March 2011, Week 3


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Sat, 19 Mar 2011 14:55:34 -0400
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Debt, Austerity and How to Fight Back

By Frances Fox Piven and Cornel West
The Nation
March 17, 2011


Editor's note: On Tuesday, April 5, hundreds of schools
and community groups will participate in a teach-in on
debt, austerity and how people are fighting back. From
2-3:30 pm (EST) a national teach-in will be streamed
live from New York City, followed by local teach-ins
and strategy discussions around the country. Read the
call to action by Frances Fox Piven and Cornel West,
check out the organizing guide and join the movement by
attending or hosting a teach-in near you. Please see
http://www.fightbackteachin.org for more information.

Wall Street Banks, American corporations and their
political allies have declared a one-sided war on the
American people. This war is being waged at our schools
and colleges, the workplace and in our communities.

Today, Americans are working harder and earning less
while corporate profits soar. As homeowners, consumers
and students we see our wealth being stripped away by
banks. Our government plunges into debt waging
trillion-dollar wars. Meanwhile, our infrastructure
erodes and climate change proceeds unchecked. Schools,
daycare centers, senior citizen facilities, clinics,
parks and firehouses are starved for funds so that
corporations and the rich can get billions in tax

Corporate America's unprovoked assault on working
people has been carried out by manufacturing a need for
fiscal austerity. We are told that there is no more
money for essential human services, for the care of
children, or better public schools, or to help lower
the cost of a college education. The fact is that big
banks and large corporations are hoarding trillions in
cash and using tax loopholes to bankrupt our

Spending on social needs is not the reason governments
at all levels are facing massive budget short falls.
Our debt and deficit problems are a direct result of
corporate tax rollbacks, and the extortionist policies
of banks and financial institutions that are engaged in
a coordinated and massive wealth transfer from the
American people to their own coffers.

The courageous actions by the citizens in Wisconsin are
an inspiring defense of the core values of this
country: a civil society based on freedom of
association, ensuring that our communities have high
quality public services-education, public safety and
support for our elderly and most vulnerable-along with
good jobs for all. The outpouring of support nationally
shows the possibilities for challenging deepening
economic inequality and political marginalization of
the majority of the American people.

We are on the cusp of a great movement to resist and
roll back that corporate domination by banks, energy
companies and war profiteers. To join that movement and
escalate the activism planned in the days, weeks and
months ahead we are organizing a "National Teach-in on
Debt, Austerity and How People Are Fighting Back." The
live web-streamed teach-in will be held on Tuesday,
April 5, 2011, at the Judson Memorial Church in New
York City, beginning at 2 pm (EST). Admission is free.
Speakers from schools and communities around the
country will be hosted by moderators Frances Fox Piven
and Cornel West in New York City through a live webcast
that you can join by organizing a teach-in on your own


Please join us in organizing this event and building a
progressive social movement to fight the destructive
power of corporate greed. College campuses around the
country will be linked to the New York City teach-in
via the Internet. Anyone with a connection can
participate. After the web cast, each campus will have
its own discussion of how students can join with unions
and community organizations to escalate their own local

It's easy to take part. All you need to do is:

Reserve a room with WIFI or an Ethernet connection to
receive the webcast feed, and to make sure that you
have audiovisual capability to make it available to the
audience. The room reservation for Tuesday April 5,
2011, should be for several hours across the afternoon
(or starting at 11:00 am Pacific Coast Time). Allot
time in your reservation for setting up and testing
equipment and your Internet connection and to clean up

Identify a person who will take charge of the webcast
hook-up from your end.

Identify a moderator, even if only to welcome people
before the webcast.

Publicize the event. Use social media and seek coverage
from local media including newspapers, student papers,
radio stations and television.

Organize a few people to help set up and clean up

And then add your own teach-in to the national program:

Invite local speakers and activists to address national
or local topics following the webcast.

Identify local actions and organizing efforts around
student debt, home foreclosures, predatory lending and
other destructive actions by banks, increases in
college tuition, the Dream Act, cuts in public
services, daycare cutbacks, teacher lay-offs, attacks
on unions etc. in which students and other community
members can participate.

Seek co-sponsorship from student groups, local labor
unions, churches and local activist organizations.

Prepare educational materials for distribution at the
event and available online. Include information about
national, state and local efforts opposing austerity
and budget cuts.

Publicize the event-again.

As you develop your plans, please contact us for
technical details about how to connect to the live
webcast from New York City and that so we can help
connect you to others in your area also planning
events. Please see www.fightbackteachin.org.

Frances Fox Piven and Cornel West

About The Authors:

Cornel West Professor of religion and African-American
studies at Princeton, Nation contributor and author of
Race Matters and many other books and articles.

Frances Fox Piven is on the faculty of the Graduate
Center of the City University of New York. She is 
the author, most recently, of Challenging 
Authority: How Ordinary People Change America.


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