Nothing about the Occupy Wall Street movement should come as a great surprise, given the events of the past four years. The movement is emblematic of how people eventually respond to tyranny.
There finally is a growing awareness that we have been swindled by the ultra greedy. By deregulating greed and devaluing ethics, the ultra greedy and their legislative cohorts have wrought havoc upon our economy and the American Dream.
It is critical to recognize and acknowledge that the root cause of our depression-like economy and angst-ridden society is the systemic disease of Born-Again Social Darwinism, which has metastasized into Financial Darwinism -- survival of the richest.
To understand and accept this fact will lead to the resolve necessary to overcome the insidious war that has been waged against the middle class and the 99 percent of Americans who are not members of the billionaires' club.
In 1892, Andrew Carnegie, the great robber-baron Social Darwinist, called our government to help fight off a strike at his steel plant by workers who wanted a wage above a bare subsistence level. The United States government came to Carnegie's rescue with 8,000 guardsmen, who shot and killed 6 men. Carnegie did not blink because he was a poster boy for the survival of the fittest ethic of Social Darwinism. It was his manifest destiny to do whatever necessary to remain at the top.
Following the Great Depression of the 1930s, Washington wisely erected barriers to prevent the collapse of our financial system. But in the late 1990s, Glass-Steagall and the 1956 Bank Holding Company Act were torn down in the name of deregulation. "Getting government off your back'' promised riches for all of society, remember? But it only resulted in getting the Government off Wall Street's back.
The epic financial collapse of 2008 -- when Wall Street and the banking industry had to be rescued by "evil'' government -- has brought us to this place today.
Occupy Wall Street appears to be a peaceful protest based on the growing certainty and realization that 99 percent of us do not matter to Washington and Wall Street. Forget about the vanishing middle class -- this is even broader than that.
The Tea Party wants to get rid of government, a goal Wall Street lobbies for every day. Some Republican leaders, like Herman Cain, question the motivation of this movement, as if it is nothing but a bunch of out of work kids who should be able to find a job.
I went to the protest in Cleveland and discovered a number of young adult students, diligently working their way through college, who were very worried about their future and the future of their country. There were older adults, some were just curious and some were attorneys, social workers, a city councilman, courteous police officers, activists -- and a woman from Germany on a Fulbright writing her PhD thesis in Sociology, eager to remain here and become an American citizen. This is the beginning of a movement for freedom from the tyranny of the ethics and behavior that drive the rich to get richer.
Rep. Eric Cantor called Wall Street protesters "mobs." Cantor, with the infinite sincerity that is his trademark, has expressed concern about the spread of the "protests" to so many cities around the United States. Several days ago, he astutely observed that this protest is pitting Americans against each other!
Mayor Bloomberg has proclaimed that demonstrators are, "...trying to take away the jobs of people working in this city." He actually said "You can't have it both ways, if you want jobs you have to assist companies and give them confidence..."
Confidence in Big Oil that fights to retain multi-billion dollar subsidies? Confidence in hugely profitable large corporations that do not pay tax, but manage to pay CEOs 500 to 1,000 times the average wage level of their employees? Confidence in Wall Street when Goldman Sachs projects that it will only have $3.2 billion to pay employees this year so it is planning to reduce its work force? Confidence in a Congress that does not filibuster the (just say no to anything) Republicans for the public good until they say "uncle"?
Suddenly now, as Americans, we do not believe in protest?
Without protest, there would not have been a revolution against King George, no Civil War and certainly not a Civil Rights Bill or Voting Rights Act. Can you picture Cantor, the great humanitarian concerned about the protesters pitting Americans against each other, shoving Rosa Parks to the back of the bus! And I think Bloomberg made billions from his media empire which feeds off of Wall Street.
So where is our leader in charge of our Government? And does our leader remember that Thomas Jefferson said, "The role of government is to protect the public." Jefferson did not say the role of government is to protect financial innovators that have taken advantage of 99 percent of us for three decades -- by specializing in contriving financial investments for fees instead of funding real investments for the capital formation required to create jobs.
It is reported that our President is "cautiously positive." And this is a moment of truth for him to profoundly acknowledge the tragedy of Washington's destruction of the barriers against greed. It's time for him to step up to the line to promise to fight to rebuild those barriers.
It is time for our President to become vehement over the everyday suffering caused by the lack of jobs, rather than parse about job statistics. It is time for the Democratic leadership to strongly support a movement for Americans who want to live again in a country that intends to be -- of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the lobbyists, by the ultra rich and for the ultra rich.
E. Henry Schoenberger is the author of the upcoming book: How We Got Swindled by Wall Street Godfathers, Greed & Financial Darwinism ~ The 30-Year War Against the American Dream. Learn more at www.howwegotswindled.blogspot.com.