USuncut: Progressive or Primitive?


Personal Caveat: I totally agree with USuncut’s proposal & mission to expose Corporate Tax Dodgers & ultimately to see Corporations Pay taxes like the rest of us.

I had an interesting experience the other day.

I have spent my time & energies as a political activist slash commentator since becoming mostly chronically un-employed in the summer of  2010. I took my last Federal Income Tax return & bought a new computer & a digital camera. I went to ‘work’ chronicling Political Theatre. I saw President Obama, live. I attended many rallies, recorded all for friends on Facebook. Found Twitter. Went to the Rally to Restore Sanity & Or Fear in DC. Laughed when Jon Stewart tried to get us all to “count off”. I was living my passion.

I am a Union Ironworker, thirty years in the business. I never thought I would be in this  ‘position’:  the same day I was ‘laid-off’, I bought a 2010 Harley-Davidson Deluxe, FLSTN. I knew I would be back to work soon. I thought: well, this can’t be as bad as ’91. I was wrong. Economic conditions and all indicators say this economic downturn is cumulatively much worse than any other since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

We Build America ~for everyone. We don’t go to the office:  We build it.

Though we build the country for all to experience & enjoy, to make each and every one of our lives a bit more comfortable, less onerous:  We have very little political power. We have men and women of all political genres, sexual & religious orientations among our rank and file members. Many of us are highly educated, military Veterans, socially committed. All of us have an integral stake in the Future of the United States.

The Power Elite sets our work schedules: If there is no impetus to build, they don’t. Many of us call ‘unemployed’ periods: Vacation. What else could be said? It is unpaid, except for the paltry pittance we receive from unemployment compensation. It averages out to be somewhere between one fifth & one forth of our usual income. So, for arguments sake, let me say we have a structural removal of three quarters of our usual income during economic downturns. If you were buying me right now, I’d be marked down 80%. Quite a bargain for you, wouldn’t you agree?

There are better bargains enjoyed in this Land of Ours.

Many of the top twenty Corporations operating in the United States, using and benefitting from the United States Infrastructure we and other Craftspeople build & maintain, who employ United States Citizens & others, legally and illegally: pay absolutely no taxes on THE INCOME THEY EARN WITHIN OUR BORDERS.

I pay taxes. You pay taxes.  We pay State and Federal Income taxes. We pay property taxes. We pay taxes when we buy an automobile. We pay taxes when we sell an automobile. We pay taxes on groceries, fuel, our bad habits. We pay usage taxes. We pay sales taxes, mostly. We pay taxes on almost any endeavor we can imagine pursuing in the United States of America. Go to a Movie: pay taxes. A game? Besides the exorbitant entrance fees, there are taxes to be paid around every corner of the mostly round structures, on top of the almost one thousand percent mark-up on everything available within the venue. I do believe the restrooms are still untaxed, but I assure you that is only because somebody hasn’t figured out how to do that, yet. I am sure some junior state accountant is working on just that issue as I type. Sure of it. It is the American Way: Tax Life.

So: I had an interesting experience the other day. Some time ago, less than two months past, a young friend of mine alerted me to the fledgling existence of USuncut. In Seattle. They were active. It was around the time Fukijima Daichi was just a ‘concern’. Before the first explosion.

The budget of the United States of America exploded a long time ago. Without digressing into the multifarious causes, economic theories, and direct influences of the explosion, let us just agree that the United States Economy is in tatters. The worst shape it has been in, possibly ever. Comparisons to the Great Depression are distractions from its negative import, if only because the United States is a very different enterprise than it was in the 1930’s. It could be argued that except for the Constitution and social institutions, it is indeed a very different country entirely.

So, I was very excited when I learned Uncut was coming to Baltimore! I told all my friends, my family. I posted it on Facebook. I tweeted @Twitter, excitedly, the entire night beforehand. I was ready to take the fight to the streets, once again. I was involved before I was invested. I bragged, chortled, invited. I promised to chronicle our exploits and report as soon as I could assemble my wits, pictures & prose. Since I have become involved in @Twitter, I have gained quite a loyal & dedicated following. Last week (4/3/2K11-4/9/ 2K11), I was #249 in Twitter follow rankings. I was bowled over, to admit the least! Hell, Bill Gates was #232. Slash, from Guns & Roses #233. They have much more money & influence, many more ‘followers’ than I. I’m #249, and humbly proud of it. Thank you, & thanks to you.

I believe Truth is more valuable than Money. I have always lived so. It is probably why @ 54 I still work for a living. When I am ‘allowed’.

When I am not, I am LOUD!

I am PROUD of what I do, have done. Our  work has allowed many of the aforementioned Corporations to generate massive profits operating in America.

So, I invited my neighbor to attend the rally with me, he was skeptical. We were to meet Uncut @ Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse, “Grounds for Rebellion”: their subtitle. A known local Liberal/Progressive hangout. That is on the mild end of their political clientele. They welcome Anarchists. Socialists. Communists. Nihilists. Nietzche & Marx are moderates peppered about their teeming shelves, Che is a hero. Dreadlocks asunder. Good coffee & treats round out the fair.

My friend is an active Libertarian, Campaign for Liberty Ron Paul supporter. They hate taxes, period. It all goes back to the Fed, says he. I am older, less caramelized in my criticisms.

Leaving our sub-urban neighborhood, we arrived to find a perfect parking place, Friday @ lunch time. Diagonally across the street, through the windshield of his Jetta: Red Emma’s loomed. In all her revolutionary glory. We were set to attack the tax dodgers.

Where was everybody? We looked inside: a couple customers ambled about. Back outside, I was shell-shocked. What the Fuck happened to my Revolution!! Where were all my Legion of Compatriots? Whereupon were the Revolutionary Banners & Pikes for our opponents transgressions? Was I deceived? Did I honestly invite my neighbor on a ‘blinddate’? WTF?

I spied a couple gentlemen up the street, about a quarter of a block. Wrestling with balloons. Dropping literature from overstuffed arms. Generally presenting anything but the expected reactionary fervor. I decided we could at least ask them if they had seen, or heard of any one from Uncut. Wouldn’t, couldn’t hurt. We had a perfect parking place.

They were Uncut. All three of them. Swallowing my gasp, I introduced us. Asked who was the ‘leader’? I was uncomfortable. Leader is generally not a term I employ in any but the loosest sense possible. Hell, I’ve walked High Iron all my life. I defer to few. Looked down on many. Of all rank.

‘Well, their really isn’t any’. OK.

‘Well, who am I speaking to?’

‘Well, I guess I am the local co-ordinator’ a goatteed gentleman volunteered, while wrestling with an Uncle Sam costume, top hat & reams of pamphlets, entangled between the balloons he had slight control over.

‘Well, hey, this is our first Uncut’, excitedly, ‘who we doin’? Bank of America?’ (I knew).

Hey, I would really like to chronicle your event & blast it out over the Internet! I got some great connections, I can make this Baltimore first Universal before sundown!! (I do everything with an over-bearing zeal, once I’m committed to an idea, a dream.)

‘Well, that would be nice, not sure we need that’.

!?!?!? OooooKay…

Introductions of more import & detail followed & we accosted Emma’s for some coffees, to wait upon our Legion’s arrival.

While Uncle Sam & his band of followers untangled balloon & costume, my friend and I assailed the bookshelves, we were complete in our resolve, props un-needed. We approached & engaged the slightly growing group for small talk, conversation, instructions.

Here, you wanna a balloon? No, I have my camera & Muleskine…

You don’t want a sign? The proffered banner reassembled a fan used by courageous Ladies fanning through a vociferous Sunday Sermon.

No thanks, I think that may deter from my ability to wield my camera.

Was I being uncooperative? No, I was being myself, the same self who has helped promote MoveOn locally & about Maryland.

An activist, not a cartoon. A real Patriot, not a caricature.

He was aghast @ my refusal. I tried to explain what I do, it was my first, I’m not a real ‘joiner’… My friend and I had revealed our connections to one of the other standard bearers, & found a like minded confederate.

Well, I don’t see why you would even want to come here, if you didn’t want to get involved & join us.

What! Man, if you let me do my thing for you, your event will be seen tonight, from the Ukraine to the UK! (It was a ‘U’ day…)

I don’t care anything about the Ukraine, only what we plan to do today!

Ok. My friend said, ” Hey John, if you wanna go, do your thing, I’ll hang out…” I was uncharacteristically speechless for at least a couple minutes, hopes & expectations of anti-Corporate responsibility & revolutionary vigor hard evaporating from my visage, deflated.

Ok. I was still gonna go… until I regrouped and reconsidered what just happened.

How could any entity so new, so vigorous in the purpose & honorary intent of their mission be so exclusionary in this nee moment of its’ insurrection in Charm City?

Had I been impaled on the pike of my own enthusiasm? What had I done wrong?

Nothing. I was alerted. I researched. I invited. I broadcast. I came to my first Uncut with all intentions of assisting and promoting their efforts.

They wanted to chant & perform.

Did I look like an Interloper? An Intruder? A ‘plant’ with my long hair: pony-tailed, long lamb-chop sideburns & Red Emma’s t-shirt? Maybe, but only to a Paranoid. Or a power monger. I have heard like complaints from other activists, scattered about. In spite of all the attention Uncut has directed towards this most pertinent issue, improvements can be made, and enjoyed, freely.

*****

Remember my Caveat? “I totally agree with USuncut’s proposal & mission… “

It is most difficult, almost impossible to find or mine total agreement on any issue in this Land of the Free & Home of the Brave,  ~Good Luck.

In this Nation which can elect a President, Bush 43, who campaigns against Nation Building, preaching Compassionate Conservatism & Fiscal Responsibility, then upon election: Skewers a budget surplus, derails the Peace Process & Preemptively bombs a Sovereign Nation back to the Stone Age, under the pretense of deterring further aggression following the unprovoked attacks of September 11, 2001.

A Nation that can then re-elect said ‘champion of Justice’ only to continue down the same road culminating in a fiscal mess like none other ever witnessed or endured upon this Planet, excluding the Holocaust.

A nation which can then change course, disgusted from all corners, and elect a Progressive Democratic President to clean up the debris of our culture and economy, only to be berated by all sides, even by those of us who so assiduously fought for his chances & success? If Barack Obama were any less of a man, or less of a True Patriot of American Values, who could blame him for disgustedly throwing in the proverbial towel, & saying: “Fuck all of you” & moving his beautiful family back to Chicago, Hawaii, or wherever he wishes? Who among you could hold that against a mere human so assailed? Not me. But, the Man has the mettle, the intestinal fortitude & the vibrant huzpah & hubris to exclaim: ‘I am not done’. ‘Not on my watch’ & ‘I am running for re-election as your President’? The hardest working President of my lifetime, up against the ropes his entire first term, wants more? Who could fight a Man like that? A Will, like that? A Vision, like that?

Only fools it seems most evident.

& Uncut wants to invigorate leadership who would exclude strong experienced warriors in the first months of its’ National Involvement?

I sure hope not.

I hope they call me back. I hope they decide they may be able to use me at some level, braided into & around my other pertinent involvements.

I hope they mature enough to think so.

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8 thoughts on “USuncut: Progressive or Primitive?

  1. JR,

    Very nice piece of writing.

    You have a gift for the turn of phrase:

    ‘when not allowed, I am LOUD’

    I’ve walked High Iron all my life . . . defer to few . . . Looked down on many. Of all rank.’

    ‘uncaramelized opinion’

    All worth stealing – and from a single post.

    RBC

  2. Sadly, I’ve had the same sort of experience with other Democratic organizations. To the extent that I just shake my head and give thanks that sometimes we get great people elected in spite of them.

  3. QUOTE OF THE DAY QUOTATION OF THE DAY FROM NY TIMES:

    “I still wouldn’t eat the food. It’s all the same people working there, but they have hats now.”
    KELLY JOHNSTON, a senior at Pace University, where a cafeteria has reopened under a new manager after health violations.

  4. Where the other protesters young, perhaps they thought you where someone looking to take photos to discredit them?

    I would introduce yourself on twitter to the group as someone who wants to help get the news about their efforts out. That way they can see your progressive credentials ahead of time?

  5. Thank you for a well developed story with a LOT of meat. I enjoyed the read, and am motitivated by your experience. As you are aware, I support their goals as well. Hopefully, this will be the start of a grassroots movement to make real change in our laws as relates to corporations benefiting from our wonderful nation without having to truly pay their fair share. Thank you brother!

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