On the 26th of February – this Saturday – something remarkable will take place. It will happen in the city I live in, but it will probably happen in the city you live in as well. On February 26th hundreds, maybe thousands, of Americans will take to the streets in 30 cities from Maine to Hawaii to protest the stringent cuts to public services across the US.
The latest budget from Washington has slashed spending on over 200 federal programs, a total of $1.1 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Most of these programs are there to help the millions of lower and middle class Americans who work hard every day in order to make a decent living. We are told these cuts are necessary – austerity is the word of the day, we all need to make sacrifices in this, the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression.
But just who exactly is making all the sacrifices? The average working class American is, but are the people at Wall Street? Is Lloyd Blankfein, who’s just had his salary tripled, to two million dollars? Are all those massive corporations tightening their belts as well? Apparently not. According to CNN, nearly two-thirds of US corporations don’t pay income taxes. Tax havens alone are responsible for one trillion dollars of taxes not paid over the course of a decade, which would almost be enough to cover the entire magnitute of the budget’s proposed cuts.
Think about that for a second. Programs dedicated to publich health, job creation, energy subsidies for low-income households, and other essential and socially beneficial programs could be saved, if only the millionaires paid their dues to society.
And that is the reason why US Uncut exists. To compel those who refuse to uphold their obligation to the nation who’s public services they make use of, who’s infrastructure and labor force they employ to make their millions. US Uncut is based on a similar organization in the United Kingdom, UK Uncut, who have had remarkable success in organizing peaceful public protests, sit-ins, and demonstrations. Johann Hari has written an excellent article in The Nation on the origins of UK Uncut, their methods and the success they have had recently. The success of the model is built on the ease of organizing an action. If US Uncut doesn’t have anything organized for your town or city, organize it yourself! Contact the group, and they’ll tell you how.
This Saturday will be the first action by US Uncut, and will be an indication as to whether such tactics can work in the US. But with the amount of support the organization is getting, the signs are good. And as awareness grows with more media coverage, more and more ordinary Americans will realize that they can fight back, they can take action against those who would take advantage of the benefits granted of being in American company, without paying any dues. Every American must pay their taxes in order to enjoy all the benefits of living in this great country; corporations should too.