Friday, September 16, 2011

Occupy Wall Street September 17th

While I cannot be there, I hope
thousands can.
While I don't normally talk about politics on this blog (and may lose some of my readership as a result of this post), I feel the dire need to do so today. Starting tomorrow, gods willing, thousands will occupy Wall Street in tents for several months. They do so because banks, corporations, and governments have collaborated far too long to take away our livelihoods, our welfare, and our civil liberties (more here). They have hijacked our system and the "American Dream" for the vast majority of us.

I know it is hard to talk about "class" in this country (and when you do, most people snicker and think as you as some kind of holdover from the naive 1960's or even more out of date, the 1930's in the unions' heyday). Class is the unspoken disparity. We talk about race, gender, even sexual orientation these days. But class is where people that should interests in common divide- due to some serious media manipulations.

I believe that there is truly a war on the poor and working class happening all over the world as we speak. Right now in the US (I'll speak mainly to my country in this post), politicians and corporations have already took away our right to elect representatives in the state of Michigan. The governor there has created an executive order to replace any democratically elected official- for any reason- and replace them with anyone of his choosing. So far, he chooses corporate cronies.

They are cutting according to their priorities, which does not include
you or me. Their priorities are loopholes for the wealthy
(individuals and corporations).
The governor of Wisconsin has tried hard to take away the power of collective bargaining (thank the gods for the court system, at least in that state). Collective bargaining is the only thing that works against monied corporations who would have us all working in 1800's conditions once more for subsistence (or lower) wages. I kid you not- they are looking to roll back wages, undo years of struggle by slashing benefits and pensions, and take away our power to organize to get them back.

While many younger folks in the US have been trained to think of unions as passé and corrupt, the fact is they are the ones who have protected us- working conditions, health care benefits, living wages, paid time off and even the concept of the weekend- these all come from the blood, sweat, and tears of union activists. And these things are being dismantled now- as surely as the government tried to bring down the unions themselves. (I'll address the most common rebuttal I hear lately in regards to resurrecting unions: Yes, some union officials have been corrupt. So have some government officials, police officers, and business men- what is the point of invoking that argument when you don't call for the abolition of all these things? The problem is that everyday affected people have lost control of our government and our organizations.)

The governor of New Hampshire wants to restrict minimum wage.

Corporate lapdog pundits are talking about how the poor should not have the right to vote. 

Fox News tries to appease its working class folks by convincing them that "poor" does not mean what it used to. In one argument, they argue that because over 90% of the poor in the United States "have a refrigerator" they aren't "really poor". (See video link immediately below for actual footage from the station.) Notice they didn't say "own a refrigerator". They chose their language carefully to be accurate, but still untrue. You see, the vast majority of poor people rent their homes where landlords are required to have working appliances for their use. This kind of manipulation is nothing new for Fox.

While the wealthy may have always felt this way about the poor, what has changed is that they feel that they can do this, with the help of our government, right out in the open. They have become emboldened, because so many working people have bought into the right wing rhetoric that divides us. I say to you now- if you must work to make a living (whether that is a university professor or a garbage collector), you are working class. Your interests are not those that would strip of of our sufferage, our civil liberties (especially the right to peacefully assemble), and our ability to feed our families.

While corporate profits are at an all time high and the wealthy pay less in taxes at any time in our history, unemployment is much higher than the reported 9%. (These figures do not take into account those that were denied unemployment compensation in the first place, those who have dropped off the rolls because they have exhausted their benefits and still have not found a job, and those that are underemployed and are no longer eligible for compensation as a result.)

If you can make it to New York, by all means do so. You have my blessing. If you cannot, stand up for working people where you live, support those who are at home and abroad.

The call to occupy Wall Street:

Some international (Valencia, Spain- 2011) inspiration (although the stats on the video apply specifically to the US). We are not alone in this fight. It is happening all over the world.


  1. Good luck America. My thoughts are with you.

  2. I appreciate that you've posted this call to action and awareness. There is absolutely a sort of warfare going on, with an increasingly explicit class dimension, and it's important for people to be aware of how the societies in which they live operate. We can't fix something if we don't know it's broken! And something about our society is definitely broken when there are cities that have practically made homelessness a crime, when unions are decried as inherently corrupt and unpatriotic. Take your pick of issues, because there's something for everyone.

  3. I love that you wrote about this! I have never been a "political" person, but I cannot stand on the sidelines while I watch with sadness and shame what is happening all around me. In the past, my "live and let live" philosophy allowed me to tolerate circumstances and events that I should have taken notice of and objected to. I can no longer in good conscience close my eyes to the injustices of our time. Although "Do no harm" is in my blood, sometimes the best I can hope for is to "Do the least harm, and the most good." Thank you for your courage to speak out...we need more people like yourself,
    Brightest Blessings!

  4. Thank you for this. Posted it on my FB.


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