Friday, November 4, 2011

What Was Then is Now: 1781 vs 2011

The Declaration of Independence says that government is not sacred, that it is set up to give people an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that if it fails to do this, we have a right to “alter or abolish it.”

It wasn’t long before the Declaration of Independence became an embarrassment to the Founders. Soon after the signing soldiers under George Washington spoke out about how the rich were profiting from the war. Then to exasperate things further, the Continental Congress, in 1781, voted to give half pay for life to the officers of the Revolution, and nothing to the enlisted men (the original 99%ers). There was a protest and Washington ordered two young soldiers shot as an example to the other protesters.

Barely five years old, the Declaration’s statement that all men are created equal was already being ignored and poor people, who thought they were fighting for themselves and their new country, found out that the war was not fought to benefit them, but the profiteering rich. After the war the poor veterans, who were white farmers (the Massachusetts blacks were another story), faced high taxes and seizure of homes and livestock for nonpayment. At this time the farmers blocked the doors of courthouses to prevent foreclosures on property. This was the Shay’s Rebellion. The militia put the rebellion down, while the Founding Fathers scurried back to Philadelphia to write the Constitution, which set up a government whereby such rebellions could be controlled.

If a person looked at our cities’ laws about what we can and can’t do as protesters, such as staying the night or where we can assemble, they will know it all started in 1781. Cities have been adding laws to deprive citizens ever since, except for a brief break when the IWW Wobblies fought for and won the right for free speech in towns. Now, I see a lot of similarities in what we are up against today to what the original 99%ers faced.

The advantage we have today is history to look back upon, and young, intelligent people who are technology smart and have nothing to lose. A lot have college debt or spent their last four or more years fighting in the Middle East and are now home with still no prospects of a job. Some are facing foreclosure, huge student loan debts, health care bills or other financial woes.

We are at the bottom of the financial system and no one is looking out for our interests so we have no where to go but up. It will take all of us -- the Have Nots and the Want Mores -- to make this happen. Step up or step out of the way.