As the Capitol building reopened following two judges’ orders to stop prohibiting public access to the building, another huge, sign- carrying crowd massed in downtown Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, March 5.
Once again, there was a festive, playful mood. Protesters carried inflatable palm trees in the frigid weather and signs that read: “Fox News Will Lie About This” (a reference to video of union members screaming and shoving at a rally on Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor,” which O’Reilly claimed was from Wisconsin [ no, he did not ], but which clearly showed palm trees and sunshine in the background.)
Capitalism: a love story…….
Capitol Kids, a high-end toy store on the capitol square, was selling bright red t-shirts for kids, with the legend “Teach Me How to Protest,” and the Wisconsin Solidarity sign: a blue fist in the shape of the state of Wisconsin and a white star in the middle.
In addition, the store advertised “a new shipment of noise-makers” “mini-tambourines, train whistles, kazoos and bells which join our very popular vuvuzelas and drums….
Michael Moore took the stage to tell the crowd “I am so proud of you.”
“For three weeks you’ve stood in the cold, slept on the floor, skipped out of town to Illinois. Whatever it took, you did it. And one thing is certain, Madison is only the beginning,” Moore said.
He connected the protests in Wisconsin to the struggle against economic and political inequality nationally and around the world. The movement is “a little bit of Egypt and a little bit of Madison,” he said.
Revving up the crowd, he talked about how a tiny minority of billionaires bought our political process, and torpedoed public spending on things that benefit most people like education, suppressed wages and benefits, and concentrated wealth in a few hands. “But that wasn’t enough for them,” he said. “Now they want your soul. . . . They want your dignity.” Now they are arguing that working people can’t even have a place at the table, Moore said. He described a pilot making $19,000 a year who can’t even negotiate for a few more hours of sleep in his car at the O’Hare parking lot.
He begged reporters to write down a statistic: that 400 people in the United States now have more wealth than half of all Americans combined–155 million people.
“The few who have the most money don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes,” Moore said. Furthermore, “They are the very people who don’t pay their taxes crashed our economic system.”
“The nation is not broke, my friends,” Moore said. “Wisconsin is not broke.There is plenty of money to go around.”