Stats on wealth inequality get a bit hazy, as stats can be. Back when we were protesting with Occupy Wall Street, the wealth inequality number that I remember citing wasn’t about the 1%, it was that 20% of the U.S. population controlled 80% of the wealth. That seemed like a lot to me, back in 2010. U.S. inequality was at the level of “Third World” nations, and it all seemed completely out of control.
We tried to raise awareness, and it worked, we raised awareness, but our political system was too broken to make the kinds of deep reforms needed to change the trends. Obama tinkered around the edges but didn’t put forth the kind of sustained effort that would have been needed to turn it around. So, the trends just keep getting worse.
I’ve always thought of it in gangster terms. Once you’re the mafia boss and you control the wealth and you pull the strings, you can set it up so that you’re getting a piece of all the action. That seems to be the trend. Read more
In the wake of a congressional banking scandal and a congressional pay hike, [Jerry] Brown vowed to “take back America from the confederacy of corruption, careerism, and campaign consulting in Washington.” In an era of escalating globalization, [Pat] Buchanan promised a “conservatism that looks out for the men and women of this country whose jobs have been sacrificed on the altars of trade deals done for the benefit of trans-national corporations who have no loyalty to our country.” In a Democratic Party whose activists felt betrayed by their leaders’ support for the Iraq War, Dean pledged “to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”…. In today’s Democratic Party, the most powerful grievance is the one that brought thousands into Zuccotti Park in 2011, powered Bill De Blasio’s upset victory in New York, and has made Elizabeth Warren a progressive folk hero. It’s the belief that the super-rich have distorted America’s economy and bought its government. It’s a grievance so powerful that it’s seeped not only into Hillary’s rhetoric, but also into Ted Cruz’s. And from the Clinton Foundation scandals to the Republican candidates’ shameless pandering to billionaires, the presidential campaign itself seems poised to inflame that grievance even more….” From Bernie Sanders and the 2016 Presidential Race – The Atlantic.
All of the old biblical prophets opposed the system of domination and oppression, some used violence, others did not. Elijah and Elisha supported the violent overthrow of Omri, offspring of the notorious Ahab and Jezebel regime, at the hand of Jehu. With the blessing of Elijah and Elisha, Jehu fired an arrow “with all his strength” into Omri’s back as he was fleeing, splitting Omri’s shoulder blades and cutting through his heart. Omri was rushed to the ER but didn’t make it.
I spent a good deal of time with people from Occupy L.A. I took out my video camera (i.e. my smartphone) and just started filming my friend Liberty. He was a good friend of mine, a thoughtful, kind, and articulate voice of the movement. I took this video a few months back and I finally had a bit of time to upload it.
The Obama administration had the wrong theory of the movement, and the movement had the wrong theory of the presidency. In America, change comes when we have two kinds of leaders, not just one. We need a president who is willing to be pushed into doing the right thing, and we need independent leaders and movements that are willing to do the pushing. For a few years, Obama’s supporters expected the president to act like a movement leader, rather than a head of state.
The confusion was understandable: As a candidate, Obama performed many of the functions of a movement leader. He gave inspiring speeches, held massive rallies, and stirred our hearts. But when he became president, he could no longer play that role.
The expectation that he would or could arose from a fundamental misreading of U.S. history. After all, as head of state, President Lyndon Johnson did not lead the civil rights movement. That was the job of independent movement leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Fannie Lou Hamer. There were moments of conflict and cooperation between Johnson and leaders in the freedom struggle, but the alchemy of political power and people power is what resulted in the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
– From The Age of Obama by Vincent Van Jones……viva la Occupy!
During a recent Occupy L.A. Freedom School meeting, we graffitied the walls of the room we were meeting in (at the suggestion of our host, of course, who is an artist!). This was my contribution.
This is a super cool Episcopal church in L.A. Unfortunately, it is on the complete other end of town. =(
Another story of someone struggling against the banks. It’s tough going up against such massive entities. Occupy’s grassroots movement might be the only true recourse some people have.
I enjoyed a stimulating Occupy L.A. event on Sunday. A new project for the movement is to provide free education. It’s a different kind of education, as you might imagine, a collaborative experience stripped (as much as possible) of positions of privilege and coercion. It is a forum of mutual respect extended to all, based primarily on our mutual honor for what life has taught us through our experiences.
For many of us, something in our guts, or in our souls, tells us that something is wrong with gross inequality: billionaires living on the same planet as others who starve, die of treatable diseases, work for .17 cents an hour, or have no access to quality education for their children. Still, there are just as many who believe that this is sound economics.
Here is a quote from Mitt Romney, the Republican front runner and likely to be the nominee. I don’t think you would have heard this type of quasi-populist level rhetoric were it not for the Occupy movement raising awareness of the seemingly infinite class gulf in the US.
Whatever the long-term effects of the Occupy movement, protesters have succeeded in implanting “We are the 99 percent,” referring to the vast majority of Americans (and its implied opposite, “You are the one percent” referring to the tiny proportion of Americans with a vastly disproportionate share of wealth), into the cultural and political lexicon. Read more
I thought I would share this article, All Talk, No Action. It is by a Steve Lopez of the L.A. Times.
He offers a few suggestions (as does everyone…rolleyes!), one of which I am reprinting here:
Why don’t [Los Angeles] demonstrators march over to nearby skid row, speak up for those who have lost their homes and then parade from there to the nearest $20-million house in the hills? Read more
I was reading an L.A. Times article on the religious/nonreligious nature of the Occupy L.A. protest, Occupy Movement Is Largely Secular, and they discussed a bit about the religious left. Read more