Think about it. We have young adults sleeping outside in Manhattan, protesting against Wall Street Banks -- the symbol of economic inequality; and a society unconcerned with the needs and well-being of 99%.
And this symbol has been directly set up by Congress, beginning more than 30 years ago. Wall Street is emblematic of Government not protecting the public good. So it is self-evident why there is so much growing anger and feelings of alienation -- why 99% suffer from profound angst.
Think about the resolve to just not take it any more, and the collective leadership of our newest generation -- heroes! Think about so many still in universities wondering about jobs and how to repay loans. Think about young graduates who have paid their dues by studying hard, working at whatever would help them pay for school (Boehner was a janitor) yet graduated with degrees ranging from undergraduate to advanced degrees with no jobs in sight and the crushing weight of large loans. And so many others are among the 99% who are older, not so obviously disenfranchised -- but in the 99%. Additionally there are some in the 1% who have self-interest in the common good for the sake of our Country and their children and grandchildren.
So why are police attacking peaceful protestors, who are apparently very articulate? Why shouldn't police give the protestors more room and not appear with threatening riot gear encroaching upon the protestors to elicit fear, and hostility. Why can't police armed with riot control weapons not have more understanding and not provoke the latent and justifiable anger. Do police not remember Kent State! What of the mayors who exercise so little restraint. It seems to me that the protestors are exercising remarkable restraint considering the staggering amount of disenfranchisement! The protests are not aimed at a violent overthrow of anything -- Occupy is simply asking that Congress look in a mirror and see what 99% of us see and live with. Congress needs to see into the shadows of all the cancelled lives.
Meanwhile under the radar -- recent graduates with jobs know they are being underpaid and often overworked without the freedom or latitude to either say much or move to a different job. Middle managers know the same. Try to get a job if you are older than 55 -- unless you are a fired CEO who just ruined his (public) company, but left with pockets stuffed full of 25, 50 or 100 million of cash from the devastated company, because you are in still in demand. (Is this Corporate Cronyism to keep shareholders happy?) But, what about the lack of jobs for the workers who built our country and the American Dream? Keep in mind that Republicans have united to get rid of collectivities like unions (and peaceful protestors). Remember how Republicans voted against loaning money to GM or Chrysler, which likely preserved 2MM jobs, considering all the related businesses to automotive production. Republicans still refuse to support the only jobs bill in sight. Isn't this truly inhuman -- and not Christ-like? (In the self proclaimed Christian country of the religious right.)
This is not partisan stalemate and is worse than where we were in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Think about the past as prologue.
On Mayday 1886, a striking worker at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. was shot and killed by police. The police were called in to protect workers protesting 12 hour work days, 6 days a week. Four years later, Andrew Carnegie called in the National Guard to break up a strike at his steel plant in Pittsburgh; 8,000 US National Guardsmen were dispatched, and 6 men were shot and killed. And in 1914, the guard was again called upon to attack striking coal workers living with their families in a tent city who had been evicted from company housing: our US Guard torched the tents -- 3 workers were killed and 11 children and 3 mothers were severely burned. In 1886, the American Federation of Labor, led by Samuel Gompers, had 50,000 members after 100 years of U.S. businessmen abusing labor, and did not grow much for the next 30 years -- until it gathered steam and had 3 million members by 1924. Certainly Government was on the side of Big Money.
Rosa Parks was ordered to give up her seat for a white person by the white driver of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955. This was 6 months after my family moved back to Shaker Heights, Ohio from Little Rock, Arkansas where we had lived for 2 years; where once a bus I was on to visit my father downtown was stopped -- and I was ordered to move from the back seat of the bus to the front (I refused.) Rosa Parks refused because she had decided it was time to step up the fight for desegregation. Rosa Parks was one of the original organizers of the movement against segregation and collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr. to finally overcome hundreds of years of inequality in a country that regarded itself as the land of the free and the brave. After generations of fighting segregation following the Civil War legislation was finally passed in 1964 (Civil Rights) and 1965 (voting rights), and again in 68 (fair housing) to legally end segregation -- but not prejudice. Rosa Parks was awarded The Congressional Medal of Honor.
Past is prologue -- so do not forget that movements take time! Today many of our greatest talking heads question the substance and the motivation of the Occupy Movement. But the reasons behind all great American protests are based on a history of financial abuse, inequality and the historical lack of Government concern for the people -- the people who rely on our legislative "leaders" to protect the interests of the 99%.
It is no wonder that "we the people" have lost confidence in government. So a number of the 99% have reached the untenable conclusion that we must get rid of government, and the rest of us have lost our trust. But it is against the public good to get rid of government, which is just what Financial Darwinists want.
We have a new movement forming. It is peaceful and persistent. It is happening all across our country, and explosive in cities around the world. The reasons are similar, and they are self-evident if you want to stop and think about it. This time the heroes are we the people. And the people will ultimately have individuals step forward to express what so many of us know - that Government needs to protect the public good and not the good of Big Business, Big Money and Wall Street Trojan Mega-Banks!
Government can start to rectify its lack of concern for the public good by making the banks forgive mortgage debt underwritten for fees and not sense; and subsidize or write off student loans -- paid for by the billions in yearly subsidies to Big Oil. Government can re-erect the barriers against greed. Break up the banks, do something immediately about companies like GE parking profits and jobs off shore -- levy an excise tax on American products made outside of the US to be allowed back in. How about taxing outsource call centers, and establishing a surplus profits tax for Big Corps sitting on the sidelines hoarding profits - with the excuse they are waiting for more demand? Come on -- there are lots of reasons behind this new movement. And lots of support.
The 99% needs to recognize that we are being taken advantage by the return of Social Darwinism which ought to be recognized as Financial Darwinism based on the ethic of - survival of the richest.
And when a large collectivity of individual voices -- when a majority of the 99% coalesces to fight back against Financial Darwinism we will be on the road to a better path to an economy and society that is fair and for the people. We will then be on a path to rebuild the American Dream. And the protestors are heroes crying out for the search to establish a new path.
E. Henry Schoenberger is the author of How We Got Swindled By Wall Street Godfathers, Greed & Financial Darwinism ~ The 30-War Against The American Dream, including a foreword by David Satterfield, the former business editor of the Miami Herald, 2 times Pulitzer Prize-winner. Swindled will be available November 10th.
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