Ellen Shaffer, Defend the Dream Rally, San Francisco, March 15, 2011Robert Reich is an inspiration to all of us, and one of the country’s truly great thinkers. There are a lot of very smart people over at UC Berkeley, where he teaches. As Co-Director of the Center for Policy Analysis, I want to demonstrate to Professor Reich that we can hold our own over here in San Francisco, too. So I have some complicated math questions I want to ask you. Some of them are multiple choice. I want you to huddle up and get warm and stand with some other people you think are really smart and we’ll see if we can figure out what the problem is around here.
Are you ready?
Ok here’s the first question, tell me if you can answer it:
Do you have sex?
One more time: Do you have sex?
Ok here’s the next question, this one has multiple parts:
Have you ever had sex, do you plan to have sex in the future, do you have any friends or relatives who you have reason to believe have ever had sex?
If you said yes to any of these questions, think about this one:
Do you think it’s any business of Congress’ if you do or if you don’t?
All right, now let’s get into some really tricky stuff.
When you’ve had sex, how many of you were surprised at some point when you got pregnant?
Here’s a fact: 50% of pregnancies in the US are unintended pregnancies.
And 30% of women have an abortion at some time in our lives.
Here’s another little-known fact: some of those women are – Republicans!
Now let’s see what else we can discover here today.
We hear there are deficits, at the state and federal levels. The federal deficit is a big one, $1.5 trillion.
So let’s see whose fault that is.
Did you make $810 billion last year? Anyone?
The oil industry did.
Anyone here vote to spend $3 trillion fighting phantom weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, without any way to pay for it?
Fact: Corporate profits went up to $1.6 trillion in 2010. Over half of U.S. companies paid no federal taxes at some time in the last decade.
Anybody here make $1.6 trillion and not pay taxes?
Here in California we have seen some of the starkest financial tragedies, the tragic divide between rich and poor, entire communities devastated by the irresponsible, criminal negligence of banks and finance capital.
Now here’s another question:
Do we have any power?
You bet we do. If we didn’t have any power they wouldn’t have to keep bopping us over the head to keep us down.
The right wing extremists in Congress are marching to the tune of the extremists in the corporate world.
In Congress, and in the states, the far right is going after us, all of us, with their guns drawn, literally and figuratively.
The Republican budget bill would slash funds to implement health care reform, slash Head Start early childhood programs, slash Pell grants to students, close down public radio, deregulate environmental polluters.
And to women, and to those of you who ever have had or ever will have sex, they would do this:
The would defund family planning, period. Defund Planned Parenthood, period – even the cancer screenings and preventive health services in poor neighborhoods that make up 97% of their budget. Remember, half of pregnancies are unintended; that percent would go straight up.
They would make it virtually impossible to get an abortion. Because many employers get a federal tax break for providing health insurance, extremists say this means you should not be able to use your private insurance to pay for an abortion, because there is a public dollar in there somewhere.
It gets worse than that. You’ve probably heard some of the proposals: defining the murder of abortion providers as justifiable homicide. Authorizing hospitals to refuse to perform an abortion even if the refusal would result in the death of the mother.
The number of reliable pro-choice Senators is now a bare 40.
The vast majority of Americans believe that we as individuals have the right to make our own decisions about how and when we’re going to have children. The majority believe that abortion should be legal.
The Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign was formed so that the 80% of us who support individual choices about our reproductive health can be visible and vocal, and can take action.
We can exert tremendous influences over our life courses, as individuals.
But in many other ways, do as well as our communities do.
It is when we are united that we truly have power.
That is why we have to be smart.
They are throwing everything at us at the same time: trying to smash our unions, smash our democracy, smash our freedom of choice about when we’re going to have kids, and with whom.
Because we are strongest when we are united, and we are weakest when they can pull us apart.
We are here today with Madison, we are here today with Ohio, we are here today with the LGBTQ community, with undocumented immigrants, with men and women – and for sure with all of us who have sex!
We are here with the people near the Fukushima Daichi reactor, where caretakers kept saying, don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe.
We’re here with each other because we know that when we stand together that is when we have power.
Do we have power?
Do we have power?
Do we have power?
Now let’s show our leaders what power is and what to do with it.
Thanks to Weslyan Uncut: