Tag Archive for health care

Standing against zealotry

Rowan County, Ken., clerk Kim Davis. Photo by Huffington Post.

Rowan County, Ken., clerk Kim Davis. Photo by Huffington Post.

I apparently started a shit storm on Facebook today when I replied to the news that the Vatican confirmed that the Pope had met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who is using her religion to deny people the right to marry.

I said, “Well, there goes my admiration for the pope,” which I will admit is a bit of an over-reaction. I still love this man’s words about caring for the planet and for the poor. I admire his humility. But I stand against any support for this woman.

Kim Davis has been married four times — so much for one-man, one-woman. Her twins were fathered by a man not her husband — so much for faithfulness to one’s spouse.

She has no right to stand in judgment over anyone. And yes, I am standing in judgment over her actions. I’ll admit that.

Kim Davis is trying to deny people their rights based on her view of God, which is unconstitutional. Our Constitution gives each of us the right to our religious beliefs but denies us the power to impose them on others.

I was called narrow-minded because I said people have a right to be married. It’s the poor fundamentalist zealots who are being persecuted, I’m told. All they want is for all of us to have to follow their narrow, bigoted beliefs. Gays are bad. Women are inferior because we are descended from Eve and therefore guilty of Original Sin. Addicts deserve to die. Mental illnesses can be prayed away because they are, after all, only demons.

I was raised being taught this crap, and I rejected it because those who believe this all too often ignore the needs of the poor. Because God will bless you if you’re a good person, so the poor deserve to suffer.

I also was chastised for calling someone out on his “pro-life” stand on another post, when he said Planned Parenthood needs to be closed. You’re not pro-life if you would deny women access to the health care provided by Planned Parenthood. You are not pro-life if you think women who want an abortion deserve to die. You are not pro-life if you would shred the social safety net.

If you want to call yourself Christian, read the red print. It says nothing about gay marriage or abortion. Take seriously the admonition to care for “the least of these.” And keep your thoughts on other people’s sexuality to yourself; it’s none of your damn business who I love or marry.

At least the pope gets some of it right. He has admonished us to care for the planet and for each other. He has denounced greed.

Still, I’m disappointed he apparently met with and supported Kim Davis, a woman who simply is refusing to do her job — which is to record (not approve of) births, deaths, property transfers and marriages.She needs to quit, be fired or land in jail for contempt of court. She is a hate-spewing zealot, not a hero.

For Women’s Equality Day, let’s defend women’s health


Today marks the 95th anniversary of woman suffrage. That’s a big deal to me. My grandmother was the last generation of women who were denied the most basic right of a citizen — the right to vote.

But that didn’t mark the end of the Women’s Movement. Today we still make just 77 cents on the dollar as compared to men.

We still are less likely to get promoted into higher management and more likely to lose our jobs because we take time off to tend to sick children. And understand that we are the ones expected to stay home with sick children.

Men still think they can tell us whether and when we can have children. Remember the Congressional hearings about contraception in 2012? All of the panelists and all of the witnesses were men. When Sandra Fluke made noise about the injustice of that, Rush Limbaugh called her a slut.

Conservatives in state legislatures and in Congress — nearly all men — keep trying to take our right to contraception away from us.

When I was getting married in 1971, I had to sign a paper stating that my wedding was less than 90 days away before my doctor was allowed to prescribe the Pill for me. It was illegal for a doctor to prescribe any kind of birth control for a woman, and the law was so paternalistic that it was the doctor who would be punished, not the woman.

Now there’s a new push to close women’s clinics, especially Planned Parenthood.

No matter where you stand on the morality of abortion (I say it’s only the business of the woman and her doctor), Planned Parenthood prevents far more abortions than it performs.

Low-income women get their health care from Planned Parenthood clinics. That’s where I got my care when my kids were young and I was a single mother struggling to make ends meet. I had my annual checkups and cancer screenings there, and I got my contraception there. When I had bronchitis, I got antibiotics there. The clinic likely saved my life.

I was at a counter-protest last week and the people who wanted to close down Planned Parenthood were among the rudest, meanest, nastiest anti-life people I have ever encountered. Their behavior shook me to the core. Apparently, fetuses matter more than their mothers because these people didn’t care that women die when they lose access to health care. In fact, some said the women who get care there deserve to die.

Well, I have news for these creeps. I can be as loud as you are. I can make as many signs and I can fight just as hard for women’s lives as you fight against them.

I’m not good at the violence they so love to promote and perpetrate, but I can love better than any one of them, and I will fight for women’s access to health care with every ounce of strength I have.

We have to draw the line now. We can’t let them take away any more women’s health clinics, whether or not the clinics perform abortions — which, by the way are still perfectly legal.

Women’s lives matter.



Don’t you dare tell me about “God’s plan”

pp rallyI helped organize a counter-protest this morning to an anti-abortion protest in front of Planned Parenthood, and while I was able to keep my cool for the most part, the level of misinformation and the lack of critical thinking skills left me shaking my head in dismay (and muttering the F-bomb under my breath).

We set up across the street from Planned Parenthood and they began to trickle over to stand in front of us to hide our signs. I stood my ground in front of one man as he tried to push his way past me and threatened to call the police because I was standing my ground. He pushed me again.

“Sir, what you just did is classified as assault. If you don’t move away from me right now, I will call the police and I will press charges.”

He pushed again.

“I’m trying to save babies,” he said.

I stood firm. “I’m trying to save women. Now, move away or I will call the police and I will have you arrested for assault.”

I stared him down and he moved on.

I stood in front of another woman and she started yelling at me.

“I’m 73!” she said.

“I’m 63,” I answered. “What does that have to do with anything?”

I asked her if she’s for universal access to health care. Naturally, she said something about the poor babies.

“What about the poor women?” I asked.

“I’m a Christian,” she said.

“So am I. What about the already-born?”

I told her I chose not to have an abortion when I was advised to, and then my son was killed by a health care system that wouldn’t take care of him because he couldn’t get health insurance.”

God took your son,” she said. “God has a plan.”

I lost it. Fortunately, my rabbi friend, Wolff was standing there and folded his arms around me.

“What took her son,” he said to the woman, “had nothing to do with God. Her son was killed by greed, not God.”

Meanwhile, I was sobbing and mumbling, “fuck off,” into his chest so she wouldn’t be able to hear me.

“I used to be an agnostic,” she said. “I tried every religion there is before I was born again.”

Wolff tightened his arms around me and glared at her silently.

The woman backed off, and the next time she tried to talk to me about how God took my son, I excused myself, turned around and walked away. I don’t need to talk to someone with the critical thinking skills of a rock.

“I wonder why it’s God’s will when greed kills your son, but not when a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy,” Wolff said.

Great question.

Another man carrying a Christian flag tried the God thing again. He had overheard me speaking about my son.

“Bless you for choosing life,” he said. “God will bless you because God has a plan.”

I glared at him and said, “God didn’t kill my son. A greedy doctor did by choosing to let him die rather than save his life. Please just leave me alone.”

Then another woman asked why I seemed so angry because she, after all, was so loving with her anti-abortion sign.

I told her I’m angry because my son died and she and her friends didn’t seem to care about that at all.

“Oh, you’re angry because you couldn’t kill your baby,” she said.

I couldn’t even imagine where that had come from, so I explained that I had chosen not to have an abortion, but that our broken health care system had killed my child.

“So, you wish you had been the one to kill him?” she asked.

“Fuck off,” I said and walked away. That was when I had to leave. I can’t stand having someone think it’s OK that people are dying every day from lack of access to health care, that if you close women’s clinics, women die, and then turn around and call themselves “pro-life” or “Christian” because they want to limit women’s choices.

A few of the people I spoke to  wanted to see alternatives to Planned Parenthood open up, wanted to see everyone have access to health care, were anti-death penalty and anti-war. I really liked talking to them, even though we disagreed on abortion.

But the vast majority of people I encountered were ready to hate me without knowing anything about me. All it was about was their view of God and trying to force it on me. The Romanian man I met said it beautifully.

“God is there to love us and help us through the worst of things. We honor that by loving each other, even if we don’t agree.”

As we were speaking a teenage girl said to me, “God has a plan.”

“Please don’t tell me about God and plans,” I said. “If you ever lose a child, perhaps you’ll understand where I’m coming from here. God had nothing to do with my son’s death; it was a greedy corrupt system where he couldn’t get insurance and he couldn’t get care. Planned Parenthood took care of me when I was uninsured and they gave me contraceptives. When I got sick, they treated me and probably saved me life. They helped me prevent an unplanned pregnancy, so you could say they helped me prevent having to have an abortion.”

A young man stepped forward and tried to tell me something about pregnancy, speaking over me as I spoke to the young woman.

“First of all,” I said, “Never talk over me. That’s just rude, and it won’t save the lives of any pre-born children, OK? And since you’ve never been pregnant and never will be, you have no place lecturing me on pregnancy.”

Let me just say it one more time for emphasis.

God did not take my son from me. God had nothing to do with it. My son died from greed. He died from a broken health care system. He died from negligent homicide.

If we take women’s clinics away, women will die, and while they may not matter to you, they matter to me and to all the people who love them.

I won’t vote for a bigot

Tom HillAfter the Democratic primary, I posted that I believed we had made a mistake nominating Tom Hill for Congress in the 11th District of NC.

I still believe that to be true.

Tom has accused me of being a one-issue voter and a one-issue blogger because I won’t vote for anyone who opposes marriage equality. I wouldn’t vote for a racist, either, and I am NOT accusing Tom of being a racist.

Tom is an accomplished man, but he stands on the wrong side of an issue that is very important to me, even though he is on the right side of many other issues.

His comments in response to my blog post show me that he is just plain wrong for the job. Instead of trying to open a conversation, he immediately assumed I am a one-issue voter. He could have read previous posts. He could have read subsequent posts. Instead, he chose to label me based on his own prejudices. He chose to lump me in with racists and insist I don’t care about other issues. He chose not to listen to my response. These are not the traits I want in someone I would choose to represent my interests.

I am convinced that he is wrong for the job. I will write in someone’s name rather than give him my vote. Just look at the comments below:

“WE” did not make a mistake by choosing Tom Hill in the 2014 primary. You and other one issue people did all that you could to defeat my open and honest campaign based on closing off-shore tax shelters, ending the Mid-East wars, reforming immigration with a pathway to citizenship, protecting Social Security and Medicare, supporting women’s and veterans’ rights. cleaning up the environmental messes, rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and other meritorious Democratic goals. And you did so by supporting a candidate who never once stated his position on any of these issues. But what really frosts me is your intolerance for people whose values may disagree with your own. Whether or not my district endures another two years or more of Mark Meadows will depend in part on whether one issue people like yourself are able to demonstrate some maturity. BTW, you have the option of running for office yourself rather than sitting on your butt and finding fault with those who do. I do not see your personal identifier anywhere.


  • Tom, my sister was a lesbian who endured the hatred of people who didn’t know her. She and her spouse deserved the same rights my husband and I enjoy. As for one-issue, I am NOT. If you knew me at all, you would know my biggest issue is health care. But I have a great deal of trouble voting for anyone who would deny basic human rights to people based on a religious prejudice.


  1. Leslie,

    Despite your denial, your response proves that you are a one-issue blogger. You deny the truth, just like the Obama haters deny that they are racists. You did not address a single matter that I raised, and I will not trade quips with you on the only issue that truly concerns you. BTW, we all have gays in our families. Some of us just have different opinions about the meaning of marriage, irrespective of religion.


    • My son died because he was denied care. A birth defect — a pre-existing condition — prevented him from getting insurance and he was denied care and died. To call me a single-issue blogger again proves that you are responding with a knee-jerk reaction — another bad quality for a politician. Did you look at previous posts on this blog? I am a multi-issue voter, and basic civil rights is important to me. You have shown yourself to be a religious bigot. You have shown yourself to be overly sensitive to people who disagree with your bigotry against an entire class of people. I agree with most of your stands on the issues, but you do not have the personal traits necessary to hold high office and I am deeply offended by your insistence that I only care about one issue, even when I have shown myself to be a mullti-issue voter, You look no deeper than the surface, see what you want to see and let your bias run wild. You will not get my vote. Oh, and these comments are public.


Attacks from every direction

Here I am waiting to be introduced at HKonJ 7 last weekend in Raleigh. The turnout for the event was about 10,000.

Here I am waiting to be introduced at HKonJ 7 last weekend in Raleigh. The turnout for the event was about 10,000.

No longer content to just badmouth and vilify hardworking Americans, it seems the right has started actively trying to kill them.

In NC, the legislature has voted to deny 600,000 people access to health care by refusing to expand Medicaid, even though it would bring down billions in federal dollars and create 25,000 jobs, not to mention save lives.

This move will mean more suffering among the more than half-million people who can’t gain access to health care. We’re talking about more heart attacks and strokes, more complications from diabetes — kidney failure, blindness, limb amputations — more advanced cancers, more intractable mental illnesses, more asthma emergencies … the list goes on.

The legislature’s choice of a twisted ideology over compassion and decency will increase medical costs and people will still suffer and die unnecessarily.

And if you’ve been unlucky enough to have your job shipped overseas, that’s too bad too because the legislature has voted to overhaul unemployment insurance by slashing benefits and the amount of time people are eligible to receive them. North Carolina now has the shortest compensation time in the country — in some cases just 12 weeks.

Not to mention that when people lose their jobs they also lose their health benefits, but our legislators don’t care about that.

My inbox is full of e-mails begging me to sign one petition or another to prevent the North Carolina GOP from de-funding education, raping the environment, rigging taxes so the rich pay less and the rest of us pay more, punishing workers for wanting to make a living wage, making a naked power grab by firing everyone on state regulatory commissions …

I can’t keep up with it all, and that’s just in North Carolina.

In Washington, the GOP is still refusing to cooperate with anything the President wants to do.

They’re filibustering against Chuck Hagel’s appointment as Secretary of Defense; they’re saying they’ll block a minimum wage increase, they’re slowing down gun safety laws, and the House GOP is still trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

I’m exhausted from e-mailing and calling and traveling to try and get these people to listen to reason about the Medicaid expansion, but I’m just met with a stone wall. My own representative doesn’t answer my e-mails, not does Gov. Pat McCrory.

McCrory did answer an e-mail from my friend, Eileen McMinn, though. He sent her a form e-mail asking if she would donate money to him.

They’re ignoring us, and I suppose they have reason to believe they can get away with it because we seem to be lying down and playing dead.

How many of us have e-mailed, called or snail-mailed our state representatives or governor over these issues? How about our federal representatives? Have we thanked the ones who are doing the right thing? I e-mailed Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, to thank him for voting in favor of the Violence Against Women Act.

There’s a lot at stake here. You may not think you’ll ever need Medicaid, but if your job gets shipped overseas and you get just $350 a week for 12 weeks, what then? How long can you keep making house and car payments? What if you get sick on top of all that?

We are all at risk here, and we all need to take action. Democracy is participatory. If we don’t participate — and by that I mean becoming educated about the issues and voting according to our convictions — this is what we get.

If you don’t know who your representative is in the US House, visit www.hoismyrepresentative.com.

If you don’t know who your state senators or representatives are, you can visit www.ncleg.net or call your county’s board of elections.

If you’re one of those who say, “I’m just not interested in politics,” shame on you! You’re part of the reason we’re in this mess.


Hunker down, NC folks

Now, wait just a minute. What do you mean you'll just do what you want?

Now, wait just a minute. What do you mean you’ll just do what you want?

On Day One of the new legislative session in North Carolina, it’s clear who will be in charge of the asylum, and it’s not the governor.

I never thought of Pat McCrory as a moderate, but I suppose “moderate” is relative when you’re talking about the right-wing nuts in the General Assembly and their agenda.

I e-mailed McCrory last week and the week before, asking for him to agree to expand Medicaid. But now it appears that the nuts in the Assembly are considering a law that would make it illegal to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act.

Now, they can’t do that, of course. I mean, they can pass a law, but it won’t be legal because state law can’t supersede federal. Still, it sends the powerful message that these people are extremist and we won’t be able to reason with them.

What’s worse is that we’re stuck with them for the next two years because North Carolina has no provision for recalls.

And it’s not just anti-healthcare laws they want to promote; they want to enshrine the state’s regressive right-to-work laws in the Constitution the way they did with their anti-marriage-equality stance.

They want to reduce unemployment compensation to the point people who lose their jobs will have no means to pay their bills, even for a couple of months.

Apparently, they’re introducing these bills without even talking to Gov. McCrory.

I foresee a really nasty couple of years ahead, and I can only hope we can unseat the bastards then.



Wrong again, Mittens

I couldn’t stay away from the Civic Center yesterday. Mitt Romney was coming to speak and I had to be there to counter his “the emergency room works fine” lie.

See, Mitt believes people can get the care they need at the emergency room and that they won’t get a bill.

Wrong and wrong, Mitt.

My son’s story is proof.

Mike was born with a birth defect that left him vulnerable to colon cancer — a pre-existing condition. Since no company would sell him health insurance at any price, he was left to fend for himself. It wasn’t a matter of wrong choices as those on the Right would like to believe; it was a matter of no choices for him.

He tried the emergency room four times. But they don’t have to find the cause of your problems, they only have to address the symptoms, in Mike’s case, pain and constipation. So Mike was sent home with the wrong medications and a bill four times. By the time anyone was willing to do anything for him, the cancer had spread and it was too late to save his life.

People need to know Mitt Romney is wrong, especially since he’s been repeating the emergency room lie a lot lately.

So, I stood with other protesters across from the line of people waiting to get in. One man jeeringly asked me what emergency room had turned my son away, so I told him. It was Memorial Health Center in Savannah, Ga. He sneered at me and turned away, so I went closer to the line. A police officer started to step in front of me and I told him I had no plans to cause trouble.

“Excuse me,” I said to the man. “I see you have a son. You need to know that the emergency room only has to stabilize someone. It’s not a solution.”

He sneered at me again and turned away.

“I do what I do so your child won’t die the way mine did,” I said as he walked away.

One woman read my sign and looked me in the eye.

“Do you have children?” I asked.

“I do,” she said. “But I take care of them.”

Does she really think my son died because I failed to take care of him? I wanted to tell her how desperately I tried to get help for him and how deep into debt I went doing it. I wanted to tell her how much I loved him and how pissed off I was when his heart stopped and mine didn’t. I wanted to tell her how I still cry almost every day because my heart is still so shattered.

But I just stood there, shocked at her answer, as she walked away.

Several people laughed at me. They looked at my sign and laughed. I asked a few of them why they would laugh.

“What about this is funny?” I asked. But they walked away.

A reporter asked me how I felt as he watched it happen.

“It comes from fear, I think,” I said.

Very few of the people in line yesterday are more than six months away from poverty. What if they lost their jobs and could only find part-time work that didn’t have health benefits? Then what would happen if they got sick? If it’s true that the emergency room isn’t the solution, then what happens to them?

So, as a self-defense mechanism, they have to believe it can only happen to people who make “wrong choices.” Looking at my son’s photo and hearing his story bursts that bubble unless you dismiss it with a nervous laugh and walk away.

Then there was the woman who caused me to lose my cool.

“You need to read your Bible,” she hollered, pointing at me.

“I do read it,” I said.

“You’re a liar!” she jeered.

I snapped.

“Who would Jesus deny?” I yelled back. The police officer in front of me stepped away as though he was hoping I’d slap her miserable face.

“Do you think God let him die because I didn’t pray enough?” I yelled. “Tell me! Who would Jesus deny?”

I took a deep breath and stepped back in among the protesters, ashamed that I had allowed someone to get to me like that.

Getting angry at mean, spiteful, self-righteous, ignorant people doesn’t do the cause of health care for everyone and justice.

But she got to me. How dare she think that I didn’t care enough about my son to do all I could? How dare she judge my level of religious faith?

Looking back on it, though, I have to believe she is one scared, ignorant and helpless-feeling human being. I don’t believe anyone can be that mean without some fear and helplessness mixed in.



More lies in the mail

My husband is registered to vote, but not in either party (I’m a registered Democrat; you could look it up). As a result, we get stuff in the mail from both parties.

The ones that get me the most are the lies about health care reform, or “Obamacare.” The latest one repeats the lie that the law will cut Medicare services by $716 billion. It will not. That is an out-and-out lie. No matter how many times they repeat it, it still will be a lie.

The Affordable Care act does NOT cut services for seniors. In fact, services should improve.

For example:

  •  As of Oct. 1, hospitals will be fined if Medicate patients are discharged and then readmitted within 30 days.
  • The Affordable Care Act closes the prescription “doughnut hole” for seniors.
  • Seniors now get their annual checkups with no out-of-pocket costs.
  • It cuts millions of dollars to private, corporate-run “Medicare Advantage” plans, which are more expensive for seniors anyway.

There’s more, but you get the drift. The $716 billion number is actually the estimated amount that will be SAVED by taxpayers over the next 10 years by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

And as for the “death panels,” that un-elected board will only be gathering data to ascertain the most efficient and effective treatments for various illnesses and disabilities. No one’s actually been doing that.

For example, one hospital in Utah studied treatments for prostate cancer in older men and found that aggressive treatment in older men actually results in worse outcomes than the “watchful waiting” tactic.

The board will not have the authority to limit any treatments but instead will allow doctors to inform patients of the efficacy of various treatments. That’s information I want to have, don’t you?

And yes, Obamacare does raise taxes on prescription drug makers, whose profits are obscene and who are not re-investing those profits back into research. We are the only country in the industrialized world that doesn’t regulate drug prices. I think the least we can do is make these companies pay their fair share in taxes.

So, there you have it, the truth about that flyer you got in the mail yesterday. If you want to know more, go to www.healthcare.gov. The truth is there for you to read.

Waiting and hoping for a miracle

Kelly and me in the Green Room of the Ed Shultz Show on MSNBC.

I have hoped for miracles before. Sometimes I’ve been disappointed, like when I could do nothing for my son as I watched him get sicker and sicker.

Then there’s my friend, Kelly Cuvar, who has had a rare form of cancer for 13 years. Pretty much everything about her is a miracle. Knowing her has made me believe miracles are possible.

Kelly has never been in remission. She is from Ohio (from John Boehner’s district, of all places), but she lives in New York, where she is able to get care for her disease.

But, she says, worrying about health care has caused her more angst than her cancer. What if she loses Medicaid? What if she had to find care on her own for some reason? What if the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act and Paul Ryan gets his way on Medicaid and Medicare?

Kelly and I don’t talk as often as I would like — we tend to keep up on Facebook and via e-mails these days. She’s pretty upbeat most days. Often, she’s downright irreverent. She has a right to be.

Kelly has said time and again that dealing with our broken health care system is more difficult than dealing with cancer. In most other countries, she wouldn’t have to worry about whether she would be thrown to the curb. In most other countries, she would get care. Period, end of discussion.

In the US, however, she never knows whether the doctor she’s seeing will stop accepting Medicaid, forcing her to find another doctor who will. Her well-being depends on which way the political, and lately, judicial, winds will blow.

Every decision she makes about her life revolves around her health care. It determines whether she’ll marry (she can’t now), where she’ll live, whether she can work (she can’t) … Just about every decision most of us make without thinking, Kelly has to make with an eye to whether it will affect her health care. Worrying about her care causes her more distress than her illness, Kelly says.

Kelly and I were fellow travelers along the road to getting the Affordable Care Act passed. We met in Washington, DC, when we both went there for rallies and lobbying. I carried my picture of Mike; Kelly carried her cane. We realized very quickly that we share a similar twisted sense of humor and the guts to speak truth to power.

When the ACA passed, Kelly and I were on the phone to each other, laughing and crying.

Sure, the law didn’t give us everything we wanted, but it was a start and we vowed to continue working to improve the system. We had won a battle, but there would be more and we knew it then. We would work for a public option, for the ability to buy into Medicare. Someday, insurance companies will have competition and people will be able to gain access to the care they need.

We didn’t believe we might have to start from scratch, though, and if the Supreme Court overturns the law, we’re back to Square One.

Kelly has cancer and I’ll turn 60 later this year. Neither of us has unlimited time. But neither of us is willing to give up, either.

No matter what the Supreme Court decides, Kelly and I will keep advocating for access to quality care for all Americans. Getting sick shouldn’t mean having to choose between bankruptcy and death.

If the ACA is upheld, Kelly will be able to buy insurance in 2014, as will others who have had cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, acne … all the things the free market has used to deny insurance coverage to people. We will be able to go to the doctor with the assurance that our needs will be met.

Some 20 million people will remain uninsured, however, and Kelly and I will continue to fight for improvements to the system. We may get tired because she’s sick and I’m old, but we won’t quit. I assure you, we’re in this for the whole race.

It may take a miracle, but Kelly and I have seen miracles; we believe in them.



‘I’ll do anything’

A rainy Monday in Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. Occupiers believe they're about to be evicted and arrested, even though they were told they could stay for four months just a few weeks ago.

I drove some winter tents and heaters from a military tent surplus store near my house to Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, last week. As I was in the office arranging to have my U-Haul loaded, a man came in, cap in hand, and asked if the company was hiring.

“We might be soon,” the woman said. “But it’s really hard, heavy work.”

The man looked to be in his 40s.

“That’s OK,” he said. “I can do that. I’ll do anything.”

He hadn’t worked in a year, and because the job he had before that — setting up mobile homes — was as an independent contractor, he wasn’t collecting unemployment benefits.

That’s a trick contractors play often. You can work for the same place for years, be there on time every day and work hard, and still not be able to collect when you get canned. They avoid paying benefits and they avoid having any responsibility if something happens to you.

The man had applied to several home center stores, but was turned away because he had bad credit. That’s right, Home Depot does a credit check on you when you apply for a job and then turns you away if your score is too low.

He’ll stop back in at the tent surplus company and maybe they’ll have a job for him. They won’t do a credit check, either.

It stiffened my resolve to stay involved with the Occupy Movement, and to be more involved with the one here in Asheville.

The 1 percent is getting out its big guns to get rid of us, though. Reportedly, the federal Department Homeland Security has been advising mayors on conference calls about how to break up the camps. Here in Asheville, ours has moved a couple of times and dozens of people have been arrested.

Occupy is not going away, no matter how many camps are broken up. We will gather elsewhere. We will gather on private property if we have to — there are churches and other organizations that support what we are doing. We will continue to educate people about the many ways the 1 percent is screwing us. We will continue to have direct actions.

This movement is not fading away as the media would have us believe. There were more tents in Freedom Plaza when I was there than there were when I left six weeks ago, and McPherson Square is even more crowded. Both camps have received notice that they will be broken up, but neither is moving. No one is afraid of being arrested because we all are committed to making meaningful change.

The media keep demanding a list of demands. We keep telling them what’s happening to Americans and they say we’re unfocused. Perhaps it seems that way because there are so many things wrong. We all have our favorite issues — I have worked toward quality health care for all Americans, others have worked for a living wage, safe and affordable housing, labor rights, education, mental health and disability rights, a cleaner environment and a move toward sustainable and renewable energy sources. None of us has made much headway on any of these justice issues. The 1 percent’s corrupt money is like a brushfire. No sooner do we put it out in one place than another flame pops up.

Under the banner of the Occupy movement, we are working together now, and we are not going away.

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