by John Brian Shannon
Originally, people laughed at those citizens who spoke up against the Wall Street bailouts – and the federal government policies which allowed obscene government deficits to accumulate to toxic levels in the U.S. and other western nations.
There is no denying that economic disparity between citizens has been an irritant throughout society – and that federal government policies generally and the bailouts specifically – have exacerbated a long-standing malaise.
Now the number of Occupiers have increased dramatically and Michael Moore has already begun to research and document this young movement.
As time rolls forward, we are seeing different types of protesters show up at Occupy Wall Street. Including, ironically – a former Wall Street stockbroker who drops his kids off at school – and then joins the protesters. One newly famous former U.S. Army Sergeant who served his time in a living hell, now wants to assist the poverty-stricken. Another is a former Philadelphia Police Chief who says he is one of the 99% under-appreciated by government and by the American corporate-elite.
Many newcomers are drawn to this movement online. It is the first to use advanced technology and social media awareness and communicate as a community. The Twitter, You-Tube, Google Maps, i-Pad, i-Phone, blogger and generally high-tech, media-savvy generation have something to say.
And we better listen! These millions of young-ish protesters around the world are the ones whose parents asked them to set up every new home computer they have purchased since Windows 95 arrived on the scene.
When parents were trying to figure out the difference between bits and bytes, the kids were upstairs setting up wireless networks, overclocking their PC processor and hacking into websites around the world.
That was then… this is now.
Just wait until they get a little more organized and decide to “Flash-Mob” Grand Central Station during peak hours with 200,000 of their closest friends – within minutes of one single text message being sent! Then disappearing before any significant number of police can show up to restore normal operations.
Instantaneous disruption, anywhere, anytime, in any city or town. “You WILL hear us!” Can you already hear the chants?
I commend those peaceful Occupy protesters who, it must be said, are merely exercising their democratic right to free speech and free assembly – as they re-invigorate our democracy with a new, but long-overdue discourse.
Only a tiny minority of them ever cause damage, but 200,000 of them standing in the Starbucks line-up will make you late for work in the morning!
“Bill, I will be late for work, there are half a million people standing on the Brooklyn Bridge.”
Policy changes WILL occur – if protesters don’t give up.
Since the advent of the Occupy movement no substantive demands have articulated into the media-stream. Protesters know they are but a symptom of a larger problem and that there is something fundamentally wrong with the system. They realize they don’t have the expertise to devise solutions to the (not caused by them) problems they experience daily.
The promises they were given in younger years have most definitely not materialized. “Get a university education or trade certificate and you will always have a job.” NOT.
“Liars! We were sold a mirage for the future and the future is here.”
“The U.S. federal debt stands at 15 Trillion dollars, is that why I don’t have a job? Can’t the government afford to put us to work rebuilding the national infrastructure?”
By any standards North American infrastructure is crumbling and it needed wholesale fixing a decade ago.
“Because the federal deficit is 1 Trillion dollars for this year, is that why I don’t have any savings, or a new Camaro? My parents bought themselves a new car every 3 years in the 1980’s!”
Is the debt crisis in Europe to blame? Many countries there have well over 100% debt-to-GDP ratios and both the U.S. and Canada have over 75% debt-to-GDP ratios.
“Is that why I am unemployed for 15 out of every 40 months?”
What about the God-given right of home-ownership? For generations it was a given in North America – you finished college, got married, bought a house and paid off the mortgage – all within 20 years.
“Qualify for a mortgage? I can’t even pay my rent!”
Until now, it’s been a case of, “I’ve Got Mine Jack – and no one else matters.”
Well… they are going to matter. Just watch to see how this all goes down.
For excellent information pertinent to the discussion:
“The Globalization of Protest” by Prof. Joseph E. Stiglitz – Nobel laureate
“Did the Poor Cause the Crisis?” by Prof. Simon Johnson – former IMF Chief Economist
“Inequality Trends in One Picture” by Paul Krugman – Prof. of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University – New York Times Op/Ed
Harvard Business Review by Eric Lowitt – sustainability consultant and author of “Why Companies Should Listen To Occupy Wall Street”
“Occupy the Agenda” by Nicholas D. Kristof – New York Times Op/Ed
“You Can’t Evict an Idea” by Sally Khon – Fox News Opinion
“Occupy moves us into a new era” by Linda McQuaig – The Star.com
“A Banker Speaks, With Regret” by Nicholas D. Kristof – New York Times Op/Ed
The Exchange: “Eviscerating the Middle Class” by George Packer – in “The Broken Contract” published in Foreign Affairs – discussion with Rob Cox
- Separate and Unequal (nytimes.com)