Sunday, October 02, 2011

Freedom Budget + Occupy Wall Street's Declaration

Much ado about various responsibilities, so no time for intensive blogging, but the ever brilliant Geoffrey J. pointed me toward the following remarkable document, the Freedom Budget For All Americans: Budgeting Our Resources, 1966-1975, To Achieve 'Freedom From Want,'" which the A. Philip Randolph Institute of New York published in 1966. In edition to the eponymous Randolph, the longtime president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, one of the most important 20th century labor organizations for African-Americans, and a beacon in and of the Civil Rights Movement, other signatories to the document include many of the leading lights of the mid-century labor, progressive, civil, human and equal rights movements, crossing all racial, ethnic, ethnic, and class backgrounds. (There are almost no women on the list, but this document appears almost at the early point of what we now think of as the full-flowering of women's movement and second wave feminism; there are also almost no openly queer signatories, save Bayard Rustin, but the document precedes the Stonewall Riots by 3 years.)

A page from the Freedom Budget, 1966
It's a remarkable document, and I urge you to read it at your leisure, but sooner rather than later; it's hosted on invaluable the Internet Archive site, which allows you to read documents online, download them in a range of formats, and forward them to others quite easily, free of charge.

The Freedom Budget makes an engaging companion template to the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, which was accepted by the General Assembly of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which I first wrote about almost three weeks ago, on September 29, 2011. I am linking to it, but also posting it in full. Whatever one may feel about the protests, which I personally believe are among the most important to have occurred in the US in some time, the principles below articulate a good deal of what a great many people--a great many of the 99% of us who have not been the beneficiaries of the disaster-capitalism, supply-side, neoliberalism-meets-libertarianism economic debacle that has marked not just the decade preceding the Global Financial Crisis 2.0 of 2007-2009 (+), but of the 3 decades before--feel about what has gone wrong, while highlighting a number of other issues that are important to progressives in the US. The document below, like the protests, is both an important start, and a vital link in a long tradition of dissent and protest from the left that has preceded it. Do read it, amend it, talk about it, challenge and debate about it, but above all, pass it on.
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
Posted on September 30, 2011 by NYCGA
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.
 These grievances are not all-inclusive, indeed. Now read the Freedom Budget, and note how many of these issues are addressed or touched upon both in its in general principles, and in its specific plans for how the government might spend its--our--monies.

We have a ways to go, but to the people of Occupy Wall Street and all the sibling protests, all over the country and the world, you are on the best track, a new one building upon many older ones, and I like many people say: thank you!

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