Why we (should) Occupy?

by Ben Cripps

What started out as a small cry for citizen help to protest against corporate greed and government corruption on Sept. 17 is now poised to shape our country, its leaders, and our economic policies.
            Rightfully so, the people of this country are recognizing demonstrable policies that have benefited the super rich whilst gutting middle-class America.
            The problems facing this nation are extremely multi-faceted, multi-layered, with deep roots extending far beyond a black and white solution.
            The past 30 years have seen supply-side economics prosper and come crashing back down as bubbles build up and burst in different markets of our economy. This is nothing new; prior to the Great Depression we operated on a fairly similar economic plane, then plunged into the greatest financial depression until now. So what happened during the in-between?
            Keynesian economics. Demand-side.
            When government had some form of regulation, while still allowing the principles of a free market system to prosper, our economy maintained systematic growth and stability.

Wealth was shared by all economic classes, not in a socialist sense, because everyone had the same opportunity to succeed in the market place. Businesses were held accountable and big banks could not meddle with the Fed because of later provisions to the Glass-Steagall Act which separated banks into commercial and investment classifications, preventing banks from selling deposits to the Fed at a re-discounted rate.

            In late 1973 – early 1974 the Business Roundtable, an organization whose members comprise the CEOs of America’s top corporations,  laid out plans based on Milton Friedman’s economic theory that would deregulate Wall Street and allow for corporations to meddle in higher-level government institutions via effective lobbying.

According to opensecrets.org, a government accountability watchdog group, the Business Roundtable spent $150,155,000 to lobby Congress last year. It is not coincidence that big business and government sleep in the same bed.

Other top spenders included Exxon, General Electric, the National Association of Realtors and, surprisingly the top lobbyist was the US Chamber of Commerce, spending $770,665, 680 alone in lobbying our own politicians last year.

Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, in their book, Winner Take All Politics, assert:

“The transformation of Wall Street reflected the repeated, aggressive application of political power. Some of that power was directed at removing existing regulations designed to protect against speculative excess and conflicts of interest. Some focused on thwarting would-be regulators who sought to update rules to address rapidly evolving financial realities.”

This is why people are taking to the streets. The repeated use of economic and political power, mainly held by large-capital institutions, to remove barriers and deregulate our market system has consequently put our nation, and the middle-class, under the water.

This is not just about Wall Street. Our bought Congress has walked hand-in-hand with big business for the past 30 years as well. Politicians legislate policy that benefits their main constituents, namely corporations; if they fail to appease these businesses they may lose funding, subsequently losing a reelection.
             Both Republican and Democratic administrations have all had almost their entire main staff consist of current or former Wall Street executives. In 30 years there have been three Republican presidents and two Democratic presidents, two FED chairmen and very similar – if not the same – economic policies.
This is not coincidence. This is an effective scheme designed to benefit the super-rich, the elite, and the top 1 percent.

Our politicians lack moxie when our citizens have demanded it.

 Who do our duly elected representatives actually represent? The curtain has come down revealing the true nature of current American politics.

The general majority of protestors in question are not the Marxist, socialist, anarchists and “union thugs” that Rush Limbaugh likes to portray them as.

In fact, a survey-study conducted by Doctor Hector R. Cordero-Guzman of City University of New York found that 92.1 percent of occupy wall street protestors had some college, a college degree, or a graduate degree; 70.8 percent were employed either part-time or full-time; 70.3 percent identified their political beliefs as Independent, coupled with a 64.2 percentage of protestors under the age of 34, suggests that this is a youth driven, politically neutral collage of individuals.

The report, titled Main Stream Support for a Mainstream Movement, concludes, “Our data suggest that the 99% movement comes from and looks like the 99%.”

Indeed, there will always be stray factions of different organizations and associations, such as anarchists, that partake in mass movements of this scale, these individuals and their actions do not represent the majority view; yet mainstream media tends to represent these peoples as the voice of the occupy movement.

There is no doubt now that occupy protests have formed in over 1,000 US cities, including our own beloved Bellingham. In our state there are currently protests from Spokane to Seattle, Vancouver to Friday Harbor.

Amidst the protests, the citizens of this country are witnessing first-hand how they have systematically and slowly been robbed of their civil liberties. From having SWAT deployed to quell the social rebellion through intimidation and force – there is video footage of NYPD officers illegally lying to, pepper spraying and beating protestors.

Naomi Wolf, author of Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries, was arrested at Occupy Wall Street after she reviewed the permit for an event, where she was an attendee, taking place near the protests.

The permit allowed protestors to use the sidewalks outside the event so long as they didn’t block pedestrian access. When Wolf told the protestors that they could legally march outside the event, police quickly moved in and arrested Wolf and her camera-assistant.

Demonstrators in New York City and Seattle have seen mass arrests for having tents or sleeping in parks with no permits.

Since when did our inherent rights to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances, and to free speech get suffocated in municipal permits?

The people of this country have had enough with smoke and mirrors, petty-politics and corruption at the corporate and governmental levels.

Reform is badly needed. We must force our government to finally recognize and address these issues that are greatly affecting its citizens. We are the 99 percent, and we have the true power should we flex our political muscles.

We have witnessed and supported revolutions around the world in the past year, now our citizenry has awoken. Opportunities like these are few and far between.

The establishment and status quo will pull every resource they can, from media ties to the spreading of misinformation, to crush this rise of the people.

The revolution will not be televised.

We must overcome our political apathy and our political differences if we truly want to succeed at changing our broken system. The evidence is overwhelming; we need a change in economic policy. We cannot continue on this path of risky and reckless economic policy if we want to prevent our children, their children and their grandchildren from paying for our mistakes.

It is imperative that, at least, we should consider these questions and use intelligent dialogue and petition to resolve them; remember, the 1 percent is counting on you to do nothing.

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