilors do something productive during their two summer meetings. Let’s have them petition the state to rescind the law or at least pass some local ordinance that allows the City of Worcester to collect – and KEEP – the fee.

$95,000 could go to Worcester’s parks, city pools – city kids. It could go towards public health, AIDS awareness.

It amazes me to see how Blow Mag and many city pols just seem to enable/excuse this bad behavior. Why? Because they know Rushford. Because they are all in the same boys club, standing in the same swill.