Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why the Right-Wing Bullies Will Hold The Nation Hostage Again and Again

 By Robert Reich
First Published April 10, 2011
When I was a small boy I was bullied more than most, mainly because I was a foot shorter than everyone else. They demanded the cupcake my mother had packed in my lunchbox, or, they said, they'd beat me up. After a close call in the boy's room, I paid up. Weeks later, they demanded half my sandwich as well. I gave in to that one, too. But I could see what was coming next. They'd demand everything else. Somewhere along the line I decided I'd have a take a stand. The fight wasn't pleasant. But the bullies stopped their bullying.

I hope the president decides he has to take a stand, and the sooner the better. Last December he caved in to Republican demands that the Bush tax cut be extended to wealthier Americans for two more years, at a cost of more than $60 billion. That was only the beginning -- the equivalent of my cupcake.

Last night he gave away more than half the sandwich -- $39 billion less than was budgeted for 2010, $79 billion less than he originally requested. Non-defense discretionary spending -- basically, everything from roads and bridges to schools and innumerable programs for the poor -- has been slashed.

The right-wing bullies are emboldened. They will hold the nation hostage again and again.

In a few weeks the debt ceiling has to be raised. After that, next year's budget has to be decided on. House Budget Chair Paul Ryan has already put forward proposals to turn Medicare into vouchers that funnel money to private insurance companies, turn Medicaid and Food Stamps into block grants that give states discretion to shift them to the non-poor, and give even more big tax cuts to the rich.

There will also be Republican votes to defund the new health care law.

"Americans of different beliefs came together," the president announced after agreement was reached. It was the "largest spending cut in our history." He sounded triumphant. In fact, he's encouraging the bullies onward.

All the while, he and the Democratic leadership in Congress refuse to refute the Republicans' big lie -- that spending cuts will lead to more jobs. In fact, spending cuts now will lead to fewer jobs. They'll slow down an already-anemic recovery. That will cause immense and unnecessary suffering for millions of Americans.

The president continues to legitimize the Republican claim that too much government spending caused the economy to tank, and that by cutting back spending we'll get the economy going again.

Even before the bullies began hammering him his deficit commission already recommended $3 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increase. Then the President froze non-defense domestic spending and froze federal pay. And he continues to draw the false analogy between a family's budget and the national budget.

He is losing the war of ideas because he won't tell the American public the truth: That we need more government spending now -- not less -- in order to get out of the gravitational pull of the Great Recession.
That we got into the Great Recession because Wall Street went bonkers and government failed to do its job at regulating financial markets. And that much of the current deficit comes from the necessary response to that financial crisis.
That the only ways to deal with the long-term budget problem is to demand that the rich pay their fair share of taxes, and to slow down soaring health-care costs.

And that, at a deeper level, the increasingly lopsided distribution of income and wealth has robbed the vast working middle class of the purchasing power they need to keep the economy going at full capacity.

"We preserved the investments we need to win the future," he said last night. That's not true. The budget he just approved will cut Pell grants to poor kids, while states continue massive cutbacks in school spending -- firing tens of thousands of teachers and raising fees at public universities. The budget he approved is cruel to the nation's working class and poor.

It is impossible to fight bullies merely by saying they're going too far.

Robert Reich is the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future, now in bookstores. This post originally appeared at RobertReich.org.

Right To Share Food No. 1
First Published April 2011
My name is Michael “Waterman” Hubman of the charity Watercorps and organizer with the Right To Share Food Coalition. Right To Share Food was formed in response to the June 2, 2010 take down by government of the Towne Avenue Soup Line, and continued harassment by government of ongoing efforts to feed the poor and homeless population of Skid Row Los Angeles. Prior to the take down of the soup line, volunteers from the World Agape Drop In Center had been feeding the poor and homeless of Eastern Skid Row Los Angeles six days a week at the same location for over five years.

The Right To Share Food Extravaganza II (The first one happened on September 30, 2010.) was scheduled to take place on Sunday March 20, 2011. The date for this event was selected to coincide with the vernal equinox and first day of spring. We had no way of knowing that mother nature had arranged for a fast moving cold front and rain storm  to sweep through the region that very day. This weather event also managed to drench the runners, staff and spectators of the Los Angeles Marathon.

The players at this Right To Share Food Event were Tanya and her group with Gorilla Food Not Bombs, James and his group from World Share (formally World Agape), General Dogon of LA CAN and myself.

My day started in the morning when I visited three groups who were feeding the homeless and the poor on Gladys Street and Towne Avenue . I invited them to our event, and encouraged them to join our coalition. I said that it was important to organize to defend their right to share food. All of the feeders were glad to hear that they had friends who were sticking up for them and their right to share food. One lady told me; “you mean you are for us and not against us?”

After my visit with the feeders, I spent the rest of the morning with James at World Share puzzling over the Doppler Radar images on line. Would we get a break in the weather? Not likely. It looked like our event was scheduled for the middle of the storm.

At one in the afternoon, I went to the corner of Sixth and Towne to sit in my car and greet anyone who happened to show up for our event. I sat and watched as sheets of rain fell on the empty street. All of the players were prepared to come out and get drenched. Tanya and her group were cooking James and General Dogon were ready to go. I told them to stay dry and hold up until I called. Then it occurred to me that we should move this event indoors to World Share. I called and cleared it with James. I called Tanya and General Dogon with the change of venue.

I drove around and verbally invited anyone who was still out on the street, mostly on San Julian Street and at The Midnight Mission courtyard, to come and enjoy a hot meal and to eat inside.

Tanya arrived with a great vegetarian meal. I told the people who were assembled that today’s meal was special in that we were celebrating our right to share food. Tanya and her group served up rice beans and vegetable soup.

General Dogon spoke about his history as a lifelong resident of Skid Row. He talked about Skid Row Los Angeles being the most heavily policed place in America . He spoke about the human and civil rights work done at LA CAN.

I spoke about the history and development of Right To Share Food. I spoke about the right to share food being a fundamental human right. I said that we believe that our right to share food is protected under the freedom of association clause of the first amendment of the constitution.

 For the first time; I publicly advocated for the recall of Councilmember Perry.  I said I had  been avoiding talking about recall until I could secure some backing for such an effort. I said that the recall concept was not going anywhere unless we started talking about it.

I closed by saying that Councilmember Perry thought she was just dumping on some little people when she caused the shutdown of the Towne Avenue Soup Line. She did not know that by causing the take down of the soup line that she was jump starting the right to share food movement.

James thanked every one for coming. We put away the food. James re started the movie that had been paused for the Right To Share Food event.

All in all; we had a good day.

Photo: Right To Share Food Extravaganza I / September 30, 2010
A good day in the sun; Food Not Bombs activists serve up a hot vegetarian meal to hungry Skid Row Los Angeles residents.
Photo: Dan Blumel / LA Activist 
Please read the article.

Michael "Waterman" Hubman 


Please read the following Right To Share Food Position Paper.
Right To Share Food Position Paper

First Published September 2011
At Right To Share Food, we believe that sharing food with our brothers and sisters is a fundamental human right. We believe that sharing food is a constitutionally protected activity, guaranteed under the freedom of association clause of the first amendment of The Constitution of the United States of America . We believe that sharing food outside and in public is an equally protected activity. Our goal is to promote cooperation among people in order to exercise and defend this right.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Michael "Waterman" Hubman. I am the founder and the facilitator of Right To Share Food and member of Right To Share Food Coalition. Since 2007 I have been lobbying on behalf of the human and civil rights of homeless people. I operate Watercorps, a charity that gives bulk drinking water to the homeless people living on the streets of Skid Row Los Angeles.

You might ask; why do we feel the need to organize and lobby to protect and exercise our right to share food? The answer is, that it is a common occurrence in contemporary society, for those who are morally and spiritually motivated, to want to help others who find themselves in a state of need. This state of need is often manifested by poverty, homelessness and destitution. Those who desire to come to the aid of their less fortunate brothers and sisters, commonly express this aid by sharing food.

Conflict occurs when government, most often municipalities, attempt to effect social engineering by restricting or forbidding the sharing of food on public property, the commons and even private property. I liken this kind of social engineering by cities to wildlife management. The problem is, we are talking about our human brothers and sisters, and not unwanted pigeons or other pesky wild life. Why?

I can’t speak for these municipal wild life managers. I can only guess. My guess as to why the sovereign would act in such a selfish and mean spirited manner is greed. Poverty and homelessness are commonly viewed by some who are not similarly afflicted as messy and unsightly. The sight of homeless and poor people lining up to receive a charitable meal makes it hard to convince oneself and others that all is well in their area of interest. When poverty and homelessness are not sufficiently hidden and dispersed, it tends to raise concerns among some who would worry about depressed commerce and property values.

When homeless people gather in public, especially in numbers, they often generate a response by government to harass them with the goal of dispersing them. The dispersing of the homeless to make them less visible robs them of community and society and denies them their right to associate. Harassing the people who want to share food and aid the homeless and poor is just another tactic to disperse them and deny them the right to associate and assemble.

Michael “Waterman” Hubman 





(aka) http://www.rtsf.us


http://www.CASCI.us  (Coalition for the Abolition of Safer Cities Initiative)
http://www.MEANESTCITY.us  (This is a link to the 191 Pg. human rights report.)
http://www.PLEJ.us  (Peoples Lobby for Economic Justice)

Please Mail us a check.
Michael Hubman / Watercorps 620 E. First St. Los Angeles CA 90012  

PayPal michaelcirclewider@yahoo.com


Photo: Right To Share Food Extravaganza I / September 30, 2010
A good day in the sun; Food Not Bombs activists serve up a hot vegetarian meal to hungry Skid Row Los Angeles residents.
Photo: Dan Blumel / LA Activist 
Please read the article.

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