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America is NOT Broke! March 5, 2011

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Documentary Filmmaker Michael Moore speaks at a protest rally in Madison, Wisconsin. 14 Democratic Senators fled the state in order to stymie Governor Scott Walker and Republican's attempts to eliminate union's collective bargaining rights. At the time of the speech, protesters had already been protesting for three straight weeks.

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Wow! Thank you. Thank you.

CROWD: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

No, thank you. All of American thanks you! Thank you Wisconsin! Unbelievable!

It is profoundly moving to see what I just saw coming up the street, and what I see from this stage. I have been observing this and supporting it from afar as I've been busy on the road working on my next project. And as I finished my work last night we were in New York City, and around midnight I thought I would write up a little blog of something I wanted to say about what was going on here - especially after having just listening to Bill O'Reilly and Sarah Palin.

CROWD: Boo!

It was inspirational.

(laughs)

And so about midnight I started writing this, and around 2:00am I read it back to myself and I thought 'ya know, you should just go to the airport and get on a plane and go to Madison, Wisconsin and read this to them.'

(cheers)

So here I am! Before I read this, first, I just want to thank - you don't know how impressive it is to the rest of the country, to see these 14 Senators - still, still - refusing to participate in this scam of a century! So if they're listening - thank you! Thank you Wisconsin 14! Thank you Fab 14! None of us really know what the exact specific outcome of all of this will be - we have a good feeling about it though! We have a really good feeling about it. But one thing I do know is that these 14 Senators will go down in the history books of labor history in America. They have done such an absolutely terrific job, and we will never forget their courage. This kind of resolve we're used to seeing on the other side of the fence. If I could just tell tales out of school here for just a second - it's just amazing: they only need one of them to crack. Only one has to come back! And they won't do it - not one! Not one! And they're Democrats! I mean that in a positive way, but you know our side, we're a little uh, you know - 'well maybe you know we should go back and talk to them, you know, we're good hearted people - they'll listen.' I mean, that's what we're kind of used to, right? Not in Wisconsin! (cheers)

So, I would like to read to you my statement for today, March 5th, 2011. And I am so honored, honored, and privileged to be able to have this opportunity to stand here with you and say these things that need to be said - things that I want to personally say about this whole thing. And this is called: America is NOT broke. And that's right, neither is Wisconsin.

America is not broke, contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had. America is not broke. Not by a long-shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash - it's just that its not in your hands. It has been transfered in the greatest heist in history from the workers and consumers to the banks and portfolios of the uber-rich. Right now, this afternoon - just 400 Americans - 400 - have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.

CROWD: Boos

Let me say that again. And please, someone in the main-stream media, just repeat this fact once. We're not greedy - we'll be happy to hear it just once. 400 obscenely wealthy individuals - 400 little Mubaraks - most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar tax-payer bailout of 2008, now have more cash, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined! (boos)

CROWD: Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!

If - if you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'etat, then you are simply not being honest with what you know in your heart to be true. But I can see why people don't want to even think about this. For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy would mean that we'd have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the monied-elite. Wall Street, the banks and the Fortune 500 now run this Republic. (boos) And until this past month here in Madison, Wisconsin - the rest of us until then have felt completely helpless, unable to do anything about it. Now, just like your soon-to-be ex-Governor - (cheers) - I have nothing more than a high school education. But, Governor Walker, back when I was in school every student had to take one Semester of economics in order to graduate. And here's what I learned: money doesn't grow on trees! Unless it's a palm tree. It grows when we make things. It grows when we have good jobs with good wages that we use to buy the things we need - and guess what? That creates more jobs. It grows when we provide an outstanding educational system - an educational system that then grows a new generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, thinkers - the people who will come up with the next great idea for this planet. And those ideas create jobs, and the jobs produce tax revenue. But the few who have the most money, don't want to pay their fair share of the taxes. They'd rather invest it in a gambling casino known as 'Wall Street' betting for or against the stock market, or against your home mortgage. And the entire population suffers because that wealth has been removed from circulation.

What's so cynical about this is that the very people who don't pay their taxes crashed our economic system. They created the unemployment, which has caused less tax revenue, and states like Wisconsin have ended up with a so-called 'budget crisis.' But Wisconsin is not broke. It's one of the three biggest lies of the last decade. What are the three biggest lies? Let's repeat them:

#1: Wisconsin is broke.

#2: There's weapons of mass destruction in Iraq

and #3: The Packers need Favre in order to win the Super Bowl!

The Nation - the nation is not broke my friends. There's lots of money to go around - lots, lots! It's just that those in charge have diverted that wealth into a deep well that sits on their well-guarded estates. They know - they know that they have committed crimes to make this happen.

CROWD: They should go to jail!

And they know - and they know that some day you may want to see some of that money that used to be yours. So, so they have bought and paid for hundreds of politicians across the country to do their bidding for them. But just in case that doesn't work - they've got their gated-communities, they've got their luxury jet that's always fully-fueled, the engines running, waiting for that day, waiting for that day that they hope never comes. To help prevent that day when people - the people - demand their country back, the wealth have done two very smart things:

#1: They control the message. By owning the media, they have expertly convinced many Americans of few means to buy their version of the American Dream and vote for their politicians. Their version of The Dream says that you too may be rich some day. 'This is America where anything can happen if you just apply yourself.' They have conveniently provided you with believable examples to show you how a poor boy can become a rich man. How the child of a single mother in Hawaii can become President of the United States, and how a guy with a high school education can become a successful filmmaker. They - (cheers) - don't fall for it. (laughs) They will play these stories for you over and over again all day long so that the last thing you'll want to do is upset the apple cart, because yes you, you, you too might be rich, President, Oscar winner someday. The message though is clear, keep your head down, keep your nose to the grindstone, don't rock the boat. Be sure to vote for the party that protects the rich man that you might be someday.

And here's the second smart thing the wealthy have done - they've created a poison-pill that they know you will never want to take. It's their version of mutually-assured destruction. And when they threatened to release this weapon of mass economic annihilation in September of 2008, we blinked! As the economy and the stock market went into a tail-spin, and the banks were caught conducting a world-wide ponzi scheme, Wall Street issued this threat - 'either hand over trillions of dollars from the American tax-payers or we will crash this economy straight into the ground.' (boos)

Crash it straight into the ground. There's a word for that isn't there? Terrorism. It's a form of terrorism isn't it? Fork it over or it's good bye savings accounts. Fork it over or it's goodbye pensions. Fork it over or it's goodbye United States Treasury. Fork it over or it's goodbye jobs, and homes and future. It was friggin' awesome and it scared the crap out of everyone. 'Here, take our money, we don't care, we'll even print more for you - just take it, but please, please leave our lives alone - please!' The executives in the board rooms and hedge funds could not contain their laughter or their glee. And within months they were writing each other huge bonus checks and marveling at how perfectly they had played a nation full of suckers. Millions, millions lost their jobs anyway, and millions lost their homes, but there was not revolt, until NOW!

(cheers!)

On Wisconsin! On Wisconsin! On Wisconsin!

Never has a Michiganer been more happy to share a great big <> with you. I'm so proud of you. You have aroused a sleeping-giant known as the working people of the United States of America. Right now the Earth is shaking and the ground is shifting under the feat of those who are in charge. Your message - your message - has inspired people in all 50 states and that message is - We have had it!'

CROWD: We have had it! We have had it! We have had it! We have had it! We have had it! We have had it!

On Wisconsin! We - and we are all Wisconsinites now - we reject anyone who tells us that Wisconsin or America is broke or broken. It's just the opposite - we are rich with talent, and ideas, and hard-work and yes love - love and compassion for those who have through no fault of their own, ended up as the least among us. But they too still crave what we all crave - our country back, our Democracy back, our good name back! The United States of America, not the Corporate States of America! The United States of America! The United States of America!

CROWD: The United States of America! The United States of America! The United States of America!

So! How do we get this? Well, we do it with a little bit of Egypt here, and a little bit of Madison there. And let us pause for a moment, and remember that it was a poor man with a fruit stand in Tunisia who gave his life so that the world might focus its attention on how a government run by billionaires, for billionaires is an affront to freedom, morality and humanity. Thank you Wisconsin - you have made people realize that right now is our last best chance to grab the final thread of what is left - what is left for us - as who we are as Americans. For three weeks you have stood in the cold, slept on the floor, skipped out of town to Illinois. Whatever it took, you've done it! And one thing is certain - Madison is only the beginning!

You know the funny thing about this is - is that the rich have over-played their hand. You know, they couldn't have been just content with the money that they raided from our treasury. They couldn't be satisfied by simply removing millions of jobs and shipping them overseas. No! They had to have more didn't they? Something more - something more though they wanted, than all the riches in the world. They had to have our soul. They had to strip us - our teachers - of their dignity. They had to shut us up and shut us down, so that we weren't even allowed at the table to bargain, about a simple thing like classroom size, or bullet-proof vests for the entire police force, or letting a pilot - a pilot just get a few extra hours sleep so he or she can do their job. Their $19,000 a year job. When I came in here on Delta Express - just like all those commuter planes - the starting pay is approximately $19,000 a year. (boos) They don't fly on those planes do they? But you know, that pilot who is making $19,000 a year; he or she has given up trying to get better pay - at this point all they want is a few extra hours of sleep in their car in the parking lot of O'Hare airport. That's what I have to listen to when I fly to places like this. And that's how despicably low that we've sunk. The wealthy couldn't be content with just paying this man $19,000 a year, they wanted to take away his friggin' sleep. They wanted to demean and dehumanize them, just as they do the public workers here in this state, because after all, 'he's just another slob.'

CROWD: Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!

And finally to the media who are here - please, please tell this story correctly. I've only been here an hour and I'm shocked by what I've seen - and I haven't seen watching this on television, or reading it in the mainstream papers. You know, all the pundits said they were caught by surprise when Egypt revolted. And they don't still understand after nearly three weeks what's going on in Madison. They're completely flummuxed by it, because they're like 'well, but, but, there was an election in November. What's going on here?' Well there's something happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you?

Finally America, again, isn't broke. The only thing that's broke is the moral compass of the rulers, and we, we aim to fix that compass and steer the ship ourselves from this point on. Please, please never forget that as long as that Constitution of our still stands, it's one person, one vote. And, and that is the thing that the rich hate the most about America! No matter how hard they try to buy the votes, no matter how much they try to own the political process, when it comes down to it, it's one person, one vote. And there's a helluva lot more of us than there are of them! Never forget that! Never forget that! Madison, thank you! Do not retreat! You are not alone! America is with you! America thanks you! Madison! Madison! Madison! We are going to do this together! Don't give up! Please don't give up! Thank you very much! Thank you!

Courtesy of Michael Moore

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Source: TED

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America is NOT Broke!- March 5, 2011

- Michael Moore
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