The Rich Have Robbed and Ruined Our Nation

This impassioned cry for justice was made by Servant Brian K. Woodson at a tax day rally at the Federal Building in Oakland organized by the American Friends Service Committee as part of the April 12 Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Woodson is pastor of the Bay Area Christian Connection, an Oakland church with a women’s treatment program and a food program that this year has distributed over 453,000 pounds of food to inner-city residents.

by Rev. Brian K. Woodson, Sr.

On behalf of the InterFaith Coalition for Worker Justice and the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, I am happy to stand with the American Friends Committee and all those around our nation and the world who on this day stand between heaven and earth. lifting voices of hope while surrounded by despair.

I stand here today on the shoulders of thousands who have gone before me and given their lives fighting for peace, justice and a world not ruled by the avarice of the already rich. I stand here today at the feet of millions who will follow me lifting their voices and putting shoulder to plow until shalom is the foundation of our community. I stand here today with a simple plea, and an unrelenting cry that we who work for a living demand to be able to live from our work.

There is a solution: tax the rich.

On Friday, April 8, President Obama announced that a deal had been reached and catastrophe avoided, his somber countenance extolling the virtue of compromise and sacrifice. Our president may be proud of his political powers. He may accept compromise as the rule of his political reality. But his pragmatism is our impoverishment. His patience with those who would have us dead and buried is a problem we cannot negotiate away.

It is not compromise to negotiate with the extreme right — it is capitulation. It is not compromise to cut another $38 billion from the budget on the backs of those in our nation most in need — it is a catastrophe. It is an embarrassment. To add another $10 billion to an already bulging military budget while cutting services to the working poor is a dark and demented deed. America is better than this.

Yes, we do have problems, real problems, and one of our problems is that every time a Democrat is elected, the cry is “deficit.” The cry is, “We must cut spending!” And every time a Republican comes to the Oval Office, we find more and more money to fight wars and give tax breaks to the uber-rich. We find money for war even if we have to start them on a false premise.

But we do have real problems in America. We have roads in need of repair. We have bridges that are breaking apart. We have water systems and electrical systems that are old and decaying. We have schools and libraries in need of books and better resources. Yes, we have problems. We have homeless, hardworking men, women and families and a glut of foreclosed and empty houses.

And we have money problems. But the chief money problem we have is that filthy, greedy, rich corporations don’t pay any taxes at all and have moved our jobs overseas. Yes, we have money problems and the chief problem is that the filthy, greedy rich and their corporate fictions pay their CEOs multimillion-dollar bonuses while their workers are on welfare.

Yes, we have problems and the biggest problem in America today is that the rich have ruined and rusted our great nation and blamed the working class and poor people for it. But we who work for a living demand to be able to live from our work. The answer is a progressive tax!

The Wall Street thugs and pinstripe gangsters have stolen our homes with credit default swaps. They have pilfered our pensions with their over-leveraged, undercapitalized positions. And for all their larceny, they get bailed out and we get bailed on. The money we need is sitting useless in their bank accounts. Tax the rich!

Kollwitz children starve

“Children Are Starving.” Art by Kaethe Kollwitz, Lithograph, 1924


The American military budget and defense spending is over $800 billion that we can count. The Pentagon budget is largely unknown and unquestionably out of control. If we need money, cut the defense budget. America is like a home whose parents are spending so much money on burglar alarms and security systems there is no money to feed the children. We are wasting billions and billions of dollars bombing Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and who knows where else, and our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will suffer for it.

We don’t need any more bombs. We need books. We don’t need any more bullets. We need butter and bread. We don’t need any more foreign horrors to fear. We need homes and good jobs. We need the decency of living wages and hope in return for our hard labor. For the past 30 years, the top 1 percent have engorged themselves in obscene wealth and it is time for them to pay their fair share.

We who work for a living demand to be able to live from our work. Put some billionaires behind bars and they’ll stop stealing so much. And put American workers back to work.

From Tahrir Square to right here! The workers of the world must unite, ‘less all of us be defeated!

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