Tag Archives: democracy

Stand Against Hate – A handy action guide

If you’re on facebook, or twitter, or you have access to any online news, you know that there is a lot going on right now in the work to prevent president-elect Trump from enacting the hate he campaigned on. Even as that work takes place, you also know that he is appointing known, active neo-nazis to his staff and to positions of leadership that do not require congressional approval. He is also nominating those same kinds of people to positions that will require congressional approval. This is a test. Will we, the people, allow our elected representatives to sanction these choices, or will we demand that they refuse and reject hate?

If you have access to news, you also know that the list of conflicts of interest in a Trump presidency are piling up because he has not divested himself from his businesses, nor has he separated his family and heirs from his political transition team.

If you have access to news, you further know that the evidence of voting irregularities, illegal voter discrimination and disenfranchisement is growing. If this was happening in any other democracy in the world, we would be pointing to a fraudulent, stolen election. We would be backing the people on the ground asking for recounts and vote audits. It is happening here. And we need to take these same steps to advocate not just for ourselves, but for the ideal of a free and fair democracy.

So – Here are some tangible actions that we can, and should, all be taking.

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First: Call AND email the Department of Justice and demand an audit of the votes. This is less work than a full recount but can help determine if there were voting irregularities that should trigger a full recount. This is a time sensitive action item. Do it first, do it now.

Call the DOJ at 202-353-1555 and tell them you want the votes audited. Even if it’s busy, keep calling. It takes a few times to get through because of all the calls being made.

Email, if you don’t feel comfortable calling:  voting.section@usdoj.gov

Also, sign this petition for good measure.

Second: Ask the Electors in the Electoral college to  refuse to cast their vote for Trump. This feels like a desperate act, but the more I’ve read, the more I’ve learned that this situation is exactly why our founding fathers put the electoral college in place. Perhaps reminding them of that isn’t such a bad idea… Here’s how:

You can join the 4+ million people and sign the petition.

There are also ways to locate and contact your state’s electors. I am not linking to them here because as much as I believe in the possibility of this, I refuse to do anything that even remotely looks like Doxxing and every list I’ve seen is just names, which means I could accidentally unleash people into petitioning (aka harassing) the wrong people. Nope.  That feels wrong.

Third: Contact your representatives. Every. Single. Week. Calling works best. Emails are skimmed by bots for keywords that are responded to with an auto-reply. Phone calls work because you will be able to talk to congressional aides who have to listen to and record your concerns. This is necessary regardless of your representative‘s political affiliation, they all need to hear from us.

Not sure where to begin? An amazing person set up this great tool just for us! Use it! Set a reminder in your phone and get to work.

Fourth: Call to demand a bipartisan investigation of Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest. Seriously. This is important. Everyday there is a new report of another conflict of interest that involves Trump lining his pockets at public expense. This needs to be investigated and stopped. Call 202-225-5074 and say: “I am ________ and I am a vote. I am calling to request a bipartisan review of Donald Trump’s financials and conflicts of interest. Thank you.”

Also call some of the members serving on that committee: Mark Meadows (NC) – Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations (202) 225-6401 and Jason Chaffetz (UT) – (202) 225-7751 and tell them you are a voter calling in support of a bipartisan review of Trump’s financials and conflicts of interest. You are gravely concerned about these conflicts of interest and believe they are of the utmost importance, as do many of your fellow citizens.

Fifth: Report Hate Crimes It is important to report hate crimes both to local law enforcement AND to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at: (202) 514-4609. It is important for these incidents to be recorded and investigated, especially as we continue to see a surge in such crimes across the nation in response to Trump’s “win.”

Sixth: Call Paul Ryan and register your support for the ACA. Speaker Ryan has set up a poll to hear what American’s think about the Affordable Care Act. Yes, you have to listen to some propaganda before you’re allowed to record your opinion, but it’s worth it to tell them that we like having insurance. Here’s the number: 202-225-0600. Press 2 to give your opinion, then press 1 if you are in favor of the ACA.

Seventh – Don’t forget – with the holidays just around the corner, it is time to make donations to the organizations working to support the people threatened by Trump. You can make your donations in the name of your loved ones and send them a card to let them know. You can also make these donations in Mike Pence or Donald Trump’s name and have the receipts sent to them at:

Office of Governor Mike Pence/State House Room 206/Indianapolis, IN 46204-2797

and

Donald Trump/ The Trump Organization/ 725 Fifth Avenue/ New York, NY 10022

(I recommend Mike Pence’s name for Planned Parenthood, Lilith Fund, AbortionFunds.org and any LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS organizations. I recommend Donald Trump’s name for the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and any organizations helping immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, Jewish people, organizations working to end sexual assault, etc.)

I’ll be posting a follow up with a list of worthy organizations, but you can start with the above min-list.

Immediate Action needed – Stand with Standing Rock!! Don’t forget, Trump isn’t president yet – and while we’re all spinning out about what a Trump presidency might mean, the Standing Rock Water Protectors are being abused and tortured. They are being sprayed with water canons in below freezing temperatures, shot at with rubber bullets and tear gas, all because they are trying to refuse an oil pipeline that white residents already rejected. So, while you’re fired up and taking action – call the White House and demand an end to this militarized response to peaceful protesters trying to protect their land and water. Here’s the number to the Situation Room: 202-456-9431. You will get transferred to the main comment line and placed on hold. Stay on the line and leave your comment. It is important.

You can also donate to the people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

AND here’s more concrete action you can take to Stand with Standing Rock.

Last – Hold the media accountable. When the media refuses to call Steven Bannon a neo-nazi, or when they glamorize the “white nationalists” riding the Trump Train, we must push back. We must also hold them accountable for using their investigative skills to determine the truth, before reporting rather than after. We must be diligent and determined in our demand for truthful, unbiased reporting. (And note – unbiased does NOT mean giving equal time to lies. That’s part of what got us into this mess.)

So – write letters to the editors, call the media out on social media, refuse to re-share fake news. If we want a free press, we have to participate. In fact, this election is one big reminder that if we want a democracy, we have to participate, we have to work for it – not just by voting once every 4 years if the lines aren’t too long and our dream candidate is running, but every day, all year long.

If this feels overwhelming – just pick one action to do today. Pick another one tomorrow. Bookmark this page and anytime you have a minute, come back to it and pick another action. Commit yourself to one action a day for as long as it takes.

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Democracy requires action. It’s time to take some.

Note: You can find additional petitions online at Change.org, the Southern Poverty Law Center, The White House, etc.

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Filed under Naive idealism, Of Course I'm a Feminist, Uncategorized

Do we really have the right to life?

My one in particular and I had an amazing date on Friday. We drove down to Denver to see a play called Grounded put on by the Boulder Ensemble Theater Company (BETC) – I plan to review it soon, but in the meantime, just buy tickets, it was amazing, thought-provoking, emotion inducing – everything good theater should be.

At dinner and during the drive down, my hubby and I had a great conversation about rights, privileges, social justice, supreme court rulings, equality, equity, freedom, American exceptionalism… You know, the usual romantic date night conversation.

As we were talking my husband put his hand on my knee and said, “I know I’m going into dangerous territory here, but… all of this assumes that we actually have a right to life, and I don’t think we do.”

“Exactly!” I shouted, loud enough to make the car swerve.

Because I’ve had this post, these thoughts swirling for weeks now.

The declaration of independence states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It then goes on to say that the job of government is to secure these rights.

However, our founding fathers apparently found these rights to be so self-evident that as they crafted the constitution, they left them out entirely.

As I’ve been mulling this over – what would a true right to life look like – and my husband and I discussed it in the context of our larger conversation about individual rights and freedoms vs collective responsibility a few things stood out.

First, we clearly do not have a right to life. (And in case you’re new here – I am not using this phrase in any way that relates to unborn fetuses. I am talking about already living, full human beings.)

If we had a right to life then war would ALWAYS be a last resort. If we had a right to life then lethal force would always be a last resort. If we had a right to life then the justice system would not be able to take that right away no matter how terrible our previous behaviors. If we had a right to life, we would also have the right to end our own life on our own terms.

And… If we had a right to life, then the things that are required for life would also be ours by right.

What do I mean? What does a true right to life look like?

When I was a kid growing up my parents told me that humans require three things to live – Food, shelter and clothing.

I would add three more – water, education & health care.

So, if we truly have a right to life then all people would be guaranteed these things from birth until death. Without question.

Basic food, shelter, clothing, education and health care would all be provided and water would be something that people had access to for drinking, cleaning and agriculture long before any industry had bidding rights, or private company claimed bottling rights. And when drought hit, there would never be a question of who got the water, people or profit. People would ALWAYS win. In a recession, no city would be able to turn off its citizens’ water – because water is required for life, and their right to life would be protected by the government as is its job.

“Socialist! Commie! But who is going to pay for it?!?”

And this is the next place that the hubs and I went, because see, it turns out that capitalism and a right to life are inherently at odds with each other. If capitalism’s greatest good is dying with the most toys, then that pursuit of money trumps all else, including your fellow citizen’s rights to life.

trash town

Your trash, their town.

When we claim that a private company has more right to profit than duty to its employees or community (ie; they do not have to pay a living wage, nor do they have to pay taxes to feed the coffers that supplement the poverty wages that they do offer) and hail them as infallible god-like “job creators” instead of labeling them the “takers” and “moochers” that they actually are, we are in truth saying that not all people have a right to life. That some people have more of a right to life than others – which is to say life is a privilege reserved for those who can game the system.

Now, I believe that someone who innovates and takes a risk and starts a business should be rewarded for that – but I don’t think that reward should come at the expense of everyone else.

I do not believe that your right to pursue money should come at the expense of my right to live.

But… I don’t think America is protecting my right to live anymore.

Now, I have lived in a socialist democracy before. It wasn’t perfect. No system run by humans ever will be. But there were some interesting differences.

I remember at first, coming as I did from the USA and being a bit of a Randroid at the time, that I thought what many people here in the USA think, “What a lot of moochers. What motivation does anyone have to do anything, to work, to strive, to create…”

But then… I opened my eyes a little and it turned out that yes, some people took more than they gave (see capitalism above for how this happens everywhere in every system) but all they got was basic food, clothing, shelter, education and health care for it. Nothing extravagant. Nothing that threatened the life or livelihood of their fellow citizens. AND… When I watched a little longer what I saw was that many of those people, I would even dare to say most of them, used that time when it looked like they were just taking to study a craft, learn a skill, hone a talent, pursue a dream, cultivate a passion and then… They gave back. With interest.

It turned out that when they trusted that their life was valued, it freed them up to pursue their happiness – which paid dividends when they succeeded.

What I see happening in America right now is that the takers are taking, and taking, and taking and fighting every effort to require them to give a little back, to pay into the pot either in fair wages, or taxes that would support their workers and communities, or health insurance benefits that would allow their employees to breathe a little bit. I hear phrases like “income redistribution” and “theft” and “involuntary taxation” and worse. I hear a lot of people saying that if someone wants a house/apartment, or healthy food, or basic clothing, or health care, or an education for their children, or WATER, they “should have…” done something more than get one or two full time jobs.

And that tells me that life in America has become a privilege – not a right. Not a right at all.

I remember when I worked and lived in this socialist democracy across the pond, I worked a minimum wage job 4 days a week. Sometimes I put in extra hours at the bar, but only when I didn’t have something better planned for the weekend.

With my income I was able to rent a nice room in an apartment with 2 roommates. I was able to shop for quality food at the grocery store and cook nice meals. I was able to use my three-day weekends to travel more often than not. I was able to purchase both a bicycle and a bus pass to get me around town and the surrounding areas. I was able to go hit the town one night a week with my pals and drink until the bars closed. I was able to buy 2-3 new books every pay-day. And when I got sick, I was able to get care at the hospital free of charge.

Now, granted, I was only taking care of me at the time. I wasn’t trying to raise a family on this wage. BUT… If I had been, I could have skipped the travel and the drinking. I could have relied on the library instead of the bookstore. I could still have had shelter, food, clothing, water, education and health care. On minimum wage.

AND… If I had wanted more than that, I could have worked more, risen up the ranks at my job or looked for other work, or availed myself of the many free educational opportunities to learn a new skill or get the necessary qualifications to work in a different, better paying, field.

It wasn’t like living in a socialist democracy meant everyone had to wear the same brown sack clothes, live in the same brown tenement housing, eat the same brown mush meal after meal… It wasn’t as if no one could pursue their dreams (quite the opposite actually) or that there was no point getting up in the morning, or that hard work didn’t pay, or that you couldn’t pursue buckets of money and mountains of toys. It just meant, There is a social floor below which people can not fall.

It meant that if you were willing to work, you would have the basics covered – and parenting was recognized as work. If you were a parent, the nation would help you to be a parent without presenting you with the false choice of working to pay for daycare (and not much else) or staying home to starve with your children. If you were a parent, you could get help with your housing expenses, food expenses, clothing expenses – and again education and health care were covered for everyone so that you could be a full-time parent if that was your choice. Or you would get help with daycare costs so you could continue to pursue your career while being a parent.

I know there are people who think that America’s welfare system does this, that we have child care subsidies, that we have Medicaid, etc. but I can assure you – what we have is a joke by comparison. Entirely too many working people are falling through the cracks, being forced into bad choices to avoid even worse ones and then being punished for it.

We have broken the social contract, and we have broken our sacred trust to form a government that secures everyone’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Because if we are all forced to chase our own tails just pursuing access to life – there is no time, no energy, no reserve left to pursue happiness or to exercise our liberty – those “rights” too become privileges reserved for a lucky few.

If we truly want to uphold the intent of our founding fathers, then we must uphold these fundamental rights – the rights we felt were being violated by the British, the rights we went to war for, the rights we founded a nation on.

If we truly want to say we are the greatest nation on earth, then every full time worker in this nation MUST earn a living wage – because YES, even uneducated burger flippers deserve water, food, clothing, shelter, education and health care. Even undocumented immigrants picking fruit in our fields and cleaning our houses and watching our children and doing all the jobs no one else wants to do have the right to the basic requirements of life.

If we truly want to be the greatest nation on earth, then everyone must pay taxes to pay for schools, roads, hospitals, emergency services, parks, social services, and to ensure that the basic needs of all our citizens are being met.

When did it stop being patriotic to pay taxes? When did it stop being patriotic to contribute to the well-being of fellow citizens? When did we forget that we all rely on public services too, public services that cost money? When did we decide that it was the job of private charities to take care of the downtrodden, instead of the job of all of us to look after our own? When did we decide it was more important to make a profit than to live simply so that others may simply live?

When did we decide that life was a privilege?

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Democracy in Action

First, let me start with how close “Democracy in Action” is to “Democracy Inaction” One little typo and you have the US congress…

Moving on – If you follow me on twitter, you already know that I spent my day down at the Colorado State Capital talking to my legislators today – lobbying as it were. I was down there for Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day put on by the awesome folk at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder Valley Women’s Health Clinic, NARAL, the ACLU and all the other awesome organizations that make up the Reproductive Freedom Coalition in Colorado.

What an amazing experience. I learned so much. And I need to share, because maybe some of what I learned today can inform you the next time you get on your soapbox.

Disclaimer – I took American Government, Civics and studied American History.

Yet… I did not know that ANYONE can go down to their state capital basically any time they are open for business and ask to speak to their representatives and… (unless your rep is super busy that day) get a personal audience with them! Seriously. I had no idea Democracy was this easy.

I mean – I vote. Every single election, even the off years. I live in a state that makes that crazy easy – we have mail in ballots and they show up, with information about the people/issues we’re voting on and I get online, do my due diligence, vote and mail it back – EASY. But… There is so much more to democracy than voting every now and again.

Democracy is a year round, day in, day out thing. If we just vote every 2-4 years and then sit back on our laurels and hope the people we voted for do what we thought they said they would… Well, we’re sort of asking for it, aren’t we?

Democracy is supposed to be a participatory form of government. And while I am a ranty pants and I do call and petition and send emails… It never occurred to me that I could just… show up and (politely) demand an audience.

Today I had the extreme pleasure of meeting, and shaking hands with Senator Mark Jones, Representative Jonathan Singer and Representative Mike Foote.

We were there lobbying for a couple of bills. One to help schools define, and access funds to help them institute comprehensive sexual education. This is a bill of huge personal importance to me. First, because I was the victim of abstinence only sex-ed in high school and I saw what it did. (My town had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the continental USA when I was there, as well as a rising AIDS problem. It was, to put it mildly, no bueno.) Also, I have two daughters, and while my husband and I are very open with them in discussing anything they have questions about… The same cannot be said for most of their friends, nor most of the people they will date when they are older. And I want my girls to be able to choose from a school of educated suitors. People who understand that sex comes with some heavy responsibility – and that it needs to be founded in deep respect and solid communication.

We were also lobbying for the Family Care Act, which would broaden the definition of family to include civil unions, domestic partners, adoptive families, and all the other many arrangements of modern family structure – allowing any primary caregiver or partner the ability to take (unpaid) time off work to care for a sick or disabled loved one for a short time without fear of losing their job as a result. It’s a modern extension of the Family Medical Leave Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

We were there with information about a bi-partisan bill (yes, you read that right) called the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act, which would close a loophole in Colorado law and define crimes against pregnant women that result in the loss of the fetus as more severe than crimes against a non-pregnant person. (Without creating a back door to fetal personhood. It preserves a woman’s right to an abortion – and a doctor’s right to perform an abortion. It simply acknowledges that when something tragic happens and a crime results in the loss of a wanted pregnancy, there should be some legal recourse for the affected parties, and defines those terms and legal options.)

Finally, we were there to show our support for Civil Unions and participate in the rally supporting legislation that would put all Colorado citizens – and all Colorado couples – on equal legal footing. (I hope, I hope, I hope that repealing the (un)constitutional gay marriage ban is next on the agenda. Civil Unions are all well and good, but speaking as a married person – marriage is where it’s at. Everyone should be allowed to have this – loud and proud – with the person they love.) After all “Families are families and love is love.”

The senator and representatives that my group met with were all in – across the board. Each of them was a sponsor, or co-sponsor of at least one of the above bills. My day was easy. It was joyful. It was empowering. It was what I always thought Democracy should be, but didn’t realize it actually was.

Other people’s day’s were not quite so smooth as mine, as I learned when I had the honor of speaking to Representative Spencer Swalm (District 37, Centennial, Colorado) today as well as my representatives.

The group that was supposed to speak with Rep. Swalm thought they had missed him and had moved on before he was able to take a moment away from his committee meeting. When he came out he was angry, and flustered. He was confused.

I offered to speak to him, letting him know that I was not his constituent, but that the woman who had requested a moment of his time was, and that we were there for the same purpose.

He wanted me to explain how the Family Care Act was a reproductive rights issue. After all, “It has nothing to do with abortion OR birth control!”

He’s right. It doesn’t. None of the legislation we were there to support had anything at all whatsoever to do with abortion or birth control. (Unless educating children that these things exist and are legal and available, and that if you are going to have sex and you don’t want to get pregnant or diseased, there are things that can help limit the risk counts as having to do with birth control.)

He wanted me to explain why our group was lobbying for this bill, since it clearly had nothing to do with our mission of reproductive freedom.

I tried to explain to him that reproductive freedom is about more than abortion, or birth control. Reproductive freedom is the belief that all people deserve to choose not only when to have a family, and how large of a family to have, but also who to have it with, how to structure it, and to have the same freedoms and protections that other families enjoy.

We support the Family Care Act because it will help offer equal protection, and equal freedom to non-traditional families. And that IS a reproductive rights issue.

He blustered and let me know that sending in paperwork lobbying for a bill on stationary that read “Reproductive Rights Lobby Day” was a sure way to get him NOT to vote our way.

Then he tore up the pages, threw them in the trash and walked away.

I was a little stunned, but then the crafty red-head in me had an epiphany. He had just shown me the chink in his armor.  If he was my representative, I would so totally start letting him know that all kinds of things that he would normally support are, in fact, reproductive rights issues. Giving guns to teachers – totally a reproductive rights issue. After all, once they have guns, they can force all their students to take birth control… Mwa-ha-ha!!

I went to the capital today to bring the message that all Colorado families, and all Colorado citizens, should be treated fairly under the law. That all Coloradans should have equal access to science based information about their bodies, their health, their choices. That all Coloradans should have their government working FOR them, instead of against them.

I didn’t win everyone, but I met a great group of people and I learned – Democracy doesn’t sleep. It’s there, happening, all around us, every day – just waiting for us to jump in and participate!

I hope next time I have a day off, you’ll join me for a lobby side chat with our state legislators. They need to hear from us, and for the most part – they appreciate us coming down to let them know we care.

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Filed under Of Course I'm a Feminist, Rant

Open Letter to Longmont City Council RE: Fracking

This is the letter I have just sent to Longmont City Council and our mayor. They are currently under pressure, not just from large gas and oil companies, but from the state of Colorado itself, to allow fracking within the city of Longmont, including residential, recreational and industrial sectors. According to the state of Colorado we have no right to refuse Gas and Oil exploration or mining in our city, despite being a home rule city existing in a democratic state, in a democratic country.

The state of Colorado has already sold the mineral rights to the ground beneath our feet, and they did so without a public vote, without a public hearing, and without a thorough study regarding the health, safety and environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing aka fracking. And now, they are telling us that we will be sued, by the state of Colorado, if we stand up for our right to determine what industrial activities take place within our own borders.

As many have said, we don’t have a fracking problem, we have a democracy problem. So today I am standing strong WITH my city council, my mayor, and my fellow citizens. Today I pledging my support and letting my city government know I have their back. I hope you will join me.

Dear Mayor Coombs and members of the City Council,

I understand that you are under a lot of pressure to give up the fight for Longmont and give in to demands from COGA and even the Colorado Government and allow largely unregulated fracking in Longmont.
I know that the threats of lawsuits are scary. You’re looking at potentially large sums of money disappearing from our coffers to pay for our democratic rights to determine the best course of action for our city, for our citizens, for our health and well-being.
I want to pledge my support to you, and to Longmont, in terms you can understand.
Financial terms.
I hereby pledge to stand by the city of Longmont and fight for our freedom.
Should you, our city representatives choose to stand strong and defend our town against the known risks of fracking, I will stand with you. I pledge to support you 100% by donating $500 to a Citizens of Longmont Legal Defense Fund should the state, or the oil industry attempt to sue us for exercising our rights.
I know it’s a drop in the bucket, but there are others ready to stand with me, ready to pledge not only their moral support, but their financial support as well.
Together we can make the right choice for Longmont.

Thank you for prohibiting oil and gas wells in Longmont’s residential neighborhoods.  I encourage you to stand strong regarding Ordinance O-2012.  Keep the public health, safety, and welfare of Longmont’s citizens as the focus of your decisions.   Do not capitulate to the threats from COGA and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.  Extend the moratorium.  Case law supports that tactic. It will delay legal action by the State and give the City time to expose the fact that the COGCC is ignoring the health issues that arise from oil and gas wells in an urban environment.

Thank you, and please remember, you are not in this fight alone. We have your back, just as we expect you to have ours. Thank you for working so hard to protect the health and well being of every Longmont citizen.

– Bree (Other details left off the blog for privacy reasons.)

Please, write your own letter, add your own amount, let Longmont City government know that we stand WITH them to protect the rights of Longmont citizens.

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One Lone Nut

I know I’ve posted the Ted Talk on How to Start a Movement at least twice already on this blog, but since I can’t find either one, I’ll be posting it again.

The reason is because I have realized that at the moment – I am The Lone Nut. But I’d like to be a movement. So, I need some followers – and I’m asking you.

It’s a matter that’s of absolutely vital importance – it’s coming up every single day in one way or another in my life, and probably yours too, right now.

Most recently it came up when I was talking with my dad, about what it would take to spark a revolution, an overhaul, an awakening…

“Dad, if Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Oprah and all the people rich enough to attend Ted Talks would stand up and say, out loud, in front of cameras – or better yet – in front of congress – ‘I am rich beyond belief, and I will pay my taxes.’ That would be enough. That would make people realize that these über wealthy people are not going to be broken by a 20% income tax. They’ll still be able to fly their private jets, drive their fancy cars (on roads with less potholes…), keep their maids and cooks and extra houses and…”

One of the things I admire the very most about J.K. Rowling isn’t that she managed to go from a poor, single, welfare mom to being the richest woman in England, it’s that when she was advised to stash her billions off shore so she could avoid taxes, she said “No. I was on the dole when I wrote my first book, I wouldn’t have made it without that help, and now that I have money, I will not turn my back on my country and hide my money. I will pay my dues.” OK – Maybe that shouldn’t be in quotes because it’s not exactly what she said, but it’s damn close. The sentiment is right.

She’s the richest woman in England, and she’s paying her fucking taxes.

It’s great that Bill Gates is curing Malaria in Africa. And educating children in India. I think what he does with his money is amazing, Warren Buffet and Oprah too – they do a lot of good. But what it, just what if… They said, “Ya know, we live in a great country. It’s filled with great people. We went to public schools, we drive on public roads, we sell our stuff to Americans, even if we did outsource all the labor and pay other people to build it… Maybe it’s time we gave a little back to the country that raised us, to the people who made us rich, maybe we should just, ya know, pay our 20% taxes, because, we can.”

And what if they said it every time the tax issue, or the debt ceiling, or redistribution of wealth came up?

My dad pointed out that Warren Buffet did say that his Administrative Assistant pays more in taxes than he does. (She makes $150,000 a year, he makes billions) and that that was wrong.

BUT he didn’t say, “So I’m going to step up and pay my share.” did he? I rebutted.

So – here I am, a lone nut, and not a very powerful one, not a very rich one, not one that anyone should probably even listen to. (That’s what makes me a nut.)

But I’m going to do it – I’m going to stand up here, on my cyber soap-box, and I’m going to say;

“I will pay my taxes.

Because I like schools, because I think teachers in this country should get paid a living wage, because I love libraries, and firemen, and even police.

Because we have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of our nation’s children overseas fighting in wars and even though I disagree with the reasons they are there, and even though I think they should all come home RIGHT NOW, they are there, and they should have proper gear to keep them safe, and proper care to keep them sane.

Because I drive on public roads, because I have had to go to public health clinics, because I have used the resources of this great nation, and because by living here and voting here, I have agreed to be a participant in this democracy.

I will not accept services from my state, or my nation, without accepting responsibility for putting money back in the pot to pay for those services.

And if my neighbor comes on hard times, I will not resent the state or nation for taking care of them and helping them to get back on their feet while I continue to pay taxes, and my fridge continues to be full, and the roof over my head continues not to collapse on me. No, I will rejoice, and thank my lucky stars that I live in a place where we care for each other, and look out for each other, because I too may come on hard times. I too might need help one day.

And even if I don’t, even if I never do need help, I will still pay my taxes – because I like schools, and I like libraries, and I like roads and parks and mail service and healthy neighbors and because… I love my country. And I want it to be healthy too.

And if the government should decide that I am too poor to pay my taxes, as they did this year, then I will turn around, and I will give it back.

So, here I stand, a lone nut, fighting for the rights and responsibilites that come with living in a participatory government.

“I pay taxes, and I vote.”

Will you join me? Together, we can be a movement!

(For the record, it is entirely possible that Oprah, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and every American who attends the Ted Talks pays their taxes – I’m not saying that they don’t. I’m just saying they need to stand up and tell us, and tell congress, that they do, that they will, that they can.)

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Filed under Of Course I'm a Feminist, Rant

Happiness is…

Happiness is waking up late on a Friday morning because you got the day off to play with your kids.

Happiness is taking an early morning bike ride to the donut shop.

Happiness is having a climbing wall in your garage to wreck yourself on after a long day in your windowless corporate cell.

Happiness is looking down a long three day weekend stretch and realizing you have plenty of time to write, write, write.

Happiness is knowing that you have the best spouse in the universe – and then kicking them out so they can go see their favorite band in concert while you spend the night with a giggle of little kids, half of whom are not yours.

Happiness is getting your mail in ballot after thinking you were going to have to take time off to go to the voting station.

Happiness is knowing that WE ARE ALL GOING TO VOTE TO KEEP OUR COUNTRY.  (Right?  We are all voting aren’t we.  Even if we have to take time off, even if it’s a hassle, even if it’s 20 miles out of our way, up hill, in a blizzard, through a hurricane and our car breaks down and there are no busses and we have to walk and…  We’re going to vote because…)

HAPPINESS IS LIVING IN A DEMOCRACY where we DO have a vote, a voice, a say. BUT ONLY IF WE USE IT.

Happiness is knowing that you have time to do all the things you want to do, the power to make all the changes you need, the strength to push against the tide, the patience to wait out the bad times, the ability to enjoy the good ones, and good friends to share it all with.

Happiness is…

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Filed under Rant