“We have met the enemy, and he is us” — (Walt Kelly’s Pogo comic strip.) Hold that thought.
The Occupy Wall Street protest is entering its third week, and enlightened folks are beginning to join that party. For those not familiar with this effort, hundreds of primarily younger kids have taken over NYC’s “Liberty Plaza Park ” (Zucotti Park) protesting Wall Street’s overwhelming power, control of government and perceived detrimental impact on this country, particularly on us middle-classers.
There is no clear leadership within this movement, as the OWS functions more like the Sioux Indian tribe as seen in “Dances With Wolves.” A democratic “General Assembly” of all involved sets the course via consensus, and thus far, is fielding a rather vague wish list. They are, however, specifically targeting that “1 percent” of the population said to control the lion’s share of America’s wealth, with good reason.
VERY good reason, in fact.
Recent Supreme Court decisions reaffirming soul-less corporations as “people” and granting them the ability to influence elections, reports of the SEC shredding Wall Street investigation documents, and the sub prime crisis fueled by what we thought were reputable firms, all paint a sickeningly sinister picture. Plus, massive taxpayer-funded bailouts to huge institutions as soaring home foreclosures send hundreds of
thousands of families into the streets continue to add insult to injury as our clueless high-priced representatives play petty, self-serving partisan politics.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs continue to be lost as corporations accumulate mountains of cash, outsource to foreign workers, and downsize their domestic workforce, leaving fellow Americans out in the cold. As prices rise, poor and middle class people bear the ever-expanding brunt of collective increases ranging from food to gasoline to services — all at once and with no relief, other than broken promises — from our own government.
Many of us reeling from impossible financial stresses are surely cheering these Wall Street protesters on. After all, it’s about time someone finally stood up to those greedy, money-grubbing fat cats who caused all these problems. That’ll solve everything . . . Right?
NOT necessarily, because all that assumes the rich are solely to blame. Lets look a bit further, I say . . . at transactions us “99-percenters,” (as we’ve been tagged by the OWS group) are involved in on a daily basis.
Accident and malpractice litigation: We’ve all been involved in these deals, and doctors are saddled with huge insurance bills because we sue — for as much as we can get — whenever possible. That’s US, not the fat cats, doing this! And everyone undoubtedly knows someone who wore neck braces over phony whiplash claims. Lawyers advertise they can get you more in a car accident (and they’re usually right.) My point? how many hundreds of thousands of these kinds of actions are initiated throughout this huge, expansive land of ours every day? Surely they all add up to amounts totaling hundreds of billion$ per year, with considerable impact on our economy.
Outsourcing: You think only big corporations do this? EVERYBODY I know does this, whenever possible. Of course, local companies charging an arm and a leg for things like website design just have not yet learned to become more competitive, and are you going to stupidly pay the higher prices, or get these same services from India for pennies on the dollar?
In 1975, home mortgages in my neighborhood averaged $130 a month. I was stunned to learn my neighbor was renting his home out for a staggering $350 a month, almost 3 times his mortgage payment! Further, a neighbor fell on my shoveled sidewalk one snowy winter, and sued my insurance company who paid up without ever telling me. (She laughed about it all the way to the bank — and she was NO Wall-Streeter. I never even knew what she sued for!) Here we see “greed” is not restricted to any one class of people.
All these things happen every day, everywhere, and all the time!
Add to this our growing dependency on materialism, entertainment and high living, mixed in with diminishing emphasis on family, education and accomplishment. And we’ve become way too accepting of politicians’ broken promises, to the point of expectation.
Getting back to “Wall Street” and our overall business culture, profit certainly seems to have supplanted people. In fact, stock market practices such as “short selling,” whereby conscience-challenged JR Ewings deliberately sell borrowed stock they know will fall in value to the unwitting Cliff Barneses, are ACCEPTED practices! WTF — since when? You’d never see Ward Cleaver doing this. In a nutshell, our culture actually encourages the screwing of people (and how many of us cheered as JR put yet another one over Barnes?) These little things grow into big things, and I do believe the subprime crisis emanated from these attitudes.
I firmly support the “Occupy Wall Street” effort, and I see these folks, acting via consensus, truly performing as our Congressmen ought to be doing — and ain’t. Massive financial corruption must be stopped, and in my own experience dealing with powerfully-rich capitalists, I often detected their arrogance and contempt for us wealth-challenged wannabes. Plus, I know what can happen when corporations act against you, both openly and covertly. Speaking of money, the almighty “George Washington,” who originally declined the invitation, has finally become “King,” and one which needs to be dethroned soon. “Greed” is certainly one issue. “Over-dependency” on the almighty buck is the other.
Regardless as to overall cultural faults, first things first: the corporate coup must be dealt with. Don’t expect any help from Tea Party politicians
— an economic turnaround now will guarantee Obama’s re-election, and these nutjobs can’t have that. And corporate bosses are much more comfortable with a myopic, entertainment-hungry American public chanting “Sponge Bob Square Pants” rather than the OWS battle cry “All Day All Week…(Occupy Wall Street.)”
This movement has taken on a mighty big challenge. It’s hoped they never restrict themselves to specific demands, but rather, forge a “cultural revolution” of thought and societal introspection for us as a country — and as individuals, toward the re-establishment in value of right over wrong, honesty over deceit, and generosity over greed, among other things.
Also, their challenge will be to maintain control over this movement, as others join in on the action. As they take on some of the most ruthless — and baddest — people in the world (I’ve been there and done that), there will come a time when incoming allies will serve one helluva purpose.
One last comment: I really dig the drum circle as seen on the live feed. Let’s keep that beat going on!
That’s all I have to say on the subject, so, back to my rabble-rousing fun! After all, I was doing stuff like this years before these kids were ever thought of 😉
Note: This is a second draft, but I launched it anyway. It’s a good bet some rewrites will be made.