A dozen or so passionate insurgents turned out on Saturday, Oct 15, 2011, to express their support for Occupy Wall Street, more or less as reported by the Journal of the San Juan Islands. Decent day, temperatures in the high 40s-low 50s.
Consider the following disturbing facts:
- Current U.S. trade policy creates an advantage for moving American jobs overseas. Labor is cheap, of course, but costs for workplace safety and environmental protection are practically nonexistent in places like China, India and Vietnam. And American companies pay NO income taxes on income earned abroad until it is brought back into the U.S. There is currently an estimated $1 trillion-$2 trillion in such profits waiting patiently offshore for some friendly U.S. administration to grant it a temporary tax holiday.
- Laws that fueled the subprime crisis are STILL on the books and banks are STILL “too big to fail.” Banks can still provide a combination of depository, securities and insurance services while paying ratings agencies like S&P, Moody’s and Fitch to grant their investment vehicles AAA ratings. Almost nothing has been done about this despite the damage done to the global economy, the financial ruination of millions of families and the undeniable fact that the entire structure positively screams, “CONFLICT OF INTEREST!” Unless this changes, it is not a matter of WHETHER another financial crisis will befall us, but merely a question of when.
- Home values CONTINUE to fall. More than a quarter of all homes are worth less than is owed on them. Homeowners are being evicted – many of them wrongly – even though banks often don’t have the paperwork to prove they hold the mortgage.
- Unemployment is STILL 9%. Pundits will tell you, “Go to college. Unemployment among graduates is only 4%.” What they DON’T tell you is that, among 18-24 year-old graduates, it’s roughly the same as the general population. And college tuition rates are skyrocketing. At Cal, Berkley, they’ve just had a 21% tuition increase and the Board of Regents is considering a plan to increase it as much as 81% more over the next several years. Get a college degree, indeed. Most graduates face a life of virtual indentured servitude to retire their college debt even if they can FIND a job after graduation.
- Fundamental concepts like a living wage and decent benefits are under attack. A day doesn’t go by that some talking head doesn’t disparage teachers, firemen, police officers, “government employees” or janitors for getting a wage a family can survive on, health insurance, vacation, sick leave and a pension or 401K. When, for God’s sake, did it become fashionable in this country to complain that someone else actually gets a decent wage and reasonable benefits? Why the hell aren’t people asking, instead, “Wait a minute, why doesn’t MY EMPLOYER offer those benefits?”
- Perhaps worst of all, government is clearly now much more beholding to the people who fund election campaigns than they are to the voters they are supposed to represent. As a result of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, campaigns can amass unlimited amounts of money in SuperPACs and do not have to reveal who it came from. Large corporations, trade & lobbying groups and wealthy individuals (e.g. Verizon, the American Petroleum Institute, the NRA and the Koch brothers) can contribute unlimited amounts of money to SuperPACs, dwarfing the influence of the average person and essentially rendering elected officials as hirelings of the most powerful and wealthy people in the country.
And what is your government doing about these problems? Nothing. They’re STILL enacting the same inane trade policies. They’re doing NOTHING to create jobs. Republicans are insisting upon slashing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid instead of increasing taxes on the wealthy, for Christ’s sake. And, of course, no one in Congress is the least bit interested in taking the money out of politics.
These things MUST begin to change or we fear greatly for the future of our country and our families. We’re out here trying to bring attention to these and many other related issues. If you are like most of us, i.e. you have always WORKED for a living (as opposed to letting your money do the working), then you ARE the 99%. This is about YOU, YOUR family, YOUR future. If you’re not out here with us, you’re resigning yourself to a future that’s simply more of the same. My questions are: Do you care? And what are you going to do about it?