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 A Better World Is Not Just Possible, But is Under Construction!

Call for a Mass Mobilization April 15-17
th
, 2005 During the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund

The April 16, 2005 meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank will represent the five year anniversary of the first major demonstrations against these institutions in the United States. Again we will gather in the streets of D.C. on A16 to show that our resistance to these institutions and their greed only grows stronger. A16 will once more be the day we show that our dreams for a better world are not only possible, but under construction at this moment, in all corners of the globe- and the IMF and World Bank, with all their efforts to demolish these dreams and actions, can never stop us.

The World Bank claims to combat world poverty. The IMF claims to promote global economic stability. For the 60 years of their existence, they have done neither. The World Bank has poured billions into dams, mining, and other projects that have caused immense social and environmental destruction, displacing poor, often indigenous, people from their lands and livelihoods, and destroying fragile ecosystems. The IMF has destabilized the economies of countries like Korea, Thailand, and Argentina, creating mass unemployment. Together, the IMF and World Bank have trapped poor countries in a cycle of unpayable debt. To extract debt repayment from them, they have imposed conditions such as budget caps, user fees for health care, and privatization of water. These policies have impoverished billions. They have also corroded self-determination and corrupted political systems, making governments accountable to foreign creditors rather than their own people.

Instead of building the world that they have promised, the World Bank and IMF have plunged it into a global crisis that is now more urgent than ever. The number of people in abject poverty worldwide is at an all-time high, and more and more people lack access to water, healthcare, education and other basic services. The world is headed for environmental disaster, while World Bank fossil fuel projects account for half of world carbon dioxide emissions. The global AIDS epidemic is spreading -- 7,000 people in Africa die of AIDS every day. And now it is quickly reaching crisis proportions in the Caribbean, India, Thailand, and Eastern Europe. According to the United Nations, 30,000 people worldwide die every day as a direct consequence of IMF and World Bank-imposed cuts in social services.

Over the 60 years of their existence, the IMF and World Bank have shown themselves to be utterly arrogant institutions which completely ignore people's voices worldwide and systematically enrich multinational corporate interests at the expense of nature and of the rest of humanity. It's time to demolish these institutions and build a better world.

Each day people around the world people are coming together to construct a better, more just world. Not only are they demonstrating in the streets, but they are actively reclaiming their communities.  In South Africa, citizens too poor to afford the privatized water have dismantled water meters and learned plumbing to connect homes to water services. In Argentina unemployed workers are taking over  the factories they used to work in and running them as a collectives. Facing the devastating effects of World Bank and IMF Structural Adjustment Policies, people throughout the Global South are working everyday to take back their rights to water, health, land, a clean environment, and self-determination.  Five years after thousands of activists came to Washington DC in the first mass show in the U.S. of dissent and solidarity with the global struggle against the World Bank and IMF, the Mobilization for Global Justice is calling for people to come to Washington DC April 15-17
th, 2005 to protest the institutions during their semi-annual spring meetings and to celebrate the other, more just world that is under construction due to the daily resistance of millions of people worldwide!

Get Involved:

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Hate Groups Against Homeless People in America

   

HousingYou know what a hate group is. You know what a hate crime is. You know there are hate crimes based on race, nationality, gender, and religion. Well, there are also hate crimes based on economic class. But they do not break any laws, because economic equality *is not* guaranteed in our Constitution anywhere. I finally figured this all out one year in a Constitutional Law class. I figured out that to say we have a *right* to equal economic treatment would equal socialism or communism to many, and we all know what America’s past with those two “isms” is: not good. No, America is founded upon capitalism, and exploitable, if not slave, classes for labor and profits of the privileged few. Thus, there is *no* protection, Constitutionally, regarding class prejudice. So when we see homeless hate groups appear, there is no law broken. These people can spew the most prejudiced garbage in the world about the poor, and somehow, it is not seen as a hate crime. Well, I am starting to revamp my thinking and language to include the bashing of homeless people as a *hate crime* and groups who promote such activities, I shall now call *homeless hate groups* which is what they really are. They are not “community” groups for “fair process.” They are not victims, as they act. They are prejudiced bigots, plain and simple. This article’s purpose is to promote increased activism against homeless hate groups. A new intolerance for homeless person bashing and hate groups whose message is one of hatred must be fostered and direct action must be more common against homeless hate groups. We must connect the dots, the names to the organizations, just as we had to do with the KKK and their sheets.

Hate Groups Against Homeless People in America

By Kirsten Anderberg

(www.kirstenanderberg.com)

You know what a hate group is. You know what a hate crime is. You know there are hate crimes based on race, nationality, gender, and religion. Well, there are also hate crimes based on economic class. But they do not break any laws, because economic equality *is not* guaranteed in our Constitution anywhere. I finally figured this all out one year in a Constitutional Law class. I figured out that to say we have a *right* to equal economic treatment would equal socialism or communism to many, and we all know what America’s past with those two “isms” is: not good. No, America is founded upon capitalism, and exploitable, if not slave, classes for labor and profits of the privileged few. Thus, there is *no* protection, Constitutionally, regarding class prejudice. So when we see homeless hate groups appear, there is no law broken. These people can spew the most prejudiced garbage in the world about the poor, and somehow, it is not seen as a hate crime. Well, I am starting to revamp my thinking and language to include the bashing of homeless people as a *hate crime* and groups who promote such activities, I shall now call *homeless hate groups* which is what they really are. They are not “community” groups for “fair process.” They are not victims, as they act. They are prejudiced bigots, plain and simple. This article’s purpose is to promote increased activism against homeless hate groups. A new intolerance for homeless person bashing and hate groups whose message is one of hatred must be fostered and direct action must be more common against homeless hate groups. We must connect the dots, the names to the organizations, just as we had to do with the KKK and their sheets.

We have a sterling example of a hate group against homeless people in the Seattle area where I live. It is called the “Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process.” This group has no website, or public information that I could ascertain via the internet, other than reports about their presence around tent city protests in local papers. (Tent Cities are local encampments in a different place every month, hosting homeless people living in tents). Some of these news stories refer to a website at http://tentcitysolutions.com. When I did a “whois.com” search to find out who owns tentcitysolutions.com, lo, and behold, the owner is “Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process.” So who is in this “Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process?” A little digging in past news articles reveals an article with this line in it: “said Riedmann, who called her newly formed group the Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process.” In a Seattle Times article, Lesan Riedmann is again given founding rights: “She organized the Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process.” So connecting the dots, we have Lesan Riedmann to Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process to www.tentcitysolutions.com. Right?

But then I pulled this up off the internet…“Steve Pyeatt, leader of that group, King County Communities for Fair Process, has become a veteran opponent ever since he heard Riedmann talking about the issue on the radio. He offered to set up a Web site, tentcitysolutions.com, which now functions as information and command central for tent-city foes. As a result, Eastsiders frustrated or angered about the tent city need to look no further than the group's Web site for ways to direct their energy. The Web site provides contact information for government officials and carries schedules of protests, public meetings and court dates.” So, then it is Lesan and Steve’s baby? Who *is* the “Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process?” Why is there no information available on them? Who is the “King County Communities for Fair Process?” Their cites on the web lead back to tentcitysolutions.com. Why all the secrecy? There is not a single contact name or editor listed on the entire tentcitysolutions.com site that I could find. As a matter of fact, there is a very bizarre *lack* of names on this site. I do not think I have ever seen a site, that was not a government site, with so few names on it before.

Let’s visit tentcitysolutions.com, and click on their “Solutions” page, shall we? They have labeled the Solutions section, “Alternatives to living in a tent.” Now, these tentcitysolutions.com/BACFP people come out in force and picket anywhere that people might extend a welcome mat to the homeless to pitch their tents for a month. They petition and pressure local government officials to not allow homeless people to camp in their communities. And what is most heinous, and laughable, and disgusting, is they play off this blatant hate group behavior as being borne out of a genuine concern for the homeless! So let us see what these people, who have a *better idea* than letting the homeless camp with blessings, offer up. At tentcitysolutions.com we find their list of alternatives to tents are: “Adopt a Homeless” (I swear that is the exact wording on their webpage), “First Step House,” “Home Share,” and “Life Coaching.” There is no detail, or even any evidence, that these programs actually exist, that I could ascertain. They are a few lines on a website.

But let’s assume for a minute that Lesan Reidmann and her homeless hate group and website actually run productive and successful “alternatives” to help out the homeless in these programs. I would like to interview some of the “graduates” of these programs, but there are no news stories ANYWHERE about these successful endeavors of the tentcitysolutions.com or BACFP folks. All the news says about them is they protest homeless camps. Nowhere are there simultaneous stories running about the great community works within the homeless community by these people. For one, I am absolutely *offended* at the wording “Adopt A Homeless” as their program title on their webpage. Does that not sound like homeless people are inanimate objects that they want to take home and treat like they do their pets on a leash? And the “baby step house,” oh wait, it is a “first step” house, for ADULTS who have been to hell and back, well, again, I am offended. Having to placate ignorant class insulated idiots to get housing is definitely a desperate measure. Being treated like an infant by the middle class is not an empowerment, it is a disgrace. It lacks dignity, it does not forge it. And god knows that the middle class is no bastion of morality so this paternalism is gross.

Personally, the idea of sharing a house with these hate activists against homeless people is not a pleasant one to me. Their idea of hand picking one homeless person to groom, like their own personal play of “My Fair Lady,” like a hobby…is disgusting. Homeless people are not playthings for the middle class. And they are also not laboratory experiments either. Homeless people are PEOPLE. A reader once made the comment that she did not like the use of “the homeless” to mean homeless people, and preferred the use of “homeless people” instead, as it humanized the situation. I try to follow her advice as often as possible and belabored the terminology of “homeless person hate groups” versus “hate groups against the homeless” or “homeless hate groups.” I still do not have that wording down, but we need to find a short way to say “hate group that works against homeless persons.” I still believe we need to use the wording “homeless people” instead of “the homeless” as often as possible. Or else you end up like Lesan Reidmann, and her groups, advertising programs with names like “Adopt A Homeless!”

We are supposed to believe that tentcitysolutions.com’s advertised programs of “Life Coaching” and “Adopt A Homeless” are going to eliminate, or supercede, the need for tent cities now, so Lesan and her “community” group picket churches who would welcome the homeless encampment. And if she is qualified to be among those in judgment and up for “life coaching” of others, it is imperative we look into Lesan’s life for a moment. From combined news reports, I can ascertain she lives in Bothell, Wa., and is trying to promote herself as an artist as her job since 1998. She lives in a three bedroom house on the Eastside, which is known to be more expensive, and she lives in that house alone with her husband, from what I can tell. It seems she has one 22 year old son who lives at college. She is 41 years old. But here is the kicker; she presents herself as a victim of homelessness for 13 years, so she “knows what (she is) talking about” when she says we should fight homeless encampments!

Somehow Lesan went from supposedly being a homeless person to now owning a three bedroom house in the more expensive side of town, yet we cannot find any testament to her great achievements that gave her a house of her own anywhere on the internet. Googling her does not give you anything but information about her tent city protests and her recent art career. So what has Lesan been doing the last 30 years to own a 3 bedroom house in Bothell? Who knows? It was something grand enough to lift her from homelessness to protesting homeless people with her home owning neighbors. Assuming she is telling the truth about being homeless in her past, what could make a woman turn so cold, if she did in fact *know* the horrors of homelessness? Is this a fear that she may return to the poor, so she must bond with the privileged and turn her back on those she was once like? What is it that would make a woman who claims to have been homeless in the past, now actually organize and protest against accommodating homeless people in her town?

I have a privilege theory. I believe that people like Lesan need to convince themselves that they “deserve” more than the poor somehow, and for them to “deserve” so much more than people who work harder than them, they must berate the humanness of the other. If poor people are bad, and middle class people are good, then poor people deserve poverty and hardship and privileged people should not mess with god’s plan. The theory goes like this: the privileged convince themselves they deserve more than others due to superiority, and thus to balance that, they have to believe that the poor deserve their fate due to inferiority. But a simple logic test shows that the poor are abused with high rents and the profits of their labors skimmed for the privileged to have more than they deserve or worked for. So it is not that the poor work less, they work more. It is not that the privileged work more, so deserve more. They work less, then claim they deserve more. This twisted logic depends on twisted action to back it. The dehumanization of homeless people and poor folks is based on the middle class needing to justify its excesses that it does not deserve or earn. It steals that wealth and privilege, from the poor.

The opportunities that Lesan had to jump classes from homeless to home owner reek to me of marrying out of a class. I see no other explanation that is apparent. Hard work does not buy a house or every farm worker would be a home owner. Very often the only way women can jump from the lower class to the middle class is to marry a male of a higher class or a property owning male. I look at this as a form of prostitution, personally, but it makes sense in a patriarchy. Almost every single woman I have ever met who has gone from homelessness to middle class did it via marrying a male in the middle class. Not by her “pulling herself up by her bootstraps,” such as in her becoming a “professional,” or becoming “successful” at business, like the men they marry to get the houses. I have met many a woman who claims to have been poor, who is now in the middle class. And I ask them how they made that leap, and there is no answer, except, “I got married.” And thus, you see welfare offices across the country teaching marriage coaching…(almost all of the legislators who voted for those marriage classes in welfare offices are divorced, but oh well). So apparently, “get married,” or become some white man’s house slave, is what many of these hatred groups aimed at the poor are recommending as the solution to homelessness and poverty! But just as easy a solution would be equal pay for equal work so men did not have the economic advantage due solely to sex!

The tentcitysolutions.com site is laughable, but tragic, as well. One flier they have posted says “Warning! Do you want this in your neighborhood?” And then it shows a picture of a tent city. The poster goes on, “To learn about tent city and what you can do to protect our community from this lawless social experiment, go to tentcitysolutions.com.” And then it shows another picture of tent city with a large headline superimposed on it that says, “Say Hello To Your New Neighbors.” Now that sounds like the voice of compassion, trying to *help* homeless people, right? Under the Finn Hill Photo Gallery on their site at
http://www.tentcitysolutions.com/Default.aspx?tabid=309, you can see “photos of mail theft in Finn Hill.” First of all, these are pictures of some mail, and no thief! But this is *just* why I call these people bigots and accuse them of hate crimes against homeless people. Why is that on their site? Do they have some sort of proof that homeless people stole mail? Or are they going to just throw a few pictures of some ripped up mail on a site, label it “photos of mail theft” and just hope people make that leap to ASSUME that homeless people, from Tent City, stole mail, even though there is absolutely NO evidence to that effect, nor were any charges filed by police. This type of thing, where these bigots throw all kinds of suspicion upon a certain group of people is heinous.

These tent city haters and their hate groups against homeless people are not respected, in any way, shape, or form, by *any* legitimate housing rights or poverty action organizations I know of. Organizations such as SHARE (Seattle Housing and Resource Effort) and WHEEL (Women’s Housing, Equality and Enhancement League) are hassled by them. So if they are supposedly offering new solutions, they do not have the support or endorsement of *any* of the trusted names or organizations who work with homeless rights for the last few decades in this area. Their claims to be helping the poor and homeless are absolutely ridiculous. All evidence points to an opposite reality.

The tentcitysolutions.com website throws out some double-speak, again trying to act like they are the friends of homeless people. They claim, “we steadfastly support the rights and plight of the homeless.” I guess they are so used to watching GWBush lying in such a manner, they thought they would try it. No, you do not support the rights and plights of homeless people by picketing their very presence and being, slandering them, making up stories about them stealing your mail and harming your kids, and putting up antagonistic, disrespectful posters on your website. You do not see posters saying “Do you want this in your neighborhood?” and accusatory pictures of supposed crimes by homeless people on legitimate poverty action rights websites, sorry. Their whole war cry is based upon this idea that tent cities are not a solution to the homelessness problem. But we all agree on that. It is a temporary educational move. It educates all these privileged folks that this homelessness problem exists when tent city comes to THEIR neighborhoods, and it gives people a temporary place to live while homeless without being criminalized. These hate groups against homeless people such as Lesan has organized offer NOTHING. NOTHING at all. Then condemn the actions that people are trying to coordinate to further the rights and improve the lives of homeless people. Homeless people do not need bigots spreading lies that they steal their mail, for instance. Regardless of the mumbo-jumbo on their site, tentcitysolutions.com DOES NOT support the rights and plights of homeless people AT ALL. That is a BOLD LIE. As bold a lie as Exxon and Weyerhauser are “environmental” companies.

Tentcitysolutions.com goes on to claim “Tent Cities are not a permanent solution.” Right, we all agree to that. So since we cannot have a permanent solution, let’s do nothing then. That is the solution of tentcitysolutions.com. As I said, this group has NO discernable track record in community action based around poverty or homelessness issues. It also has no endorsement from ANY progressive organizations that I can identify. Then they go on to complain that the “elected officials must be wise stewards of public land.” Now, we do not see these folks come down and lobby over logging and our paying to build logger roads so our natural resources can be plundered for corporate profits…but when land use comes down to homeless folks, well, all of a sudden, they care about land use and the stewardship of our natural resources! Again, this is laughable.

And then lastly, tentcitysolutions.com claims that “citizens deserve a real, meaningful role in the process.” So what role are they allowing the homeless folks to take again? And I LOVE this line off their site, “We believe that residents of the East side are just as willing as anywhere else to extend a hand to those who are less fortunate.” Yeah, you would not really want to test that belief out in real life! They go on and on about how we must not allow tent cities in deference to a long term solution “to help our homeless find ways out of poverty and into affordable housing. As a community, we are willing to accept our responsibility to help the homeless, as other communities in the region have done.” First of all, look at that wording again. “OUR” homeless? Again, homeless people are not an entertainment system for the privileged. Homeless people are no more middle class people’s “projects” than the class insulated are “projects” that homeless people have taken on to educate and refine. And also, it is not true that the same people who underpay workers and overcharge renters are going to also accommodate affordable housing. It has not happened yet and will not happen on its own. As MLKing, jr. said, the privileged are not going to just hand over their privilege. And in the case of Lesan and her friends, they are going to fight sharing *anything* (but words) with homeless people, tooth and nail.

On the tentcitysolutions.com site, they list “Effective Arguments Against Tent City.” Again, they opt to rail for no services since absolute 100% support and care is not provided. They try to say there is no support for the tent cities, which is a lie. They say that residents of tent city should be directed to social services, not allowed to camp. And here is a good one…even though people have bent over backwards to placate these hate group against homeless people bullies, such as requiring background checks with the police to sleep in tent city, these groups are STILL intimating that tent cities are full of criminals, with lines such as “Questionable oversight: Rules of conduct are in place, but there are news stories from residents that indicate they are not well enforced and there is drug and alcohol use, among other problems.” Well, guess what?! There is alcohol and drug abuse going on IN THE HOUSES of people who are protesting tent cities too! And how about these people cough up some PROOF that crimes are being committed instead of always intimating these are criminals. This is getting to be like the weapons of mass destruction. Tent cities are not full of criminals. Middle class America is full of criminals who rip off other people’s labor for their own excesses though. The way these homeless hate groups intimate homeless people are criminals sickens me.

Another one of the arguments against tent cities they present is there are “no homeless issues on Finn Hill or Kirkland.” I know, I am laughing just typing it. So apparently, Kirkland and Finn Hill have left the planet! They say to deal with homelessness in their community is “importing” the “homeless problem” to their neighborhoods, rather than locating the camps where the problems exist. I am sorry! I am laughing so hard here. Um, earth to Kirkland, Wa.! The reason we are moving tent cities to your pristine white middle class insulated neighborhoods is because your inflated rents and skimmed profits from our labor are making us poor, so we are coming to YOUR neighborhoods with the problem YOU created now! The poor did not create the poor, the privileged class who took more than they earned did. This is a classic example of what Thoreau talks about in Walden Pond, about how those who take more than their share CREATE the poor. So, yes, we are moving the poor that the middle class created RIGHT TO THEIR OWN FRONT DOORS! And apparently, this group does not get it, that the rest of us are laughing at their discomfort at the poor they created, landing on their own doorsteps!

Another argument the bigots at tentcitysolutions.com present is: “Is it really humane to have people outside in winter? Would not the more Christian way to reach out be to open the doors to the church or create a shelter?” So did these church-going Christians offer up THEIR church? No. Did they create a shelter? No. All they did was block an encampment. How can anyone take these folks seriously? They even bring this up as a suggested argument: “Co-habitation of unmarried homeless people” at tent cities. So, now they are the moral police too? When does this stop? But wait, it gets better, they continue on, “Under normal circumstances this would not be an issue. But when you are talking about people who can not support themselves, why would we want to risk pregnancy which can further increase the homeless problems? In public forums, newspaper articles and at county hearings, many residents sited the need for tent city because it provides alternatives to gender-separated living.” Wow. So we should just sterilize homeless people is really what these folks are suggesting. I am telling you, writing this makes me irate.

The tentcitysolutions.com site goes on to say that tent cities are too close to schools, again intimating criminals who endanger children are in tent cities. They cite some incidents where some of the tent city residents were found to have warrants and made to leave. They do not cite that as them doing as asked by the bigot groups, but somehow now use that as evidence criminals *were* there! I am sure if we went door to door throughout houses on the Eastside, we could find people with warrants in *nice houses* too. They also argue that since the tent cities were not at 100% capacity, there is no need for them. They also offer statistics such as these: “66% of homeless have substance abuse and/or mental health illnesses, 54% have been incarcerated, 38% report problems with alcohol, 36% with drugs, 39% have mental illnesses, and 20 – 25% meet criteria for severe mental illness.”

I do not buy the feigned ignorance with which these eastside residents are trying to cloak their prejudice in. Every bit of their site is about how filthy and unsafe the poor are, and how we need to help them, and so we need to NOT help them. It is stupid and makes no sense. And every damned one of these people against tent cities are white home owners, from what I can tell. It feels like they probably did the same kind of “community organizing” about the “race problem” in the past, if these communities have even broached the issue of racial integration yet, which I am doubting. Certainly one of the last places tent city was has no visible minority population whatsoever. I can just hear their ancestors, or maybe them even, saying, “we don’t have a race problem here, why are you bringing your race problems here where we don’t have any?” The world is not an oyster shell for middle class white Americans, and no matter how many gated communities or bars they put on their windows will that reality change. You heard the same kind of biased prejudice against racial minorities, almost verbatim, actually, that we are now hearing about letting homeless people into “THEIR” neighborhoods.

On the news today, I heard an old white man in Kirkland saying “Putting people in tents will teach them nothing.” So what will forcing them on the street like criminals teach them, Mr? Hate activist against homeless people Steve Pyeatt said in a newspaper article, "Tent city doesn't come free; it comes with a cost, which is why we encourage people to get involved with some real solutions [for the homeless]." Big words little man. Where are these REAL solutions that these hate groups are touting? I call bullshit. Let’s see the work these anti-tent city activists have created now for the poor, they have been talking enough. So, have they begun building a shelter? No. Why would they? They claim there is NO homeless problem in Kirkland. Have they petitioned THEIR churches to open their doors? No. I find it hard to believe that people who protest tents in their city for homeless people, would somehow be more comfortable with homeless folks living in their church as they themselves suggested! But I guess since they are not really going to do *anything* anyway, they can present all kinds of solutions they would never touch. But okay. I just hear these folks talking and talking and producing NOTHING but hardship and discrimination against homeless people. I cannot name a SINGLE good thing these anti-tent city people have accomplished.

In a local paper, Pyeatt said, "If tent city comes to your neighborhood, we are coming with it." Yeah, it is about time that human rights activists showed up at these protests as well, to protest these protesters. Yes Pyeatt, if you go, I am going too. It is time we stepped up homelessness activism from passive to aggressive. We must call these bigots on their prejudices. And we need to connect the dots so we know the names of these bigots, not just their web URLS and their group names. I still want to know WHAT “Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process” *is* as well as who owns tentcitysolutions.com. And more than anything, I want to know why the owners of tentcitysolutions.com hide their names. But until that day, when the cloaks come off, my new year’s resolution is to make life a living hell for people who try to make life hell for the poor. No more passive poverty activism. This is a call for us to actively seek out people who oppress the poor and to “out” them with their real names and to boycott their businesses, to picket them and the places they work, to research them and how they got their privilege, to follow them with the persistence they follow things like tent cities with. Protests should be occurring in every privileged neighborhood just for their being there, as those neighborhoods are CREATING the ghettoes, the homeless population and poverty, worldwide. We should make MOCK tent cities and multiply that concept out just to rile the privileged into spewing forth their true colors. I am certainly glad to know who the bigots in my community are now that these issues have surfaced. Make life for the privileged uncomfortable. REALLY uncomfortable. They would do the same for you, if you were homeless.

 

 

What You Should Know About Victoria's Dirty Secret: 

  • Approximately 395 million catalogs are mailed by Victoria's Secret each year - that's more than one million a day.
  • Most catalogs end up in the trash or recycling - often without even being looked at.
  • Almost all of these catalogs are produced from virgin fiber paper with little or no recycled content.
  • Paper for these catalogs is destroying endangered forests like the great northern Boreal forest of Canada.
  • Victoria’s Secret is not satisfied with just stripping the Boreal, it is also destroying forests in the Southern U.S. The Southern US is one of the most biologically diverse regions of our country where nearly 6 million acres of forest are logged each year, primarily for the production of paper.
  • Indigenous people are being negatively impacted by the logging and paper production industries.
  • Native plant and animal populations are being destroyed by logging and processing operations and the pollution they create.
  • Because of its immense buying power, Victoria's Secret is in the position to help change the catalog industry toward sustainable paper purchasing.
  • The company has refused to make commitments to protect our Endangered Forests.

 

Why I Love Shoplifting
from big corporations

Nothing compares to the feeling of elation, of burdens being lifted and constraints escaped, that I feel when I walk out of a store with their products in my pockets. In a world where everything already belongs to someone else, where I am expected to sell away my life at work in order to get the money to pay for the minimum I need to survive, where I am surrounded by forces beyond my control or comprehension that obviously are not concerned about my needs or welfare, it is a way to carve out a little piece of the world for myself—to act back upon a world that acts so much upon me. It is an entirely different sensation than the one I feel when I buy something. When I pay for something, I'm making a trade; I'm offering the money that I bought with my labor, my time, and my creativity for a product or service that the corporation wouldn't share with me under any other circumstances. In a sense, we have a relationship based on violence: we negotiate an exchange not according to our respect or concern for each other, but according to the forces that we can bring to bear on each other. Supermarkets know they can charge me a dollar for bread because I will starve if I do not buy it from them; they know they can't charge me four dollars, because I will go somewhere else. So our interaction revolves around unspoken threats, rather than love, and I am forced to give up something of my own to get anything from them . Everything changes when I shoplift. I'm no longer negotiating with faceless, inhuman entities that have no concern for my welfare; instead, I'm taking what I need without giving anything up. I no longer feel like I am being forced into an exchange, and I no longer feel as if I have no control over the way the world around me dictates my life. I no longer have to worry about whether the pleasure I receive from the book I purchased was equal to the two hours of labor it cost me to be able to afford it. In these and a thousand other ways, shoplifting makes me feel liberated and empowered. Let's examine what shoplifting has to offer as an alternative way of life.

The shoplifter wins her prize by taking risks, not by exchanging a piece of her life for it. Life for her is not something that must be sold away for seven or eight dollars an hour in return for survival; it is something that is hers because she takes it for herself, because she lays claim to it. In stark contrast to the law-abiding consumer, the means by which she acquires goods is as exciting as the goods themselves; and this means is also, in many ways, more praiseworthy. Shoplifting is a refusal of the exchange economy. It is a denial that people deserve to eat, live, and die based on how effectively they are able to exchange their labor and capital with others. It is a denial that a monetary value can be ascribed to everything, that having a piece of delicious chocolate in your mouth is worth exactly fifty cents or that an hour of one person's life can really be worth ten dollars more than that of another person. It is a refusal to accept the capitalist system, in which workers have to buy back the products of their own labor at a profit to the owners of capital, who thus get them coming and going. Shoplifting says NO to all the objectionable features that have come to characterize the modern corporation. It is an expression of discontent with the low wages and lack of benefits that so many exploiting corporations force their employees to suffer in the name of company profits. It is a refusal to pay for low quality products that have been designed to break or wear out soon in order to force consumers to buy more. It is a refusal to fund the environmental damage that so many corporations perpetrate heartlessly in the course of manufacturing their products and building new stores, a refusal to support the corporations that run private, local businesses into bankruptcy, a refusal to accept the murder of animals in the meat and dairy industries and the exploitation of migrant labor in the fruit and vegetable industries. Shoplifting makes a statement against the alienation of the modern consumer. "If we are not able to find or afford any products other than these, that were made a thousand miles from us and about which we can know nothing," it asserts, "then we refuse to pay for these." The shoplifter attacks the cynical mind control tactics of modern advertising. Today's commercials, billboards, even the floor—layouts and product displays in stores are designed by psychologists to manipulate potential consumers into purchasing products. Corporations carry out extensive advertising campaigns to insinuate their exhortations to consumption into every mind, and even work to make their products into status symbols that people from some walks of society eventually must own in order to be accorded respect. Faced with this kind of manipulation, the law-abiding consumer has two choices: either to come up with the money to purchase these products by selling his life away as a wage laborer, or to go without and possibly invite public ridicule as well as private frustration. The shoplifter creates a third choice of her own: she takes the products she has been conditioned to desire without paying for them, so the corporations themselves must pay for all of their propagandizing and mind control tactics. Shoplifting is the most effective protest against all these objectionable attributes of modern corporations because it is not merely theoretical—it is practical, it involves action. Verbal protests can be raised to irresponsible business practices without ever having any solid effect, but shoplifting is intrinsically damaging these corporations at the same time as it (however covertly) demonstrates dissatisfaction. It is better than a boycott, because not only does it cost the corporation money rather than just denying it profit, it also means that the shoplifter is still able to obtain the products, which she may need to survive. And in these days when so many corporations are interconnected, and so many multinationals are involved in unacceptable activity, shoplifting is a generalized protest: it is a refusal to put any cash into the economy at all, so that the shoplifter can be sure that none of her cash will ever end up in the hands of the corporations she disapproves of. In addition to that, she will have to work less for them, as well! But what about the people in the corporations? What about their welfare? First of all, corporations are distinct from traditional private businesses in that they exist as separate financial entities from their owners. So the shoplifter is stealing from a non-human entity, not directly from the pocket of a human being. Second, since so many workers are paid set wages (minimum wage, for example) that depend more on how little the corporation can get away with paying rather than on how much profit it is making, the shoplifter is not really hurting most of the workforce at any given company either. The stockholders, who are almost always far richer than your average thief, are the ones who stand to lose a little if the company suffers significant losses; but realistically, no campaign of shoplifting could be intense enough to force any of the wealthy individuals who actually profit from these companies into poverty. Besides, modern corporations have money set aside for shoplifting losses, because they anticipate them. That's correct—these corporations are aware that there is enough dissatisfaction with them and their capitalist economy that people are going to steal from them remorselessly. In that sense, shoplifters are just playing their role in society, just like C.E.O.s. More significantly, these corporations are cynical enough to go about their business as usual, even though they know this leaves many of their customers (and employees!) ready to steal anything from them that they can. If they are willing to continue doing business in this way even when they are aware how many people it alienates, they should not be surprised that people continue stealing from them.

Shoplifting is more than a way to survive in the cutthroat competition of the "free market" and protest corporate injustices. It is also a different kind of orientation to the world and to life. The shoplifter makes do with an environment that has been conquered by capitalism and industry, where there is no longer a natural world from which to gather resources and everything has become private property, without accepting it or the absurd way of life it entails. She takes her life into her own hands by applying an ancient method to the problem of modern survival: she lives by urban hunting and gathering. In this way she is able to live much as her distant ancestors did before the world was subjugated by technology, imperialism, and the irrational demands of the "free" market; and she can find the same challenges and rewards in her work, rewards that are lost to the rest of us today. For her, the world is as dangerous and as exciting as it was to prehistoric humanity: every day she is in new situations, confronting new risks, living by her wits in a constantly changing environment. For the law-abiding consumer, it is likely that every day at work is similar to the last one and danger is as sorely lacking in life as meaning and purpose are.

To shoplift is to affirm immediate, bodily desires (such as hunger) over abstract "ethics" and other such ethereal constructs, most of which are left over from a deceased Christianity anyway. Shoplifting divests commodities (and the marketplace in general) of the mythical power they seem to have to control the lives of consumers... when they are seized by force, they show themselves for what they are: merely resources that have been held by force by these corporations at the expense of everyone else. Shoplifting places us back in the physical world, where things are real, where things are nothing more than their physical characteristics (weight, taste, ease of acquisition) and are not invested with superstitious qualities such as "market value" and "profit margin." It forces us to take risks and experience life firsthand again. Perhaps shoplifting alone will not be able to overthrow industrial society or the capitalist system... but in the meantime it is one of the best forms of protest and self-empowerment, and one of the most practical, too!

Shoplifters of the world, unite!

 

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