Bush’s Bailout Tanks; What Austin Thinks

Congress failed to pass the economic bailout plan today: the pundits are atwitter, the stock market has tanked, the politicos are pointing fingers, and the doomsday prophets are taking center stage. And George the Decider has added a final (one assumes!) exclamation point to his disastrous tenure.

Last Thursday a protest demonstration against the bailout took place outside the offices of Sen. John Cornyn in downtown Austin. Below is a fine video report from Ric Sternberg and an article by The Rag Blog’s Mariann Wizard.

Thorne Dreyer / The Rag Blog / September 29, 2008

Bailout Protest: Austin, Texas, Sept. 25, 2008, by Ric Sternberg

Austin to Congress: No blank check!
By Mariann Wizard / The Rag Blog / September 29, 2008

A more-or-less spontaneous and spur-of-the-moment protest took place in Austin Thursday, September 25, against a federal bailout of failing banks and mortgage lenders, at 5 pm in front of the offices of Texas Senator John Cornyn (R), as similar protests large and small materialized all over the country, and the news media reported that Congressional Republicans, feeling the fire from conservative constituents, were balking at the Bush bailout plan, citing overwhelming negative response from the home folks.

Probably 20 of us gathered at 6th & Lavaca, with the largest (as in “only”!) identifiable group Ron Paul supporters. Their signs said “NO BAIL-OUT” just like those of later-arriving leftists (MDS, Texans for Peace, and Iraq Vets Against the War) that I know of; sorry if I missed others) and unaffiliated outraged citizens.

Response from drivers was very good, lots of honking and waving — one guy passed at least 6 times, honking like crazy!! — flashing the peace sign, texting their pals, shouts of encouragement. Passersby — scarce on this corner; tactically a lousy location!! — were also friendly and responsive. One couple I chatted with — some kind of Yankee accents I cn’t identify — were at first kind of defensive, upon seeing my sign (NO BLANK CHECK FOR BANKS * EQUITY FOR TAXPAYERS * BAIL OUT AMERICANS, NOT MULTI-NATIONAL THIEVES), with the man asking, “Whattaya gonna do? Let ’em all fail?” But since there are so many good answers as to what should be done, with equity for taxpayers number one on my list, it took only a minute to defuse the defensiveness and get them agreeing that the Bush plan is a fiasco, although the woman was clearly nervous about lingering among the weirdos for long.

A young guy was there with a huge, amazing drum. I told him it reminded me of when the LBJ Library was dedicated, with all the rich and powerful eating b-b-q and drinking champagne under striped tents on the hill, ringed by 10,000 hairy hippies led by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, when every metal trash can in a 10-block radius became a drum, and was beaten into a 6-inch-thick metal pancake.

I would add, just in order not to disappoint you who know me, that taxing and regulating cannabis (“marijuana”) in the same way that tobacco and alcohol sales are regulated and taxed, would add bring in a LOT of tax revenues, and bring a lot of jobs out of the black market. In addition, the research that could then be done on hemp biomass fuel, the nutritional benefits of hempseed, and the medicinal qualities of cannabis flowers (and these are all being researched and, increasingly, used in other countries, make no mistake!) would have benefits far outstripping the merely economic (eg, the end of world hunger).

We should agitate to keep up the protests, the phone calls, and the demands for a PRINCIPLED buy-out of failing corporate giants. We should clearly enunciate what those PRINCIPLES must be. And we should try to build principled bridges with every concerned citizen, regardless of their affiliation.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to stimulate class consciousness (people who work for a living // people who live off workers’ labor) and class-based demands. How can we proceed, in the next few days, to use this unexpected parting gift from Bush & Co? “Be Specific!”

The Rag Blog

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