As the Capitol building reopened following two judges' orders to stop prohibiting public access to the building, another huge, sign- carrying crowd massed in downtown Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, March 5.
Once again, there was a festive, playful mood. Protesters carried inflatable palm trees in the frigid weather and signs that read: "Fox News Will Lie About This" (a reference to video of union members screaming and shoving at a rally on Fox's "O'Reilly Factor," which O'Reilly claimed was from Wisconsin, but which clearly showed palm trees and sunshine in the background.)
Capitol Kids, a high-end toy store on the capitol square, was selling bright red t-shirts for kids, with the legend "Teach Me How to Protest," and the Wisconsin Solidarity sign: a blue fist in the shape of the state of Wisconsin ...
"For three weeks you've stood in the cold, slept on the floor, skipped out of town to Illinois. Whatever it took, you did it. And one thing is certain, Madison is only the beginning," Moore said.
He connected the protests in Wisconsin to the struggle against economic and political inequality nationally and around the world. The movement is "a little bit of Egypt and a little bit of Madison," he said.
Revving up the crowd, he talked about how a tiny minority of billionaires bought our political process, and torpedoed public spending on things that benefit most people like education, suppressed wages and benefits, and concentrated wealth in a few hands. "But that wasn't enough for them," he said. "Now they want your soul. . . . They want your dignity." Now they are arguing that working people can't even have a place at the table, Moore said. He described a pilot making $19,000 a year who can't even negotiate for a few more hours of sleep in his car at the O'Hare parking lot.
He begged reporters to write down a statistic: that 400 people in the United States now have more wealth than half of all Americans combined -- 155 million people.
"The few who have the most money don't want to pay their fair share of taxes," Moore said. Furthermore, "They are the very people who don't pay their taxes crashed our economic system."
"The nation is not broke, my friends," Moore said. "Wisconsin is not broke. There is plenty of money to go around."
That bears repeating.
Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.
Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.
Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer "bailout" of 2008, now have more loot, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.
We're having our own little rally in Austin next weekend to Save Texas Schools. Want to join us?