Open your wallet. Take out a dollar bill, and feel it between your fingers. That thin piece of paper is more than Bank of America, Citigroup, Verizon and Boeing all paid in income taxes last year, combined.
Read on below the fold if you know that's just plain wrong, and if it makes you downright angry.
One month ago to the date, I was intrigued by an article my dad emailed to me with the subject line, “This looks right up your alley.” That article was “How to Build a Progressive Tea Party” by Johann Hari, describing the rising UK Uncut movement that holds tax dodgers’ feet to the fire across the pond. The implication was that we should do the same in the United States.
Little did my dad know that just 2 weeks later, we would hold events in 50 cities around the country with 2,000+ activists hitting Bank of America storefronts to protest the fact that they made $4.4 Billion in profits while paying $0 in taxes. We took to the streets to tell the people directly that if this one corporation alone paid their fair share, we could ‘uncut’ $1.7 Billion in early childhood education (Head Start & Title I). Activists came, direct actions were held, and we persuaded the people.
The message is magnetic and it spreads like populist wildfire. Everyone agrees. We win.
Our message is a simple one- before you fire one more teacher, before you take one more police officer off the streets, before you close down one more fire station, before you sacrifice one more decent public servant upon the altar of deficit reduction, our political leaders have an obligation to make sure corporations are paying their fair share in taxes like the rest of us.
Right now, we're missing out on up to $100 billion per year in corporate tax revenue because of offshore tax haven abuse- that's $1 trillion each decade. Bank of America alone uses 115 tropical tax havens to hide their profits. Instead of Congress cutting higher education to the tune of $100 Billion this year (Pell Grants) or cutting low-income heating assistance for poor families, Congress could simply pass legislation that makes offshore tax havens illegal (see: Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act).
At the first BofA investors' conference in 3 years, US Uncut NYC found a way inside and called out a roomful of millionaire and billionaire hedge fund managers and bank executives to their faces. Glenn Beck has twice set aside time on his show to call us Marxists/Communists/Socialists who want to "end capitalism as we know it." All we are saying, Mr. Beck, is that “we pay our taxes, why don’t they?” Where’s the comrade in that, psychopath?
The media has begun calling us the ‘progressive tea party’. Well, that’s handy for the attention span of the 24-hour news cycle, but let’s be clear about a few things. First, we have no billionaires funding our movement, nor a bank account for that matter (your money’s no good here, only your capacity for action). This ain’t Astroturf funded by oil executives busing us around the country along with a major cable news network providing free national publicity – this is grassroots pure and simple – by the people, for the people, and of the people (the way it should be). Lastly, US Uncut is focused on action, and like the tea party, we prefer direct action in full view of the public instead of clicktivism and online petitions (you know who you are). This is truly a people-powered movement, its showing no sign of slowing down, and we shall be heard.
US Uncut's message isn't one that endorses any specific candidates for office, or any major political party- we are a united group of citizens who believe its wrong to make the other 98% of us foot the bill for the greediest 2%. We're fighting for teachers, for police officers, firefighters, libraries, students, the unemployed, and everyone who has been victimized by corporate greed and a complicit government's manufactured budget crisis.
Our next global day of action is Saturday, March 26th. Uncut movements in France, Netherlands, Sudan, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Switzerland will be joining UK Uncut and US Uncut as we take to the streets to fight the most egregious corporate tax dodgers. Can we all shake off the chains of complicity and stand in solidarity for one cause, worldwide?
Wouldn't it be great if our legislators and the talking heads on TV all stopped their chatter about "spreading the pain around" and "shared sacrifice," and instead filled the airwaves with populist language that appeals to the rest of us? Perhaps another month from now, liberal and conservative pundits will capitalize on middle-class anger and use language like, "they caused this crisis- make them pay for it" or "this isn't a spending problem, its a revenue problem."
Wouldn't it be great if the geriatric rednecks sitting in red, white & blue lawn chairs while holding "STOP THE SPENDING, SUPER SECRET TERRORIST MUSLIM OBAMA" signs were replaced in the media? In another month's time, we might see scads of slightly younger folks along with ‘soccer moms’ and disabled veterans all standing together, waving flags, and holding signs like "CHOP FROM THE TOP – BANK OF AMERICA IS BAD FOR AMERICA!"
What if the progressive message of corporate accountability dominated the media coverage on Tax Day this year, instead of Fox News tea party rallies at the national mall? What if 10,000 people descended on Washington, D.C. on April 18th for a rally focused on egregious corporate tax dodgers and how their greed directly hurts We the People? What if these progressives presented a one-page bill to Congress that made it illegal to hide profits overseas, demanded action, and dared them to pass it?
This is our time to change the debate for once. This is our time to put aside our nitpicking and our petty ideological differences to stand together and demand our leaders act on this grave injustice that impacts us all. This is our time for direct and meaningful action.
Instead of banks rewarding themselves with bonuses that could solve every state budget crisis and lower the unemployment rate by 4 percentage points, what if banks were all collectively forced to pay billions back to Uncle Sam for all those years of tax dodging? If we all stood together, united in this one cause and refused to relent until our leaders gave in and corporations finally paid up, we would quickly triumph.
Aren't you tired of wondering why the President we worked so hard to elect hasn't led a movement to drive a stake through the heart of the US Chamber of Commerce? Aren't you tired of clicking endless petitions to be sent to Congressmen already bought and paid for by Wall Street and K Street? Aren't you ready to finally be seen and be heard out in the streets, where we can't be ignored?
US Uncut is. Take a stand with us, and go to usuncut.org to find everything you need to get started.
The momentum is finally on our side. Let's get to work. #Winning
The revolution will be tweeted, liked, & shared.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Bank of America Is Bad For Americans
Daily Kos: All in a Month’s Work- Crashing BofA, Drawing Beck’s Ire & Shaming Corporate Tax Dodgers