On my Monday morning KNON radio program, we have featured a number of local groups who are fighting against cuts.
Minimum wage sanitation workers
City of Dallas employees facing a budget crisis and 500-600 layoffs
Postal employees, facing the end of Saturday mail delivery
Dallas District Attorney Watkins says, "Don't cut our department."
Additional groups include the Friends of the Library and the Friends of the Parks, both looking at major cutbacks. State workers and all Texas teachers have to worry about the $18 billion shortfall in next year's budget. Most of them say, "don't cut us," but, unless some new revenues are raised, they are implying that the cuts should fall on somebody else.
In other words, just about everybody is worrying about losing their job or taking major cuts in their pay and benefit. Republicans in the Senate have, so far, successfully blocked federal efforts to provide relief. State and local governments aren't even trying. Republican Governor Swartzenegger of California is demanding that all state employees be reduced to minimum wage!
At the national level, Jobs with Justice and the AFL-CIO have good plans to resolve the crisis under the slogan, "Make Wall Street Pay." They want to tax the bankers' incredible salaries and bonuses. They also project a "transaction tax" on Wall Street speculators. They want to make sure that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are not renewed, and that the inheritance tax be reinstated. Those measures would raise enough money for a decent national jobs program with some relief for local governments.
What kind of demands can local groups organize around that will keep us focused on the problem and not fighting each other over scraps? This is the dialogue that we need. Send us your ideas and don't be afraid to mention anything with the slightest chance of helping! Just to get us started, here are a few:
1. Get local organizations, including local governments, to endorse a resolution calling for federal help
2. Get experts to go over all property evaluations and tax rates to make sure they are fair and equal
3. Change our one-size-fits-all property tax rate so that a $10 million property pays at a higher rate than some poor family with a $20,000 shack!
4. Annex the tax haven hideaways for the wealthy into the major cities so they at least pay the same taxes that the rest of us pay
5. Re-instate the luxury sales tax
6. Stand together against every cut, whether it's libraries or trash haulers. We're in this together!