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The Class Chasm Undermines Political Solidarity
By Kirsten Anderberg (

I have recently begun to realize that the stigma of poverty may actually
be more damaging to poor people than the poverty itself, in some
instances. Parts of poverty would be bearable if we were all in a class
solidarity. But I am uncomfortable with class inequity. This thing where
some are supposed to suffer in the lower class, while their political
“allies” live at a higher class level, with private transportation, no
hunger, adequate clothing, stable housing, job opportunities not available
to the poor, etc., does not really work for me, if I am to be honest. This
class chasm is often as agitating and degrading as the direct effects of
the poverty itself.

Certainly the stigma of homelessness weighs heavy on the minds of homeless
people. There are the direct effects of being homeless, such as having to
carry your belongings and bedding with you everywhere, not being allowed
in places such as restaurants and stores due to all your baggage, being
cold at night, getting wet in the rain, being criminalized for camping,
never having privacy or safety, etc. But there are also the feelings of
being unwelcome on this planet and the resultant low self worth. There is
a feeling that you do not belong, that you are throw away people who do
not matter. Or worse. Who should be scorned, publicly. This is especially
amplified if you were an orphan, foster kid, or homeless teen. If no one
cared about you as a child or teen, then being homeless as an adult just
reaffirms the feeling of not belonging you learned as a child. The amount
of homeless people, who come from the foster care system in their past
somewhere, is marked. Children, especially, have to deal with a huge
stigma issue for homelessness, that often rivals the actual issues of
homelessness itself. I remember often having to cover for my mom and my
poverty, lying to kids and adults. I did not want kids to come home and
play, as they would find out we had no food, and see my mom passed out
from depression and drugs. Kids try to protect their parents, as well as
their own dignity, while being poor and homeless, often through hiding and
lying. Poor folks should not have to go through stigma, shame and
indignation *on top of* the poverty itself. It seems cruel to add that
unnecessary burden and what purpose does it serve?

Someone, maybe George Carlin, well, at least my friend, Dave, says that
there are really only two classes. The middle and upper classes. The poor
are just here to scare the shit out of the other two. There is a lot of
truth to that. Where did the shame and stigma for poverty come from? And
why is the shame on the one who has less, instead of the one taking more
than his share, in capitalism? Why is the minimum wage worker in poverty
shamed, instead of the gluttonous business owner married to the PTA
president who live off of stolen profits from the labor of the poor? I
would guess that would have to be attributed to who had power. (Much like
history often reflects whoever had the power to write it). Since the
non-poor had the power, the poor were the people who were shamed for the
gluttony of the middle and upper classes. But logic says, that the
foundation for the scorn of the poor is questionable, at best.

If we trace some of the history of stigma for poverty, we see the medieval
church canonists saying that poverty is not a crime. In the U.K., the poor
laws of 1601 claimed the government assumed responsibility for the
“impotent.” But by 1834, the reform of said laws recommended that the
application for relief needed to be a demoralizing experience. You find
Chalmer recommending “endurance” for the poor, and “liberality” for those
who are not poor. But what is truly interesting, is when the economy goes
bad, the opinions of the poor change. During the Depression, there was not
as much stigma for poverty as so many folks were experiencing it
simultaneously. Their poverty was even deemed “patriotic!” In the book,
“Social Welfare: A History of the American Response to Need,” by J. Axinn
and M. Stern, we read, “The concept of the poor as a class of inferiors
who needed to be driven or enticed from their unwholesome, lethargic state
of being, held sway as late as 1924…” But then they say that the
Depression forced the reality that “one could become poor and unemployed
as a result of the malfunctioning of society” and these people were
treated as the “new poor.” I addressed the issue of the “new poor” versus
the “old poor” in an article previously at

Many social security programs in the U.S. were created with full public
acknowledgement that poverty could be caused by inherent social
malfunctioning. And then the programs that were created for this “new
poor” class, were used by the “old poor” as well. But it is doubtful the
“old poor” would have warranted some of the relief efforts that they
eventually were given access to, with the influx of the “new poor.”
Seattle experienced some pretty heavy industry layoffs when I was a kid,
such as the historic Boeing layoffs which sent many families into poverty.
Many people who had not experienced poverty up to that period, experienced
it then, and I remember during those times, there was less stigma in
school over poverty, because it was like the whole city had to tighten its
belt due to the layoffs. The more people that are in poverty at one time
reduces the now dominant view that poverty is a “self-induced condition.”

I recently broke down and bought some cheap clothing. I was literally
wearing rags. All of my clothing had holes, I had patches on everything,
and I did not really mind. I could easily live in clothing full of
patches, for the rest of my life. Yes, it sometimes sucked to not have
weather appropriate clothing, like good coats, etc., but on the whole, I
was okay with patched, ragged clothing. But what I am not okay with is the
way I am treated *by others* in those clothes. I am discounted as almost
nonhuman. I wait longer for help at deli counters and people yell at me
from their cars, to run, while I try to walk across crosswalks. I am
treated with pity or shame, just for my clothes. I am treated with the
negative stigma lauded upon others who do not deserve it, such as “bag
ladies,” homeless people, transients, etc. The real question is who
benefits by stigmatizing the poor or “bag ladies?” I am just wearing
recycled clothes. If everyone wore clothes like that, I would not stand
out. But in the end, it was the stigma I could not stand, not the patched
ragged clothing, even though I held out until I had serious threats to my
self worth occurring, trying to thwart the stigma myself.

Poor kids in school go through all kinds of stigma. I remember the name of
a girl in my 4th grade class, Carrie, and the only thing I remember about
her was she was teased constantly for her clothing. She wore old hand me
downs from her siblings and often they did not fit properly or were very
worn out or stained. When all of us are on the same class level, there is
a feeling of unity. If all of us had been wearing hand me downs, it would
have been fine, Carrie would have been safe. When some live above others,
and even worse, shame or ridicule those with less for having less, it is a
tiered system of worth that is damaging to people’s souls, whether adults
or children.

Transportation inequity has unnecessary stigma to it too. I have met other
adults who were poor kids, who grew up eating too much “fast food,” due to
their poverty. Ironically, I was given TV dinners instead, and I wondered
why, then realized my mom rarely had a car. “Fast food” for kids kind of
requires cars. Otherwise it is a long walk to the fast food, which is not
fast. I was dragged on buses in 100 degree heat in Los Angeles to welfare
offices, with my mom hysterical sobbing for aid, as my dad drove around
town leisurely in his air conditioned Cadillac, which I would be riding
in, if I was with him and it was a weekend, instead of being with mom,
that weekday. None of the irony of that was lost on me. Part of my mom’s
punishment for being “bad” aka poor, was to have to go to welfare offices
in the heat on buses. And what was my crime as a kid to have to endure
this again?

I stand in the rain and cold waiting for buses, for hours, all the time.
As I stand there watching near tank-sized vehicles stream past me, with
one driver per vehicle, I wonder if I am standing waiting, and them
driving, because they are afraid of me sitting next to them in their car.
Would my presence in their cars hurt them or their cars somehow? Do they
fear catching my poverty? And what gave them the privilege to drive and I
do not have that option again? Am I in solidarity with all those drivers?
Not really.

Not having a car is a huge stigma where I live. I am the only adult you
ever see in my town walking with groceries. When the grocery clerks bag my
things, they will leave out things like toilet paper or water, assuming I
am merely rolling these items to my car, not carrying them for a mile on
foot. I carry every bit of liquid and food that I consume into my house on
foot, by hand. Most people do not seem to understand what a luxury it is
to drive to the store and drive the food and liquid home. Try it for a
while. Walk and carry home, by hand, all food and liquid you consume. Now
imagine doing that forever, always. And this situation of walking also
eliminates the option of bulk buying, which is needed so dearly by the
poor but often unattainable, if only due to this transportation issue. We
cannot get large bags of things home! I not only suffer stigma where I
live for wearing ragged clothing, but also for being the only one ever
walking carrying groceries on the street. I remember when I lived in
Northridge, Ca., I experienced the same thing. I was literally the only
one seen walking on the sidewalks often. *Everyone* drove. Even a few
blocks to the store. I stand out as the only walking person on sidewalks
within sight often. You feel almost on display, when you are the only one
walking on the streets. Like a spotlight is on you. And there I am, in my
ragged clothes, in the spotlight. Ugh.

There are stigmas not just for walking, but for riding buses as well.
Stigmas class insulated drivers do not understand. Such as, you carry all
your crap with you everywhere when you ride buses. Your extra sweater,
umbrella, lunch, books to read while waiting for buses, materials needed
for where you are going, etc. all have to be carried with you. This can
often amass a bulk that resembles a homeless person’s baggage if you plan
on doing many errands in one day’s bus riding. Again, I could stand
carrying home all liquid and food by hand on foot, and waiting for buses
which triples my travel times compared to drivers, if we were *all* making
those sacrifices. What I cannot stand is the pity and shame aimed at me
for walking. What I cannot stand is standing on a street, watching car
after car, empty, heading in the direction I am going, yet for some
unknown reason, I cannot ride with any of the hundreds of empty cars going
my way. It eats away at your dignity like salt water in the air can eat
away skin, as you stand, waiting for your bus, watching and
thinking…sometimes I find myself hating the drivers, if I be perfectly
honest here.

This thing where the poor start to just hate the privileged is human, and
common. In public schools in Seattle, there is a cut throat prostitution
of kids to sell corporate crap for “fundraising.” This system has been
causing a huge class chasm in the public schools for decades. When the
school mentions a fundraiser, the privileged kid thinks, “Oh goodie, I
will get a reward and prize.” The poor kid is just filled with dread and
feels sick. Then the same thing unfolds over and over. The privileged
kids’ parents sell a bunch of useless crap, and their kid is paraded
across the auditorium stage, lauded with awards, ribbons, prizes,
accolades…and the poor kids become more and more disenfranchised, moving
straight to the back of the auditorium and not even looking at the stage.
After tuning out the privileged kids’ private awards ceremonies up on
stage, there is often a growing hatred of those kids by the poor kids. And
I understand it. As I had a growing hatred of those kids’ parents, as I
dealt with their oblivious, heartless, class insulated ways in the PTA.
Once both sides hate one another, where are we? That, my friend, is a
class *chasm*.

Food also reflects a gross class chasm. People ask me how you can tell who
is poor and who is not. My bottom line is whether they have issues getting
enough food monthly. Food issues primarily are a low income phenomenon in
America. There would be less stigma if everyone had to go to food banks to
eat all month long. But instead, streets are lined with restaurants full
of people who eat half their meals, then the food is wasted and thrown
out. Poor people learn to tune out things around them they cannot use,
like stores and restaurants, and cars and drivers, and school assemblies
for fund raisers…and then people wonder why the poor at times seem aloof.
Well, we have learned to disengage, even when amidst people. We are
disenfranchised, almost systematically over time, and we are supposed to
learn to not feel or question why we are left out, I suppose. We are
supposed to deaden parts of ourselves to live amidst such wealth in

I do not think people understand what we, the poor, go through, struggling
with dignity and self worth in this class chasm. For me, it is not so much
that I am poor, as that everyone around me is *not* poor, that isolates my
soul. For me, I cannot help but interpret what this heartless chasm means.
Does it mean that I am not equal in worth to those with class privilege?
Is my poverty a punishment for something? What? Can I feel solidarity on a
political level with those living at such a different class level?
*Should* I feel solidarity on a political level with those living in a
higher class level than me? I am not sure I should.

It is surreal to work with political radicals while they keep the class
chasm intact. Anarchists I know and love expect me to be in solidarity
with them while they drive, drink lattes, never go hungry, and have nice
clothing. And I wait for buses, in rags, on the way to the food bank. That
chasm does not work for me. Unless my political comrades share and
redistribute wealth within the small microcosm on our personal level, I
*cannot* believe their claims of wanting the class chasm to fall in the
macrocosm. Without wealth redistribution right where we live, all the
words of anarchy and class equity is just gibberish. I am not really
willing to suffer in stigma, poverty and hunger, as if I am in solidarity
with those who are well fed and not subject to poverty plights. If I am
hungry and you are fed, and we are supposedly in the same fight, against
the same enemies, there are problems. As my fed comrades resemble the
enemy, more than they resemble me, in ways. I have been having a huge
problem figuring out who my allies actually are due to this class chasm,
even within the radical ranks.

Recently, a small handful of folks rose to the occasion when I started
wanting to quit trying, against the undertow of poverty. They helped with
some donations to support my writings so I could do a few things that
needed to be done, that I could not afford. They helped me stop my phone
from being disconnected, they helped me buy transcripts so I could
complete my UCBerkeley application, they helped me buy the little bit of
cheap clothing I just bought to try to reduce some of the stigma I have to
endure daily. I am not living lavishly by any means, but I am not going
hungry this month. This is due to conscious folks taking initiative to
redistribute the wealth themselves and to encourage low income
alternative writers, such as myself, with direct financial support which
we actually do need to not go hungry, etc. You learned the song as a kid
in school, didn’t you? “Let there by wealth redistribution on earth, and
let it begin with me…” Part of me fears the lower income of my fans sent
donations, as they understand the pains and struggles of poverty better
perhaps. But I am hoping that maybe through supporting one another’s work,
like that, directly, that we *can* redistribute some wealth here, and at
least improve the lives of our political allies, as a start.

It is humiliating admitting to poverty, or any kind of vulnerability or
need, but I decided to come out on this issue as the way the poor deal
with this shame is often in silence, so I wanted to bring a spotlight to
these issues, via my own experiences. What I can suggest, is if you are
not going hungry monthly, consider giving someone you know who is in
poverty, a monthly gift of excess from you to them, as your way to start
redistributing wealth. Maybe just mail them a check monthly while giving
them their dignity. Although I am not known to be an advocate of
Christianity, one thing while I was a child did leave an impression. My
mom and I were having a very hard time. We were poor, we were in
transition, my mom was battling severe depression, etc. and it was just
really scary, alone, as a kid, with my mom, during that period. But a
church in Seattle came out of nowhere to our rescue. They got us an apt,
they gave my mom an old used car, they even helped her get into a rehab
program at the University of Washington for job rehab. But that was not
really what impressed me. What impressed me was the anonymous gifting. My
mom’s poverty was lifted due to her affiliation with this church, as
people would randomly deposit money into her bank account. My mom would
think she had $3 and all of a sudden would find $150 in there. It gave her
hope somehow, that someone cared, and that this kept happening randomly
throughout the year. Also, we would receive anonymous boxes and anonymous
envelopes of cash in our mailbox. I remember hearing our apt doorbell
ring, and going to it at about age 10, and there was no one there, but a
box was there. Inside, I remember were warm flannel pajamas in my size,
and toys, and food. My mom cried tears of joy often when these gifts came.
I could tell to her, the packages and donations meant more than the mere
material contents. It meant someone cared if she lived or died. Someone
knew and acknowledged her suffering, *and* was taking direct action to
make her, and her child, feel better. Today. And they did not need
acknowledgement for it. To me, that type of direct wealth redistribution
made sense. If you want to preach love as gospel, that type of behavior is
exemplary, in my opinion. But remember, wealth is not redistributed in
one small, one-time gift. You have to *keep on giving* to make
anti-poverty wealth redistribution work.

I watched millions of dollars spent on the Kerry and Nader presidential
campaigns in 2004. I saw tons of money, resources, and energy invested in
the Republican National Convention protests, as well. I am now watching
packed parking lots of shoppers in a spending frenzy over Christmas, now
that they can barely remember 9/11/01 and whatever made them stop spending
immediately after that incident. There is money. Disposable money. But it
rarely reaches the poor and hungry. And I want to know why.

We have got to move poverty issues to the forefront of important issues
worthy of protest and investment. I want to see protests against welfare
cuts for moms in poverty with as much coverage, and vehemence, as the gay
marriage issue has warranted. I want to see us spend the money I saw spent
on the RNC protests, spent building houses with gardens so poor folks can
live in a self sustaining manner. Are you involved in anti-war activism?
When is the last time you went to a huge street protest against the war on
poor people? Just as there are No Iraq War stickers on car bumpers,
buttons on lapels and signs on highway overpasses, there needs to be an
equal effort against the war against the poor in America, and abroad.
Poverty is a type of war. And it is going on in every American city, this
war. I implore you to begin to redistribute wealth today, where you live,
and to continue to redistribute it, monthly, of your own volition. I
implore you to move poverty issues to the front of your issue roster,
giving time and energy to visible protest of programs and systems that
stigmatize, hurt, or leave out, the poor. I implore you to *educate* your
children about the poor and capitalism, and to unteach the stigma against
the poor they learn in schools. Take *direct action* to bring dignity and
empowerment to the poor today.
You can receive Kirsten's articles, as they are written, via an email list
called "Eat the Press." Go to to join the list.

Let Food Be Thy Medicine This Flu Season
By Kirsten Anderberg (

Hippocrates, the person the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take is named
after, said, “Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.” There
is profound wisdom in that simple phrase. Modern Americans do not eat
enough whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, even amidst the cheap
abundance of such foods. But added to that, is the eating of foods that
actually tax the system and lessen immunity, such as fast foods with
little to no nutritional content. These foods take energy from the body to
digest and give little back in return, depleting vitamins, not building
them up. We also have a problematic, profit-driven health care crisis in
America. From scheduled C-section births in conveyor belt succession, to
doctors receiving drug company kickbacks, American health care is often
lacking integrity. Corporate drug mogul motives have robbed essential
plant and food healing knowledge, as well as health care knowledge, from
the common people in an effort to capitalize on a health care monopoly
based on greed. It is a revolutionary act for people to learn how to
identify plants and herbs, and to learn how to use these plants and herbs.
It is also revolutionary to learn how to avoid eating the foods that make
us sick, regardless of what the advertising says, so we do not need the
chemical prescriptions they feed us later to get “better.”

Since the 1970’s, the self-help DIY healthcare movement has made great
strides. As a teen in Seattle and Los Angeles, I grew up around excellent
examples of healthy eating and responsible community-based health care. I
was taught by the Source Family that food was an essential part of a
conscious person’s life focus. Where your food came from, how it was grown
in accordance with nature and human rights standards, etc. mattered as
“food karma” you were taking in. The Source (also known for their famous
health food restaurant on Sunset Blvd.) taught us, as a community, to eat
healthy food to balance the earth, our bodies, and our communities.
Practices such as avoiding pesticides and buying organics, growing our own
food cooperatively, eating local foods when in season, and eating
unrefined grains, became a lifestyle that replaced donuts for breakfast
and McDonald’s hamburgers for lunch, as my parents had taught me. Since
leaving the Source Family in my teens, a series of naturopathic doctors,
lay midwives, herbalists, and feminist reproduction rights activists have
been my primary health care providers for myself and son, not medical
doctors. I have grave distrust in most medical doctors. If nothing else,
the drug companies giving medical doctors kickbacks for pushing chemical
drugs is an unconscionable arrangement. So I promote food as medicine. In
this article, I will share some tips for the flu season that are more
holistic than flu shots, prescription drugs, and chemical relief from flu

One of the wildest things I realized in the Source regarding food was that
it was as much the bad food you ate that killed you, your teeth, and the
earth, as the good food you did not eat. My mom had hated cooking, feeling
it was a woman’s slavery, and her bible was the “I Hate to Cookbook.” She
thought TV dinners were straight from heaven. My dad took me out to
restaurants and never cooked. By my teens, I had grown up on a lot of
frozen food with chemicals and fast food and very little whole foods such
as whole wheat bread, grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Everything was
canned or frozen or processed it seems. Not until the 1970’s, when my
sister became a vegetarian while attending UCBerkeley, did I begin to
understand the difference between whole and processed foods. And then,
eating whole foods became a rebellion against my parents and their
generation, honestly. I began to see my food as political. I began to eat
some foods and not eat others. Additionally, I began to picket stores in
solidarity with the United Farm Worker struggles, and work against food
irradiation, pesticide pollution, etc. I began to see the food I ate, and
the industries I supported regarding my food, actually impacted the
planet, not just my personal health.

Ben Franklin said “I saw few die of hunger, of eating, 100,000.” Someone
said that people dig their graves with fork and spoon. And as I watch the
world, I think that it is true. I hear that Ronald McDonald now has an
aerobics video out for children. I saw a huge hot air balloon of Ronald
McDonald that was several stories high, sitting in a lotus position, swear
to god, in front of a McDonald’s in a country outside of America, trying
to breach those cultures, now that it has conquered America. What you eat
affects an incredible amount of things: your long term health, your daily
functioning and mental clarity, your environment, free trade, corporate
power…food is power. Use it. “2,4,6,8, organize and smash the state! Kick
the ass of the ruling class! Push ‘em back, push ‘em back, waaayy back!
Use the food as a weapon, use the medicine as a weapon…,” as Rob Brezsny

Bastyr University (, outside of Seattle, Wa. has been a
leader in credentialized naturopathic medical study for decades now. (Even
in 2004, they remain leaders, having just unveiled the first reflexology
foot path in the United States). Much of the DIY health philosophy I have
grown up with is in part due to this university’s presence in my town.
Bastyr showed me that not only is food political, but health care itself
is political, as well. And who you use for medical advice and what you use
as treatments, is also a political statement. The underground health
community in Seattle has been substantial for decades based on this
premise. Seattle has long had medical activists who believe in people
before profits, as a form of anti-capitalist political action.

Bastyr University offers some suggestions for surviving the flu season
that I would like to share with you. They, too , promote whole foods as
medicine. They say that “The immune system is a network of organs and
cells throughout the entire body. The parts of the system work with each
other to keep the body toned against illness. And all the energy and
nutrients the immune system requires can be incorporated into the body by
consuming a variety of whole foods.” They highly recommend eating more
Vitamins A, C, E, and Selenium during flu season to help build up
immunity. Bastyr University recommends, “During this flu season, throw
some frozen berries into your bowl of oatmeal in the morning. Add avocado
slices and a handful of seeds to your lunch salad. Snack on dried apricots
and nuts. Add salsa to your dinner baked potato with a side of cooked
greens. Look for deep oranges, reds, yellows and greens in your fruit and
vegetable selection. And choose water or an herbal tea as you make a
toast to your immune system’s good health!” I would add to juice your own
oranges rather than buying pre-juiced orange juice. You increase the
health benefits with fresh juice. Bastyr offers recipes to help build up
your immune system on their website
(, including recipes for
“Immune Booster Soup,” “Immune Support Breakfast,” and “Cold and Flu Tea.”
(Their immune booster soup uses chicken broth, so I would just replace
that with veggie broth).

Bastyr’s “Cold and Flu Tea” is a mixture of elderberry flowers, mint,
yarrow flowers, linden leaves or yerba sante, thyme leaves, lemon grass,
and ginger root. When I worked at a health food store in Venice, Ca., I
worked with a German woman who said whenever anyone gets a flu or cold in
the back hills of Germany where she is from, they begin to drink thyme tea
immediately. I was stunned at how effective thyme tea was at helping
reduce mucous, stop coughs, and at quickening healing time. I never heard
anyone say thyme tea was good for you when you are sick as I grew up. I
heard instead that chicken soup and 7-Up, of all things, was good for you
when sick. To make thyme tea, just use thyme the way you would any tea.
Steep it in hot water, strain, then drink. You can add a little mint with
the thyme for flavor, and you can use honey to sweeten it, but you can
almost feel the antiseptic power coming out of thyme tea as you drink it.
Make it as strong as you can handle it. Even just breathing in the vapors
from this tea is helpful.

There are other easy herbal remedies for flu season as well. Make a sage
gargle, by making a strong sage tea out of sage leaves, sweeten it with a
little honey, let cool, strain, then gargle with it often when you have a
sore throat. A cough syrup can be made from thyme and peppermint. (Do not
use honey syrup for babies under one year old). To make cough syrup, make
a tea with 1 pint water, and 4 ounces dried thyme and 1 ounce dried mint.
Steep for 20 minutes. Strain into a pan, then add a cup of honey or sugar
to the tea water. Heat slowly over low heat, stirring constantly until
syrup thickens. Cool. Pour into glass bottles with corks, as other tops
can explode if syrup ferments. You can store this syrup in the
refrigerator to extend life. Use a spoonful to help stop coughing when

You can also make a homemade Vapo-Rub, out of essential oils, beeswax, and
oils. Just heat up base oil in a double boiler, such as olive oil or
coconut oil. Add herbs, such as thyme, mint, eucalyptus, rosemary, and any
essential oils you may want to use as well. Let the herbs and essential
oils heat into the base oil for a while. Strain the herbs out of the oil,
and pour 3 ½ fluid ounces of the herb-infused oil into a double boiler,
and then add a small chunk of bees wax, about the size of a square Kraft’s
candy caramel, to the oil, and let melt into oil. Stir until it is all
melted together and pour into glass jars to store. You can also make an
ointment for a raw nose the same way as the Vapo-rub imitation, but just
use soothing skin herbs, such as comfrey and calendula, instead of
stronger herbs like eucalyptus and thyme. I find even putting a few drops
of eucalyptus oil on my palm and rubbing my palms together, then cupping
my hands and putting my nose inside the cupping and smelling, will help
with decongestion and it is quick and easy. I have also put a bunch of
oils like eucalyptus and rosemary on a handkerchief and put it in close to
the front of the heater vent in my car, to give me some whiffs of those
herbs as I was driving.

When I go out wildcrafting and dry herbs in spring, friends laugh at me.
But then winter comes, and their nose is killing them, and I give them
comfrey salve made from comfrey I collected in spring, and they are quite
thankful. Part of herbal wisdom is to collect and dry enough herbs in
spring to last all winter. I dried a ton of nettles last spring, as people
were going to mow them down, so I would clear their fields out first. I
had bags and bags of dried nettles. People thought I was nuts. But they
have been useful. I mailed some to street medics at the Democratic and
Republican convention protests, as well as traded some online with people
for herb seeds, sage, and other herbs I wanted but did not have access to
for spring drying. Yeah, in spring, when there are tons of fresh nettles,
it seems odd to collect and dry them, as they are everywhere. But in
winter, they are not everywhere. And that forethought is necessary for any
healer, even a self-healer. Learning to identify herbs is half the battle
to obtaining them. I cannot tell you how many times I have met folks who
had a wealth of a medicinal herb on their land, and they never knew what
it was. I found one house with a front lawn made up solely of yellow and
orange calendulas. This house had no idea what they were and mowed them
down regularly. I asked if I could collect them first before they mowed,
regularly, and then would return with calendula salves for them. I used
that house’s wealth of calendula, and ignorance about what to do with
them, for years.

I met a woman in Seattle who actually *bought* scotch broom every year
from an herbalist. Her and I were on Bainbridge Island one year, during
the Scotch Broom festival, by accident, and she and I found out that
Scotch Broom is everywhere around us! She has never bought it since, now
that she can recognize it growing, instead of as a ground powder or dried
sticks. Saint John’s Wort, Lemon Balm, Selfheal, Clover, Plantain; there
are tons of herbs that are growing wild and around us, that we do not
realize have medicinal qualities, and could be dried, and used all year
long if we invested a little research and energy into it. When I see
blackberry leaves as an ingredient on almost all Celestial Seasoning teas
I have bought, I laugh out loud. I live in Seattle where blackberry
brambles have a strong foothold on dictatorship of land they are so
prolific. If they are selling them, perhaps I should be drying them every
spring and using them in my teas.

It seems weird to store, gather, and dry, lots of herbs every spring to
some. Especially when those plants seem forever prolific around us in
spring. But my house is covered with strings of herbs drying across every
available corner in spring. That is how it was done for a long time in
nature. That was a huge unseen part of the medicine healer’s job,
gathering and drying the herbs. I take ferries to the San Juan Islands and
pick nettles, comfrey, clover, selfheal, plantain, etc. every spring. This
year I dried blackberries en masse as well during late summer. Learning
how to use the food that grows locally and wild around you is a step
towards health and selfsufficiency. Learning how to recognize plants’
qualities is also essential, and was considered essential knowledge in
almost all cultures before this refined packaged food industrialized era
came. The Seattle area has maintained several medicinal herb gardens, one
on the University of Washington campus and another on the Bastyr campus in
Kenmore. One can visit these gardens to see what living herbs look like,
to learn how to recognize them in the wild. The plants are clearly labeled
with their names in these gardens, as they are educational gardens more
than anything else.

As a weird side note, part of the reason traditional medicinal healers
have such a mystique, is they knew to dry other plants, plants that were
poisonous, as well. American Indians of the Pacific Northwest went down to
the sea when it was red tide and collected the poisoned clams. They then
dried the meat, ground it into powder, and put it on their arrow tips,
giving them a reputation of having “magic” arrows, as theirs caused an
unusually horrid death. I would assume drying nightshade and poisonous
plants would have similar effects, but I do not know. So, I think part of
the “evil” mythology that arose from witches, for instance, with herbal
knowledge, was that indeed, it was not just that they knew about healing
with herbs, they knew about herbs, altogether. They knew of that herb that
looks and tastes like spinach but is deadly. They knew which things you
could eat, yes, but they also knew which ones could kill. Which, during a
revolution or war, could be incredibly essential and valuable information
to have, I would assume.

Anyway, back to *healing* with herbs. I have found miso soup to be very
helpful when sick. You can make miso soup by cutting up a 3” strip of
wakame seaweed and throwing it in a pot with 2 ½ c. water. Bring to a
boil, then add ½ c. sliced carrots, lower heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add
½ c. sliced kale, chard or spinach, and simmer 5 more minutes. Add 1
sliced green onion, and simmer another 3 minutes. Take soup off the stove
and stir in 1 T. barley miso until dissolved. Then eat! Miso has been used
as a healing food in China and Japan for centuries. Miso also helps
cleanse radiation from the body, and has live digestion enzymes as well.

Ginger and garlic are also a body’s friend during cold season and should
be used in abundance. Some have walked with garlic cloves in their shoes,
which apparently can be smelled on the breath in time. And not only can
you throw freshly grated ginger into stirfrys, you can also add freshly
grated ginger to all baked goods, such as ginger cookies and gingerbreads.
You can make ginger massage oil for aches and pains by grating 2 T.
ginger, then squeezing the pulp over a cup to make 1 t. ginger juice. Then
add 1 t. sesame or almond oil and mix. You can use this on either side of
the spine to relieve back pain and winter aches and pains. It is said that
Kukicha or Bancha twig tea will help combat oncoming colds and flus as
well. You can go to and ask herbal healing questions on
the Wise Woman Forum there. And any medicinal herbs you ever will need are
available in bulk, online, from Seattle’s apothecary for decades, Tenzing
Momo at

I have found food and herbs to be much more holistic approaches to the flu
season than shots, corporate doctors and chemical drugs. See if you can
reduce your reliance on corporate medicine and increase your DIY health
knowledge today. Remember, what you eat, and how you approach your health
care, is as political as anything else you do. Think about who and what
you are supporting when you buy medicines and health care. Think about how
you could become more holistic and self-empowered in your eating and
health practices. Food and health care are as important arenas for
political activism, as street protests and free trade direct actions. Get
involved with radical food and health care politics today!

Public Defenders Need to Go On Strike
By Kirsten Anderberg (

The situation with underfunded public defenders, and plea bargains being
thrown around more often than not, with poor people caught in the mix,
denied the rights given them legally, to fair and proper representation,
needs to stop. Now. This is no longer a situation where public defenders
can stand around and keep pointing fingers at those funding them, usually
the state. At a certain point, public defenders become accomplices in
these crimes against the poor of inadequate, insufficient,
incomprehensible, defense for serious crimes in America’s Criminal Justice
System. Something must be done and I think what needs to be done is Public
Defenders need to go on strike. Seriously. Or else they are now
accomplices. In Washington State’s Superior Courts, about 85 to 90 percent
of defendants tried on felony charges are considered low-income, and
therefore entitled to court-appointed counsel. So this affects almost
every person charged with a felony in the criminal justice system. Public
defenders take out their frustrations and anger about being overworked and
underfunding on innocent clients who just want to understand what is going
on with their cases. It is no longer acceptable for public defenders to
keep pretending they are giving a service all agree they are not. It
appears quite standard knowledge that if you use a public defender, you
have a much, much greater chance of going to jail than if you use a
private attorney. And looking at who is actually charged with felonies,
one can only surmise that you have a greater chance of being *charged*
with a felony *if* you are poor, as the prosecutor immediately sees he
will be dealing with insufficient representation from public defenders,
and sees that a plea bargain will be easy. None of these things are the
fault of the poor who get entrapped in the criminal justice system. It is
the duty of the courts to provide fair and equal representation to the
poor. That goal has failed in America with flying colors.

In a recent article by Philip Dawdy in the Seattle Weekly
(, he
says that the Metropolitan King County Council has approved a $1 million
cut in the county’s public-defense system for 2005. Dawdy calls the public
defender system that just received these cuts “a traditionally underfunded
program that provides court-appointed attorneys for low-income and
indigent people accused of crimes.” Dawdy says that one of the contracted
non-profit public defense law firms that the county works with, Northwest
Defenders, will be running at a deficit next year, due to the 2005 budget
and may need to fold. And do not think that that stress remains within the
locked boardrooms of the Northwest Defenders Association either. No, it
comes spilling out onto the phone and into the hallways of the County’s
Courthouses as well. The clients are yelled at for wanting to understand
their cases. The clients are barked at and told to be quiet and speak when
spoken to, while in the middle of serious legal battles, as these public
defenders yell at clients that they are overworked and they have more
clients than they can handle. I have seen his behavior from employees and
public defenders in King County with my own eyes.

When I worked at the Kent County Law Library, I had many mothers come in
with swollen red eyes, asking me to explain the charges that just
incarcerated their sons. I was given explicit instructions by the law
library staff that I *may not* explain any charges to people who ask like
that, as it was considered honing in on the legal field, as legal advice.
So, the best I could do was lead these desperate women to books that
explained the crimes in as close to plain English as possible. It broke my
heart that women were losing their children, and public defenders did not
even have the time to explain to the mothers what the actual charges meant
or what was going on. These public defenders not only do a disservice to
their clients by providing insufficient and incomprehensible legal
representation, but they also yell at their clients if their clients dare
try to demand more. This is not a healthy situation for anyone, and it
certainly is not blind justice by any stretch.

Dawdy’s article says that county officials approved the $1 million cut to
public defense because they predict they will be handling less complex
aggravated-murder cases in 2005, and they predict that prosecutors will be
charging minor felonies as misdemeanors. And even if those were believable
reasons to predict less need for funds in 2005, that does not take into
account the glaring reality that the public defense agencies have been
functioning below par for years now, and something must be done. If the
need for services was reduced, and funding stayed the same, then maybe,
just maybe, we could move one half step forward towards getting some equal
representation in courtrooms in Washington’s criminal injustice system.
But it ain’t happening anytime soon.

Dawdy’s article quotes a City Council member saying, "Our system of
justice is tremendously weakened when we fail to live up to our promise
for a fair and competent defense for all who stand accused of a crime."
So, apparently these people *get it.* They just do not want to actually do
anything *about it.* The trail of complaints from clients and public
defenders themselves about this terrible situation is long and public.

In an email entitled “Urban Politics #181,” dated June 20, 2004, City
Councilmember Nick Licata says that he authored, and his colleagues
Councilmembers David Della, Jean Godden and Peter Steinbrueck
co-sponsored, a *new law* that CREATES STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC DEFENSE
SERVICES,” acknowledging a problem clearly exists here that the poor,
myself included, have paid for and continue to pay for daily in King
County jails, and courts, as well as King County Collections offices. This
email from Licata says, “Case load and standards for provision of
services: In 1982 the King County Bar Indigent Defense Services Task Force
developed a 300 case per attorney, per year guideline. Subsequently the
Seattle City Council adopted Resolution 27696 in 1987, adopting a
framework and schedule for implementing recommendations contained in the
1987 Public Defender Salary and Caseload Review conducted by City Council
staff. This led to the Council passing a 1989 City Council Budget Intent
Statement establishing a 380 case per-attorney, per-year limit. The
standard set by the City in 1987 may not be the optimum standard
established by the King County Bar Indigent Defense Services Task Force,
but it's critical that in contracting for these services that we do not
further erode this limit. This bill reaffirms the caseload standards
established in the City Council's 1989 Budget Intent Statement.
Specifically, this bill states that City agreements with indigent public
defense service providers shall require caseloads no higher than 380 cases
per-attorney per-year and it also affirms the Washington State Bar-
endorsed supervision standard of one full-time supervisor for every ten
staff lawyers.” So as recently as June 2004, Seattle reaffirmed the 1989
Seattle City Council Resolution 27696.

I remember very clearly, and have written in that day’s notes, an incident
where an employee named Sam with SCRAP, a King County Public Defender
agency, yelled at *me* because *she* said she had “64 people (we)
represent and you will not see me until the hearing date. If you do not
like it, hire an attorney.” I remember this woman Sam pacing the floor
outside the courtroom, taking out her angers and hostilities on clients,
not the state or people who created that system, but instead on us, the
indigent she was organizing the representation of. That day, I watched Sam
play stupid games over and over due to her annoyance with her case load.
When I first arrived, I asked Sam, whom I did not know or recognize, as
she would not meet with me before my actual hearing (!), but she looked
like authority and had files, so I asked her if she knew where the list of
who was on that day’s SCRAP roster was. She quipped I needed to go to the
12th floor. I asked if she was a SCRAP attorney. She said yes. I said they
were representing me, so could she tell me if I was on that day’s SCRAP
representation roster. Her response was, “No, only the attorney can tell
you that.” As I said, I took notes in the courthouse of her actions. I
told her I was never told who my attorney WAS, nor had I met them to my
dismay, so I only knew SCRAP as my defenders that day. She said I would
have to talk to my attorney! I repeated I did not know who that was, so if
she worked for SCRAP, could she please tell me WHO my attorney was so I
could ask HIM/HER if I was on the roster, since this is apparently some
kind of needle in a haystack game. She said my attorney would call my name
eventually if I was on the roster…Is this type of treatment of clients
necessary? Would I continue to employ a private attorney who represented
me in such a fashion? No way.

In a Seattle Times article from May 2004, by Ken Armstrong, entitled,
“State Bar-Association Panel Urges Public-Defense Reforms,”
it cites indigent defendants who have been "poorly served, even
victimized, by those entrusted with protecting their civil rights,"
according to a report just released by a Washington State Bar Association
panel. The article goes on to say, “The panel, whose 17 members include
judges from the Washington Supreme Court on down, calls for new laws or
court rules to address a litany of problems, including a lack of
enforceable standards for public-defense lawyers, inadequate funding and
the proliferation of fixed-fee public-defense contracts that invite
abuse…Some individuals and private firms profit from public-defense
contracts while providing minimal or substandard representation to their
clients, and many in positions to know of these failures look away as
defendants' constitutional rights to effective assistance of counsel are
denied," the panel's report says. That report was given to the Board of
Governors in May 2004. So how is it that $1 million was just cut from that

In Armstong’s article, he says that this Wa. State Bar Association panel
also wrote that the consequences of an inadequate defense "can be
devastating for the individuals whose liberty is at stake, for the legal
system, and for society as a whole." He cites problems with the public
defender system showing up as “wrongful convictions, appeals and retrials
at added taxpayer expense, civil-rights lawsuits and a loss of respect for
the courts.” The Bar Association report also says, "Public trust and
confidence in Washington's judges and court system suffer when the public
perceives that individuals charged with crimes are treated unfairly."

Armstrong’s article says that “the panel's call for reform is the latest
in a long line of such reports, which go back three decades and include
criticism of Washington's public-defense system from legislative
committees, bar groups and legal-research organizations.” He quotes a
member of the Washington State Office of Public Defense as saying, "It's
been said over and over again in Washington — some attorneys providing
public- defense representation are inadequately paid, lack experience and
other qualifications, and have such enormous caseloads that they literally
don't have time to perform the tasks necessary for adequate
representation." The same article quotes Supreme Court Justice Susan
Owens, as saying many public defenders do good work, but in general, "They
are overworked. They are underpaid."

Armstrong’s article said that “The Seattle Times published a series last
month on the chronic failures of Washington's public-defense system,
revealing such shortcomings as staggering caseloads that make it all but
impossible for many defense attorneys to do their job effectively.”
Armstrong cites one of the caseload problems in King County is the
“fixed-fee contracts” with public defense firms, as that discourages them
from investing proper time as they get paid the same for cases whether
they invest in a case’s complexity or not. The report from the Bar
Association in May 2004 said, according to Armstrong’s article, that
“local governments should be required to implement meaningful
public-defense standards, and should be prohibited from renewing contracts
with attorneys who have failed to provide an effective defense.”

One of the most glaring and obvious inequity factors involved with public
defense representation is that most prosecutors are paid approximately two
times the salary of public defenders, and they also are given full reign
of the state’s resources such as the police dept.’s investigators, etc.,
which are things that public defenders need to do outside contracting for.
As a matter of fact, in my little romp with inadequate representation by
public defenders in Seattle, the “investigator” in my case was a woman
with no prior investigative experience, who was using this “internship”
with a public defenders group for a new life experience…ugh. I did work as
a private investigator for years, and watching her bumble about, when my
case was at stake, was unbelievable. In the end, not a thing she did was
of use. In the end, the public defender in my King County case stood up in
front of the judge and said, “Your honor, if Ms. Anderberg had had proper
legal representation, she would not be here today.” So hmmm, what was *he*
again? Amazing stuff! So we have people who are just curious about the
system like the “investigator” on my case, doing an investigative
internship, with little to no supervision, from what I could tell, from
professionals in the investigative field. And that is what public
defenders are using as “investigators” to compete with police department’s
investigators who do that for a living…

There is a Washington State law that requires counties and cities to pass
legal standards on case loads for their public defenders. The State Bar
Association says the point of that enacted legislation was to
institutionalize minimum *Constitutional* standards in public defense that
currently did not exist across the state. Cowlitz County public defense
attorneys, a neighboring county to King County, is cited as having a case
load at 61/2 times what the state Bar Association has recommended. And as
I have cited, “in 1982, the King County Bar Indigent Defense Services Task
Force developed a 300 case per attorney, per year guideline. This led to
the Council passing a 1989 City Council Budget Intent Statement
establishing a 380 case per-attorney, per-year limit. This bill reaffirms
the caseload standards established in the City Council's 1989 Budget
Intent Statement. Specifically, this bill states that City agreements with
indigent public defense service providers shall require caseloads no
higher than 380 cases per-attorney per-year…” We have now the Bar
Association, the Seattle City Council, the public defender organizations
themselves, a Wa. Supreme Court judge, The Seattle Times, The Seattle
Weekly, and more, echoing that these services the public defenders are
providing are inadequate. Yet every day more poor folks are locked up, due
to what we all acknowledge is inadequate representation. It is sickening.

There is legal precedent for public defenders to go on strike right now.
First, they have Constitutional precedent. Most of the agencies involved
echo that this erosion of public defense funding and services is an
erosion of integrity to the entire judicial system. There is *indeed* a
Constitutional right to fair representation and that right is being
squelched currently due to inadequate public defender budgets. Secondly,
in Seattle, the public defenders could go on strike right now due to the
violation of the City Council’s resolutions on maximum attorney caseloads
per year, as they affect clients’ Constitutional rights. It appears from
where I sit, that these limits are violated in *every* county with a
significant population, that contracts public defenders across the state.
From Cowlitz to King Counties. It is time that the public defenders quit
pretending they are giving a service they are not. And it is time they
quit blaming others. If they cannot do their jobs, they need to admit it.
Rather than doing half assed jobs where people go to jail as the payment
for that half assed job. There are laws being violated by the state, city
and county, from what I can tell, regarding these messes of public
defender organizations used by the state.

I feel the only conscionable thing for public defenders to do is to go on
strike, and to burst the myth of equal representation. Is it fair that the
poor pay in jails for this mess? No, it is not. Seriously, public
defenders need to go on strike. And demand a legitimate way to provide
equitable legal services to the poor. But they should not continue to
provide questionable legal services, yelling at clients under stress. They
should stop now, and fight for the rights of the poor. Beginning with a
right to fair and equal representation. Everyone from The Seattle Times to
the Seattle City Council to the Washington State Bar Association publicly
admits this problem exists. So how long are the poor going to be wrongly
incarcerated for these crimes by attorneys and the state? How many
families broken, how many criminals created, due to the lack of proper
defense by public defenders? How long is this going to continue on? Public
defenders have a DUTY to go on strike, is my take on this.

Food Privilege and Restaurants: An Economic Fault Line
By Kirsten Anderberg (

If you want to understand poverty in America, start with food privilege.
Go to your local food bank. Who is there? In virtually all food banks
across the country, you will find a predominance of women with children,
and the elderly. What does that say about American society to you? Go to
any restaurant, and look at their clientele. They will not even allow the
homeless or poor in their doors, but look through the windows. Do
restaurants reflect the same clientele as the food banks? Why or why not?
Does this not show you the fault line of privilege based solely on food
privilege? (I use the term restaurants as differentiated from fast food
establishments, which are often the only hot food homeless folks can
afford, but which are even more egregious corporate offenders than
restaurants often.)

If you believe in class equity and wealth redistribution to include all,
then quit eating in restaurants. It sounds radical, but I am serious.
Restaurants are just bastions of middle class insulation and gender
segregation, as harsh as that reality is. Every time you even think of
paying someone else to do your food gathering, preparation, or cleaning up
afterwards, stop and think. We live in a society where children go to bed
hungry and people freeze to death homeless on the street. Yet some people
can afford restaurants. Additionally, men need to seriously stop using
women as their dishwashers, food preps and cooks, whether paid or unpaid.

Food preparation and cleaning dishes is a job as old as humankind. Much
like childcare. It is a daily chore, it cannot be ignored. But middle
class Americans have attained a comfort of constant food availability,
including underpaid food workers. Middle class Americans not only eat as
much and often as they want, they also do not do any of the food *work*
required for daily existence throughout time. Americans have attained a
position of eliteness regarding food that truly creates a class chasm
globally, as well as locally.

I have made it very clear in previous articles that charity *is not*
sharing. Charity is keeping the power and profits yourself, and giving
small crumbs to the poor who play into your agenda, basically. Restaurants
who give a small percentage of their profits to food banks, while
employing underpaid staff and raking in huge profits, for example, are no
community asset. They make more poor people due to their underpaid labor
than they help. Most dishwashers cannot afford to eat at the restaurants
they work at. The irony of hunger while working in restaurants is so
striking that many food service jobs give employees a token food allotment
while working on shift. This rationed food intake for the worker is as
much a benefit to the employer as the worker, as fed workers work better.
And I would assume they steal less food, as well.

Yes, the concept of a cooperative restaurant that serves the community
exists. But in 44 years, I have seen a restaurant that was solely a
community benefit only once. Morningtown Co-op in Seattle was in existence
throughout the 1970’s and into the mid-1980’s. The reason it was a
community asset was that profiteering was not its motive. No owner lived
lavishly while workers slaved. All shared in all profits. But more
importantly, Morningtown offered cheap wholesome food and would never turn
away a person who was hungry. As a matter of fact, Morningtown let “bums”
with all their gear, hang out inside, drinking tea, with their bicycles
parked outside, on cold rainy days. Some of the more eccentric and
infamous Seattle characters frequented Morningtown, such as the noted
anarchist Stan Ivarson, and many of Seattle’s finest performers, who
performed for free whole wheat pizzas. Morningtown had ambiance. It had
small copper tea pots lining a wall full of glass jars of herbal tea
blends, next to a big red and black “Eat the Rich” poster. The handmade
wooden tables had oil lamps that reflected off the steamy windows in a
memorable Seattle DIY fashion. Morningtown was as much an activist meeting
place and community kitchen as it was a food business.

We need to expand the Infoshop/Radical Bookstore model into
food/restaurant co-ops. That is what Morningtown did. It functioned as
radical bookstores do, but around food, not printed material. It is not
okay for privileged middle class radicals to be served pre-made food, and
then to have their dirty dishes whisked away. For many of the same reasons
parents say they want their children to learn how to do daily chores. It
devalues the work eventually if you never have to do it. And just as
Barnes and Noble is not healthy, as compared to infoshops and independent
bookstores, I would argue that restaurants, are also not healthy. If you
want that kind of sterilized existence, admit it, but do not expect the
alliance of the poor. We need radical cooperative restaurants that feed
the hungry and share all profits with its workers and community, or else
we do not need restaurants at all. Or else the poor only see the kitchens
of the restaurants that line their streets, and never walk through their
front doors.

Middle class folks do not understand what it is like to walk down streets
lined with doors they are forbidden to enter. Homeless folks, carrying
their belongings, perhaps, are prohibited from entering most restaurants
lining the streets. Additionally, the moms, kids and elderly in poverty
are at the food banks, waiting in hidden lines, for dented cans, not
sitting at tables being served food in restaurants. Who walks through
restaurant doors? Who is eating at all these restaurants lining American
streets? Your answer is really answered with the twin question, “Who is
eating at all those food banks?”

Morningtown Co-op took their food politics beyond profit sharing and had
an open door policy to the hungry and the cold. They did not play food
games with their workers either. Workers at Morningtown could eat all they
wanted, anytime, not just while on shift. I worked at this supposed co-op
bakery in Seattle in 2001. They had a “tiered cooperative,” which is just
a bullshit liberal coverup for a capitalist business. A few owners made
all policy and did all profit sharing, the rest of us were underpaid,
minimum wage workers with no benefits. The one benefit to working there
was we were allowed to eat all the fresh baked goods at the bakery that we
wanted. We also could take home bags of day old baked goods. Since there
was an abundance of baked goods at the end of my shift often, I would bag
them up into day old bags as was the process, then began trading them with
other workers in the neighborhood, who had left over food at the end of
their shifts, such as pizza and Mexican food nearby. When the owners found
out I was trading our throw aways, they changed the rules of the bakery
abruptly, as any capitalist would. They said that workers could now only
eat day old products, never fresh baked goods and began to limit our
drinks per day as well. To me, that was a contractual change. As the
bakery continued to function in this hierarchal fashion, I began to feel
we could do better with a *real* cooperative bakery, not this tiered crap
that functioned like any other capitalist scam.

Morningtown also served its community by providing a role model for barter
economy. Morningtown gave its workers pizza barter script. We could take
this script all over town and trade them for goods and services. We could
trade them for movies, music, books, beer, etc. When I worked at
Morningtown, I had all the food I needed, plus entertainment, community
activism, literature and music, and my rent was paid as part of your
salary for working there. Unless restaurants are cooperative ventures and
community assets, they deserve to be burned to the ground along with
Starbucks, banks, and the malls, in the “revolution,” as far as I am

Restaurant eating is not just a class privilege. It is also a gender
privilege. Most men learn to let women do all their grocery shopping, and
cooking, not to mention their dishwashing. When women are not available
for these unpaid services, the men pay for them at restaurants. (If men
paid women what they pay restaurants for those services, it would be quite
an economic shift.) By doing this, men are able to act like gathering,
preparing and cleaning up from food services is not actually *work* or at
least it is not work they should waste their time engaging in. All studies
show that even in American heterosexual families where the man and woman
both work outside the home, the women still end up doing most of the
cooking, housecleaning and childcare. American boys and men are taught to
be served regarding food. And women are taught that much of their worth is
wrapped up in unpaid service not required of the men. Which is the epitome
of sexism. I dated a 27 year old male, who had a PhD. in engineering, was
considered an exceptional classical musician, ran one of the most
successful activist communities of its kind, yet he had never cut an
onion, or cooked *anything* in his whole life. For 30 years, his mother,
girlfriends, potlucks, and restaurants had freed his middle class
existence from the most essential of daily jobs, food preparation and dish

As a single mom in poverty, my cooking and dishwashing duties were
required on a daily basis for two decades, basically. I found I also
cooked for all my male lovers, and few reciprocated. I have had 2 male
lovers in over 3 decades who actually washed dinner dishes, including pots
and pans, of their own volition without prodding. Those are also the only
two men who also would cook meals for me in equal amounts to the cooking I
did for them. Most often, a male lover would come to my house, say they
are hungry, I have no money to eat out and they would not offer to pay for
me to eat out with them, so that is awkward, and finally I volunteer to
cook something. Logic would say if I am too poor to eat out with the man,
and am a single mom, that he should not be eating the little food I have
in my cupboards, much less turning me into a worker now, on our date. But
it never failed to happen. Somehow men assume food comes with women, as
weird as that sounds.

I decided to quit serving food to men in 2003, and it has definitely made
a marked change in my life. Holly Near wrote a song that had a chorus, “I
never met a man who would do it for me…” I can relate to that song. In
2003, I was still cooking and doing dishes for my son on a daily basis. I
also was cooking and doing dishes for my “anarchist activist” lover, who
took me out to eat two times, in our 7 months (?) as a couple. When he did
not eat food I made for him, arriving hungry at my house during our date
time, he was fed by his housemates or he paid to eat out. No one ever
cooked for me or did my dishes like that this lifetime. I have only one
male friend now who actually cooks and takes me out to dinner and does not
expect me to cook and clean during his companionship. For 30 years, I
cooked and cleaned in a food environment for men, unpaid, almost daily. I
am serious. When I went to Breitenbush Hot Springs to *work* teaching
workshops, one marked difference for me was they served you meals. A bell
rang three times a day, and you were served food, you ate, and they
cleaned all the mess. I remember wondering if this was how it felt to be

With my new, “I do not cook for men” rule, I have seen men not know what
to do. I have one male friend who would visit and I instinctively would
feed him, as I fed all men the food I bought, cooked and cleaned up after.
But when I stopped doing that, I told him I was not cooking for men
anymore, and so the next time he visited he brought food for himself to
eat…which is not really getting the whole picture. When I visited him at
his house, he offered me tea, over a long period. So why was I cooking him
full meals? One male I know would bring over restaurant meals, such a tofu
stir fry or Indian food, when he would visit, and that seemed more
conscious than just showing up and expecting to be fed all the time.

Food becomes an issue if you spend any extended period with another human.
As my friend says, “There are 3 rules: 1) Everyone eats, 2) No one hits,
3) There is no 3rd rule.” To always leave your food gathering (at grocery
stores most often nowadays but still laborious), preparation, and clean
up, to unpaid women around you is wrong. If you have the privilege to pay
someone to gather, prepare and clean up after your meals, admit which side
of the economic fault line you stand on. The class chasm is ripping the
seams of society…on one side stands hungry children, mothers, and the
elderly, waiting in long lines in rain, for dented cans of food, at food
banks. On the other side are fashionable people eating in restaurants.
Which side are you on? Daily tension on the fault line grows, like a
springloaded earthquake ready to slip. Resentment spreads like a social
rash in the lower classes towards the privileged. And the privileged use
false character assassinations to blame the poor and validate their middle
class status. Restaurants lie on top of this fault line.

If you want to understand economic class in America, visit a food bank,
and then a restaurant, in the same day, and then explain that class chasm
you see. What did the mothers, children, and elderly do to deserve that
again? And what did those eating at tables in restaurants do to deserve
someone cooking and cleaning for them again? Are the dishwashers receiving
a living wage at the restaurant? Are restaurants not only inaccessible to
the poor as customers, but also grand exploiters of the labor of the poor,
as well?

Unless restaurants serve their workers’ needs above their owners’ greed,
and feed the hungry on demand (as the Christmas tune that sings, “…And we
won’t leave until we get some…”), they are as bad as all greedy capitalist
schemes and should not be supported, in my opinion. If you do not have to
gather, prepare, and clean up after your daily food needs, you are either
male or middle class. Think about that. That is a bold statement, yes, but
unfortunately, it is mostly true with the exception of institutionalized
folks, from what I can tell. Men, and the middle class, are the primary
clientele of restaurants, which is why I think society would be better off
without them. Men would learn how to cook and wash dishes for themselves,
and to value what that *work* entails, stepping up to the plate of gender
equity. And the American middle class would not pawn off its daily food
work on underpaid staff, rejoining the majority of the human race.

New Death Sentence Precedent in Washington State Stands
By Kirsten Anderberg 24.11.2004 (
Back in 2003, Gary Ridgway, Washington state’s “Green River Murderer,”
confessed to 48 murders of women, under a plea bargain with the state
( He is deemed
“the nation’s worst serial killer.” The “bargain” was Ridgway plead guilty
and confess, after months of 14 hour a day interrogations, and the abuse
which is routine to beat these “free will confessions” out of people, and
in return for his “free will confessions,” he would escape the death
penalty and instead spend his life in jail with no chance of parole. Then
in 2004, Charles Champion, a black male in the same jurisdiction, was
accused of killing one white male police officer
( And was threatened
with death if convicted. The attorneys for Champion argued that the death
sentence is reserved for only the most heinous of crimes. And since the
threshold of a white male murdering 48 women, many of whom were minority
women, was not enough to trigger a death sentence, then certainly a black
male murdering one white male could not meet that threshold. This week
(Nov. 23, 2004) Charles Champion entered a plea bargain of guilty, in
return for the removal of the threat of the death sentence, which was a
real threat earlier in his case. It appears the Ridgway precedent argument
was not all in vain.

This Ridgway precedent has been brought up in several important murder
cases in Washington state since the plea bargain deal was struck in 2003.
Certainly, having to kill *more than* 48 women in cold blood to receive
the death penalty has put a monkey wrench in prosecutors’ plans, and the
ease with which they can make a death penalty stick, to be sure. This one
plea bargain has literally upset the landscape of criminal law in
Washington state, in my opinion, and it will be very interesting to see
how this plays out. To up the bar for the death penalty in Wa. state to
need to be above 48 counts of murder is really a radical change. I do not
know what the bar was before, but I am sure it was lower than that! The
problem is, if you offer a plea bargain of life for confessions to one
murderer, you have to offer that to all murderers who are no more
egregious, or else law starts to become completely arbitrary, which is
very dangerous and defies equal representation under the law. In an
article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
), Tracy
Johnson reports Champion’s attorney, Jackie Walsh, as saying, “In death
penalty cases, the death sentence has to be reasonable in light of the
decision to seek death in other cases…Mr. Maleng cannot make a special
rule for Gary Ridgway." Johnson also reports that “Walsh said that Maleng,
by choosing not to seek a death sentence for Ridgway, "has expanded the
reasons why death is not appropriate" and must now re-evaluate Champion's
case. She and attorney Rita Griffith contend that prosecutors' process to
decide who should face the death penalty has been either "entirely
arbitrary or it is irrational and racist," noting Champion is black and
Ridgway is white.” Walsh has said also about the Ridgway precedent not
applying to others, "You're rewarding someone for killing more people.
That theory has no rational sense to it."
) The Seattle
Times reported a Superior Court judge in Wa. state saying in Jan. 2004, "I
think we're going to find a lot more motions like this in death penalty
cases by defense attorneys…By definition, almost anybody else is going to
be a lesser criminal than Gary Ridgway. The question is whether it's fair
to spare Ridgway and not spare someone who by definition committed a
lesser crime." (

Prosecutors have tried to argue there were very unusual circumstances in
the Green River/Ridgway case. You could say that the prosecutors were
willing to forego death in his case, because they felt the families of the
dead deserved the confessions and needed that more than his death. But
that could be argued for all victims’ families. All victims of murder
would like to have closure in the death of a loved one. It is also argued
by prosecutors that each case is different. The prosecutors in the
Champion case, argued that the decision to push for the death penalty in
Champion’s case was based on the premise that shooting a police officer is
an “attack on the system” which deserves special prosecution (as if
attacking and killing 48 women is *not* an attack on “the system,”
whatever that means). Additionally, the slain police officer’s sister is
quoted as saying she “wants it to be clear to everyone that if you kill a
police officer, you face execution.” Thank god someone other than her and
the prosecutor had the good sense to realize that 48 women’s lives are
indeed at least equal to one cop’s life worth!
But now that we see the Champion case’s outcome, it looks like that
argument that killing one cop is worse than killing 48 women, from the
prosecutor, did not work. As Champion has eluded the death sentence in his
plea bargain this week. The prosecutors in Champion’s case say the Ridgway
precedent did not affect the Champion case, but I think it did. It appears
to me that the prosecutors who struck up the deal for life for confessions
with Ridgway have created a quicksand they cannot get out of now. They do
not appear to be succeeding at squelching the Ridgway case out of other
case defenses. The Ridgway case appears instead to be influencing local
criminal prosecutions in an important and substantial way.

Another Washington state murder case, involving the murder of Rachael
Burkheimer, by John Anderson and John Whitaker, actually was delayed
waiting for the Ridgway convictions to resolve, feeling that the outcome
would influence said case. As reported on Court TV
"We thought that the state should take what happens in Ridgway into
consideration," said Anderson's public defender Susan Gaer. "The Supreme
Court is required to look at proportionality, and by the same token
prosecutors, when they are making the death penalty decision, should look
at proportionality." Prosecutors did not oppose that delay, and the
deadline for that case was moved up to wait for the Ridgway case to
resolve. Attorneys for the two murder suspects argued that killing one
woman is less than killing 48 women, like Ridgway, so if he escaped the
death penalty, so should their clients. Finally, the prosecutor in the
Burkheimer case did not seek the death penalty for Burkheimer’s murderers
in her plea bargain offer. The prosecutor in the Burkheimer case says that
the Ridgway plea bargain had no impact on the plea bargain offered the two
prosecuted for Burkheimer’s murder. Yet the case was delayed for said
convictions! My guess is the Ridgway conviction *did* in fact influence
the Burkheimer case.

Other persons raising the Ridgway precedent with regard to their own cases
include Dayva Cross, Covell Thomas, and Robert Yates. Robert Yates was
sentenced to death for two murders, and now his attorney is arguing that
conviction cannot stand in light of the Ridgway precedent. So people who
have already been convicted of crimes are now raising this Ridgway issue
on appeal. The fallout from the Ridgway plea bargain is spreading like
wildfire. Washington state is one of 38 states still using the death
penalty. This Ridgway plea bargain has constructively undermined the free
use of the death penalty in Washington state.

For more information on plea bargains and torture for confessions, please


Human Worth Versus The Cost of Rent
By Kirsten Anderberg (

How much worth does a human life have? Is a human life worth $100? What if
someone said to you that they could not take poverty anymore, and that the
daily grind of poverty stigma and hells just to eat and sleep at night
have gotten to be too much. That they were going to commit suicide if this
did not stop and soon. Would it be worth pledging $100 a month to keep
that human alive? Or not? Be honest. Or would it be worth maybe ten cents
a month, to keep that person alive? Seriously, how much is a human life
worth *to you* personally? How much would *you* be willing to give up, to
keep that human being alive? What happens when a human’s worth goes below
rent and food costs? When a human life costs more than it is worth? What
happens when people care more about buying plastic holiday decorations at
K-Mart than humans freezing to death on the streets outside their locked
doors? What happens when human beings have no worth? What happens is the
world you see today.

Some human lives seem to be worth “more” than others, as uncouth as it may
be to say it so bluntly. Certainly we see this in the current war
situation. It appears Iraqi and Afghanistan lives are worth less than
American lives. The big deal made over the tiny numbers of American dead
from *their* war in Iraq, compared to the hoards of Iraqi dead and
wandering homeless refugees, hungry mothers, shoeless children, cold
people, shivering at night, is odd, at best. Their lives are nothing
compared to an American soldier’s life and the fight for “freedom” for the
Iraqi people he is leading. The press plays it up as if one American
soldier death should be paid for by 100 or more Iraqi deaths. I also see a
disproportionate amount of dead in the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.
It seems there are several Palestinians killed to every one Israeli, yet
like the American to Iraqi casualty response, it is talked about as if an
equal number of deaths are occurring on both sides, when I do not think
that is true. So what is it that makes a white American soldier’s life
worth so much more than an Iraqi mother’s, who is now a destitute refugee
due to the “liberation?” It seems at the top of the artificially
constructed *human life worth chain* is the white American Christian male.
Everyone (women, minorities, non-Americans, non-Christians, etc.), and
everything (animals, environment, etc.) are placed below him in the world
I live in, in America. The world is here to serve the Christian white
middle class capitalist male’s needs, basically. Human worth is reduced to
that. Sweatshops to prostitution to war to Arctic drilling, all fit that

Even within the fabric of America itself, there exists human worth scales
that go from worthless to very valuable. For instance, when middle class
white people commit crimes, they hire private attorneys and rarely go to
jail. When poor people and minorities go to court, they are assigned
overworked and underpaid public defenders who railroad them into plea
bargains with prosecutors, plea bargains they do not understand, and many
people end up in jail, not sure how they got there. Seriously innocent of
any crime except poverty. Homeless folks also have less human worth.
People with rambling houses and yards will protest a small park of
homeless people pitching tents anywhere in their town. How much would
these home owners give to save a life or two from hypothermia? Would they
give a corner of their town for a few weeks a month? Would they give an
abandoned building a month a year? Would they give one cup of coffee? One
blanket? Would they give nothing? Not even one cent for those two lives?
Would you be willing to not buy three holiday decorations so a kid can eat
for the whole month? When you attach the meaning of what you are *not*
doing with your money, to all the crap you are buying, maybe that will
help make the crap look less enticing. When you look at the plastic
decoration as a shivering person’s coat. When you see the latte in your
hand, as a hungry child’s face…

In law, lives are measured in monetary worth. When I was in law school, I
had a professor who went to Stanford and her brother was a doctor. She was
class insulated in the way she would breathe, I swear! She was teaching
Torts class one day and said to the class that if we are going to have to
hit a car on the freeway, to choose a poor person’s car, like an old Dodge
Dart. Everyone in the class wrote that down, as if it would be on a test,
no one questioned it. I raised my hand, “Why would we hit the poor
person’s car again?” She said because if you kill the driver, you will
have to pay their working salary worth for an expected lifetime to their
heirs. If you kill a dishwasher, she explained, you would pay far less in
reparations than if you killed say, a doctor or lawyer. I was stunned that
human worth was reduced to your salary at time of death. But it confirms a
lot about the way people are treated. Indeed, law professors are saying
outright, hit the poor person, it will cost *you* less!! It does not
matter that the expensive car probably has features that may save that
life, such as air bags, where hitting the old Dart would just kill the
driver on impact. It does not matter that in an injury, the expensive car
owner would have better health insurance and could afford better after
injury care. What matters is the cost, to the driver, in penalty,
apparently. How is it some have more human worth than others in our
society? What establishes human worth? How is it some human life is worth
more than other human life? We can pretend it is not true, as it offends
our political correctness, but it is true that there is a hierarchy of
human worth.

We do it with schools. Some humans deserve better public schools than
others. There is no way to deny that public schools in rich neighborhoods
keep that money to themselves, buying pools and air conditioning, etc.,
and that the poor neighborhoods do not have enough books to go around. And
then there is the whole private tier of schools. It is well acknowledged
that if you come from certain private schools, you are assumed in the
upper class. One such school in America is in Seattle, called Lakeside. I
would be amazed if Bill Gates’ kids do not attend there. I bet Gates gives
money to Lakeside already. When I last checked, almost 10 years ago, it
was something like $5,000 in tuition for a year in the 5th grade. Which is
almost the tuition rate of the University of Washington. So some kids get
elementary schooling that costs as much as college, when many go to
schools without enough books and cannot afford college. Let’s see. Can you
figure out who is the one assigned more human worth in this picture?

It happens with college too. The poor are funneled into low-income,
low-status vocational training tracks at community colleges with two year
degree programs, while the rich are ushered into ivy league and even
public universities, for 4 year degrees and beyond. People try to say
that is not true, that community colleges are equal to universities. But
that is a lie. You do not see *any* of the Kennedy or Bush clan ever
attending a community college! Come on! It does not happen. Even the
biggest idiot in the world can get into law school if his parents have
money. Remember Dan Quayle? Universities have immense resources compared
to community colleges. The academic counselors at community college try to
funnel the low income kids into vocation rather than 4 year universities,
as well. And much of this education system has to do with later financial
security. People coming out of professional schools such as medical, law,
engineering, architect, etc. are going to fare much better than those
coming out of voc-tech colleges with medical assistant, legal secretary,
dental hygienist, nursing assistant, etc. degrees. It does not take an
idiot to see that. Again, can you tell the ones assigned more human worth
by society? Take a guess.

How is human worth playing out in your life? Look at the fruits and
vegetables on your table. Farm workers picked that produce. Now, have you
ever gone to a campesino where farm workers live? Then have you ever
visited the house where the farm owner’s family lives? What is the
difference between your home and a campesino? Visit a campesino. Compare
it to your home. Those hard workers pick your food 40+ hours a week. And
live in poverty. A class level below those eating the produce they pick,
below the farm owner whose profits the laborer creates. How do you explain
that? Is that about human worth?

The cheapest rent I can find is around $650 a month. So my human worth has
to equal at least $650 a month plus the cost of utilities, food, etc. But
honestly, my human worth, in capitalism, must be worth even more than
those costs. I must factor in the boss needing to take his share of the
profits of my work, so it just keeps dwindling. My worth seems reduced to
my work, just as in law. Instead of working a garden and living
holistically, making my food, working directly for things, there is always
this filter of capitalists who have to skim some individual profit off
everything before it ever makes it down to me. There is a markup from the
middle man on everything I touch, food, rent, utilities, work...A life
that could have been simple is made so complicated by having to support
this whole middle man structure. But this class chasm, that is growing
wider than ever before in American history right now, is saying to me,
over and over, “What is a human life worth?”

I would like to know what you, personally, right now, would be willing to
give up to help rise a lower income person up closer to your income level.
Now, do two times that! Seriously, think right now about your life. Is
your human worth more than others? How? Why? Kahlil Gibran said something
like anyone who has deserved to drink of the ocean of life, surely
deserves to drink from your little stream. Do you talk about equality? Do
you say you support class equity? Then what would you be willing to give
up today, now, to help redistribute wealth right where you live? Would you
give up a latte a day, to help a welfare mom down the street be able to
afford childcare to go to college (hopefully not one of those low income
voc-tech schools!)? Would you give up a new dress or a new pair of
earrings or some new nail polish to help buy sleeping bags for some
homeless folks? Would you give up going out to eat once a week and instead
give that money to the food bank to feed the poor? What would you be
willing to give up, to tithe, so to speak, to get wealth redistribution up
and running in your communities today? We saw a lot of money go out to the
Kerry campaign. Is keeping the poor alive worth as much money? Apparently
not. What is a human worth to you? Are different humans worth more or less
to you? Who has worth to you, and why? It is time we looked at this and
talked about it honestly, with open eyes.


How To Include The Poor in Community Events
By Kirsten Anderberg (

It is not enough to say you would like more class diversity in whatever
political group you affiliate with. The growth of the class chasm has
gotten so precarious, that a reactive stance to classism is not enough. A
proactive stance of class inclusion is required. Below are a few things
that I think should always be done to try to include the widest range of
economic classes, when it comes to organizing and participating in
community events. “Community events” that constructively and effectively
lock out the poor from participation are not really “community events,”
they are “exclusive” events. I think 5 things should always be in focus
when organizing any event, if class diversity is truly desired. 1) The
organizing meetings and events must take place on bus lines. 2) The
organizing meetings must not take place at restaurants. 3) The organizing
meetings and events must be kid-friendly or offer free childcare on
premises. 4) There must be no membership fee to participate. 5) Charity
may not be used as a way to skirt the first four rules.

Although the first rule, that all organizing meetings and events need to
take place *on bus lines,* is obvious, many people are oblivious to this.
So many middle class people drive, that they do not even think about
buses. It is very important that the organizing meetings, not just the
events themselves, take place on bus lines. If people cannot get to the
organizing meetings due to no buses available, less people will
participate in the event, as well. And rule 5 applies here as well. Do not
try to offer rides to individual people because someone did not care
enough to plan the meetings on bus lines. People will not participate if
they cannot get there in an autonomous fashion. It just is a showing of
dignity, that you recognize those taking buses are an important part of
the congregation as well. Once my son was in a boy scout troop that was
off the bus line. We had to walk forever in winter rain and sleet to get
there at night! I hated it. Every now and then one of them would offer us
a ride, but it was a constant hassle to arrange rides with these people I
did not know or share much of anything with, other than our kids were in
the same classroom at school together. They were middle class, home
owning, Christian Republicans, and I was *not.* So it was uncomfortable
for me to ride with them, I preferred walking in the rain. But it would
have been cool if they had thought about people who walk and ride buses
when choosing where to hold the meetings.

Rule two, do not have meetings and events at restaurants is essential, yet
so often overlooked. I cannot tell you how many times I have not gone to
meetings as soon as I found out they would be held at restaurants, as I
did not have money for a restaurant. I would be counting my last $3 for
the month and the idea of a restaurant was crazy. I also did not want to
go through that weird awkward thing of telling them I could not go due to
money, then them saying they would pitch in and buy my lunch. I would
rather we just all met at a place where we all could have a pot luck lunch
and all could easily participate without identifying our economic class.
You never know who you are losing if you are doing organizing and events
at restaurants, as the poor will not come, and they will not explain why
either. Usually I just said my son was sick if I needed to get out of such
a meeting. I remember a lot of that in law school. I was going to a club
meeting, only to find out it was going to be at an expensive restaurant,
and there went my participation. I remember not going to an LEIU protest
wrap-up meeting last year because it was at a pizza place and I had no

Rule three, that the event must be kid-friendly or have childcare on
premises, is also essential if you want a diverse class pool of women.
Since I have rarely seen men hauling around babies full time, but often
see women doing so, I can tell you from personal experience that one of
the things that isolated me as a mom was this childcare issue. Many single
moms need more social interaction. They are living in poverty, they are
working endlessly just to make survival, and there were many times I was
interested in getting involved in things when I was a single mom, from
musicals at my college, to political action, and I could not, due to
childcare. Hell, when I was an early mom, you could not even work out or
swim with a toddler. They finally caught on and put childcare in gyms and
health clubs. There are even childcare areas at grocery stores and malls
now, but in 1984, when I became a mom, no one had that together yet. Very
few places were kid-friendly when I was a young mom. It has gotten better,
but it is still a lonely world for single moms. Go to a library on a
weekday in the children’s section. You will see almost all women and
children. Go to your local *food bank.* Now, *THAT* is where you will see
almost all women and children exclusively. Those may be the women you will
see show up if you include free childcare or make your events child

Rule four is do not collect membership fees. I mean that. I have not
participated in many an organization due to membership fees. I did not
participate in the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF), which is Ralph
Nader’s baby, for public interest law work in law schools. It had a
membership fee I could not afford. I asked Ralph directly if he could
create something where low income people could join without the membership
fee and he said he was not interested in that. He would come to my law
school and PILF would sponsor $50 a plate dinners with Ralph. So even if I
had raised the PILF membership fee, it seems I would not be able to
participate in most of their events anyway! Another example is the PTA. At
Northgate Elementary in Seattle, Wa., when we were there, they charged
membership fees to join the PTA, an organization which made all the
decisions about what went on at the school, such as fund raisers, events,
etc. So they told low income people that we could *watch* the PTA
meetings, and come to the meetings, but we just could not *vote* on
anything there! At a public school! I still find this to be outrageous!
They then wanted to violate rule number 5, and try to hand pick who they
would give PTA memberships to, etc., forcing the poor to identify
themselves, it was a mess. Avoid all this. Just do not charge membership
fees. Get outside funding, if you must. Do an extra fundraiser. But do not
charge membership fees. And do not charge membership fees and then try to
feign equality by saying if people identify themselves as low income you
will give them a waiver. They should not have to identify themselves as
poor to participate. Just avoid the fee altogether.

Rule five may not be deemed as important by the non-poor as it actually
is. In 3 of the above 4 scenarios, people will try to violate those rules,
in deference to charity. Charity is not dignity. Inclusion is dignity.
Setting up an exclusive situation, then making people identify their
income level if they cannot afford to participate at the exclusive level,
but would still like to, is humiliating for the poor. Most poor folks
would just not participate instead of making a fuss that they are poor and
cannot afford a restaurant meeting or a membership fee. Most folks value
autonomy, and if they cannot get there themselves, they will not go. If
they cannot pay their way while there, they will not go. If you want to
include the poor, meetings and events need mass transit accessibility,
childcare or kid-friendly environments, no membership fees, and meeting
places where paying for food is not involved. And those conditions need to
be met without exception, without charity as a means to try to avoid them.
The charity is demeaning. Just include the poor in the planning instead.


The Cop Out! #4: Who’s A
By Kirsten Anderberg (

Who’s A ( is an interesting website. It has
an odd energy to it. I would normally find myself supporting such a site
wholeheartedly, but there is something about the way this site *feels,*
that is odd. The site boasts itself to be “the largest online database of
informants and agents.” On its “About Us” page, it says, “Who's A Rat is a
database driven website designed to assist attorneys and criminal
defendants with few resources. The purpose of this website is for
individuals and attorneys to post and share all information that has been
made public at some point to at least 1 person of the public prior to
posting it on this site related to local, state and federal informants and
law enforcement officers. The Webmaster has removed the add a picture
function from the "agent" profile section…This website is the first of its
kind and was created in 2004, Also please read the disclaimer in the legal
section. The site takes no responsibility for, and exercises
no control over, the organizations, views, or accuracy of the information
contained on this server.”

One strange aspect of this website is you find lawyers, prosecutors, and
police arguing there. It is a weird site because unlike CopWatch sites
which are clearly *watching* cops, or pro-cop sites run by police officers
themselves, this site sits in a strange position. It is not really clear
exactly what the motive of the webmaster is throughout, thus his
proclamation on the site at some point, saying, “Also I want everyone to
know that I am not affiliated with any law enforcement agency and I can
totally understand why some may be paranoid. I hope this site will help
defendants with little resources who until now had limited tools to
investigate there(sic) Informants & arresting officers.” It *seems* to be
a sort of CopWatch website, but it is unclear in ways. This may just be
due to bad editing or unsteady moderation of posts to the site. The site
is a bit quirky, as well. If you hit the “search” buttons without putting
anything in the box, you will get lists of their agents, informants, etc.
I was a bit confused when I did not know an agent name, for example, to
enter. But then found all entries popped up when I searched with nothing

The home page of the site displays 3 “Rats of the Week,” along with their
pictures and profiles. This week’s “rats” include 3 purported employees
for the DEA, a woman and two men from Montgomery, Alabama. The site claims
to have 527 profiles logged, including 281 informant and 219 agent
profiles. Agent profiles include many police officers, state troopers,
district attorneys, etc. There are also 281 informants listed, which
mainly include job titles along with “rat” or “snitch.” 28 attorneys are
also listed, who apparently specialize in criminal law of all sorts.

On its “recommended sites” page, we find the following categories in this
order: “interesting legal links, adult xxx reality sites, adult xxx video
on demand, anonymous banking, regular banking, loans and more, biker news,
dating for sex, foreign pharmacies, free stuff, interesting/controversial
sites, marijuana, online gambling, psychic (sic) and astrology, similar
informant related websites, spy and counter surveillance, unique gadgets
and unusual stuff, and what the government does not want you to know.”
Hard to know where to start. I started with “similar informant related
websites.” A lame 3 links, one about Alabama, on about Iowa and one about
a small town in Kentucky. No wealth of information there. The rest of the
links pages were equally uninteresting. But this list of “affiliates”
blurs the purpose of this site yet further, in my opinion. They supposedly
have an online store coming soon, that should be interesting.

The online message board finds odd topics that again cross the spectrum of
motives, in a somewhat confusing and chaotic manner. But there are
definitely copwatch-type entries there. One entry entitled, “Cops say site
irresponsible & question the site accuracy” quips cops would not like this
site for it outs their informants. Another entry which I found to be
insightful, entitled, “An easy way to find out who the narcs and
undercover cops are”
( shared the
following information: “The easiest way to discover who the undercover
cops and narcs are in any given area is to go to a funeral of a cop, even
if the cop is retired many and i mean a lot of cops will be there to pay
respect. Chances of anyone knowing why your there would be slim so just go
in and have a look around. If possible take pictures or video of people as
they come and go. I happened in on a cop funeral by accident and at the
time I was being investigated by several different agencies. Man I'm here
to tell you I found out that a lot of people that were hanging around all
of a sudden like, were cops trying to get something on me. It answered a
lot of questions for me.”

There is a “Latest News” section full of police and judge misconduct as
well as informant news stories. The site also hosts a “Top Secret
Documents” page, which has 19 documents, including some pictures of
undercover cops in Colorado, as well as a piece by Abbie Hoffman from 1978
entitled, “How to Disappear and Live Underground”
The “Important Case Law” page has 7 entries that do not seem very broad in
spectrum or application. And there is a very long “legal disclaimer” page. is not a very useful site in my opinion, for many reasons. It
is poorly edited and organized, it has very limited resources available,
and the veracity of claims made on the site are up for grabs. A quick
jaunt through this site does not entice me to return. But it made for a
somewhat interesting one-time visit.


Mothers and Children, Run and Hide! America is Coming to Town!
By Kirsten Anderberg (

Imagine walking down the street in your town, and finding yourself in a
hailstorm of pamphlets, from another country, being dropped on you from an
airplane above, telling the women and children to leave town, now, as war
is impending and they will be in harm’s way. I can only imagine such a
scene, as I have never lived in a war zone. I am from the country doing a
lot of the killing abroad, but my own personal safety, as well as that of
my fellow Americans, has never been directly threatened by an occupying
country within my country’s borders, in my lifetime. So when I hear news
reports that Americans have dropped pamphlets telling women and children
to flee Fallujah, I can only imagine that scene. As a mother.

I imagine that scene in the context of the stories I have read about what
Vietnamese villagers went through when Americans did door to door searches
in the Vietnam War, and how villagers waited in the forests around their
towns, until the U.S. military had done the damage they were set on doing,
then the villagers would return to try to rebuild the mess left. An
unsettled fear forever permeated the village thereafter as well, and
indeed, intimidation is part of the American war tactics arsenal. Often
the villagers could even watch the pillaging of their town from perches
afar. And I have read accounts of Vietnam Vets, accounts of remorse and
regret for what they participated in, while burning villages, innocent
people’s homes, and conducting brutal door to door occupations. I also saw
a lot of pain and suffering when America invaded Afghanistan and refugee
camps became swollen with hungry, sick and cold women, children, and the
elderly…refugee camps full of the exact people America is telling to flee
Fallujah right now, by pamphlet drops.

I can imagine walking down my street and picking up one of those fliers,
and reading that women and children need to flee the town. In my real
situation, as a single mother, with no family and coming from poverty,
with no car or savings, I can only imagine rushing home to pack our
belongings, in a panic. I suppose you would need to put on your best
walking shoes, if you had any. And your warmest coats. Candles and matches
seem like they would be good, but maybe that would be a luxury. Socks
would be nice if you had any. Something to carry water in. Food that could
be transported. Utensils for eating and cooking. Any medicinal compounds
and supplies. Necessary tools, scissors, knives, needles, thread, rope. A
comb and toothbrush? Papers, such as birth certificates and passports.
Phone numbers and addresses of people in other places that maybe could
help me. Herb and Plant identification booklets. Pen, paper. Plastic
sheets, tarps, anything waterproof. Clothing. Any maps I had of the
region. One toy for child, perhaps, if there was room. And the heaviest of
all, bedding. All of this I would need to be able to carry on my back for
many miles and many days. While being responsible for a child in tow as
well. I feel there is great pain and suffering among the residents of
Fallujah right now. Mothers are going through packing their things, just
as I have described, to make way for the Americans.

The way the mainstream news is talking about the invasion of Fallujah, is
as if it is a town full of toys, or robots, as in Toy Story, that can just
be wound up and pointed in a new direction and there they will go! Leaving
all their possessions, buildings, and town behind to be destroyed. I
cannot believe the cold manner in which the American news announcers on TV
tell us that the U.S. Military is dropping fliers on Fallujah telling the
women and children to leave. Can you IMAGINE if such a thing happened in
Seattle? I can, and I am not liking what I am *feeling*. I can FEEL those
mothers frantically trying to pack their belongings now, wondering what
will happen to them, wondering if they will come home to burned houses and
bombed buildings and infrastructure. I FEEL this because I have read the
memoirs of Vietnam Vets who will *never* forget what they saw and what
they were ordered to do in that war. Who forever are haunted by feelings
of inhumanity after burning Vietnamese villages, as the villagers sat
terrified in the woods nearby, watching, and waiting for the “liberators”
to leave so they could go try to rebuild their villages and lives.

I recently read a book about the Vietnam War which had a section on door
to door searches and village invasions. The brutality involved in door to
door searches is inherent and frightening. Often the invading military
personnel do not speak the language of the people whose homes they want to
invade and pillage. The invading soldiers often are unfamiliar and
disrespectful of cultural differences, as well. Additionally, there is a
frantic panic from the soldiers’ adrenaline (and guilt), and if we are
going to keep troops there against their will, after they were to be
released from their tour of duty, who will they take that anger out on?
The people who live in the country they are invading, of course. And when
one’s buddy is killed in action, while he is on extended tour duty, in the
Vietnam War or in this Iraq War, it is often the tendency of the soldiers
to want to take revenge on all Vietnamese, or all Iraqis, due to racism,
for the death of their buddy. Indeed, some American soldiers, and many
American citizens, seem to think *any* Iraqis deserve to die for what
*they* did to America on 9/11, even though the connection between Iraq and
9/11 has yet to be proven! I have heard Americans say over and over that
we should just “nuke them,” meaning all of Iraq! I remember these same
people saying the same thing about Iran in the 1970’s.

When American soldiers invade a city or town, there is a frantic panic
from villagers who cannot understand what the soldiers want or why they
are destroying their villages. Additionally, American soldiers
traditionally do not know how to differentiate the enemy guerillas from
every day citizens in the foreign countries they invade. So, basically,
they shoot anyone who runs! On the Jim Lehrer News Hour on Nov. 5, 2004, I
was saddened to hear this exact subject broached by several military
officials. When Mr. Lehrer asked these military officials how the troops
would be able to differentiate who is an enemy combatant and who is an
ordinary citizen when invading Fallujah, the answer from the officers
seemed to be that everyone who is not an enemy combatant will have fled
the city by then, due to American military warnings, thus we do not need
to care about that. I had heard someone talking on a news show not long
ago about this idea of shooting whoever runs, like we did in the Vietnam
War again. So, it only adds more chaos to the villagers’ trauma when they
cannot understand the language of the occupying troops, at their doors,
while officers shoot their neighbors dead in front of their eyes, if they
try to run!

I see the same ideas we used in the Vietnam War in play now in Iraq.
General Westmoreland said during the Vietnam War, that the more Viet Cong
dead, the better, basically. And in the Vietnam War, the U.S. soldiers
could not tell ordinary Vietnamese citizens from “the enemy,” mirroring
our experiences in the Middle East right now. So they shot farmers as well
as guerilla fighters. This caused an outcry, so the military told soldiers
only to shoot Vietnamese people “if they were running.” When that system
failed also, the policy often became, if they were dead and Vietnamese,
they were just considered Viet Cong (or the enemy). THAT is what I expect
to see in Fallujah. If we shot them dead, and they are Iraqi and in
Fallujah, they were the enemy militia. Period. Or as the military
officials on the Jim Lehrer News Hour intimated, if they stayed in
Fallujah, they *must* have been enemy fighters, because we told everyone
else to leave. The thing that I did not see the American military
officials explain was where all these sick, elderly and parenting citizens
of Fallujah were supposed to go! Did we bring in large transport vehicles
and moving vans to help these people relocate? Of course not! So, we are
just telling the poorest sector in town to *disappear* and if they don’t
leave, and they are killed, these women, children, and elderly will
probably just be tallied as part of the enemy militia in death. Just like

You can receive Kirsten's articles, as they are written, via an email list
called "Eat the Press." Go to
to join the list.


Herumkaspern für den Frieden
von Kirsten Anderberg
Etwas lustiges ereignete sich in Seattle nachdem Bush den Krieg auf den Irak erklärte. Kriegsrecht herrschte in den Straßen Seattles. Obwohl friedliche DemonstrantInnen die Erlaubnis erhielten vor dem Verwaltungsgebäude gegen den Krieg zu protestieren, und ihr Protest gegen den Krieg eine Erfolgsgeschichte darstellte, wurden sie von der Polizei mit Scharfschützen, Prügelcops, Maschinengewehren und Knüppeln in der Größe von Baseballschlägern flankiert. Die Prügelcops verfolgten die DemonstrantInnen auf jeden Schritt nach Downtown, in Reihen, die Knüppel unruhig in der Hand knetend, die Abzeichen und Namenschilder verdeckt. Diese Robocops weigerten sich zu sprechen oder mit den friedlichen DemonstrantInnen zu kommunizieren, und genossen es stattdessen, sie für ihre politischen Ansichten tagelang schonungslos einzuschüchtern. Ich persönlich hielt es fünf Tage in diesem Polizeistaat aus, bis ich durchdrehte. Ich habe Alpträume, dass ich in Downtown bin und vier Robocops hinter mir her laufen. Ich werde nervös. Dann kommen sie von den Seiten und von vorn. Sie werden nicht mit mir sprechen. Sie werden nicht sagen, was sie wollen. Ich bin gefangen, bin entsetzt und wache dann auf. Es ist die Erinnerung von den Polizeiausschreitungen am Samstag.

Meiner Meinung und Beobachtung nach fing ich ab dem Samstag, als die Polizei die Ausschreitungen provozierten an meine Friedensprotest-Taktiken zu überdenken. Aus Wut war meine erste Reaktion die Robocops zu IMITIEREN. Ich ging im Netz auf Ranger Joe's und Quarter Master Uniformen um taktische Kampfausrüstung für meinen eigenen Schutz zu kaufen, der mir von gewalttätigen, prokrieg Prügelpolizisten in Seattle drohte. Ich fand die gleichen Helme und Schienbein/Fuß-Schoner, die die Einsatztruppen in Seattle tragen. Kugelwesten, etc. Aber ich befürchtete, dass die Kampfausrüstung die Robocops zu noch mehr Gewalt auffordern würde. Als ich mit einem Freund sprach, der aus der Protestbewegung gegen den Vietnam-Krieg stammt, sagte dieser: "Warum tragt ihr nicht alle Fußballuniform, mit Polstern und Helmen?" Das hat mich wirklich zum nachdenken gebracht.

Warum nicht als Weihnachtsmann zu Protesten kommen? Der Nikolaus ist gepolstert und es ist für die Polizei auch nicht sehr vorteilhaft, in den Medien gezeigt zu werden, wie sie den Weihnachtsmann schlagen und festnehmen. Bei Nonnen und Priestern haben sie auch Skrupel zuzuschlagen. Irgendetwas, das die extreme Polizeigewalt betont ist gut. Je unschuldiger jemand aussieht, umso brutaler erscheinen die Robocops. Ich verstehe den Wunsch total, schwarz und Kopftücher zu tragen. Aber es sieht in den Nachrichten viel belastender für die Polizei aus, wenn sie den Weihnachtsmann, Nonnen, Männer in Anzügen schlagen und verhaften. Darum trug Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. bei friedlichen Märschen und Protesten Anzüge. Um der Polizei auch nicht für einen Moment die Oberhand zu lassen. Am 22. März beobachtete ich wie unsere klugen und wütenden Antikriegs-Nachwuchs-DemonstrantInnen am Westlake Park verletzt wurden. Sie wurden verfassungswidrig verfolgt. Was, wenn diese Kids solche Clown-Requisiten gekauft hätten, wie endlose Schals? So würde die Polizei sie suchen und endlose Schals hängen aus ihren Taschen. Oder vielleicht sollte man gigantische Unterhosen oder ein Gummihähnchen bon McPhee's in der Tasche tragen. Oder wie ist es mit etwas klebrigen oder schleimigen? Wir müssen jetzt kreativ werden und für unsere eigene Vernunft aus dem gruseligen Polizei-Psychosrama ein Straßentheater machen.

Was wäre, wenn DemonstrantInnen als Keystone Cops verkleidet ankämen, mit Hüten, großen Schuhen, Pfeifen, etc.? Und wir stünden zwischen den DemonstrantInnen und den Polizisten und würden uns wie linkische Polizeiclowns aufführen? "Hier entlang!" "Nein, da entlang!" Oder was wäre, wenn wir uns die Polizei-Kommandos/Codes für bestimmte Situationen, wie "Legen Sie Ihre Waffen ab" aneigneten und diese Kommandos in Megaphone brüllten, während die Beamten Kommandos zu ihrer Einsatztruppe schreien, "bewaffnen?". Die Polizei wäre von den Kommandos verwirrt. Oder wir könnten uns eigene Codes überlegen. Jemand schreit "52" und wir alle wissen, dass wir "schnell, scharf links abbiegen" sollen. Jemand schreit "98" und wir "setzen uns alle sofort hin."

Nach tagelanger Polizeibedrohung, Einschüchterung und geradezu illegaler Raub meiner Grundrechte, beschloss ich, dass dies ein Kampf ist, der sich lohnt. Ich fordere die Friedensgemeinde auf kreatives, themenbezogenes Straßentheater zu erfinden, um die Aufmerksamkeit darauf zu richten, was die Polizei friedlichen DemonstrantInnen antut. Lasst uns wie Clowns um sie herumtanzen. Lasst uns sie dazu bringen den Weihnachtsmann zu verhaften. Lasst uns in den Straßen wie Fußballmannschaften formieren. Wenn die Polizei von Seattle totale Roboter sein wollen, wie sie es die Woche nach der Kriegserklärung waren, würde ich sagen gehen wir als Sieger hervor. Gebt nicht auf. Verzichtet nicht einfach auf euer Rederecht. Werdet stattdessen kreativ. Lasst uns eine gute Show und Spaß für alle daraus machen!

Published on, translated by

More articles by Kirsten translated into German:

Erziehung versus Protest? (Germany IMC, Feb 2004)
Neue fragwürdige Praktik am UN-Tribunal (Germany IMC, Nov 2003)







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