Julia Deak of Seattle, Washington plans to host a house meeting to rebuild the American Dream on the weekend of July 17. Julia took a few minutes to talk with us and explain what she hopes to get out of this meeting, and what ideas she has for fixing our economy.
Julia Deak thought she was being a good citizen by voting in every election and even volunteering occasionally for campaigns. But it turned out that wasn’t enough. She was rudely awakened when the Democrats lost the US House of Representatives in 2010. She found herself feeling increasingly horrified as Washington State voters, who were bombarded with millions of dollars of misleading advertising, turned down a candy tax, nixed an income tax on the wealthiest one percent of state residents, and approved a supermajority measure that made it impossible for the Democratic simple majority in the state Legislature to approve even obvious revenue-raising ideas like cutting tax loopholes on private jets.
She has gotten more and more involved in organizing her community to stand up for its education system, its public transit, and its social service programs as all of these are placed on the chopping block. Her involvement continues as she hosts a House Meeting on July 17 beginning at 4:00 PM in her home in Seattle, WA.
How did you hear about the House Meetings?
I became a volunteer member of MoveOn’s Seattle Council last fall after the horrible results of the 2010 midterm election. I’ve learned so much from getting connected to long-time activists and elders in my community. The house parties are a great way to meet my neighbors and bring less politically active people into the fold so that they can effectively advocate for change as part of a strong coalition.
What are some of the ideas you’ve heard so far about creating jobs?
First of all, there are plenty of jobs in Seattle, but they’re mostly for highly educated engineers and professionals. Amazon, for example, is hiring thousands of people every year, but they often have to look all over the country and abroad to find suitable candidates. The state is defunding the public universities which is leading to huge tuition hikes, and that means that local students from poor or even middle class backgrounds are having trouble affording school. We’ll never fix our employment problem by defunding education.
But there’s also a lot we can do to create jobs for the construction trades by funding infrastructure projects which are sorely needed. One popular idea around here is to fund energy efficiency upgrades to make houses and public buildings greener. That creates jobs while addressing our energy crisis, too. We need high speed rail and roads and bridges in good repair in order to have the infrastructure businesses need to work efficiently, and doing all of that creates jobs. No private company would take on these projects, but they are definitely in the best interest of our society, so let’s do it already!
What do you hope comes of the House Meetings?
I really hope we will fulfill our vision of drawing up a democratically created Contract for the American Dream and then committing to it. By meeting in person, we commit to each other that we will do whatever it takes to make that dream a reality for everyone. We’ve never had completely equal opportunities in this country, but we’ve been much closer before. Right now it feels like a few wealthy, well-organized groups are trying to plunge our country into the Dark Ages as they suck us dry of all our wealth: homes, savings accounts, investments, pensions, and now through rising commodity prices, even through our daily expenses. I hope this process helps more people realize what corporations and their supporters in our government are doing to our society, and I hope we can spell out a vision of a bright future that we can definitely achieve if we work together. We elected Obama last time based on this message of hope and positive vision, and if we can bring that movement back to life, get corporate money out of politics, and elect some honest public servants, I know we will save our country.
Do you think the House Meetings will make a difference?
I know they will make a difference. The road toward a complete national reversal of policy may be a longer one than we would like, but regardless of that, there are so many things we can do on a local and person-to-person level. We can support local businesses, boycott dangerous products, raise our own food, become more energy-independent and self-sufficient all as individuals or small groups. I know the house meetings will help people connect with others in their communities and learn about those kinds of techniques and opportunities, so that much is for sure. But I also think the time is ripe for a real sea change in our national discourse around tax policies, shared sacrifice, and investing in America’s future. As people come together through these meetings and realize they have a voice and a huge amount of collective power, I know we can rebuild the American Dream.
Photo credit: Henry Ngo, Flickr