First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
I have not written for a couple of weeks due to my lunacy quest to run a half-marathon which took me away from the keyboard and into the world of carb-loading, toe-nail loss, and the abject fear of potty calls at mile 9 . I could have written proudly and excitedly this week about my half-marathon experience, which I finished incidentally, but not without monumental struggle. The last few miles felt like I was jogging in quicksand with a refrigerator tied to my back. However I felt strongly that I must address the issues that are weighing on not only myself, but the country at this very moment. There’s a war afoot. No, not class warfare like the corporate toe-sucking Teapublicans like Eric Cantor (more on that weasel to come) want you to believe. This war, in my mind, is a war for the conversation.
The conversation before September 17, 2011 was one of austerity. Cut the debt. Cut jobs. Cut healthcare. Cut pensions. Cut all federal programs. Ohh yeah, there’s a lot to cut there! Cut breakfast programs, lunch programs, after-school programs, food-stamp programs, student loan programs, women’s health programs, entitlement programs, the space program, programs that make programs…anything that has the word ”program” in it, just freaking cut it. As a matter of fact, cut your own wrists for all we care but just cut the shit out of whatever you can find. But ah-ah-ahhh… don’t you dare cut from the top…cut from the bottom. Don’t you dare cut subsidies to big oil or cut one cent from the military industrial complex. Cut planned parenthood and NPR funding but don’t touch Exxon-Mobil‘s bundle of tax subsidies. After all, they only made more profits last year than any other company in the history of the world, so they simply must have those tax breaks, the poor fellas, so they have an incentive to keep on drilling.
But something dramatically changed after September 17, 2011. That something was a bunch of people deciding to stop the madness and take back their voice. That was The Occupy Wall Street movement. Without this event, without these people doing what they are doing, the conversation never shifts. Oh, and trust me, the conversation has changed. The national conversation has changed since about week two, when the world started taking this movement seriously and started to see through the extreme right’s mocking confabulation. The O’Reilly’s and Hannity’s and Limbaugh’s and Beck’s and Coulter’s view that these dirty, low-life, ne’er-do-wells needed to go do something productive like go to work was so blatantly transparent. Hellooo? I mean do these idiots read the paper? Fourteen million unemployed and no jobs ring a bell? Their diatribes were clearly meant to downplay any possibility that the wrong side might actually have a real voice in the political conversation.
What is the new conversation that has overtaken the world because of OWS? It is really very simple. There is now ample and irrefutable evidence that the hijacking of our government by the corporate and financial system machines, aided and abetted by politicians who have systematically maintained a quid pro quo with such entities, has caused the middle class to become slowly and methodically dismantled over the last 30 years. Jobs are only created overseas. Taxes have been slashed to their lowest point in 50 years for the wealthiest Americans, yet they still cry “unfair!” as they accumulate millions, and billions, and even trillions in profits. We need fewer taxes, less regulation and much less resistance to our wish that we die with ALL the toys, as they say. The latest report that came out yesterday showed that the divide between the rich and the rest of us is getting bigger and bigger:
Nearly 5% of the national income has been shifted from the middle class to the wealthiest Americans in the last 30 years, which explains how the number of people making over a million dollars a year actually INCREASED in 2009 at the height of the recession/near depression. Additionally, it is a sad and telling fact that 50% of Americans made less than $26,364 last year. Redistribution of wealth distributed UPWARDS for 3 decades has taken its toll.
Oh, but don’t say that to Eric Cantor. He’ll tell you that is just class warfare talk. Cantor is the kind of guy that we all knew somewhere along the line. If he wasn’t the kid in class who put his arm around his quiz in school so you couldn’t see his brilliant answers (ok, I don’t condone cheating, just going for an effective characterization here), he was the jerk who shot the wadded spitball at some poor unsuspecting kid in the lunch room or gave you a “flat” while walking in the hallway or a killer wedgie. He’s the guy who bragged about his SAT scores and the new cherry red 280 ZX that “mummy” and “daddee” gave him for his 17th birthday. Cantor makes my skin crawl more than any other sitting politician today. I mean, he just looks like a smug, cowardly, know-it-all, douche-bag. His actions simply prove that he is one.
Cantor, elected to serve in the House of Representatives, the People’s House, was supposed to give a talk about, oh brother get this, income disparity (I’m assuming he’s all for it) to the Wharton School, the best business school in the country. When he found out that, gulp, some Philadelphia Occupy Wall Street bottom-feeders caught wind of his little “talk” there and planned to attend, Cantor spit the bit. Proving my thesis correct that he is a cowardly bully, afraid of the assembled heathens who may not like his policies that have caused the middle class great harm, Cantor cancelled his talk. He did not like the idea that too many people in the audience would not exactly be of the boot-licking variety. Of course he was afraid of the unwashed masses, the 99% (I know this term is a bit overused right now but it does make for a clear delineation), whom he does not at all represent as majority leader in the House of Representatives. Cantor is the symbol of the extreme wing of the Tea Party movement, the one that started supposedly due to outrage over the swindling of America by the big banks and the bailouts, but got co-opted along the way by corporations (see Koch brothers) and the banksters. Somehow, what started as a somewhat righteous cause, turned into the Obama- is -Beelzebub–and- the –cause- of- all –misery- in- the –world movement. Cantor and his posse have destroyed –hell they’ve obliterated-the concept of negotiation and compromise in politics. Cantor and Boehner and McConnell have some brass ones castigating the OWS movement as inviting class warfare. It is they who have declared war on the classes, the middle and the poor, through their politics and ideology that says anything the government does to support them is bad and anything government can do to cut taxes on corporations and the 1% is good.
I swear, I feel like these politicians on the right are “gaslighting” the public whereby they make us think we are crazy and defective when in fact it is they who are perpetrating a crime on us. The rich are absolutely NOT suffering in this economy, we are. The millionaires and the colossal corporations are actually thriving as any fool can see (assuming you can read numbers, charts, and graphs). The 10 years of tax cuts meant to supposedly spur the job creators to create jobs didn’t and aren’t creating any. They are only serving to make the rich that much richer as they take the money they have kept through those cuts and invested in corporations and on Wall Street whose bottom line is maximizing profits at any cost to please shareholders. Pleasing shareholders has included cutting jobs or producing more jobs overseas where they pay a dollar a day to 16 year-old girls. Again I say, where are the jobs? Where are the jobs? Where are the jobs oh you wondrous job creators? Indonesia, you say?
What Occupy Wall Street has accomplished to this point is a miracle. People are actually starting to wake up and realize that the attack on the middle class way of life is the wrong path. It’s an unfair path. It’s beating a dead horse. We are in danger of heading into a double-dip recession because of the far right’s insistence that we cut when we should be propping up our economy through job preservation, infrastructure spending and green energy initiatives. Economists talk about the multiplier effect, which means that government dollars spent on citizens now brings about a greater return for the economy later. Instead of cutting 400,000 teachers, cops, and fireman you save their jobs. Those people can now pay their mortgages, buy groceries and clothes besides the obvious perk of actually contributing to society. In turn, instead of the economy shrinking from the loss of all that income, the grocery store can hire more workers (or at the very least keep them), the retail clothing store can do the same, then those cashiers can spend money and on down the line. The bottom line is, we didn’t get into this mess overnight and we aren’t getting out of it quickly…especially without fundamental changes along the way.
Those fundamental changes are where OWS comes in. Without this movement and the people willing to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable in order to get the word out that it is imperative that the politicians end their complicity in a broken capitalist system, we would still be having the wrong conversation. The naysayers want to maintain the status quo by making the movement look like a bunch of dirty hippies (really… hippies? The hippies are collecting social security now, let’s get over it), or lazy spoiled brats who hate capitalism. The other side wants to disparage and mock OWS by shouting that they have no clear demands and no leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What Occupy Wall Street is demanding is a paradigm shift. We have enough evidence that the privileged have been rigging the game for too long now. The moneyed and powerful interests have usurped our government and have benefitted immensely from the buying and selling of politicians who are supposed to be serving all of us. OWS is complicated, messy, inconvenient, and leaderless, but most importantly necessary. These people have reshaped the narrative. These people have forced Americans to see through the deception of the plutocrats. All of us have been witness to the theft of our economic stability and democracy. The conversation before September 17, 2011 claimed that it was the fault of the middle class and their “entitlement” mentality. Before OWS, we were told that only by sacrificing more and more could we get back to being “America” again. Before the “dirty hippies” started camping out in Zuccotti Park, we, the middle class, were more than ready to go jobless and homeless so that the 1% could reap more benefits. We were self-haters. After September 17, 2011 we have had our eyes opened to the true cause of our plight, and that is the new conversation we are having. It’s about damn time.
- Occupy Wall Street roundup, Day 34 (dailykos.com)