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PORTSIDE  September 2011, Week 1

PORTSIDE September 2011, Week 1

Subject:

Nurses' Tactics Breathe Life into Progressives: Make Wall Street Pay

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Date:

Sat, 3 Sep 2011 10:47:43 -0400

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Nurses' Imaginative Tactics Breathe Life into Progressives: Make Wall Street Pay for the Crisis It Created

By Lauren Kelley
AlterNet
September 1, 2011

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/660066/nurses%5C%27_imaginative_tactics_breathe_life_into_progressives%3A_make_wall_street_pay_for_the_crisis_it_created

Few professions bring workers face-to-face with
struggling citizens like nursing. Every day they see
stressed and malnourished children, unemployed
Americans whose COBRA has run out, and cancer survivors
who can no longer afford their medications.
Accordingly, nurses know what's up. Literally and
figuratively, they have their thumb on the pulse of
unemployed, uninsured, and financially unstable
Americans.

On September 1, members of National Nurses United held
a national day of action to take a stand against the
corporate greed that they see hurting Americans every
day. Thousands of nurses and other supporters gathered
in 61 Congressional offices in 21 states for a wide
variety of colorful actions, from rallies to food
drives to blues concerts. In Boston a "town crier" in
period costume made an appearance, while Minnesotans
got to hear from a larger-than-life Michele Bachmann
puppet.

The actions were bound by a common goal: to let
Congress members know that American families are
hurting and that they need jobs, healthcare, housing,
quality education, nutrition, and a secure retirement.
What's more, the nurses believe suffering Americans
shouldn't be the ones to have to pay for those
necessary services. They want to hold Wall Street --
the corporations responsible for so many Americans'
financial hardships -- accountable for their mistakes.

And they have a plan to do it. The September 1
activists urged their Congress people to sign a pledge
to "support a Wall Street transaction tax that will
raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for
the devastation it has caused on Main Street."
Specifically, the financial transaction tax would add a
0.5% tax on stocks, securities, purchase of debt,
options, credit swaps, foreign currency, "bets", and
derivatives for large Wall Street traders. Named one of
the top ideas of 2008 by the New York Times Magazine,
the tax could raise a substantial $350 billion a year
-- in NNU's words, "enough to close the funding gaps in
every US state now facing austerity budgets, with
billions left to invest in job creation each year." NNU
says that more than 40 countries around the world
already utilize such a tax, to good effect.

http://tinyurl.com/3q59msm

NNU executive director Rose Ann DeMoro discussed the
tax in this exclusive video report for AlterNet,
produced in partnership with the Nurses' Station on
GritTV: http://tinyurl.com/3vnxhw9

    We're not saying that companies won't be able to
    make money. They will be. We're saying that they
    need to give something back. Working and middle-
    class people have paid enough taxes, have suffered
    enough. All corporations have to do is give a
    minimal amount back, and we can essentially
    reconstruct our society. And I'm not just talking
    about building bridges, I'm talking about the
    spirit of America. What it means to be an American.
    What it means to have hope. What it means to have
    buy-in. What it means to have community.

In the end, several Congress members agreed to sign the
pledge, including Joe Baca and Bob Filner in
California, Keith Ellison in Minnesota, and Al Green,
Lloyd Doggett, and Sheila Jackson Lee in Texas.

I caught up with several NNU activists around the
country to see what happened at the September 1 day of
action in support of the financial transaction tax.
Here are some of those dispatches.

Chicago

Nurses and supporters handed out over a thousand bagged
lunches to homeless citizens in the Windy City. They
also held a Blues concert called, cheekily, Wall Street
Is Giving U.S. the Blues.

More than 500 supporters turned up for the action in
Chicago. NNU co-president Deborah Burger, who was
there, told me that several nurses from Illinois' Cook
County Hospital shared stories with the audience, one
of them recounting that she had seen children
discharged from the burn unit only to return to the
hospital when their skin grafts didn't take due to poor
nutrition.

When I spoke to Burger, an NNU coalition was trying to
make its way into the office of Sen. Dick Durbin (D) to
deliver signed petitions in support of a Wall Street
transaction tax that the group had collected earlier in
the day. At the time, Burger said the group was facing
some amount of resistance from two Homeland Security
representatives. "We're telling them that we pose no
threat to [Sen. Durbin]," Burger said. "Our interest is
getting the message to him that Main Street is
suffering."

Boston

The highlight of the Boston action was a "town crier"
dressed in period costume, who discussed all the things
Wall Street has done to create a crisis for American
citizens. "We are plagued by income disparities, high
unemployment, and the breakdown of critical social
programs. Healthcare, education, and Social Security
are under attack. The good nurses of the Commonwealth
gathered here today bare witness to this suffering
every day," he told the crowd. "While these frightful
trends haunt our good citizens, the rich on Wall Street
get richer, whereas the poor on Main Street go
without!"

David Schildmeier of the Massachusetts Nurses
Association told me that "well over 150" people turned
out for the Boston event, including not just nurses but
community groups and a large number of veterans.
Schildmeier said that Massachusetts nurses were
motivated to participate in the action because of the
recent attacks on the state's public workers. The
origins of the financial crisis "have nothing to do
with them," Schildmeier said. "The nurses are out
because they care for these people. They realize we
can't just take care of these people in the hospitals.
[The action] is about finding a solution to re-allocate
the resources that built this country."

Woodbury, Minnesota

Woodbury wins the prize for Most Creative Prop Used in
an NNU Action. Behold the eight-foot-tall, talking
Michele Bachmann puppet:

NNU co-president Jean Ross addressed a cheering crowd
outside Bachmann's office. "We're here to demand that
our lawmakers tax Wall Street to heal America," she
said. "Main Street is hurting. Millions have lost their
jobs, their homes, they face bankruptcy, and they're
jammed into overcrowded classrooms and emergency rooms.
Soup kitchens and food pantries and food stamps now
provide services for millions more. Meanwhile, Wall
Street-funded politicians are intent on stealing even
more from our families. We're here to stop these
atrocities!"

Then the group held a dramatized press conference with
"Michele Bachmann" (the puppet) that is well worth
watching in the video above.

San Fransisco and San Diego

NNU spokesperson Chuck Idelson said the San Francisco
action was a "great event," with more than 500
supporters helping set up a temporary soup kitchen to
feed food-insecure individuals in the city. A
delegation also went to Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office to
urge her to support the Wall Street transaction tax.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/31/MNOB1KTSHP.DTL

Meanwhile, more than 300 people gathered in San Diego
to target Rep. Darrell Issa with memorable signs saying
things like "Darrell Issa is a Issa Hole."

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalnursesunited/6103879718/

You can see more photos from the nationwide actions via
NNU's Flickr page below, and be sure to check the NNU
website http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/

and Twitter stream for more information.

c 2011 All rights reserved. View this story online at:
http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews// 

___________________________________________

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