Two weeks ago, I wrote about how I think we should go on the offensive. Other folks have been trying to answer the some question – and some of them are trying to actually do something. Steve Lerner, ex-SEIU organizing strategist and one of my heroes, is one of them. Here’s his plan:
As long as Wall Street and the superrich feel secure and confident, they have no reason to negotiate a fair deal with the rest of us. Only by creating uncertainty and instability for them—by disrupting unfair business as usual—can we build the strength to challenge their stranglehold on our economy and our democracy….
Here’s how we can start:
§ Homeowners and students can stop paying unfair debt. If growing numbers of homeowners and students organize toward a loan strike—threatening to refuse to pay their toxic mortgages and student loans unless banks agree to negotiate lower rates—it could force banks to modify loans and provide relief to our families.
§ Citizens can demand that our governments stop doing business with bandit banks. Local governments conduct trilliions in business with Wall Street banks. That leverage can be used to force the banks to pay their fair share in taxes, renegotiate high-cost deals that are bankrupting taxpayers with astronomical interest rates, and stop foreclosures by reducing mortgage principals.
§ Public employees can use their collective bargaining power to protect taxpayer dollars. Teachers, nurses and other public employees can go to the bargaining table armed with solutions that would save billions, like renegotiating the toxic interest rate swaps that are costing taxpayers at least $1.8 billion a year nationally. Swaps were supposed to save taxpayers money, but they backfired when the Federal Reserve cut interest rates after the financial crash to help the banks. Now, as taxpayers deal with devastating cuts, the banks are using these swaps to suck millions out of government coffers. Imagine public employees voting to strike in order to pressure the city or state to use its power to protect taxpayers and critical services while also stopping foreclosures and stabilizing the housing market and tax base.
So let’s give Wall Street, Glenn Beck and the right something to be scared about. It’s time to use our collective power to challenge the economic and political stranglehold they have on our country.
Join thousands of Americans on April 4 in cities across the country for a dramatic series of actions to stand up for the middle class. On April 5, join the national teach-in with Frances Piven and Cornel West. Or start organizing in your own community to challenge the power of Wall Street and corporate CEOs.
FYI, the reason he’s talking about Glenn Beck is that some right-wing plant was at a conference where Lerner was speaking, taped him, and then Glenn Beck went on the warpath, accusing Lerner of “economic terrorism.” Apparently Beck didn’t realize that Lerner isn’t an NPR/Obama weenie – smack him and he’s going to smack you back twice as hard.
The best quote from the piece:
Beck, right-wingers and Wall Street sympathizers went ballistic because they knew the ideas I talked about are far from being a secret leftist conspiracy; in fact, they’re in sync with the thinking of most Americans. In my talk, I raised a very simple yet powerful idea: that homeowners, students, citizens and workers should make the same practical decisions Wall Street and corporate CEOs make every day—they should reject bad financial deals.
If you’re looking to have fun and push back against the corporate takeover, get ready to join in on April 4th and 5th.
Disclosure: I know Steven Lerner, from when I used to work in the union movement.