I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tea Partiers at the Trough

Getting ready to go to bed (it's 3am now) I made a last stop in my email box, and sure enough, there was something provocative waiting for me: The Health Care Freedom Act For Arizona - click in and you'll find the actual proposed bill and a summary - as well as their strategy, which is a disgusting perversion of "freedom" as being something that can only come at the cost of people with nothing left to steal anything from...some of you are even going to try to get more out of us by shifting the tax burden from the wealthy on to the poor, through income tax and sales tax changes.

This opposition to accessible health care has nothing to do with "freedom" - that's just the pretty red white and blue paper they wrap this garbage in to sucker people into thinking they need to defend America from...other Americans - and my god, all those immigrants too! It's about keeping insulin from diabetics, and inhalers from kids with asthma, or trimming real food out of the grocery trip in order to buy those life-saving necessities. Food, or medicine? That's a tough one.

Now frankly, these people have been whining for decades about having it all their way, like we're talking about whoppers. Granted, I think the plan that's passing through congress is going to help Americans about as much as the Medicare Rx plan did - anyone who invested in the pharmaceutical industry when the thing was being worked out must have known who would really be making off with the government's money, and it isn't people on Medicare.

I'm drowning in the that damn doughnut hole right now: every year, around May, my prescriptions are no longer covered by Medicare D (even though I have to pay the premium year-round), and I have to either change my meds or shell out over $1000/month for them until I've spent another $4500 of my own money, then they'll step in and cover them again under catastrophic care. Then in January 2010 it starts all over again. I won't pay that money to those people for those drugs, so I slide by on what I can tolerate this half of the year. So, I should be a little more mellow from January to May  next year.

Anyway, it disturbs me greatly that there are so many proud people and politicians carrying on this way, in a continuing effort to block uninsured Americans from getting medical attention. I'd like to say that our founding fathers would roll over in their graves - but I don't think they gave a shit about the rest of us, either. They sold us out to the devil after that war was over. They codified the gross dehumanization of people who had been abducted and enslaved, excluding them from the protections of the constitution, and designating each of them and their descendants to be valued as 3/fifths of a human being for tax purposes.

Maybe it's fitting, then, that the Tea Parties are what they've latched onto - a resurrection of the glorious days leading up to the Revolution that freed all of about 10% of the population to vote, hold office, make laws, etc. - and kept women, Africans and their descendants, certain immigrant groups, and Indigenous peoples (including Latinos already settled in Northern Mexico when it was invaded, raped and stolen by Americans so that the land as well as cheap labor could be exploited to their fullest...)

So, let me guess: this whole tea party idea was strategized by a white male far-right republican who has no clue of the real history of this country, or who is just counting on everyone else being clueless (he may be right). This has been going on for over a century - working people trying to get decent wages, health care for their families - this is nuts. You tea baggers wouldn't have shit for health insurance today if it wasn't for the kind of people you're trying to deprive of having any too. The poor, the working class, minorities, veterans, persecuted immigrants - not to mention generations of socialists and communists and anarchists - all who have had to fight through the years to access the basic resources needed in this country to survive. 

Maybe I'll go to the next tea party and take pictures of cars and people there - I wonder how many have a car like mine - or maybe took the bus because they don't have one at all? 

Real American "Patriots" - as my Dad taught me - aren't selfish, privileged, spoiled, whiny brats who protest only when they think another group's progress or liberation might disrupt their own power base, profit margins, social comfort, or the delusion that all is well in American now that racism is over.Good patriots look out for each other - that meaning ALL of us, not just you people watching your own backs, and leaving us vulnerable to the fallout of perpetual economic inequality.

Tea Parties have become just pathetic. That's not "self-empowerment". That's the most effective, pervasive mechanisms of oppression the very wealthy have: scare the middle class into keeping down the poor - by cutting services, access to food, impeding our ability to organize effectively in our workplace (and prisons!!), withholding lifesaving care from a dying children or and elders, increasing sales tax while cutting taxes on the wealthy (via income and property tax breaks)...that's some pretty nasty stuff. You might as well be standing at the edge of the bridge coming out of New Orleans after Katrina hit and thousands tried to escape - but they we're going into that community, that's for sure - the sheriff and a bunch of other people were armed and waiting for them.

That's what the tea partiers make me think of - not "Revolutionary" heroes (mine would be Nat Turner, John Brown, Harriet Tubman - those people were revolutionary - and heroic). These tea partiers represent some of the worst characteristics of Americans: bigotry, self-interest, short-sightedness. They just ooze meanness, and fundamentally seem to lack the courage to really try to make the world a more just and healing place for everyone other than themselves.

Considering all that, it makes it hard to take seriously any of the politicians who cater to or help organize them and egg them on. They should be embarrassed to be in a public forum with them.

Some of us know that we're all in this together. So are they, only not with us - or we aren't allowed to be with them, I guess is how it goes. Some of us should either work harder or accept our diminished station in life. Besides, there are free clinics around, and some people think that if we end up stealing our medication and going to prison, at least we'll get good health care there. 

Prisoners have a shorter life span that free people - did everyone know that? It's a combination of things - they're often sick already when they get there and if they're poor (which is usually the case) they may not have had medical or dental care for years. There's a higher incidence of HIV and Hepatitis C in prison, as well as other communicable diseases, like TB. If you're fighting colon cancer and can't keep weight on or nutrients in your body, you have to buy your own daily vitamins - for about $20 a month. If your poor, then you're screwed. 

There always a few exceptional individuals in any insitution, no matter how brutal or corrupt it may be, but I've heard enough from prisoners and ex-prisoners about the health care in AZ prisons, which sucks. People die all the time there for lack of prompt, competent medical attention. And now we're hiking the cost of their co-pays again? You know, to someone who only makes ten cents an hour, increasing the co-pay from $3 to $5 is pretty drastic - especially since we're also talking about cutting prisoner pay (to what? what left?). Some folks are just too old or sick or confused to even work if a job was available. What do they do for basic needs in prison if they have no family who can help - or if their family is now struggling too much because they lost a breadwinner?

That's enough for tonight - I'll be up till dawn if I don't stop here.

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