Because it centers the needs of the people who are already most exploited by capitalism and would tangibly improve our lives. Because we work too much. Because the rent is too damn high and wages are too damn low. Because executive bonuses have eight or nine digits, but working full time for an entire year at minimum wage is worth just $14,500 (before taxes). Because Obama promised to raise the minimum wage and didn´t and Romney isn´t ¨concerned about the very poor.¨ Because imagine what we could do if revolutionaries didn´t have to spend half our time worrying how to feed one another. Because poor people have a direct stake in this struggle. Because 78% of New York State voters support raising the minimum wage. Because we deserve a world without want; a world without poverty, exploitation, debt, criminalization, racism, or war. Because it would unite us all.
For there to be real justice for the crimes committed by Wall Street, we must make systemic changes to ensure it never happens again. The people, the 99%, must never again be forced from our homes or driven to destitution because of the greed of the 1%. It is clear that no matter how much we try to reform the financial system, the true workings of it will be obscured from public knowledge, and that the greedy will find ways to exploit us. The system is set up to reward and encourage this behavior. So long as power is concentrated in the hands of a few and ¨progress¨ is only considered a by-product of the quest for profit that justifies immense imbalance in wealth, we will never be safe from the next Great Recession or Depression.
A universal living wage is only one step toward liberation, but it would ensure that we never again pay for the banker´s profits while we ourselves struggle to put food on the table. It is not our only demand. A wage system with a living wage is still a wage system. Like foreclosure moratoriums, legalization for undocumented immigrants, and the abolition of student debt, this is just one demand out of the many that have emerged and will emerge organically from the democratic conversations spurred by the Occupy movement.
The living wage is the quintessential “non-reformist reform” — e.g. “Reform which is attentive to immediate social needs and at the same time moves toward further gains, and eventually, wholesale transformation.” (wikipedia). It’s radical reform that goes to the very root of economics: if people can’t survive the economy, then the economy can’t survive the people.
Why a festival?
Because we work too much, sometimes even in our resistance. Because we could all use more holidays. Because what is reborn in spring flourishes in the summer.