I am a female mechanical engineering student. Dean’s List student, even for Calc 3 and Dynamics. I have no co-signer for loans, so I am only eligible for enough to cover books and tuition. It’s taken me 5 years to complete 6 semesters because I run up my credit cards to pay for gas and food, and I can’t go back until I pay the balance down. My cards are currently completely maxed, and I fear that I am beginning to lose Calculus knowledge that I learned in 2005. My car is ready to break down at 130,000 miles, and my debt payments are $700 just for interest every month. I have been paying on and off between semesters and I still have $5000 to go before I even begin to pay the principal balance. I’m 25, live at home, and I bartend 50 hours a week. I want to design machines and energy systems that have a positive impact on our society, but I’m getting you HAMMERED and cleaning up after your party instead. I especially enjoy when people talk to me like an idiot because you got the wrong cheese on your burger. I know - I’m serving you dinner because I must be a stupid girl.
As the Social Movements Assembly of the World Social Forum of Tunisia, 2013, we are gathered here to affirm the fundamental contribution of peoples of Maghreb-Mashrek (from North Africa to the Middle East), in the construction of human civilization. We affirm that decolonization for oppressed peoples remains for us, the social movements of the world, a challenge of the greatest importance.
Through the WSF process, the Social Movements Assembly is the place where we come together through our diversity, in order to forge common struggles and a collective agenda to fight against capitalism, patriarchy, racism and all forms of discrimination and oppression. We have built a common history of work which led to some progress, particularly in Latin America, where we have been able to intervene in neoliberal alliances and to create several alternatives for just development that truly honors nature.
Together, the peoples of all the continents are fighting to oppose the domination of capital, hidden behind illusory promises of economic progress and the illusion of political stability.
Now, we are at a crossroads where retrograde and conservative forces want to stop the processes initiated two years ago with the uprisings in the Maghreb-Mashreq region that helped to bring down dictatorships and to challenge the neoliberal system imposed on the peoples. These uprisings have spread to all continents of theworld inspiring indignation and occupation of public places.
People all over the world are suffering the effects of the aggravation of a profound crisis of capitalism, in which its agents (banks, transnational corporations, media conglomerates, international institutions, and governmentscomplicit with neoliberalism) aim at increasing their profits by applying interventionist and neocolonial policies.
War, military occupations, free-trade neoliberal treaties and “austerity measures” are expressed in economic packages that privatize the common good, and public services, cut wages and rights, increase unemployment, overload women´s care work and destroys nature.
Such policies strike the richer countries of the North harder and are increasing migration, forced displacement, evictions, debt, and social inequalities such as in Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and the Spanish State.
They re-enforce conservatism and the control over women´s bodies and lives. In addition, they seek to impose”green economy” as a solution to the environmental and food crisis, which not only exacerbates the problem, but leads to commodification, privatization and financialization of life and nature.
We denounce the intensification of repression to people´s rebellions, the assassination of the leadership of social movements, the criminalization of our struggles and our proposals.
We assert that people must not continue to pay for this systemic crisis and that there is no solution inside the capitalist system! Here, in Tunes, we reaffirm our committment to come together to forge a common strategy to guide our struggles against capitalism. This is why we, social movements, struggle: Read More...
After a public pressure campaign through the Eviction Free Zone of Occupy Homes MN, Gayle Lindsey, a nursing assistant and grandmother in South Minneapolis, who was facing imminent eviction, has won a modification of her mortgage from M&T Bank. Her victory marks the seventh for Occupy Homes MN and the first in the Eviction Free Zone, a project that brings neighbors in the Central and Powderhorn neighborhoods together to refuse to leave their homes without a fair negotiation.
Lindsey, whose renegotiation came a month after her redemption period ended, is the first victory in “the Zone.” With the help of Occupy Homes MN, she organized a series of actions, community potlucks, and press appearances. Lindsey received a call, while sitting at her kitchen table, from an executive at M&T Bank. The bank offered to write her a new and affordable mortgage.
“It shows that Occupy Homes MN works,” she says. “I want to move on to more victories for the community.”
The Great Hall at Cooper Union in lower Manhattan was packed, standing room only on this November 22nd, 1909 day. Garment workers from all over the city came to the same auditorium where Abraham Lincoln had denounced the proliferation of slavery nearly fifty years earlier. They were there to consider an industry-wide strike in support of the striking Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers. Union leaders (men) droned on for nearly two hours, when suddenly a 23 year old, immigrant union organizer named Clara Lemlich burst up onto the stage uninvited, and said, “I would like to say a few words.” She then turned to her audience and said, “I have listened to all the speakers and I have no further patience for talk. I am a working girl, one of those striking against intolerable conditions. I am tired of listening to speakers who talk in generalities. What we are here for is to decide whether or not to strike. I offer a resolution that a general strike be declared now!” Her peers were wildly supportive. She then led a modified version of an old Jewish oath, “If I turn traitor to the cause, I now pledge may this hand wither from the arm I now raise.” And so began what was soon known as The Uprising of 20,000.
The next day, all over the city garment workers walked off their jobs, and met in Union Square Park for a solidarity rally. The eleven week strike saw over 700 arrests. Strikers were being beat by company-hired thugs, and prostitutes, and police often turned their backs, and in some cases even participated in the beatings. Finally it ended with a Peace Protocol, with the hundreds of clothing manufacturers making different deals with their workers. Many companies became union shops where only union workers could be hired. The owners of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory resisted, giving in to only modest wage and hour concessions. The unsafe, over-crowded conditions remained the same at Triangle with doors only opening inward, shabbily constructed fire escapes, a barrel of oil stored on the floor, cloth tailings that were not removed on a regular basis, and incredibly exit doors that were locked during working hours.
Then late in the afternoon on a beautiful spring Saturday (March 25th, 1911), while having tea with a friend near Washington Square Park a woman named Frances Perkins suddenly heard screams and sirens going off. She ran across the park and came upon the horrific site of seeing the first of 50-60, mostly women jumping out of the fire engulfed upper floors, of the ten-story Asch building. Triangle Shirtwaist occupied the 8th-10th floors. In the little more than a half hour that fire raged, 146 people died; 129 of them were women; Italian and Jewish immigrants mostly; the average age was 19, and the youngest, Kate Leone and “Sarah” Rosaria Maltese only 14. The bodies were brought to a covered pier on E 26th St so families could conduct the gruesome task of identifying their loved ones, if they could.
New Yorkers were gripped with an immense feeling of grief and mea culpa. A meeting was called on April 2nd at the old Metropolitan Opera House to see what could be done so that these young women did not die in vain. The meeting became tense as people from different socioeconomic groups started squabbling - that until a young, immigrant, union organizer, named Rose Schneiderman started to speak. She held her audience spell-bound with her angry, chastising speech. Decades later Frances Perkins who was in attendance said, “..Wonderful, what a speech she made.” After the meeting, and that incredible oratory, a safety commission was formed. Ms. Perkins became the lead investigator, and their mission expanded into looking at all aspects of factory life in the over 2,000 factories that were inspected in New York state. Over thirty new laws were passed, and many of them were emulated by other states.
At no time were the feelings of guilt and sorrow probably more evident than on a cold rainy April 5th day, when between 80-120,000 people gathered in and around Washington Square Park where a funeral procession was to begin for the victims of the fire. It was led by six horses pulling an empty hearse, followed by victims’ families, survivors of the fire, and garment workers from throughout the city. It is estimated that another 200-400,000 people lined the streets of the route towards, and up 5th Ave.
This tragedy caused union enrollment to soar. People started to feel a sense of empowerment, and knew that there was strength in unity. Religious groups, community groups, unions, radicals, and reformers all banded together, putting aside their differences for the greater shared goal of improving people’s lives. And they did not ask for change, but rather they demanded it.
The social advancements in this era, and in the decades that followed were made possible by people who had courage and were willing to make tremendous sacrifices so that they, and their progeny could live a life with dignity. And it is undeniable that most of us and our loved ones, past and present benefited greatly from the pain that those people endured to secure those gains. What we have forgotten is that - it is a never-ending battle to keep what we had inherited. The crisis that we find ourselves in today begs the questions; Do we have an economic system that can be adapted to a sustainable world in which not only the environment is taken into account, but where the peoples’ well-being is considered more important than profits? And the next more important question is; Do we as a people possess the mettle that our ancestors had to make the changes that we must make? Well..
It was said, “The New Deal began March 25th, 1911,” and the woman who said that was the first woman Cabinet member, Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins - Yes that same Frances Perkins whose tea was interrupted on that fateful, shocking, life-changing day for her, all those years ago.
But in the United States, we find that no less than 62% of all bankruptcies involve medical debt. Of these people, three-quarters actually had medical insurance. So many drugs and procedures are not covered, and so high are the deductibles, that an insured person can easily find themselves unable to cover their medical bills. Two-thirds of working households do not have the resources to cover a $1000 emergency. One hour of a specialist doctor’s time can cost that alone.
Unfortunately, the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare) will not address most of these problems. It will certainly raise access—to expensive “under-insurance” plans with high deductibles and lots of out-of-pocket costs.
Strike Debt believes that health care that covers all a person’s needs is not a “Cadillac” plan but a human right. Such human rights should not be limited to top executives and members of Congress, who award themselves 100% health care coverage. No one should be driven into bankruptcy by an accident or an illness. In much of the developed world, these sentiments are just common sense. It’s a measure of how reactionary neo-liberalism has become in the United States that they are received here as radical.
“Life or Debt” is the choice we are offered. We refuse. Strike Debt. You are not a loan.