We, the unwilling, have been coerced into doing the immoral by the unaccountable.
We have sacrificed our children, our fathers, our mothers, our sisters and our brothers, in wars fought on false assumptions for unobtainable goals, enriching a small circle of political insiders.
We have been made to pay millions for bridges, schools, roads and hospitals for conquered people while we are told that there is no money to pay for the same things in our own country.
We have seen elites ship our jobs overseas and economically colonize poor countries and then demonize immigrants who come here in the hope that their children can escape the worldwide poverty created by the privileged.
We have seen the richest one percent gain control of 40 percent of the national wealth while those of us in the remaining 99 percent have been forced to battle and grovel for the remaining scraps.
We are told that it is just and acceptable that many workers can toil for more than 40 hours a week and still live in poverty, and that such workers should sacrifice the needs of their families as the price for living in a “free” society.
We have seen the Wall Street criminals, who destroyed the world’s economy, profit from their crimes through government bailouts. We have seen this money, stolen from the poor, working, and middle classes, spent on gaudy and undeserved executive bonuses. We have seen these bailouts feed rapacious corporations the money needed to further “restructure” the economy in order to eliminate the decent jobs left for the rest of us
We have seen an economy supposedly based on competition turn into an oligopoly, in which a very small number of interlocking corporations control the pro-corporate propaganda we get from the media, the usurious price of goods, and the parsimonious wages and benefits we receive.
We have seen the same economy turn into a kleptocracy in which the biggest financial interests buy politicians, who then reward their donors with corporate welfare.
We have seen a political system nourished by Wall Street criminals refuse to bring the corrupt bankers, the inside traders, and the money manipulators to justice.
We see the corporate-owned media and politicians mock science in order to free polluters to poison our food, air and water; we see the same media degrade the poor as parasites and protestors against such widespread corruption as bums; overworked and underpaid teachers ridiculed as overpaid and incompetent; and the same media narrow the range of debate to two plutocratic political parties.
We have seen corporate-owned politicians battle against a living wage for workers; just benefits and compensation for soldiers; and adequate funding for education and protection of our environment. We have been told that citizens who spent their life paying into Social Security shouldn’t expect the government to live up to its end of the bargain and that those who rely on Social Security in their elderly years are part of a “Ponzi scheme,” grabbing unearned dollars from other people’s hard work.
We have been encouraged by these same corporate-owned politicians to hate and fear our neighbors , whether they are liberal, white, black, Hispanic, immigrant, gay, or Muslim, all the better to divide and conquer us.
We are told we have no choice between Republican and Democratic parties that both comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted, and who differ only in their degree of subservience to the wealthy.
We have been told that corporations are persons with rights at the same time that the right to vote for real life human beings is under assault; when women’s rights to make their own medical decisions are being stripped away; and when poor Americans are denied a right to adequate health care.
This kind of society cannot be sustained and must not be allowed to survive. We insist that our society provides the greatest good and the most freedom for the largest number of people. We believe that the needs of the community outweigh the extravagant expectations of a privileged few. Therefore, we demand:
1. That we end to our wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. We should declare victory in the “War on Terror” now that Osama Bin Ladin has been killed and Al Queda has been crippled. We are only making enemies with each predator drone bomb we drop. Let’s protect our borders and embrace humility. It is only those who face no risk during wars who call on us to save the world.
2. That the government rewards work and not gambling. Investment income should be taxed like wages. The too-heavy burden on wage-earners and the pitifully small taxes on corporations and investment income is a major reason for our federal and state budget deficits. There must be no talk of cutting programs that help ordinary citizens until this unfairness is addressed. The tax system must again become progressive. Rich people, who reap more benefits from our economy, should pay taxes at a higher rate than those who derive less benefit. This is simple justice.
3. That no person working full-time should earn a penny less than it takes to provide decent housing, health care, and education for his or her children.
4. That health care and education are human rights. No one who is willing and able to work fulltime should be denied access to the best health care or a college education because of poverty.
5. That schools, universities, hospitals, child care, law enforcement, and ensuring health and safety in our environment, our medications and our food are top priorities for our society and we must spend whatever it takes to provide the highest quality of these services.
6. That those in the financial sector who destroyed the economy through their subprime loans, their high tech-bubbles, their insane and mob-like service charges to customers, and other acts of theft be subjected to criminal investigation and, if they are guilty of crimes, they should face prosecution like any street criminal.
7. That, by law, the revolving door, by which politicians cash in on their positions by doing legislative favors for corporations and then work after their retirement for those same firms, be ended by serious legislation enforced by criminal penalties.
8. That the Constitution be amended to ban all private money in federal, state or local elections and that these elections will be publicly funded, with strict controls on how much can be spent.
9. That the Constitution be amended to allow easier access to the ballot for so-called “third parties,” which are the only hope we have for a genuine democracy.
10. That anti-trust laws be used aggressively to break up media monopolies and that the Congress reinstitutes the “Fairness Doctrine” that we have genuine public debates on political issues and that the widest range of voices can be heard on our public airwaves.
Democracy must constantly be nurtured and protected from the powerful, who always aim for greater wealth and control, regardless of the benefit to the nation as a whole, and who never surrender what they have without a fierce battle. We refuse to be servants, handmaidens in our own degradation. This fight must be joined, this struggle begun, through peaceful means worthy of a free people. We stand with the Occupy Wall Street Movement and together we will save America from the corporate bandits.
Michael Phillips has authored the following:
White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006)
(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)
“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)
“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ” in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)
“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)
(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).
(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).
(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013).
“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).
He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.