Alanna Hartzok, the Earth Rights author and activist (and current General Secretary of the International Union) is running for the US Congress in Pennsylvania’s 9th district — and she is not a “ceremonial” candidate in this race. Her opponent is an incumbent, Bill Shuster, who survived a bruising challenge by two republican opponents. He is the son of Bud Shuster, a longtime Republican fixture in Congress. Although the district has been seen as comfortably on the Republican side, the recent widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo in Washington may provide an opportunity for the fresh, “outside-the-box” ideas that Alanna Hartzok can provide. Here’s some of what she’s telling people:
- There is a reason why the rich keep getting richer and honest hard-working middle class people are getting poorer. Wealth inequality is built into the rules of our economy, rules that increasingly favor an entrenched elite at our expense. We can change these rules if we all step up, look past our differences, and take action to bring about a new economy based on economic democracy.
- The reverse side of Alanna’s campaign flyer offers a mind-blowing list of facts that illustrate the absurdly wide gap between rich and poor in the USA — conditions our representatives in Washington have been only too happy to ignore and perpetuate:
- The 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest people, half the planet’s population. The US has more than one third of the total of billionaires in the world. (Oxfam study)
- Out of 141 countries, the US has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world.
- In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
- Each of the Koch brothers saw his investments grow by $6 billion in one year, which is three million dollars per hour based on a 40-hour ‘work’ week. A comparison of top and bottom salaries within most other large corporations compares incomes of CEOs and minimum-wage workers — the difference is $5,000.00 per hour vs. $7.25 per hour.
- In 1983 the poorest 47% of America had $15,000 per family, 2.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. In 2009 the poorest 47% of America owned ZERO PERCENT of the nation’s wealth (their debts exceeded their assets).
- Since 1980 the American GDP has approximately doubled. Inflation-adjusted wages have gone down. But, the stock market has increased by over ten times, and the richest 20% of Americans own 93% of it.
- Since the start of the 2008 recession, an estimated ten million American households have faced forecloses, been evicted or displaced, and millions more are still at risk. Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked to inequality.
- On a winter day in 2012, over 633,000 people were homeless in the United States. Based on an annual single room occupancy (SRO) cost of $558 per month, any ONE of the ten richest Americans would have enough with his 2012 income to pay for a room for every homeless person in the US for the entire year. These ten rich people together made more than our entire national housing budget.
Why Alanna Can Win
- In the Primary election Hartzok received 30,000 votes; Shuster received 24,000. In some areas Hartzok received more votes than all three of the Republican candidates combined.
- There are now only about 400 fewer Democrats than Republicans in District 9, due to gerrymandering.
- There are around 50,000 voters registered Independent or “other” in our District, who are likely to vote for Hartzok.
- In 2012, with less than $15,000, Karen Ramsberg received 37% of the vote when she ran for Congress in District 9. Hartzok for Congress is running a vigorous campaign with a fundraising goal well beyond that amount.
- Democrats in District 9 are getting better organized than ever. There is a strong push to replace Governor Corbett with the Democratic candidate Tom Wolf. (Pennsylvania is now 5th on the list of corrupt states in the USA). Dems who vote for Wolf will likely vote for Hartzok.
- There are 57 women candidates statewide this year; more women than ever in the history of Pennsylvania are running for office in 2014. The women of Pennsylvania are strongly organizing to get out the vote