Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Passing by Another Empty Factory
"Hey Rach, check out this empty factory. Wonder what it was used for?"
This is the typical statement that I say to Rachael as we pass an empty factory. We have passed so many along the way and I don't know what most were used for. With the help of some people in Pennsylvania, I know some were steel mills or glass factories. Often times we see these abandoned factories while riding on the rails-to-trails network, which turns old railroad tracks into bike paths.
Seeing all this make me think of the possibilities and opportunities for our economy to thrive through these hard economic times.
-We should have a program rebuilding railroads next to the trails to provide more adequate transportation options for people on the country side and fight climate change at the same time.
-We should reopen these factories to help produce products that we are buying through cheap, unfair labor/trade policies with countries in the global south.
-Workers should run these factories so owners don't just all of the sudden close down the factory and then leave a town in shambles with nothing but low paying service jobs and a lot of liquor stores.
-We should work with communities to find out what they need rather than just tell them what they need.
To the average person the possibilities seem endless about how we can really solve this economic crisis. I have had the great opportunity to speak to so many people in these towns about the economy. One person, a former railroad worker in Connellville, PA said to me, "All politicians and business executives should take pay cuts." Another amazing woman in Western Maryland Appalachia, said that there needs to be more options to the people living in rural poverty other than just the coal mines.
These possibilities are not on the minds of our politicians and corporate leaders (which often seem to be the same). They say that we all need to tighten our belts and brace ourselves for cuts to social programs. At the same time, corporations such as General Electric and Bank of America are not paying any taxes and GE is actually calling for $3.2 billion in tax credits. Just think about it--if these corporations actually paid their taxes, that would cover all the budget gaps that all the states are facing.
Also, Obama has continued war campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now Libya. According to people in Washington, DC and on Wall Street, the only option is to cut, cut, cut (but only in social programs, not our huge military budget). Make no mistake this is the policy of the Republicans and Democrats, who both get a majority of their money from Wall Street.
After 2008, when Obama was elected on hope and change, he in many ways became a continuation of the Bush Administration. Last time I checked, the wars are still going on, we are still giving money to Wall Street, Guantanamo Bay is still open and the Bush tax cuts are still in existence.
The only way that we can see actual changes to get us out of this crisis will be through an independent left-wing movement separate from the Democrats. You can look into the history books of this country (just make sure they are not the ones in our schools) and find that anytime a big change happened it was because of an independent movement that pushed the people in power to take action.
Imagine the Abolition of slavery with no Abolitionists.
Imagine the New Deal with no workers movement.
Imagine the Civil Rights Act with now Civil Rights Movement.
Imagine the Gains of Women with now Woman's Rights Movement
The thing is, you can't separate them. If we are going to get change in this country and take on the attacks on ordinary people, we need a movement. We can't do this alone, so wherever you are, go to meetings, meet people who want to change things collectively. Go to protests, even if you have never been to one. The Middle East and the Midwest in the U.S. has once again shown us the power of protest. We are NOT going to change this by only tweeting or facebooking. We need people on the streets. Now get off your butt and get involved!