This Saturday, October 15th from 1 – 2 pm, citizens of Lewisburg are gathering at the Post Office to support Occupy Wall St.
Occupy Wall St. represents a response to a serious question: What ought we to do, we the citizens of a democratic republic, when our elected representatives from the only two major parties are no longer responsive to the will of the people? Occupy Wall St. is an effort to gather the energy of those who believe that we need to restore integrity to our democracy, of those who believe we need to harness that energy in an ongoing grassroots effort to create real and lasting change.
Unlike the Tea Party, Occupy Wall St. doesn’t identify big government as the problem. Rather, the problem is that government has been hijacked by the wealthy and is being run, not in the interests of the people, but to preserve the wealth and power of the few. One of the most telling outcomes of this take-over of political power is the burgeoning inequality in our country. When 1% of the population owns and controls over half the country’s business wealth, when CEO’s are paid three hundred times as much as average workers, when wealth investors like Warren Buffet pay lower tax rates that their administrative assistants, when tax breaks for billionaire are routinely extended but funding for real social needs goes wanting, we undermine the basis for a vibrant democracy and a viable economy.
It would be one thing if the inequality resulted in prosperity for all, but the opposite is true. Splendor at Saks on 5th Avenue has been achieved at the expense of punishing destitution for much of working American. In spite of the fact that the American workforce is almost twice as productive we are taking home no more than we did in 1985. Corporations continue to offshore jobs; banks are foreclosing on record numbers of mortgages; the government stands idly by. The 1% continue to cop out of paying their fair share of taxes, and we are being asked to close schools, lay off city workers, cut badly needed services. And, of course, we are asked to put in longer hours on the job when millions are without work.
This economic crisis did not drop from the sky – it is the direct result of allowing corporations to seek the maximum profit with limited oversight from regulators and little scrutiny by the corporate press. The solution to the crisis in not to restore conditions for further economic growth, if economic growth means a continued exploitation of American and foreign workers, continued plundering of our common resources and continued release of carbon emissions that threaten the integrity of the planet’s ecosystems. What we need instead is a thorough and fearless rethinking of how we organize our economy, what behavior we reward, and who controls our common wealth.
It’s easy to write off this type of movement. But before doing so, ask yourself this question: what do you recommend we, as concerned citizens committed to democracy, do instead? Is it really possible to effect real change from within a political system when the ballot box is stuffed with money? Is it really viable to sit back and just hope things change for the better? If we are going to resuscitate our democracy, we need to begin by gathering, in public spaces and listening to each other, we need to make proposals, discuss, debate, compromise and then move forward. That is what we will do Saturday, in Lewisburg.
We will not be alone. Right now, all over the world, more than 1600 communities large and small, are organizing Occupy Wall St. actions to begin to take back our democracy. On this Saturday, October 15th, over 650 cities and towns are holding actions. Come see what this is all about and find out for yourself whether real change is possible and how it feels to be part of the solution.
This Article will appear in the Daily Item (Sunbury, PA) on October 15th, 2011