Poverty Is Punishable In America
23 October, 2011
By Pirate Joe

Have you noticed? Poverty is punishable in America. The punishments are fines, homelessness, death-by-denial-of-healthcare and outright plunder of your possessions as your property is liquidated and your wealth is re-distributed upwards.

As the 1960's dissolved into the 1970's, we were subjected to a number of small changes in the system, designed to be barely noticeable as they were incrementally enacted, while being devastatingly efficient in their cumulative effect.

Here are just a few of these changes and what they have wrought:

Late charges and interest:
Before the 1970's, corporations couldn't force you to pay interest and late charges on, for example, utility bills.  All of a sudden, it was all (unconstitutionally) O.K.
It makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
Most people pay bills late because they don't have the money; so the best thing to do is make sure they have even less! Let them know that if they dare to pay the Big Pig corporation late that they will forfeit even more of their meagre funds: money they would have spent on frivolous,  luxury items such as food, or better yet, cause them to be late with yet another payment!
These are nothing more or less than fines. Unconstitutional fines at that: you are being deprived of personal property without due process. Think about it: where are the charges or allegations of a violation of law? Where is your day in court? Corporations have the "right" to fine you for "infractions" of their "laws": "laws" that were not written or voted upon by any elected government official; "laws" that are in no way part of or related to the "consent of the governed". Here's our new word for the day: "corptatorship".

Bush administration changes to bankruptcy laws:
Who were the main beneficiaries? You? Wrong. Try banks (credit cards, etc.) the health care "industry" and other Big Pig corporations who's capability to enslave you beneath an inescapable mountain of debt has been greatly enhanced.
The self-righteous right was already prepared (as usual) with the proper propaganda on this one: Lazy, slothful and indolent lower-class bums purposefully charge credit-cards to the hilt when they know they're about to declare bankruptcy, causing the industry to lose money, and raising prices for everybody else! Let's get those bums! As usual, the highly-effective Republican right-wing propaganda machine had the very people who were about to be beheaded cheering the sharpening of the sword.

Broadcast Media Ownership:
The gradual changes to the laws regarding ownership of radio stations and other media to allow (quell surprise) conglomerates to take over, culminated in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (signed into law by Bill Clinton). Ever wonder why talk radio is 100% Rush Limbaugh? Why all the opinions expressed never seem to have an other side?  Why demonstrations such as "Occupy..." are ignored until they are Too Big To Ignore? I could write a book on this subject, so we'll let this paragraph suffice for now.

The repeal of Glass-Stegall:
Who knew that Wall Street, the banks and other Big Pig corporations would go back to their old ways once regulations were lifted? Don't, by the way, blame that all on Republicans: yet again, it was Bill Clinton who signed the repeal into law.

N.A.F.T.A., C.A.F.T.A. and SHAFTA:
Now, let's see: Will you tell me once again why all those jobs went away, and who it was that signed N.A.F.T.A. into law (after running his campaign against it)? Answer: Bill Clinton. Lesson: Don't automatically assume that the Democrats are on the side of the middle class.

No more cancelled cheques:
A seemingly minor and unimportant change. You used to get your cancelled cheques back every month with your bank statement. Cancelled cheques are something you never need anyway...until you need them. Having those cancelled cheques got me out of many a difficulty. Be it a bank, the IRS, the 'phone company or your landlord, xerox both sides of the cheque, send it in, done. Now you get a page of low-resolution scans, which are not, as the fine print says, acceptable as legal proof of payment. Just how do you get legal proof of payment? You call your bank to ask for a copy:

    "welcome to Amalgamated Huge Bank/press 1, press 2, press 3/Your call is important to us please hold for the next available         representative/hideous music on hold/please stay on the line, our call volume is unusually high/hideous music on hold/your call is important to us......

So whom does this benefit? Let's see: well, for one, the banks, who no longer need to spend postage on mailing you the cheques (times thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of customers, that's a lot of money). Of course, those honest, upright paragons of good corporate citizenry passed the savings right along to us in the form of lower fees and rates. Yeah, right.

This can be a bonanza to Big Pig corporations who realise they can start adding bogus late payment/missed payment charges and get away with it simply because most folks can't spend two hours on hold to eliminate an extra five dollar charge. They count on the fact it is an unproductive use of our time that can easily cost far more than the amount in question. Yet when you multiply that $5. by their hundreds of thousands, or even millions of customers, it's a lot of money.

Those are just a few examples of how corporations are enslaving us. We haven't even touched monopolisation, free-trade agreements, privatisation, "people hood" the New London decision or bought and paid for elections; all future subjects, to be sure.
Yet the most important question now is how do we break capitalism's iron grip on our throats? How do we make this monster just a part of certain processes rather than a modern day oppressive feudal lord?

Taming capitalism:
Taming capitalism can only be achieved by neutralising its biggest weapon, the weapon by which it controls us all; the weapon that keeps us as grovelling slaves at its feet: money.  What if we could live decent lives without money? What would the effect of high unemployment be on a society where you don't need a job to survive? (I am not, by the way talking about any kind of entitlement here) Living that lifestyle might not be for everybody, but it would be an excellent fall-back, which would compel the "economic royalists" to realise that there were growing numbers of people beyond their control: beyond their late fees and high interest rates, beyond their juggernaut of job exportation, beyond their shrivelling wages and "service economy". The ability to leave "the system": not for a life of sub-subsistence starvation under a bridge, but to a relatively comfortable alternative that they, (the ruling class) could not control, an alternative that would become more attractive the more oppressive they got. An alternative that could lessen, or maybe eliminate the dependence on money, a 21st century "get back to the land" movement. A secure back-up you could use, if necessary. It could happen, except for one impediment; one shakel that keeps us permanently chained to capitalism, an impediment that robs you if your ability to survive independently, (a privilege that only ruling class enjoys):

Property tax.

You can't live off the land and home you paid for. You can't just get some solar panels, wind generators and pumps, chop your own wood, plant your own garden and say to hell with this brutal, oppressive and ruling-class friendly system. No. You are locked in to having the need for money by a tax that is imposed without regard to income, a tax which enables the (local) government to rob you of the home and land you paid for, and in the process robs you of your ability break the chains of capitalism and the ruling class. A tax that requires you to "buy in" to a system that is designed to work against you.

We don't charge sales tax on necessities, such as food or rent, on the grounds that it is oppressive to tax a person on something they need to survive, and rightly so. In light of that, it is curious that we will tax people out of their homes if they fall into poverty, while not taxing their homes if they rent them (no sales tax on rent).
Rail against the IRS if you will, but they at least decrease your tax as you make less, and eliminate it entirely if you make below a certain amount.

The solution? Quite simple, actually. Eliminate the property tax, and substitute a graduated income tax (based on IRS tax tables) in its stead. This way, we, the 99%, could be secure in our homes, ( a constitutional right, by the way) and need not worry about homelessness when Wall Street sends our jobs to China, (or whatever other place is in favour at the moment), destroys the world economy, hoards all the currency, etc.