Laissez-Not Fair

There’s been so much coverage of the Occupy Wall St (OWS) Movement over the last few months – in the left, mainstream, and right-wing media – that it’s hard to know what new I can add to the dialogue. And yet it’s too powerful to ignore… Most progressives agree (with the possible exception of a cranky Barney Frank but more on that in a moment) on how significant it has been, how dramatically it’s changed the conversation, how for the first time in a long, long while it has provided a laser guided focus on what’s wrong in America and the world. Not since the depression and the explosion of the union movement have so many people unified over the issue of income inequality and how it affects every aspect of our lives.

The mainstream media has not been able to ignore the movement and the news of the spreading occupations from city to city appears almost daily. Even the American Public Radio broadcast, Marketplace (the most popular business program on the air) has featured regular reporting about the OWS movement, surprisingly without a particular conservative Wall St. bias.  Last night they interviewed former Labor Secretary and political science professor Robert Reich who has been a strong advocate and excellent communicator on the goals and significance of OWS movement.  You can listen to his commentary, “Income Disparity Matters” at http://marketplace.publicradio.org/RSS/reich.xml

Fox and the rest of the right-wing media is having apoplexy. They are following the Tea Party Republicans lead (e.g., Eric Cantor) in frantically trying to reduce the OWS movement to merely the rantings of the radical left fringe (who have been involved and made their presence felt) while ignoring the large numbers of workers, students, and average, disgruntled Americans. I hesitate to even mention his name in the same paragraph as the Tea Party, but even Barney Frank had an odd almost jealous reaction to the attention being paid to the growing OWS movement… rather than welcome the support he focused on the lack of leadership, some of the flakier elements, and pouted about not getting attention for his efforts in Congress. Barney, get over it.

While not among the hard-core Occupiers we did make it down to Liberty Square for an afternoon to get a first-hand view of what’s going on (slide show below)… There were hundreds of handmade signs with personal messages (e.g., “Laissez- Not Fair”), people engaged in discussion, food and cleanup crews, child-care areas, interactions with the media, spontaneous music and drums. OK, there were a fair number of flakes too and I had a hard time with that stupid human megaphone thing. But with the economy in a tail spin, lots of folks out of work, and record disparities in income distribution people are beginning to say, Enough already!…The concept of We Are the 99ers is powerful, unifying, and hopefully will move the Democratic party back to its core principles in the same way the Tea Party pushed the political climate meter considerably to the right.

Photos by pdk.  Place cursor on photo to pause or move forwards or backwards

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Published in: on November 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. Hi Paul – since I helped start this rivulet I’d like to comment. I am so pleased/proud/thrilled to be a part of Occupy. The movement waked me, shaked me, and I know it’s not over yet! I joined an ad hoc group to do a “Move Your Money” action at a BoA in Lowell in November and we had a rousing response from drivers-by. Everyone hates BoA and we helped people find community, cooperative banks and credit unions that truly benefit their cities and towns.

    The tents may be folding, but hopefully the jolt of energy and electric current should stay turned all the way up to 11 (at least when the holidays are done; I am boycotting so many stores – Lowe’s, Target, WalMart of course- that Goodwill seems to be the only one left, that and Jiffy Lube)!

    I also saw an amazing film “Growthbusters” that was a revelation especially as regards the need for global population control. I know there are anti-abortions fanatics, I was the target of their wrath when I worked at a Boston women’s health center, and my former clinic employee Lee Ann Nichols was murdered by John Salvi, but when the hell did birth control get the bad rap? If people used birth control, wouldn’t there be less of a need for abortions? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    Editor’s response: The bible?

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  2. Thanks, Paul! Of course I’ve been in support of two 9’s rather than three, from the start of the 99% and the suggestion of 9-9-9… I was humbled last night as Paul and I walked through Burlington, VT and found people camping on the city green in freezing temperatures supporting OWS. Short of joining them, and I know I don’t have any proper camping gear, I’d like to learn about concrete ways to show my support of the 99ers before the general election. Ideas?

    Editor’s response: Keep the conversations going. I’m hearing Mayor Bloomberg may move against the OWS protestors very shortly but even after they leave the park we can’t let it drop. Check out Bob Decostanzo’s suggestion for a march on Washington…that would be a great way to grow the movement.

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  3. I am relieved that finally some people are expressing their outrage. The movement has succeeded in getting publicity, but now it must morph into something where more people can get involved – like a march on Washington DC. Most people agree with the protesters, but can’t, for one reason or another, camp out for days/weeks on end.I fear things will deteriorate and there will be some bad publicity, landing us back to the 1968 riots.” 500,000 in DC would get the attention of more public officials.

    Editor’s response: A 99ers March on Washington -that’s a great idea.

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  4. Thanks, Paul, for covering this I am pulled toward this Occupy group because I relate to so much of what they are saying – or I think they are saying – that is the problem. Typically, the perceived “left” is amorphous, inclusive and tolerant of variations on a theme – which makes them hard to categorize and fit into a slot (ah, an analogy to edcuation – if you can’t fill the little oval with a graphite pencil why test it? ie; why report on it?) From my embarrassingly comfortable distance I have been trying to figure the movement out and of, course, I can’t get a handle on it. I was startled when on a visit to Carson City, Nevada, there was a large presence of “99%ers” at the state capital. Ironically, it was Nevada Day( a huge celebration commemorating the state’s admittance to the Union) complete with a colorful parade, hot air balloons, fly overs, etc. The “99%ers” were mingling with their message broadcast on their t-shirts but they didn’t want to disrupt the festivities. We oldersters chuckled. In our day protesters meant to disrupt. As I say, I’m still trying to figure this movement out – I guess I should get out there. Thanks for the coverage!

    Editor’s response: Thanks Mary, I agree with your point that the left is much more tolerant of nuance and thus tends to appear fuzzier than the Tea Party or any right wing movement for that matter. In some ways that’s our nemesis – but the broad message of income inequality when so many people are hurting is one that all progressives and most independents can stand behind and hopefully: 1)cash in for enough votes to shift the Congress back in Obama’s favor and 2)convince Congress that we desperately need substantive action in favor of the 99ers.

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