Hundreds of senior citizens crowded the steps of New York City Hall today. Cries of "save our centers" rang out over and over again as speaker after speaker protested plans by Governor Cuomo and Republicans in the state legislature to enact savage cuts that would close dozens of centers throughout our city. The cuts are part of Cuomo's budget to reduce the deficit on the backs of New York's working families while sparing his wealthy backers from any increase in their taxes. And he shamelessly calls that "shared sacrifice!"
The solution to the crisis is twofold -- one lies in a return to fair taxation, meaning the wealthy will pay their fair share of revenue. From Eisenhower onwards, the super rich have been paying less and less of the tax burden in this country. In the 1950's, hard as it is to believe, the very wealthiest Americans paid taxes at 91% of their income. Today it stands at a paltry 35%, a shocking decrease that explains why the disparity between the super-rich and the rest of us is the greatest it's ever been: the top 400 wealthiest Americans own more assets (have more wealth) than the bottom 150 million Americans combined! Take a look here to see how higher tax rates would lead to a better America for all our citizens.
The other part of the solution lies in curbing the bloated Pentagon budget and putting an end to the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - the wars alone have cost us over a trillion dollars since 2001! And the military budget consumes close to a trillion dollars per year -- year in and year out. Those misdirected priorities produce a terribly lopsided budget, one that neglects education, health, infrastructure, environment, mass transit - that is, the well-being of our country and its people while it doles out larger and larger expenditures for endless wars and bigger and more destructive weapons. To see what that money could be used for in NY City for example, take a look here.
Wisconsin was the opening shot in a coordinated war on Americans by the corporations and their servants in Congress and the state houses. As Democrat Cuomo has demonstrated, this war is being carried out by the extremists in the GOP but is not necessarily exclusive to them. Hand in hand with draconian cutbacks to social services is an unprecedented attack on trade unions that, if successful, would take us back to the 1920's when employers ruled over the work place - long hours, horrible and dangerous working conditions, child labor were the order of the day. This is the 100th anniversary of the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist fire - a tragedy that led the way to better conditions and yes, unions, for many American workers - unions that fought and won decent and fair treatment and better conditions for working people. It was the unions that won the quality of life that today we refer to as the "great American dream" -- the 8 hour day, weekends, paid vacations, health benefits, pensions, seniority and so on. And it was the union movement that was the vessel that raised the standard of living of all Americans, union and non-union, as a result of struggles on behalf of their own members.
Council Member Tish James - "Let Wall Street, who brought on this crisis, pay their share to solve it."
That dream is what's at stake today in Wisconsin and in many states throughout our land. Whether it's unions fighting for their very existence in Wisconsin or senior citizens struggling to keep their centers open in New York - the fight is the same: a struggle for a decent America that takes care of its people...all of it's people, not just the top one per cent. It's a good fight and one worth fighting for. Else we won't recognize this country a few years from now. As Michael Moore said recently, now's the time to get up off your couch and stand and be counted. If not now, then when?
P.S. You can take action. Here's how:
To see all of today's pictures, just CLICK HERE.
or enjoy a slide show right below.....