Workers Action Leaflet for the Statewide Conference to Defend Public Education held in Berkeley, California
The following statement was distributed as a flyer at a conference held at the University of California (UC) in Berkeley, on October 24, 2009. The conference was attended by students, staff and faculty from the UC system, Community Colleges, the California State University system and K-12 from across the state. It was organized in order to agree to some joint actions to protest the current budget cuts.
We are engaged in a life and death struggle to save public education. If the current budget cuts remain, accessible quality public education, along with jobs tied to it, will essentially be destroyed.
However, we are in a historic position to force not only a retraction of the budget cuts but win full funding for all levels of public education, from kindergarten through graduate school, because students, staff and faculty are united more than at any other time in our history. In unity there is strength. We can win!
But in order to ensure that our unity holds firm, we must include as a central demand that the state legislature raise revenues by taxing the rich and taxing the corporations, not working people. In the short run we should demand that the Obama administration bail out education, not banks. Even if our schools on all levels received only a small percentage of what the banks were given, we would have more than enough money. If revenues do not increase, we will become fractured as we fight among ourselves for the crumbs.
The rich and the corporations can afford to pay:
The New York Times reported, “tax sheltering has cost states more than one-third of their revenue on corporate taxes…” (July 16, 2003)
The New York Times also reported (March 8, 2009): “There are effectively two tax systems in America: one for the very rich and one for the rest of us. Income from stock dividends and capital gains, which makes up a disproportionate amount of the earnings of the very rich, is taxed at 15 percent. But the bulk of what the rest of us earn — wages and interest from savings accounts — is taxed at up to 35 percent.”
We cannot rely on the Democrats, who routinely accept huge corporate donations and in return do corporate bidding. Last February, while they were cutting, slashing, and terminating social programs, California Democrats in the state legislature voted to give corporations $1 billion in new tax breaks while raising taxes on the rest of us in five different ways. (Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2009)
We are not alone. More and more unions are going on record demanding progressive taxation. The San Francisco Labor Council, for example, recently passed a resolution (September 28, 2009) declaring that “as a high priority” it would “participate in building a broad based movement for (1) fair and progressive taxation in California, (2) majority rule and the end to the 2/3 vote requirement for taxes and (3) adequate funding for public services…”
We are not simply fighting for our own interests when we defend public education. We are fighting for the interests of everyone. The data is “overwhelmingly convincing.” Investing in education is “the best way to address the nation’s economic problems.” (The New York Times, August 5, 2004)
Let us demand real change and insist that California operate in the interests of the majority. And the majority of the people of California, who are ordinary working people, want taxes raised on the rich, for a change, not on themselves. Majority rule does not mean that Democrats should have the right to continue their support of the corporate agenda by lowering corporate taxes, cutting social services, and raising taxes on the rest of us.
Tax the Corporations!
Tax the Rich!
Full Funding for Public Education!