Friday, June 27, 2014

The Theft of the Commons

The Theft of the Commons
We have a duty, in the public sphere,
To do what's right – the common good of all.
And it's our duty to defend this space
From those who seek to "own" it for their ends.

If "ownership" is what they seek, we say,
"What's public still is 'owned' by all of us.
It can't be sold or bought.  It's like the air,
The sun and all that we and others share."

And yet there's value in what's shared – from work
That citizens have done, from taxes paid
And from the value that we put on things
We hold as dear, as heirs with legacies.

So when the public tills are used as troughs
From which the lazy or the clever feed,
It's only right that some should raise a cry
And to such thieves, the public's trust deny.

But equally, when magnates seek to grow
Yet richer from the government's largesse,
Procured by tools the affluent can wield,
To such as these, should we, our treasures, yield?

What once was shared by all, the common space,
Is now partitioned, walled – and we are told
By hired guards that we have no access
Or only what is doled and limited.

What public labor built is cheaply bought.
It's sold and rented out as "property".
And so, across the world, the billionaires
Grow richer yet, with workers turned to serfs. 

Our years of work, the toils of those before
Are stolen, used to profit only some.
If foreign troops arrived to conquer, would
We then defend, what we have given up?

The light, the air, the water and the land
Are shared by all of life. Our sustenance
Is drawn from these. Who dares to "own" them or
Despoil, by thoughtless plunder, sanctity?

The burglar and the con-man are condemned,
And those who try to rob the banks are chased.
But who will rise and point towards the ones
Who steal our labor and our heritage?

2014 June 27th, Fri.

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