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Governor, Take Care of Your People

Local activists try to raise awareness of income inequality, and want Gov. Cuomo to pay attention

by Molly Eadie on January 16, 2014 · 1 comment

 

“In the future days . . . we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. . . . The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.”

Echoing FDR: Joe Lombardo speaks at the Occupy Albany-sponsored rally. Photo by Molly Eadie

These words were spoken more than 70 years ago by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and parts of the same speech were echoed repeatedly at the Westminster Presbyterian Church on Tuesday (Jan. 14) at Occupy Albany’s Freedom From Want meeting, which replaced a march around the Capitol because of the weather.

“We need to build an economic system in which wealth and opportunity are more evenly distributed and in which none of our neighbors is left behind,” said Sister Honora Kinney of Albany. “As people from the Capital District, we are uniquely able to influence the state Legislature.”

The meeting focused on the public’s right to food, shelter, healthcare, work with dignity and peace. These issues, and income inequality, have been themes in the Occupy movement since its inception in September 2011. While Occupy Albany has long since moved out of Academy Park, which the group occupied that fall, and into downtown offices, the group remains active and meets regularly.

“New York has the greatest income inequality in the nation,” said Ron Deutsch of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness. Deutsch said a lot of people—including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, and even the newest Pope, have been vocal about income inequality. “The governor seems to be a bit out of step with these folks,” said Deutsch, who pointed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to reduce estate tax rates from 16 percent to 10 percent, and raise the estate tax exemption from the current $1 million to $5.25 million by 2019.

Other groups, including Women Against War, spoke at the meeting, which ended with a speak out for the public.