Occupy Wall Street: The America we knewWritten by Dr. Leah Curtin 10/28/2011 9:47:50 AM
Although it was
originally proposed by the nonprofit Canadian magazine Adbusters, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is essentially leaderless.
Other groups have joined the protest, including the NYC General Assembly, U.S.
Day of Rage, and various labor unions (including The National Nurses United).
The protests have been described as the first antiauthoritarian populist
movement in the United States. Some are saying it represents the rise of direct
democracy, where people collectively make decisions for themselves without
having elected leaders—something that hasn’t been seen since ancient times.
On October 12,
the Washington Post asked Kalle Lasn,
founder and editor of Adbusters, to
respond to media criticism of the movement as both leaderless and lacking focus.
He replied, “The messy, leaderless, demand-less movement has launched a
national conversation of the likes that we haven’t had in 20 years… This
revolution is run by the Internet generation, with egalitarian ways of looking
at things, and an inclusive process of getting everyone involved. That’s the
magic of it… the protestors are not hopping into bed with any party, even the
Democratic Party. As the winter approaches, I think there will be different
phases and ideas, possibly fragmentation into different agendas. I think
crystal-clear demands will emanate.”
Despite lack of demands
or apparent focus, the basic message is of OWS is clear: Wall Street is oozing
corruption and criminality and has unrestrained political power in the form of
crony capitalism and ownership of political institutions. The Supreme Court
decision to allow – actually support – unrestricted financial “giving” to
political candidates is one of the more disturbing signs that political control
by the wealthy and corporations is now an unrestrained “given.” As a small
minority with enormous wealth at its disposal increases its control of
government (and even of the media), it destroys the well-being and financial
security of everyone else. Thus, the slogan of OWS: We are the 99%.
On October 25, the
nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated that the top 1% of earners
saw their average incomes rise sharply in recent decades, a finding that a
leading Democrat said underscores concerns over income inequality in the United
States. In the CBO report, Trends in the Distribution of Household Income
Between 1979 and 2007, average household income (adjusted for inflation and
excluding transfer payments and taxes) increased 62% during that period. But
the increase for the top 1% of earners was 275% over the same period. According
to the CBO, “As a result of that uneven income growth, the distribution of
after-tax household income in the United States was substantially more unequal
in 2007 than in 1979: The share of income accruing to higher-income households
increased, whereas the share accruing to other households declined. In fact,
between 2005 and 2007, the after-tax income received by the 20% of the
population with the highest income exceeded the after-tax income of the
Douglas Rushkoff has criticized the mainstream media for dismissing the
protesters. “Anyone who says he has no idea what these folks are protesting is
not being truthful,” Rushkoff said. “Whether we agree with them or not, we all
know what they are upset about, and we all know that there are investment
bankers working on Wall Street getting richer while things for most of the rest
of us are getting tougher.”
In fact, media
coverage of OWS has been spotty and generally negative, with radio and TV talk
show hosts spewing vitriole. On October 5, 2011, conservative talk radio host
Rush Limbaugh told his audience: “When I was 10 years old I was more
self-sufficient than this parade of human debris calling itself Occupy Wall
Street.” Glenn Beck said on his Internet television network GBTV, “Capitalists,
if you think that you can play footsies with these people, you are wrong. They
will come for you and drag you into the streets and kill you. They will do it.
They’re not messing around.”
An October 13
survey by Time Magazine found that 54%
of Americans had a favorable impression of the OWS protests, while 23% had a
negative impression. An NBC/Wall Street
Journal survey found that 37% of respondents “tend to support” the movement
while 18% “tend to oppose” it. An October United Technologies/National Journal
Congressional Connection poll found that 59% of Americans agree with the
movement while 31% disagree.
seeing the America we knew—the America of the Great Middle Class—disappearing
while an America run by plutocrats is rising. And it’s not just Americans who
are protesting: On October 15, tens of thousands of demonstrators staged
rallies in 900 cities around the world, including Auckland, Sydney, Hong Kong,
Taipei, Tokyo, São Paulo, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, and many
others. In Frankfurt, 5,000 people protested at the European Central Bank.
Protests also have been held in Zurich, Switzerland’s financial hub. A protest
in Rome drew thousands from Italy and throughout Europe.
voice of the people, is loud and clear. Its message is clear: Economic injustice
will not be tolerated. The method and the leadership will emerge.
Bershad J. Glenn Beck:
Protestors ‘Will Come For You, Drag You Into The Streets, And Kill You”.
Mediaite. October 10, 2011. www.mediaite.com/online/glenn-glenn-beck-occupy-wall-street-will-come-for-you-drag-you-into-the-streets-and-kill-you/. Accessed October 27, 2011.
Congressional Budget Office.
Trends in the distribution of household income between 1979 and 2007. October
2011. www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/124xx/doc12485/10-25-HouseholdIncome.pdf. Accessed October 27, 2011.
Cooper M. Poll: Most
Americans Support Occupy Wall Street. Atlantic.
October 19, 2011. www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/10/poll-most-americans-support-occupy-wall-street/246963/. Accessed October 27, 2011.
Easley J. Rush Limbaugh
Flips Out, “The Next President Could Come From (Occupy Wall St)”.
Politicsusa.com. October 5, 2011. www.politicususa.com/en/rush-limbaugh-president-occupy-wall-st. Accessed October 27, 2011.
Flock E. Occupy Wall
Street: An interview with Kalle Lasn, the man behind it all. Washington Post. October 12, 2011. www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/occupy-wall-street-an-interview-with-kalle-lasn-the-man-behind-it-all/2011/10/12/gIQAC81xfL_blog.html. Accessed October 27, 2011.
Montopoli B. Occupy Wall
Street: More popular than you think. CBS News Political Hotsheet. October 13,
2011. www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20120052-503544.html. Accessed October 27, 2011.
Ruskoff D. Think Occupy
Wall St. is a phase? You don’t get it. CNN. October 5, 2011. www.cnn.com/2011/10/05/opinion/rushkoff-occupy-wall-street/index.html. Accessed October 27, 2011.
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