700 at rural forum demand jobs, Social Security, Medicare for all

SEQUIM, Wa. - More than 700 people packed the auditorium of Sequim High School Sept. 27 and applauded angry blasts at Wall Street greed and demands for green jobs, peace and Medicare for all.

It was one of hundreds of meetings organized by MoveOn across the nation this past week in support of activist Van Jones' "Contract for the American Dream" campaign. But Clallam County MoveOn preferred to call their event the "American Awakening" and spent four months organizing and publicizing the event.

MoveOn councils in Jefferson County, Kitsap County and Whidbey Island joined in the effort and brought hundreds of people to help fill the auditorium of this rural high school.

Economist David Korten, publisher of Yes magazine, based on Bainbridge Island, blasted Wall Street as a "job killer" and scorned tea party Republicans in Congress who block tax increases on corporations and the wealthy on specious grounds that tax cuts for the rich "creates jobs."

Korten urged support for MoveOn's "contract," which identifies 10 "most critical steps": invest in America's infrastructure, create 21st century energy jobs, fully fund public education, provide Medicare for all, make work pay, secure Social Security, return to fairer tax rates, end foreign wars, tax Wall Street speculation and strengthen democracy.

"This is economics we can all understand," Korten said, adding that "footloose, publicly traded corporations" are reaping record profits while destroying millions of jobs and pushing millions into poverty.

"Medicare is a threat to Wall Street insurance corporations," Korten said. "It couldn't be any simpler than that."

He called for a "single-payer solution" with Medicare for everyone, funded from a single insurance pool run by the state.

Sharing the platform was Port Townsend family physician Kathleen Ottaway, regional AFL-CIO executive board member Robby Stern and Dorothea Hover-Kramer, Clallam County MoveOn council leader.

Dr. Ottaway drew an ovation when she mentioned she is a member of "Mad as Hell Doctors," who filled this same auditorium two years ago in a rally demanding "Medicare for All" single-payer health care. She blasted the for-profit health care system in which 50,000 people die annually because they lack health insurance. Hover-Kramer, a psychologist and author, told the crowd that economic inequality, financial risk-taking and corporate destruction of the environment were not in the spirit of the American dream.

"People are waking up," she said, citing the movement that began in Wisconsin last spring when the labor movement and other progressives fought back against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's union busting agenda.

Stern praised activist government employees and young people who are occupying Wall Street today. He asked audience members to join an organization for change. "It's going to take something real big to turn this around . . . to take away the power of Wall Street."

He said Social Security has not contributed a single penny to the nation's nearly $15 trillion deficit. "But it's under attack," he said, adding that Social Security needs to be defended so it can be passed on to the children of the future.

The program ended with more than 20 audience members lining up to have their remarks video-recorded for a MoveOn presentation to the so-called supercommittee, which includes Washington's Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, which by Nov. 23 must draft a proposal for at least $1.5 trillion in deficit-reduction measures over 10 years or face mandatory across-the-board cuts.

Clallam MoveOn coordinator Bill Kildall was elated at the turnout and the spirit of fight back in the crowd.

"Everyone in our MoveOn council contributed to the success of this meeting," said Kildall, a retired public high school administrator. "We've closed ranks in four counties in western Washington. We have become a key force for bringing about progressive change. We are going to present the testimony from this meeting to Senator Murray and the supercommittee demanding that they shift the emphasis to taxing the wealthy, supporting the needs of the 98 percent, not the wealthy two percent. This is the strength and unity of 700 people speaking with one voice."