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This past weekend, more than 24,000 Americans gathered in house meetings all across America to discuss proposals to rebuild the American Dream. The collective input from all of these meetings is being organized into an action plan to build a new social contract in America. High on everyone’s list of concerns is the increasingly unfair distribution of wealth, incomes, and the burden of taxation. Van Jones, one of the inspirational organizers of the movement, has some sobering messages for all Americans in his video “The Three Big Lies.” Here are the summary sound-bites from The Three Big Lies.
A couple of dozen house meetings were held in the Albany and Saratoga Springs areas in New York on July 16 and 17. The one in Troy, NY that I attended produced more than three hours of thoughtful and inspirational discussions. Here is the report in yesterday’s Schenectady Gazette on the meeting held at the Moon & River Cafe in Schenectady’s historic Stockade District:
Gazette Photographer: Stacey Lauren-Kennedy: From left, organizer Harold Miller, Maxine Borom of Niskayuna, Helga Schoroeter of Schenectady, Susan Spring Meggs of Rotterdam, Linda Muralidharan of Schenectady, Joe Seeman of Ballston Spa, and James Bittner of Schenectady meet at the Moon & River Cafe in Schenectady on Saturday for one of many AmericanDream house meetings held across the nation this weekend to share stories, express hopes, hone ideas and craft a plan for working together to fix the economy.
SCHENECTADY — Tea was an option for the people gathered at the Moon & River Cafe on Saturday afternoon, but no one would have mistaken this American Dream house meeting for a modern day political tea party.
About a dozen people assembled in the Stockade District, as one of over 1,500 meetings in the country over the weekend where like-minded activists shared their personal stories, reflected on the dominant issues facing the government and tried to craft a unified plan to leverage their political clout. Their main focus was on the economy, with a strong emphasis on what was described as a need for fairer taxes.
MoveOn.Org activist Joe Seeman of Ballston Spa characterized the events as inclusive assemblies that were aimed at promoting an atmosphere of equity in America. “Anyone who isn’t a billionaire should be part of this movement,” he said.
The older crowd was led by NY Communities for Change organizer Harold Miller, of Schenectady, who at times had trouble focusing the group’s diverse attentions. In describing the purpose of the day, Miller reiterated the official title for the meeting, saying it was a chance to “talk about rebuilding the American dream.”
The eclectic group engaged in a lively back-and-forth that touched on inequities in tax policy, health care and jobs, which was marked by a sense of disillusionment, yearning for the past and highly confident opinions.
Retired teacher Maxine Borom of Schenectady said she wasn’t sure how to get politically engaged and hoped the meeting would serve as a way to voice her general upset. Part of her anger was aimed at the wealth discrepancy in America, which she contended was worse here than in any other country. “The economic distribution is unequal,” she said.
Borom added that an underlying problem for the country is the misleading way issues are framed, such as the debate between cutting spending and raising revenue. She argued that the prevailing demand for reduced spending was the product of a misled electorate. “We need to break the stranglehold of the American imagination,” she said.
Expanding on this point was Schenectady resident Linda Muralidharan, who seized on the reality of national politicians receiving taxpayer funded health care, while opposing government run health care for the entire population. “The average voter doesn’t see the hypocrisy,” she said.
For Muralidharan, the motivation to join this movement revolved around her desire to ward off what she argued were trends last seen during the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany. Without acknowledging that Tea Party advocates cite the same rationale, she did say, “I don’t think anybody in the Tea Party is angrier than I am.”
As evidence of the fact the country could alter its path, Muralidharan said, “We’ve had robber barons running the country before.”
The growing sense of inequality and unfairness pervading the opinions of this group is reenforced, and factually supported, in the following full text of Van Jone’s riveting refutation of Lie #1, “Newflash – America is Not Broke.”
Lenore Palladino of MoveOn.org Political Action, one of the leading sponsors of the weekend meetings, reported today on the next steps for the American Dream Movement:
“Many members of Congress are focused right now on protecting tax giveaways to corporations and the rich, rather than using the money to revitalize our communities and create the good jobs we need. Corporations, the super-rich, and their well-financed lobbyists are doing everything they can to silence our voices. It’s time to get back into the streets—just like we did in Wisconsin—to demand that we, the people, call the shots in the economy. Members of Congress will be home throughout August—so we need to bring this message directly to them during the entire recess. We’ll get started with a national day of action on Wednesday, August 10 by organizing “Where are the Jobs?” actions at congressional offices. We’ll call for an immediate solution to the jobs crisis and demand that the super-rich pay their fair share.”
JMH – 7/18/11
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