State of the State Budget and What To Do

Lack of budget, furloughs and lay-offs for the working class...meanwhile the richest have never been richer.

Is it possible that here we have corruption to blame? Systemic corruption in the form of special influence for money, (much of it ill-begotten and based in violent practices, environmentally destructive industries, exploitative labor practices, etc.) Perhaps?

...Meanwhile, beautiful sunsets abound. Those of us with sufficient privilege travel, enjoy recreation, maybe even find some sense of peace and/or solace in the beauty of nature, hobbies, music, photography...what have you.

And then there are all of those (by some measures, more than 2 billion people) who have been not able to enjoy such experiences, because of distresses caused by poverty (and who are also, arguably, in some ways, happier than those of us in the "first world.")

This system we call "ours" enforces poverty. Tremendously extreme wealth for a tiny fractional few depends on the extraction of wealth from the great many. The present system depends upon poverty.

Open Letter for Revenue

An open letter to legislators, for racial and economic justice, and revenue:

IMG_8749Today I joined the Statewide Poverty Action Network lobbying team, met with our LD 22 legislators, and delivered a version of the following letter to LD 22 legislators Hunt, Fraser, and Reykdal. I'm interested in broadcasting the ideas more broadly as open letter to all legislators. It's not perfect, just the best I can do at this time.

Monday 21 January 2013, Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.
"It's time to end poverty."

Dear Legislator,

Come to Olympia if the Economy has put you on the Street

What better place than Olympia to gather if the economy hDo you know where your children are?as put you on the street? Come to Olympia to assemble and petition for redress of grievance. Come and sit on the streets of Olympia as a demonstration and act of free speech. Come to Olympia and greet the legislators and the policy makers who will have to step over you, or walk around you, as they move around in their daily lives. The City of Olympia is criminalizing poverty in the downtown area, but the First Amendment comes in... uh... First! We have the right to sit, recline, sing, grieve, and beg for good public policy in Washington State. Come to Olympia. Camera and I not getting along yesterdayIf you get hassled by the Olympia Police Department for exercising your free speech rights, email the particulars: Where, when, police officer name to olympiacopwatch@gmail.com and we will challenge the City and the Police Department to justify the violation of your first amendment rights. I know that some folks get scared when they have to be close to houseless people. I encourage those folks to come down to the Artesian Well during daylight and introduce themselves to the people who move through that setting. There are lots of tattoos, piercings, and a fair amount of cursing, but there is also a lot of openness, music, support, and community.

Challenging Traditional Ideas about Wealth and Poverty

I heard this program on FRO (Free Radio Olympia, frolympia.org,) last night. The program is a couple hours long. Here's a link and more description: www.unwelcomeguests.net/556

⌚ Sat 24 July 2010 ☻ Ivan Illich (reading), Stephen Bezruchka, Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett

This week we challenge traditional ideas about wealth and poverty. Our main piece is by two English professors, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett on their 2009 book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. But first, we conclude the Ivan Illich reading from episode 554.


Treatment of homeless

  Let us find some way to discuss community matters other than just making a law against something, hoping it will go away.  That's what the city government has done for the past 10 years - no sitting there, no panhandling for money here, no sleeping under that bridge, no loitering in the parks, no congregating on the sidewalks. So, just where do they expect the homeless to go? Do they want them all to buy houses and start a family? Or do they wish they would just dry out and blow away?

   The impetus for these laws comes from specific sectors of the community, not all of us feel that way. And the issue is too broad and complex to hope a single law or gaggle of laws, enforced by police, is going to make things better. For example, there are some who say they chose the lifestyle - footloose and fancy free. Whether that is factually true or merely a rationalization on their part due to circumstance is hard to get at.  Then there are the mentally ill, who have been taken out of treatment centers and put on the streets to fend for themselves. And there are hard working families and or single women with children who, because of economics (think Wall Street & Big Bank Bailouts), rely on the support of the community for shelter and safety.

Week of Demonstration for a Fair Budget, Tax Wealth, Close Loopholes, Protect People, NOT Corporations

Tomorrow, activities begin at the Capitol Theatre at 12noon, and at the Legislative Building at around 2:30...

Sorry to everyone who showed up late, there was some trouble keeping the electronics dry, and after the attempted wedding between corporations and the state, we packed up and left.

...about that unholy matrimony, there maybe good news to report. After the officiator of the ceremony asked if there were any objections, a great cry rose up from the people, and despite an obvious attempt by the corporations to hush the crowd, and steal the state, the embarrassed bride turned, and lobbed a bouquet of solid cash to the people.

Here's some early coverage from today:

At the Washington State Capitol

update: more photos posted below the fold

At the Washington State Capitol
Monday 7 February 2011
Washington State Capitol Campus, Olympia—Welfare rights activists gathered at the capitol today to protest budget cuts that disproportionately affect poor people. Members of POWER (that stands for Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights) as well as members of Washington CAN (Community Action Network —some of whom traveled from Seattle) rallied just to the South of the Legislative Building, around the campus sundial.

Members of Washington CAN handed out packets with soap, disinfectant, and face-masks designed to protect against disease brought on by big corporate lobbyists. According to CAN, today was Big Bank Lobby Day.

There was lunch, provided by volunteers, and at one point people gathered in a hearty chant of "beat back the bank attack!"

In this photo, there are a couple of guys with cowboy hats. Obviously, people lobby on various causes on the same day, but then maybe the new style for big bank lobbyists is to wear cowboy hats.

I was handing out copies of the February 2011 Works in Progress, but most of the people working on the capitol campus would not take them, and many would not even look me in the eye.

Letter to the Editor / Letter to the Governor about the Budget and Social Supports

I had a letter to the editor published in today's Olympian newspaper. I want to add an important concept to it. The idea is that society is harmful—so much so that it is even to the point of causing actual impairment. Society is violent. Society causes disease. In my opinion, people who are disabled from normal function in society—because of society's violent nature—deserve support.

I also recently wrote a letter to Governor Gregoire, and I'll include information about that below the LTE.

Here is the letter to the editor:

Photos from Last Week 20100912

There were many sights, sounds, and smells around downtown Olympia last night!

For example, while walking down the hill I could see a strange cloud wafting over the Westside. It was kind of surreal, ethereal. And although it was dark at 8:30 PM much earlier than it was three months ago, the air stayed relatively warm.

Here are some photos from a walk to and around Capitol Lake (aka FLOD, that is, fetid lake of doom—which it did smell like in places,) and then also a few others from the past week, including Percival Landing, and Coffee Strong—with information about how to support Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, plus a letter to Governor Gregoire about why it is incorrect to cut social services and supports during a time of great need.

Have a great week!
From Berd

South Capitol Lake from Marathon and Heritage Park Pedestrian Bridge at Night September 2010
South Capitol Lake from Marathon and Heritage Park Pedestrian Bridge at Night September 2010

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