Poor People Taking Care of Poor People


By: Sean Fleek, Portland Comedian, rabble-rouser, Socialist, writer and figurative publicist. Catch more Sean over at his blog: What They’re Feeding Me

Right-wing mouthpieces have been telling us poor folk for years, “pick yourselves up by your bootstraps.”So we found a public space, and we started collecting contributions, and taking care of our fellow poor people, and then the cities evicted us. Many are culpable for this: those that say they loathe the poor and encouraged the eviction from day one, those that say they care about the poor but secretly care about the rich, and most loathsome, those that say they care about the poor when they secretly wish to be rich, who ignored the movement for their own selfish, self-destructive ends.

I don’t just mean Republicans. Hey GOP: you’ve already lost 2012, hard. You were against the idea of a poor people’s movement before one even started, but there are far too many of us who are now far too invested not to notice what’s going on in US politics. All your talk of “bootstraps” was hyperbole, because you thought you’d screwed the poor so hard we’d never even try to improve our lot in life. We’re already past trying and on to winning. You, GOP, are three dimensions of history. You’re the past, present, and future of failure. Herbert Hoover was your first try. Reagan was your second. George W. Bush was your third. You can put as many puppet-people on a debate stage as you want, and have them say anything the skilled, rhetorical ventriloquists like Frank Luntz can think of. You can run Ron Paul and insist your party has integrity left. You had your third strike. Baseball is an American pastime. Get off the plate and go sit down and let the DH do his job. Maybe think about changing your swing.

But who else is responsible for the eviction of the occupied parks nationwide?


I’m talking about the secret right-wingers in government. The Mayors and city council-members who publicly advocate for the poor while secretly advocating for themselves, their own re-elections and private investments and friends’ businesses. I’m talking to you, fake Police chiefs who claim you’re so inspired by our movement, while you’re macing and zip-tying us: you got us kicked out of the park where we were pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. The right wing has called us lazy for thirty years. We finally get to work, and the powerful spring into action to stop us, and call us criminals, and pretend myopically that they just care about “safety” and “public health” while they take away they only safe place plenty of poor people had to sleep, and the only free medical care many could find.

But it wasn’t ultimately even the politicians who are responsible for the loss of our parks, wherever they may be. It is the secretly selfish jerk who talks so much about the poor, says he or she cares so deeply about the planet, yet the most he or she can do is evacuate the presence of poor people and seek the refuge of the mindless, energy-wasting entertainment industry. The debauchery of our modern bread-and-circuses like Jersey Shore and NASCAR and UFC and whatever dog-and-pony, scripted “reality” show is on tonight. Facebook instead of face-time for those faced with misery.

Most culpable for our eviction and oppression is you spineless “advocates” for the poor: you called us helpless. You gave up on us. You marched with us on the first day, you visited regularly the first few weeks, you gave up drinking to help fight the revolution, you changed your schedule to accommodate radical new methods of governance and attempts at overthrow of systems of oppression. But time marched on. It got colder outside. The bootstraps were too much for you. You saw so many young kids getting loaded without the slightest care for revolution, and you saw so many impoverished, mentally destroyed people refuse free mental health help, that you decided to take your ball and go home. You broke down and went back to drinking heavily. It was all too much for you to take.

And you’re the same people who call Obama ineffective. He’s been fighting against unspeakable horrors in health care and finance and unemployment for three years, and you didn’t even make it three months. It’s back to facebook to argue over which Jersey Shore millionaire is most like you. Hint: you will never in a thousand years be as famous as any one of them, because you cared about #occupywallstreet, you tweeted about it once, you facebooked about it three times, you wrote one-too-many blogs that your friends found annoying, you asked one-too-many-times for your friends not to shit all over poor people (and they all blocked you for it, the rich person’s snub). You’re in the record books, on a server at your internet service provider, as being untrustworthy, so you will never make it on camera. You are blacklisted. In the future you don’t have to disappear people in reality, because reality doesn’t exist in the media. It’s all poofy hair and getting drunk constantly. Everything is fine, America, go back to sleep.
This is where the dying rubber tree meets the road less-traveled. The planet is doing terrible things. The Japanese earthquake (with begat a tsunami, which begat Fukushima Daiichi) shook the Earth so violently that the weather will never bee the same again. The number of parts-per-million of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere is 380-ish, and scientists can say definitively that more than 350ppm CO2 is hazardous and killing us all in ten distinct, terrifying ways. We will burn alive.

What’s that? The UN got together and agreed to continue getting together to discuss getting together to discuss a semi-permanent commitment to possibly cutting carbon emissions? How quaint. Someone get Superman on the phone, we’re going to need… What’s that? Oh, okay. (hang up) Uh-oh. We can not reverse time. It marches on.

Species go extinct, people starve, people are so poor that they have to sleep outside, they do drugs because they’re addicted and because poverty is a point when desperate people will always try something new, as though it might help or at least numb the pain of sleeping uncomfortably, people are drunk because they’re afraid of reality, they’re mentally ill from neglect and never being allowed to sleep outside because that’s a crime in America, a crime that many of us are guilty of. And every one of these things can be prevented. We know exactly how to stop global warming, exactly how to feed the poor, exactly where we could sleep without getting hassled, exactly how to help people get off drugs and alcohol and into treatment and jobs. We know what to do.

We are tired of waiting for our leaders to do it, because they’ve been promising, just promising “we will get to it,” and the planet is burning down while we wait for it to become “politically feasible.” All the institutions have failed. Every person is responsible. And so we tried to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, we made a camp of poor people taking care of poor people, like the Republicans have demanded for forty years, and then the politicians who claim to support the poor but who secretly support the rich machinated to make sure we lost our park.
Everyone who was at the parks all day every day, even we are responsible for not being arrested repeatedly, day after day after day, for our right to assemble and to take care of ourselves. Of course Obama will sign a bill eliminating the right to a trial. Where will us lazy jerks go to protest it? The courthouse? Will you seriously walk into the Ministry of Love demanding reparations? You won’t even camp at an outdoor revolution party downtown that Jon Stewart famously described as looking an awful lot like Burningman. You think the protesters looked silly when they danced. You think it was too dirty, that the protesters should have dressed nicer, that the drug use was out of hand and the drinking was just unacceptable. You’d prefer the drinking take place in the bars, taxed and supporting the war machine, where drinking belongs. Indoors, where nobody has any demands except another round and quarters for the jukebox.

You prefer your Burningman in the desert, far from the centers of power, while you’re on drugs, fending for yourself Mad-Max style, and then watching a visage of a human being burn to the ground. In the sun, half-naked, while you watch your water levels and try not to think about the work you’ll have missed when you get back to civilization. You prefer to pay for the privilege of joining an autonomous community, and you don’t want to think about politics while you’re doing it. Nice going. Your fantasies about a desert full of drug addicts will come true until you can put as much energy into fixing what’s fucked up as you do into getting fucked up.

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