Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Defining An Occupation

In attempting to do this, it may be easier at this point to define the Occupy Wall Street Movement by defining what it’s not.  It’s not as simple as the condescending opinion that they are just a bunch of welfare free loaders who never had a job and want more of our tax dollars so they can go to college for free and smoke medical marijuana while playing video games instead of working, which is a simpleton opinion I’ve seen.  I see it as a grass roots movement that represents democracy at its purest form because it’s The People’s will and resolve in action, not politicians.  At this point it is disorganized and lacking clear direction, but this is in alignment with the complexity of the many issues.  What matters is that The Movement appears to be gaining momentum.  I’d use the metaphor of a river.  A river begins with many disconnected tributaries, coming from various directions, each tributary carrying the sediment of its origin into the flow of the main river. 
I think that what the Occupiers are doing is highly esteem able, and deserves the highest praise because we all know that we have huge problems, but we are still for the most part just sitting on our collective hands waiting for either somebody else to fix it, or for the sky to fall.  The Occupiers are attempting to do something about it! As the Chinese proverb goes, “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”  Ultimately perhaps what they can accomplish is to wake up enough of us to make a difference.  Ultimately it's We The People who are responsible for creating the change we need to have.  The time for complacency and bickering over which side is right is long over.  The 1% who the Occupiers refer to don’t want change, because their wealth continues to expand at the expense of the rest of us by virtue of the current economic policies. 
Some people cry out that this kind of talk is about the “redistribution of wealth,” that we all have the same opportunity to work hard and achieve wealth, etc, etc.  But I think it’s fair to ask people if they will still be singing that same tune when they or someone close to them gets laid off from their Federal, State, or County job?  Will they still be beating that drum when their pension fund is gone?  Will they still be cheering for the status quo in banking policy when more and more ordinary working people can’t afford to pay their bills and put food on the table?  We used to think that these kinds of things were unfathomable, but they are actually happening!  Cops and firefighters used to be untouchable, but they are getting laid off, their pensions are being negotiated down.  Many Americans have already seen their retirements evaporate away.  The loss of taxes from mass foreclosures is forcing utility districts to cut jobs and raise rates.  All of this “missing money” isn’t just gone, it has been redistributed!  Basic economics informs us that money doesn’t just vanish into thin air. It goes someplace.  One man’s economic loss is the next man’s economic gain, and right now it’s that 1% who are making the gains while the vast majority of the 99% continues to decline in prosperity.  And this redistribution of the wealth of the 99% is not because of hard work.  It’s because of economic policy which the 1% constituency has been putting in place since the beginning of capitalism. 
This isn’t to say that capitalism is evil, not even close.  Capitalism is the foundation our country is built on.  It’s responsible for the wealth and prosperity we have.  It’s provided all of the economic growth, the jobs, and our whole material condition.  It’s the outright greed of people who have taken these principles too far and have created this unbalanced, unfair condition by pushing through economic policy which favors the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is about reigning in this greed, not about free-loaders wanting more hand-outs, or entitlements. 
There are lunatic fringe nut jobs in any large enough group no matter what their political leaning is.  To define the Occupy Wall Street movement by its rough edges of anarchists and the marginally employable homeless is just a convenient and dishonest excuse to keep one’s head buried in the sand while waiting for others to do something about the direction of our country while pathetically pointing out what’s wrong with the actual democratic process participants from the sidelines.  The Occupy Wall Street Movement is about The People attempting to take back the power that is supposed to belong to The People.

*edited to add- I was curious about who are thee occupiers, so before I wrote this Blog entry, I did a search for Occupy Wall Street photos.  Here are examples of what I found.


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