Friday, December 16, 2011

Response to "GET A JOB, LOSERS!"

The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2009, had a population of about 1,212,848; approximately one-quarter of Alabama's population. Look closely at statistics.  If we accept the figure of 8% unemployment (more realistically in the teens), this is a rate that has gone down not because the wealthy have created new jobs, but mostly because people have stopped looking for what is considered real employment (full-time job with benefits, 401k, insurance, etc) and are doing odd jobs like lawncare or whatever they can find to supplement their food stamp rations and/or social security/medicare, whatever is keeping them alive.  Alive, but not well. 

8% of 1,212,000 is about 100,000 people whom most 'conservatives', and even snooty moderates and snobby liberals now offer the blessed wisdom of their experience "GET A JOB!" So, the 100,000 are told to their faces, from television or their very own friends and family, every day, that they have no right to complain, organize, unionize, or do anything else about their situation but stand in the unemployment line and fill out apps for another 6 months, or 6 years, and unless you win the lottery, this is the one true path to victory in this materialistic world. 

This is saying to 100,000 Americans in Birmingham alone, "Get a JOB LOSERS! I'm blessed and we're having bloody steak tonight and we're not going to share anything with you stupid lazy worthless scum, especially sympathy".  100,000 people who have just as much a right to exist as anyone. 100,000 who may hear another message, that we want to work to build a better world than this.

Meanwhile, some of us have noticed the trickle-down of charity seems more like pissing and calling it rain.  Those who have been living with the least have been forced to pay for the crimes of the white collar 1%.  More and more are losing the rest of all they have while their lives and families fall apart over what they are told is a moral failure to honor a work ethic defined by the holy temple of Wall Street, a global country club where the priestly caste of CEOs have enshrined the idols we live and die for, name-brand corporations.  And I'm being told just vote Democrat and hope and change again?

Who is to blame?  Bush-Cheney are happy to take all you can waste upon them.  Look in the mirror.  We the consumers have had enjoyed many a merry xmas, and now we complain of austerity, and yet the consumption has not stopped, people are merrily  xmas shopping on credit card.  I swear this is no lie:  I heard a commercial on the radio yesterday for "Occupy the holidays!  Take back xmas with massive discounts!" 

America consumes 25% of the world's fossil fuel.  Now our government is voting to consume the bill of rights (check NDAA).  What can you do when you, as an unemployed person, are labeled shit by strangers and friends alike.  Who do we stand up for?  Can you empathize with the unemployed, the disenfranchised, the homeless, the abused?  Are we the shit that is emerging after the post-WW2 orgy of Suburban gluttony?  Is the Occupy Movement not the shit of the nation hitting the fan of a fully established fascist police state where 93% of the Senate has voted to declare anyone who speaks out can be lawfully detained indefinitely by the military?  The Horror grows ever nearer, to climax in the 2012.  Freedom or fascism.  Which is stronger?  

When you are ignorant, you fear the unknown, then you begin to hate what you fear, because, in the case of hating the poor (and those who for some strange reason want to defend us), what could be worse than being poor?  Perhaps being empty and ignorant and alone with your misery and miserliness will be the silent hell that awaits the greedy and the wanna-be middle class, who gaze down from the balcony holding their champagne glass full of the American nightmare they are shielded from through self-censorship. 

Walter Simon

"‎People do not absorb moral lessons from those who trample on their feelings. Rather, they forever associate the unpleasantness of the spokesperson with the cause itself. " ~ Judith Martin

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

History of Occupy Birmingham, the short story

On September 17th, 2011, a large group of about 100 protestors marched from UAB across southside to Five Points and back. They were led by William Anderson, UAB student and organizer, in opposition to Alabama's anti-immigration bill HB56.  One among them held a sign saying "Occupy Birmingham".  As they passed through Five Points they noticed a single person standing there holding a sign and wearing a "Guy Fawkes" mask, an image popularized by Alan Moore's character from the story V for Vendetta, and taken up by the 'anonymous' hacker culture.  Later that day more would join this masked mysteryman on this first day of solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, a daylight 'occupation' that would continue and eventually manifest in the 24/7 encampment at 20th and 5th avenue north in the financial district. 

A week after the launching of the OWS, the first scheduled meeting of OBham had attracted over 20 folks, so it was decided by consensus to hold the next general assembly at Brother Bryan park, and there the method of decision-making by general assembly was worked out.  A website, facebook page, and twitter account had been created, and with the use of flyers these communication methods served to grow the movement, which had it's first large turnout at Railroad Park on October sixth.  The statement from Occupy Wall Street was read to and repeated back by the crowd through the use of the "mic check" popularized by the GA's of Liberty (Zuccotti) Park in New York City. 

On October 15th the largest gathering yet for OBham marched from RR park to Five Points, with an estimate 350 protestors.  Since then, many general assemblies have been held, as well as education sessions designed to explain the movement and relevant issues, including, among other issues, the 2008 economic collapse, the Birmingham sewer debt financial scandal which has led to the county declaring bankruptcy, and the anti-immigrant legislation HB56.  Actions against these problems include National Bank Transfer Day, when billions of dollars were transferred to local credit unions, withdrawn from the big bailed out banks who, with the bought-out political establishment, caused the crash of 2008, yet no arrests of these individuals have been made.  Yet. 

Since November 7th there has been a full time 24/7 presence in front of Regions bank and Wells Fargo, and the encampment has adapted with the weather, to work within building permits, inventing the 'nonstructure', a palette/carboard/tarp sleeping accommodation for those who stand for the most elemental statement, 'this is our public space'.  Visitors are encouraged to show their support in person, as coming out of doors is the first step to real social change.