On Saturday, Dec 2, just before two in the morning the Senate passed a tax bill that will greatly harm the lower and middle classes, a bill that was written by lobbyists and was passed without being read by most of the Senators who voted on it.
Democrats expressed a mix of outrage for the bill, pride in their “no” votes, and disdain for the lack of bipartisan compromise. As Los Angelenos we find ourselves having to yet again ask the question we’ve been asking for decades: How do we get the rich to care?
For those living in this city the notion that the Democrats provide citizens with a positive economic vision is a lived lie. Despite having Democrats in control of almost every area of our local government homelessness increased 23% last year. While our Democratic mayor has paid lip service to the harm of rent increases, he is also gleefully welcoming the Olympics, an event that will greatly exacerbate the homelessness and housing crisis in this city. The wealth inequality in this city is the 7th highest in the country, but if you place a photo of Skid Row next to one of Bel Air or Beverly Hills, it’s shocking it’s not higher. None of these are issues that cropped up over night and the historical and political circumstances that led to the tax bill passing did not begin and end with that Saturday morning vote. This tax bill, like most of these societal ills, is the logical conclusion of decades of predatory policies and problematic rhetoric.
If the wealthy, those who have unfettered access to the lobbyists, pundits, and politicians who craft these policies and control the dialogue around economic issues, were going to care just out of a sense of altruism we wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place. But the wealthy are not motivated by altruism (even their contributions to charity come with a tax write-off) they are motivated by profit, and fixing issues like homelessness and poverty means denying them the fortunes they make by exacerbating the forces that cause homelessness and poverty. We will never get the wealthy to care about those whose backs they step on, but we can and should make them see that defeating this tax bill is in their best interest. How does one do that? With pitchforks, and in their neighborhood.
When I heard the news of the bill passing I jokingly tweeted that we should take to the streets of Beverly Hills. By 7:30 pm on Saturday evening a group of over 30 very angry, mostly precariat workers, had gathered in Beverly Gardens Park ready to let those who stand to benefit by this ghoulish bill know exactly how we felt about it.
In the post-Trump world, protest fatigue is a real battle the left has to fight, but protests are and will continue breaking out all over this country in response to this bill, as they should. As with any action they need to be targeted. While there is value in marching through downtown, it’s more accessible so it’s easier to get larger numbers, City Hall is there, etc., those who are going to benefit from this bill will not notice that you are there. Local news in this city is anemic, and even if the action does get the news coverage it deserves I have to assume that channels will be changed and links left un-clicked by those we most want to hear our message.
So how do you get those who have dinner parties and fundraisers for the Garcettis, Schiffs, Clintons, McCains, and Trumps of the world to care that freelancers just lost an estimated $3,000 in one night due to changes to freelance deductions and increase in ACA payments? You make it in their best interest to care. You let them know that the finger of blame is directed squarely at them. In a 2014 Politico article “proud and unapologetic” capitalist Nick Hanauer predicted that the pitchforks were coming for him and his fellow plutocrats.
On Saturday December 2, he was proven right, the pitchforks may have been made of plastic but the ire was real. Don’t let them turn away from what they’ve done. March through their streets, yell outside their restaurants, shame their greed with the same conviction that they have when they shame your poverty. For once in their very privileged lives make them experience consequences for the havoc they have wreaked, because, as we learned on Saturday night, they won’t see it coming.
And since my first joke tweet became a glorious reality, I’m just going to leave this here: