Occupy Wallstreet – Facts and Fictions
As Occupy Wall Street continues to foster participation and attention, I thought it timely to inject my own sensibilities in to the mix. Below is the manuscript of the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. In it is an attempt to list the main points of grievance of the participants.
Overall, I sense that most people are not able to articulate why they are protesting, or support the protesting. People know that things are messed up, and sense that the powers that be are substantially to blame, but yet folks simply are not able to express what exactly is happening behind closed doors. I understand the feeling, and to a large degree they are right, however, not all feelings of “being wronged” are based in reality. I will explain this, from my perspective.
The opening statement includes the commentary “that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights”. This is a basic principle of the Constitution of the US, and that of political philosopher John Locke. At point, it demonstrates that one must *never* give up full control to the government, as there may become a time when you need to take back that control, (note to folks out there – that is why we have the 2nd Amendment as well as the right to assemble. Never, ever, ever, give away your rights for the expectation that some government will take care of all of your needs. If you do, you have entered the realm of foolishness).
So far so good. The demonstrations have been overwhelmingly peaceful, with a few notable occasions which seem to coincide with certain police actions, making one wonder just who provoked the unrest. In any case, on to the claims.
The first grievance regards home foreclosures. It is always a sad day when someone loses their home. There are certainly instances when someone has lost their job and can no longer make payments, losing the home they have lived in for a certain amount of time. There are also other times when folks simply acted foolishly, and got themselves in over their heads. However, I fail to see how that is the fault of the bank who was promised repayment for the loan taken out by the home owner. Should I walk in to a store, go to the counter, say that I only have enough money to pay 10% of the cost, give the cashier 10% of the purchase price, and then walk out with the item, leaving the store minus the item and minus a substantial share of their investment? There are risks when taking out a loan. If you don’t understand those risks, or did not account for them, then the problem is you, not the bank.
The next set of grievances rest with corporations as an entity and how self-serving they are. I agree – they are self-serving. They were setup to make a profit. They employ people – people who now have money to go out and get loans, (for example, to buy a house). If you are an employee of that business, and have mortgage payments, you will hope that they stay in business and stay profitable.
Does that mean that all businesses and all executives of business are stand-up people? – of course not. Take any group, and you will have good people and bad people. To criticize all business because of the actions of a few makes no sense.
However, the criticism that our elected officials are heavily influenced by corporate special interests is a very good point. There are numerous examples of government oversight committees looking the other way, or even laws being enacted whereby some business profits substantially. Such actions by elected officials are treachery at minimum, and down right treason in other cases. Which begs the question, why on earth do you, the American voters, keep voting in the same class of shill to public office? I realize that politicians lie, and it is difficult to know certain things as fact, but get off your ass and do a little research for crying out loud. Stop voting the party line, and start voting for individuals!!
The criminalization of natural foods and natural health products by several years of government administrations (including Obama) is an abomination to mankind. While large corporations can certainly produce food cheaper, people have the right to choose to pay extra for non-genetically altered foods, or chemical free healing, or alternative energy. Special interest and New World Order mentality in these arenas are frightening.
As to the bailouts issue, I completely agree. Giving near a trillion dollars in tax payer money (Bush, and some Obama) to corporate execs who have already demonstrated that they A) put their own salaries above the best interest of the company, and B) had no plan to alter the way that they conduct business which got them in trouble in the first place, was outright irresponsible. In the case of the banks, while it is better to keep a total financial collapse from happening, you (the feds) should have made provisions as to what could and could not happen with the money.
As for the grievances involving corporations doing bad things, we are supposed to have oversight committees in place for these reasons. The problem is, officials of these committees use them as stepping stones in to cushy jobs in the very same industries that they are supposed to oversee. It is not in Jane Smith’s best interest to fine an oil company, if that oil company will give her a million dollar job after a few years serving in an oversight committee. Kill that career line, have oversights for the over sight committees, and these issues should take care of themselves.
As for the education commentary – where to begin. First, you idiots, you *do* have free education in the USA. K-12 is a publicly funded education. There is also free access to libraries and a host of other sources of material from which to gain knowledge. Colleges and Universities are in the business of supplying specific degrees for specific things. These degrees are considered investments in to your future. If you can’t afford them, there are other avenues, (such as serving in the military, grants, others), for which you can pay of yourself for the matter of this investment. Demanding “free education” suggests that you are willing to use your brain – please do so.
As to the question of worker’s rights – no company has ever thrown out a welcome mat for workers to unionize. Unions tend to start out well, but then go through phases of highly childish and counter-productive demands. If you don’t like what a company offers, don’t work there. Start your own business. Since when is it up to somebody else to take care of YOU? YOU are responsible for you, not anyone else.
Folks of America, you live in a quasi-free society. It is not entirely free, (since there are some socialists aspects at work), but it is democratically run. You have responsibilities as free men and free women – chiefly to know what is happening around you and to assure your continued freedoms and those of your future generations. Don’t expect a controlled main stream media to do the thinking for you. Don’t listen to the garbage about how socialism is so much better, and that America, as a capitalist society, is so evil. First, America is a hybrid of capitalism and socialism already. We have welfare and corporations. You think a purely socialist society is without it elitists and problems? – read some history! Look at all the dictators, (usually that’s what a socialist society ends up being led by), recently who have been overthrown because of how ruthless and out of control that they were.
If you don’t like corporations as they are today, stop supporting them with your money. Co-op, start your own business, plan your own future. That is why America is called the land of opportunity. You are owed nothing. We all deserve an equal ground from which to try to succeed, though – that I grant you and stand in support of.
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.
We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality run our governments.
We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit. They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!