Foreclosures Homelessness Politics

Needs vs. Profits

On every newsletter we send you and nearly every flyer, brochure, and banner we produce SAFE includes the words “Housing is a Human Right!” Our belief is that all human beings, solely because they are human beings, should have a right to safe, clean, and dignified shelter.

This is a tad different from the way things work in the US, where hundreds of thousands of people bed down at night in parks, shelters, and under bridges, while a few distinguished people, like Sen. John McCain, cannot recall how many mansions they own.

At SAFE we focus on foreclosure and eviction, but those who face the tragic and degrading realty of being thrown out of their homes are frequently beset by medical problems, divorce, and unemployment, experiencing the humiliation of being without money, food, water, medicine, transportation, and so on.

A society committed to the well-being of all its people not only regards housing as a human right, but also food, clothing, medical care, etc. – in short, all basic human needs. Does this mean we all are entitled to have our basic needs met by society? Yes! The satisfaction of our basic needs is a human right. Does this mean we have an obligation to work in and for such a society? Yes! Those who are able should work to sustain such a society.

But if everyone’s basic needs are already met, if everyone has food, clothing, shelter, and so on, why bother with the drudgery of work? Just stay home and enjoy a life of leisure.

If we are to avoid a society of forced labor – as in Russia shortly after the 1917 revolution – we must change the nature of work from drudgery to that which is intrinsically fulfilling.

To do this we must satisfy two necessary conditions. First, all the people should own the economy, not just the 0.1%. Our factories, our banks, and our land must not be the private property of the few, but the property of everyone. When a person goes to work, s/he should perform a job not for the enrichment of the factory’s owner, but for the benefit of the society at large.

Second, the people themselves must control the economy. Simply nationalizing the factories, the banks, etc., doesn’t suffice. It merely takes these economic institutions out of the hands of private capitalists and places them under the control of government bureaucrats.

When the people democratically own and control the economy, the nature of work shifts radically. Instead of a profit-obsessed management monitoring and directing your work life, you and your coworkers would decide what, how, and when to produce goods and services.

Exactly how decisions are made within a society and how decisions at the factory level are coordinated with other factories in the same industry and with local, regional, national, and global communities have been the subject of much debate. When people participate in economic decisions at their jobs, however, for the good of everyone, not just the 0.1%, people would be willing to work because they are active participants in the labor process. Instead of being treated as exploited commodities, the workers would be treated as creative, respected human beings.

At SAFE we don’t just fight the banks, we fight against a society run by and for the banks. We fight not only for our neighbors, especially the dispossessed, but we fight to build a society that encourages the well-being and development of everyone.

— Stephen Price, SAFE Volunteer 

Housing is a Human Right!

Questions?  Comments?

Upcoming Actions:

Fri., Aug. 2: Auction Protest at Northwest Trustee Services: For Larry and Flor. Gather at the SAFE House at 9:00 AM, leave promptly at 9:10 AM.
Now through Aug. 5: Backbone’s Localize This! Summer Camp. See backbonecampaign.org for details.

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (NE corner of Graham St). All are welcome!

Sundays, 5:30 – 7:00 PM: Weekly SAFE Active Member Homeowner’s/Bank Tenant’s Support Group: Also at 6230 Beacon Ave S.

This Past Week:

July 26: Demand Deliveries: SAFE members deliver demand letters to Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase branches in West Seattle. Two Seattle policemen at the Chase branch usher us out. (Why does Seattle pay police to protect bank branches? Chase cannot afford its own security?) At the BofA branch a private security guard run in to the branch just seconds before we arrive, locking in and locking out BofA’s own customers. Wells Fargo’s branch manager lets Dorli read our entire letter.

July 31: Eviction Blockade: Sheriff Urquhart’s office notifies SAFE members at 9:30 AM that he is coming sometime after noon to evict Jeremy. We immediately activate the RRN (Rapid Response Network). By 11:30 a few dozen SAFE supporters begin picketing in front of Jeremy’s house. At 1:00 PM large police SUV’s block off both ends of the 700 block of So. Henderson St, where Jeremy lives. Within a few minutes Sheriff Urquhart, his Chief of Staff, and a Captain, along with about ten additional deputies deploy, ready to evict. Four SAFE members — Dorli, Josh, Lauren, and Kshama — sit with their backs against Jeremy’s front door. The deputies come onto the property, pick up the protestors, arrest them, enter the house, and bring Jeremy outside. A locksmith then changes the locks in minutes. As KING 5, KOMO TV, the Seattle PI, and KBCS cover the story, the police handcuff the arrestees, put them in a small paddy wagon at the end of the block, take their ID’s, then release them on the spot, without taking them to jail. Jeremy begins moving his things to the home of another SAFE member. In the meantime, SAFE plans its next steps to fight Wells Fargo. (Deutsche Bank apparently owns Jeremy’s home, but Wells Fargo has full authority to dispose of his property as they see fit.) The result is that Jeremy now lives in a different, less spacious home; South Park has another empty house for the neighborhood’s arsonist to target — yes, three empty homes in South Park have been set afire, one as many as three times in the past three years — and Wells Fargo is left with an asset they will not sell. Why? Because SAFE will make it clear to any prospective buyer that Jeremy’s South Park home comes, for no additional charge, with a long-term protest. This is Wells Fargo’s “solution” to the foreclosure crisis: ruin families and neighborhoods! SAFE’s solution: Let Jeremy pay to stay in his home. The banks cannot simply throw people out of their homes without hearing from the people, especially when Seattle has more empty homes than people sleeping on the street. Wells Fargo, this protest ain’t over.

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