Independence Day was originally supposed to be July 2nd, did you know? Our fledgling country fought for its freedom and won, thanks to many brave individuals.
Now, we ask, how free are we today? We have people of all races, religions, classes, genders, and orientations here. Everyone has their own belief in what degree of freedom we have. We still have the right to choose what we want to do in life, provided we have the right people and means on our side. We have the choice of partner, as long as that partner fits into society's standard. We have the right to live how we choose, if we make sure we can fund it. We have the right to bear arms, as long as we can afford them, wait for them, and not have any mental defects. (As someone diagnosed with a mental illness, even though it does not make me violent, I do not qualify to bear arms.) We have the right to justice, provided we can pay the right attorney to represent us. We have the right to vote for who we want to lead us, but in some states you'd better have proper ID, and in others, it may not even matter due to the electoral college. We have the right to stand up for what we believe in, as long as we don't do so too loudly or fiercely, or else we may find ourselves behind bars for a multitude of reasons. We have the right to food, clothing, and shelter, as long as we can afford it. We have the right to health care, provided we can pay for it. (For now.) We have the right to go to college, but if you are unable to work your way through, you better find a great job right after, or you will be paying out the ass for decades.
Why do almost all of our rights come with stipulations?
Let's see what is going on today, shall we?
Thanks to Kate for this first one.
-- Occupy Our Homes ATL is at work again, this time outside the big city. Steve Boudreaux, aged 56, is losing his home to foreclosure, and Occupy is working hard to help him get a loan modification. Boudreaux fell behind on his payments a year ago, when he lost his job and his live-in girlfriend (who paid half) moved out. After 90 days, Wells Fargo moved onto foreclosure proceedings. Boudreaux got an emergency loan modification, but the IRS sent the tax forms too late, and Wells Fargo once again went ahead to sell the house. Boudreaux has invited Occupy in to help him. He is asking for a loan modification, but Wells Fargo repeatedly has said they are no longer involved, and will not say which mortgage financing company is.
-- The elementary school in Oakland, where parents, teachers, and community members have been camping out to protest the closures, was raided early yesterday morning. Most protesters left, but two were arrested after they refused. The school board says that they let the protesters demonstrate for 17 days, regardless of the fact that they were protesting, but they need to begin preparations for the next school year. Protesters are angry that the schools are closing, as they serve mostly minority students who will now have to be bused to different locations.
-- The Occupy National Gathering appears to be going well, if you ask the CM. Protesters peacefully marched while police watched, and gave speeches about how they've been affected by many important topics. Groups protested predatory student loan practices, fracking, faulty home loan processes, corporations in government, and many other legitimate concerns.
Freedom. Great, isn't it? As long as you are a welcome piece of society, it is great. But when you find yourself on the outer circle, you realize that your freedoms no longer matter. We have so many groups that don't fit into society's neat little boxes, and once you're out, you're out. That's it.
If you don't believe that's true, ask yourself these questions.
Why do many people feel it would be okay to make fat people pay more for health insurance? Many fat people are actually healthy, and cannot lose weight for a multitude of reasons. They don't visit the doctor or cost more to treat (on average) than any other person?
Because fat people aren't welcome in society. This is a punishment for not being an "ideal" person.
Why is it acceptable to add higher and higher taxes to cigarettes in order to benefit other parts of society? Caffeine doesn't have a $2 tax per cup of coffee. The price of alcohol doesn't go up every time we have a financial crisis.
Because cigarette smokers aren't welcome in society. This tax is basically a punishment for having a "vice," even though other vices are not punished the same way.
Why is it okay to tax strip clubs in order to provide money to women's centers who focus on abuse and rape, even though studies show no connection between the two issues?
Because exotic dancers and those who visit them are not welcome in society. This is a punishment for the women who "choose" to work in these industries. (I know many women who enjoy their work in these industries. The quotation marks are meant for people like me. I once worked as a dancer because I couldn't find a job elsewhere, and absolutely had to find a way to support myself. There was a choice--dance, or live on the streets.)
If you keep looking, you will find more and more people who face higher taxes and pay more in general, and they all have one thing in common. They're being punished for who they are, what they do, and/or who they are with.
Yeah, freedom. Freedom for all (who fit in).
To contact me, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.