$35,000 a plate.
That’s what I pondered as I ate my frosted flakes drowned in more coffee than milk. Barack Obama, our great creative visionary transformative president is having a fund raiser dinner at the White House and charging attendees $35,000. A plate.
Never mind that the White House has become an ATM for cash-and carry politicians. Let’s talk about nutrition. How much is a recommended serving of meat, 6-8 ounces? Let’s say gold is hovering at $1,500 an ounce. That’s cash for a double-serving of gold as your main entree with enough left over on the tab to afford a gold flaked side or a diamond-encrusted dessert.
But of course, people aren’t really buying dinner. They’re buying access to our president. The guy who would be my commander in chief if I was still in the military. He’d be my 2012 presidential pick if I underwent a lobotomy. Then again, I hear his canvassers get paid.
How do you put that type of fund raising in perspective? That’s a lot of coffee-soaked frosted flakes. That’s a lot of pastrami sandwiches. That’s about 70 prettiest pink Vaio laptops. It’s about four years living in this rent controlled apartment I’m currently crashing at on the corner of Central Park. It’s about 20 years of food for one occupier using our current rule of thumb of $5 a person a day. It could be over twice that many years board according to the $2-$6 a head that we pay local churches to house our diaspora.
Oh yeah, I don’t know if I clarified a couple posts ago when I ended with the erection of a tent in the newly liberated Zuccotti park. That lasted all of 2 minutes before the private security goons came in and tore it down.
So here we are, watching our cash reserves dwindle over the winter while the establishment politicians out there rake it in over what should be another record-breaking election. They say that well over $6 BILLION dollars might be in play this year, with Obama pulling in over $1 BILLION himself.
And meanwhile, over here at Occupy Wall Street they just passed a proposal to FREEZE spending. That’s right. Not create a comprehensive analysis of possible increases in donations, plotting past actions against donation spikes to create objective metrics that can increase our war chest. Not trying to prioritize actions even generally: those that generate press and revenue VS those that don’t multiply our dollars.
Just freeze all the cash. And to make matters worse, and this isn’t something I actually object to, they made exceptions for housing, food and metro cards.
So stop spending money on the actions that actually increase our bank account, while keeping our operating costs fixed. For example, the outreach working group, the folks tasked with getting the word out about our movement throughout the 5 boroughs and before major actions, they now have to make due without their $2,000 a week printing budget. As one member of the group told me, we’ve always got sharpie’s and cardboard.
Why go into battle unprepared? Why use stone-age tactics when we have the ability to be as cutting edge as the opposition? Card board signs are important techniques but we did not take Zuccotti by cardboard. People gave us money to support the movement we were creating. The money’s slowed to a trickle because we’ve stagnated as an organization.
I’ve talked to the people who organized this proposal, both the well-intentioned and those I don’t trust. I’ve been flaming the proposal page on the OWS website. In the end I fear that this is a power move to push the movement towards affinity and therefore less transparent funding sources, as a first step towards eventual co-option by the establishment. In order to steer a movement, first you need to get it on the payroll.
Discussions like these don’t address our underlying issue of stagnation. We haven’t just frozen in place. Our identity’s been fractured since the park was raided and we haven’t addressed this. This has gotten so bad that now the Occupied Office received an “anonymous complain,” most likely from an inside source based on the wording, that caused it to limit access. Now our fancy Wall Street headquarters, as described on CNN, is only accepting 17 or so people at a time (happily posting the complaint online as their justification). And guess who proposals like these come from?
The office rats who occupy behind the doormen. I’m glad I ditched that place when I did, while I could still feel the stifling undemocratic atmosphere in the air. Because the endgame is to make you comfortable in other ways to the point that you no longer notice, or care, that you’ve forsaken your values for comfort, privilege. Freeze the spending, let the money run out of the General Fund, let the “dead weight” slough off during the winter, and refocus come spring. These are the types of conversations I”d overhear or call out in that office space, when people weren’t complaining in general about the selfless burdens they’d taken on.
I wonder how far Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” fallacy can be applied to the modern institutional activist? “Hipster’s Burden?” “iPhone Burden?”
“Take up the White Man’s burden
And reap his old reward
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard”
Yes, guard us from our ignorance, cut our credit cards, ground us and scold us about fiscal responsibility. What words are associated with a spending freeze? Restrictions, responsibility, maturity, scarcity, austerity, limits, accountability, fear of vulnerability, survival. Now what about the other side, spending freely and openly in the hope that in the business we’re in, the business of public activism, action generates income: world of plenty, good will, abundance, gift economy, barter, compassion, love, hope, faith, idealism, providence.
And just who’s is supposed to provide? The people, as long as we continue to inspire them. Watching a bunch of hippies fret over their check book isn’t inspiring, it’s pathetic, and the media’s taking notice. There is big money out there, $35k a plate money, let’s go after it. Let’s not sit on our thumbs and lick our wounds as the noose of impoverishment tightens. This sounds suspiciously like the austerity measures that the global banking cartel tries to force down the throats of its victims.
Oh my God, it all makes sense now: Occupy Wall Street has been centrally banked! As soon as I get back down to Lower Manhattan I’m going to have to look into just what the fuck is going on in finance.
As an after thought, I just want to paraphrase a comment from Sub Commandante Marcos, a Zapatista revolutionary still struggling in the southern jungles of Mexico. Explaining why his movement veered off its intended trajectory, from urban intellectualism to indigenous rights, he answered something to the effect that “we came to the jungle to politicize the Indians, instead they made Indians of us.” This is the personal growth that I felt in the park, that I feel at the best of times in this movement. The homeless weren’t our problem. Money isn’t our problem. You don’t have problems when you have moral conviction, peace is your reward.
Our ability to live our values and by doing so inspire others is our challenge. Now if we can do this while planning large actions that garner attention and that big Obama/Romney money, then maybe we’ll justify calling ourselves a movement.