[May 3d] is an ugly anniversary in American history: 42 years ago, National Guardsman opened fire on anti-Vietnam protesters at Ohio’s Kent State University, killing four students. Ten days later, Mississippi police fired on civil rights protesters taking refuge in a women’s dormitory at Jackson State University and killed two more students.
Four decades later, as police across the country deploy paramilitary tactics developed for fighting foreign terrorists on Occupy and some May Day protests, and as campus police ratchet up responses to tuition hike protests, we must ask, is this where things inevitably are headed—toward deadly confrontations between overly armed police and angered protesters, or just as likely, innocent bystanders caught in a crossfire?
The Kent and Jackson State anniversaries underscore many questions. When and where will a fatal police overreaction take place? Who will be the victim? What will be the reaction, including from politicians who helped to unduly militarize the police?
This scenario is not an accident waiting to happen. Police use undue force all the time, where the consequence is the armed police shooter kills an unarmed victim. It has happened many times in 2012, according to statistics compiled by the government, just not yet at an Occupy or student protest.
In an interview with GritTV’s Laura Flanders, author and MIT professor Noam Chomsky discussed the potentially bleak future facing both the United States and the European Union. Both, he said, are facing historic crises and are going about trying to resolve them in exactly the wrong ways.
According to Chomsky, we are currently living in a period of “pretty close to global stagnation” but that the world’s great powers are reacting to the lack of growth in exactly the wrong manner. “The United States and Europe are committing suicide in different ways, but both doing it.”
It’s also a mistake, he said, to treat the Republican Party as a genuine political party rather than the “lock-step” policy arm of the superrich. Of course, the wealthy can’t sell the idea of a plutocracy to the population outright, so they mobilize the socially conservative base by stoking the so-called “culture wars.”
Chomsky has a new book, Occupy, about the Occupy Wall Street movement, what it says about society and humanity’s way forward through this time of economic and social stagnation. He calls OWS “the first major public response to 30 years of class war” and believes that the movement’s greatest success has been the introduction of the inequalities of everyday life into the public dialogue.
The nearly half-hour discussion ranges over a number of topics, but keeps coming back again and again to the importance of individual engagement in society and the political system, and the power of Occupy as a force for social and political change.
Zuccotti Park Press, a project of Adelante Alliance, a Brooklyn-based immigrant advocacy group, is releasing Occupy, a new book by Noam Chomsky, on May Day.
People seem to know about May Day everywhere except where it began, here in the United States of America. That’s because those in power have done everything they can to erase its real meaning. For example, Ronald Reagan designated what he called “Law Day” — a day of jingoist fanaticism, like an extra twist of the knife in the labor movement. Today, there is a renewed awareness, energized by the Occupy movement’s organizing, around May Day, and its relevance for reform and perhaps eventual revolution.
Across the United States more than 2,700 companies are collecting state income taxes from hundreds of thousands of workers – and are keeping the money with the states’ approval, says an eye-opening report published on Thursday.
The report from Good Jobs First, a nonprofit taxpayer watchdog organization funded by Ford, Surdna and other major foundations, identifies 16 states that let companies divert some or all of the state income taxes deducted from workers’ paychecks. None of the states requires notifying the workers, whose withholdings are treated as taxes they paid.
Deals cut with the states over the past two decades diverted $5.5 billion from public purposes to private gain, the report says. Close to $700 million more was diverted last year, Good Jobs First estimates.
These deals typify corporate socialism, in which business gains are privatized and costs socialized. They also mean government picks winners and losers, interfering with competitive markets. Leaders in both parties embrace these giveaways because they draw campaign donations from corporate interests and votes from people who do not understand that they are subsidizing huge companies.
The 1934 economic rebound was widely shared, with strong income gains for the vast majority, the bottom 90 percent.
In 2010, we saw the opposite as the vast majority lost ground.
National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent.
Just 15,600 super-rich households pocketed an astonishing 37 percent of the entire national gain.
The different results in 1934 and 2010 show how a major shift in federal policy hurts the vast majority and benefits the super-rich.