Corporate media has been slow to report on the Occupy Wall Street protest and even now going into week three, pundits sneer, saying “What could these protesters possibly want?” That kind of dismissal has been established powers’ first response to every great social movement in this country -- from the grassroots demand for the Bill of Rights to women’s demand for the vote to the black civil rights movement.
After 30 years of reversals of 20th century progress towards equity and equality, towards inclusion and true democracy, We the People are awakening.
A tipping point appears to have been reached.
Too many factories closed. Too jobs exported. Too many unions busted. Too many houses foreclosed on. Working people’s wages in free fall while CEOs and stock market speculators made out like billionaire bandits. The protesters are asking fundamental questions.
WHO is the economy FOR? The top 1% or the 99%? How can 400 people have as much wealth as the BOTTOM 150 MILLION people? Why should workers who’s labor CREATES wealth be reduced to corporate serfs, considered disposable?
Unemployment destroys individual lives, families and entire communities. President Obama, spineless Democrats and Tea Party Republicans have offered -- at best -- a tepid response for workers after TRILLIONS to bail out Wall Street banks.
Protesters say: Why is austerity for human beings while corporations get no-bid contracts, subsidies and pay no taxes?. Too-big-to-fail banks and too-small-to-matter human beings is unacceptable.
After exporting most manufacturing to sweatshop countries, corporations are now parasites that gobble up public services for more profits. Lockheed Martin not only makes more fighter jets we don’t need but also runs some states welfare systems. Public schools on the auction block. More prisons and detention centers for undocumented immigrants run by private companies. The U.S. has the biggest prison population on Earth -- a majority of them people of color, 500,000 mentally ill and the abandoned poor. How can cells for profit be reconciled with democratic ideals?
Unemployed? Here’s your choices: minimum-wage service worker, soldier for hire, prison guard or a prisoner. Youth are either priced out of college or graduate with debt the size of home mortgages. What kind of life can be made on such a marginal economic foundation?
Since his first campaign for president in 1996, Ralph Nader has pointed out that the US government is now corporate occupied territory. National Labor Relations Board does little when bosses illegally fire workers for union organizing. Environmental protection laws are ended or ignored.
HOW can it be claimed that creating jobs requires continuing climate change and polluting air and water everyone needs for survival? That’s insane!
Big Oil, Coal and Nuclear Power get billions while clean renewable energy gets pennies. Millions of new jobs would be created with REAL clean energy Manhattan Project, such as created the atom bomb.. Instead, wars for oil in the Middle East are the preferred option by those who don’t fight or pay for these wars.
The problems we face as a nation -- as a species --a re daunting but, there are solutions -- there’s just a lack of political will to put solutions into action because politicians are now owned by their campaign contributor, corporate sponsors. Occupy Wall Street is America’s 21st century democracy movement like the Arab Spring. This is a new civil rights movement that includes everyone. This is a movement to create economy in balance with the environment. The protesters are making a call to rebuild the American Dream so it does not stand on racism, exploitation, environmental destruction or war . Nothing less than our future is on the line.
Lydia Howell is a poet, activist and independent journalist in Minneapolis, Minnesota, winner of the Premack Award for Public INterest Journalism. She is producer-host of CATALYST:politics & culture at https://www.kfai.org