Johann Hari’s recent Nation essay detailed Great Britain’s growing popular movement demanding an alternative to forcing the poor and middle class to pay for an economic crisis caused by the rich.
The group, UK Uncut, has opposed government cuts, targeted companies accused of avoiding millions of pounds in taxes and taken its message far beyond the usual precincts of progressives. “The UK Uncut message is simple,” Hari wrote. “If you want to sell in our country, you pay our taxes. They are the membership fee for a civilized society.” This Saturday will see UK Uncut’s first national day of action with protesters expected to bring more than 30 branches of Barclays Bank to a standstill.
Hari’s article also noted the potential for a US Uncut, a progressive Tea Party, if you will. There’s certainly no shortage of targets, as this slide show highlighting eight egregious US companies receiving federal dollars from the TARP bailout while hiding their own profits in overseas tax havens demonstrates.
Moreover, as reported by many major news outlets in 2008, the Government Accountability Office found that between 1998 and 2005 approximately two-thirds of all American corporations did not pay any income tax. Of the largest corporations, 25 percent did not pay any federal income tax, despite generating over $1.1 trillion in revenue.
Now, in the best tradition of advocacy journalism and the core values of The Nation, Hari’s article has sparked the potential powder-keg of disenchanted Americans. As the Guardian reported today, Carl Gibson of Jackson, Mississippi recently started the first US UNcut group after reading Hari’s piece in The Nation, and there are now at least twenty chapters coast to coast.
“The folks in the UK who decided to stand up, organize and speak out are a daily inspiration to me and the rest of the movement in the states,” said Gibson, 23, to the Guardian. “The message is simple—before you sacrifice hard-working public sector employee’s jobs and necessary public programs, why not first make the richest of the rich pay their fair share in taxes?”
As US Uncut’s mission statement says, “US Uncut is a response to this article by Johann Hari in The Nation, titled How To Build a Progressive Tea Party. US Uncut will learn from their model and try to replicate their success. On February 26th we are holding the first international day of Uncut action, along with UK Uncut.”
In the US, Uncut chapters will stage demonstrations on Saturday, February 26, at Bank of America locations in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Washington DC; New York City; Portland, Maine and Boston, among numerous other places. (Why BoA? It received $45 billion in government bailout funds while funneling its tax dollars into 115 separate offshore tax havens.)
Check this map to find out where events are happening; if there’s no action scheduled in your area, read these tips on organizing and promoting your own action. It’s much easier—and more fun—than you might think. And keep up with future actions by following US, Uncut on Twitter and/or joining its Facebook group.