Occupy Boston

Occupy: We are the 99%

The Occupy movement is awakening our nation to the rotten nut of our current democracy. The energy and fury is palpable, and it is growing by the day.  Yet, still, national media personalities are criticizing the movement as lacking a demands or specificity. My response: just wait. The movement is evolving organically, and this very process of slow deliberate consensus-building steps is a core part of the message itself. Maybe it’ll take another two weeks, or two months, or heck, maybe even two years.

Even so, that’s not the point, not yet. We as the 99% need to gain a bit of self-awareness first, an orientation of why we are in the position that we are in in this country. I can understand onlookers being impatient and wanting them to produce their demands and show their teeth. I am actually chomping at the bit myself to ensure that the Occupy in Boston gives serious consideration to fundamental money-in-politics reforms (like citizen-funded elections), competitive-elections reforms (like ranked choice voting) and other great voter empowering policies.

The critique with which I have the most impatience, however, is this notion that the Occupiers don’t really have a clear sense of what their grievances are, or what they are protesting.  Are you kidding me?

And how about the way the financial sector extracted trillions of dollars in corporate welfare — welfare — from we the people, when their shoddy investments went south, and of the TARP itself, the American taxpayer is still out $235 billion.

Then there’s the problem of the top income earners having in many cases a lower tax rate than wage-earning people, as billionaire Warren Buffet has explained, urging Congress to raise his taxes.  He flatly states how “these [extraordinary tax-breaks] and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.”

Now, why exactly do legislators in Washington coddle the rich? Take a walk around Capitol Hill some day, and maybe you’ll see why.

11,000+ lobbyists spent $1.6 billion on influencing our federal legislators in 2011, and we still have three months to go.  The money pours in when Congress works on major industry-specific bills. This results in some of the most blatant legislative special-interest manipulations I’ve seen in my lifetime.

And let’s take a look at income disparity across the population since the 1920s (see below). Bottom 80%: flat. Above that, inched higher. Top 1%? Skyrocketed. Wait… haven’t we been in a recession?

And what kind of legal structure would allow this kind of income inequality to spiral so incredibly? Isn’t a rising tide supposed to lift all boats? Or was it, “yachts”?

Here is a little bit of analysis from The Economist.

What you’ve read above is just a smattering of thoughts I could jot down. I’ll add more to this list when I have more time. But folks, please, do some research on how the sausage is actually made in Washington before you swallow the bait of the “critics” and turn against your own allies, taking time and energy to go out and fight for the people’s interests — your interests.