Archive for October, 2011

October 18, 2011

Listen to Us!

Politicians and talking heads keep asking things like “what does the Occupy movement stand for, ” or “what do they want?” And I think that they may be missing a main point.

We, the majority of Americans, want nothing more than to be listened to over the screaming voices of hard cash. And we don’t just want to be listened to in a superficial and condescending kind of way – we want our voices to be taken seriously. Politicians say that they love the American middle class, but do they really?

Capitol Hill is making sure that the middle class takes hit after hit, as the super rich enjoy soaring profits with little or no societal responsibilities.  It appears that the middle class is no longer being represented, as politicians turn to the desires of ridiculously wealthy donors.

Yet, Washington and the media appear surprised by the sound of our voices, as if we are annoying pests buzzing too close to their ears. They expect us to have one message, or a few main demands, so that they can swat us away again and go on with their business looking after the interests of the super-rich. I think many politicians still believe that the Occupy movement will eventually just quiet down and go away.

I don’t doubt that demands will eventually be verbalized, but right now our message is simply our voice.

October 18, 2011

When Education is a Privilege

The unemployment rate for people without college degrees is around 14.5%, and over 20% for the younger generations. This is largely the result of globalization and automation. So, people get college degrees to keep from falling behind. And as a nation, we want our citizens to be as educated as possible, as this increases our globally competitiveness and ultimately increases our GDP.

Thus, we want to promote education and make it as available as possible to capable people. Problem is, the average yearly tuition has been increasing 4x faster than real wages. So now we are at the untenable position where a single year’s tuition is, on average, around $14,000. Considering that the average american family makes slightly under $50,000 a year, most students will have to rely on loans. Loans that cannot be discharged due to hardship or through bankruptcy, mind you.

This leads us to the near-trillion dollar student loan debt and graduates entering the work force already saddled with a debt that is more and more frequently becoming larger than your average mortgage. Many people are required to pay over $1,000 a month, if they’re lucky enough to have a job. This results in people putting off buying a house, or starting a family, or starting a business, and renders them entirely dependent on the job(s) they’re lucky enough to get.

This is not to ignore the fact that many businesses have realized how much recent grads want work in their field, resulting in extended unpaid or underpaid internships and externships. This practice is actually not far off from full-fledged indentured servitude.

All in all, our current system is set up so that an intelligent and capable American, who happen to be poor, cannot be properly educated to lead our nation in technology, science and innovation.

 


October 16, 2011

Day 30: Occupy Times Square

Ten to twenty thousand Americans showed up yesterday to Occupy Times Square, in support of the Global Day of Action on Saturday October 15th. Separated into smaller areas by barricades, protesters spread from 34th street to 47th street on the west side of Manhattan. In Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, thousands of cities and hundreds of countries joined in protest on Saturday.

We were at 42nd street and Broadway, surrounded by people of all ages, from all different backgrounds. Most protesters were well-dressed, sometimes in suits and office wear, and the youngest and oldest protesters included a baby who was several months old and a couple in their 80’s. The crowd looked like our middle class.  It was clear that not everyone was a  hippie or college student, and they were ready to be taken seriously.

NBC New York reports that 90 people were arrested surrounding the International Day of Action. The police were quite intimidating, driving rows of police vans ready for arrests down 42 street with their sirens going. Police brought in horses (very dangerous in highly crowded areas) and had helicopters circling above us. Luckily we were in a spot that was not bothered much by the police, but saw and heard others arrested in the distance. The crowd would yell, “the world is watching.” Earlier in the afternoon, reports and video footage was released of 2 dozen arrests inside a Citibank. When several protesters attempted  to simultaneously close their accounts, the bank locked them inside until the police arrived and promptly arrested the protesting customers (who knows on what charge).

Protesters were energized by the previous day’s victory over continued occupation of Zuccotti Park , even though city officials and police attempted to clear the area for “cleaning.” The afternoon’s atmosphere at Times Square was very positive, besides the fear spread by the police. The crowd chanted, “we are the 99 percent” and “the people united, will never be defeated,” “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” and my personal favorite, “All day, all week, Occupy Wall Street.”

Awesome Shepard Fairey’s protest poster for Occupy Times Square:

October 15, 2011

A Global Uprising ~ Worldwide Solidarity

 

 

 

Today, the world is joining Occupy Wall Street in protest. 3,000 people are demonstrating in London, and riots broke out in Rome. Protests have spread to countries across the globe including South Africa, Canada, Portugal, Germany, Australia, Japan, India, South Korea and the Philippines. Cities include Berlin, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Manila, Stockholm, Sydney, Melbourne, Sarajevo and New Delhi.  Occupy Wall Street has declared October 15th as the International Day of Action, and it looks like that is exactly what is happening.

The Fault Line will join the many events scheduled by OWS today to show our support for this worldwide uprising. Human need, not corporate greed.

October 10, 2011

Alan Grayson Schools PJ O’Rourke

The level of condescension on the panel is disgusting, but Grayson cuts through it and receives a standing ovation.

October 9, 2011

Study: Income Inequality Slows Economic Growth

A new study published in the current issue of Finance & Development, the quarterly magazine of the International Monetary Fund, reported that income inequality was found to be a central component of a slowing economy. Income inequality is the gap between those making the most and least in a nation, which has gotten unusually large in the United States over the last 30 years. Below is a table with the recent ratios of CEO vs average worker pay for several countries.  Most economists suggest that a ratio around 20:1 is ideal for a prosperous economy.

The recent study compared six major economic factors across the world’s economies and found that income inequality was the largest contributor to a slow economy, finding a strong association between equally distributed income (and by equally distributed we mean a ratio around 20:1 instead of 475:1, not socialism) and economic growth.

Corporate and political figures often claim that fixing the US economy depends on lowering government debt, signing new free trade deals and attracting new foreign investments, however, this study finds that the most influential factor is income inequality.

Berg and coauthor Jonathan Ostry were mostly interested in how to sustain economic growth, rather than sparking it. “Getting growth going is not that difficult; it’s keeping it going that is hard,” Berg explains. As we ourselves have seen, the bailouts and stimulus saved us from more severe economic conditions, but have done little to sustain growth. Instead, the numbers indicate that moving toward a fair CEO-vs-average-worker income ratio will provide us a way out of this recession.

Mother Jones included these tables from the study:

Andrew Berg & Jonathan Ostry
Andrew Berg & Jonathan Ostry
October 8, 2011

Occupy Dallas Stands Out

Occupy Dallas is kinda kickin’ butt right now!! Though their numbers are (still) low, the police have recognized themselves as part of the 99% and have been extremely accommodating and supportive of the occupiers. Because the Dallas police have been so helpful, organizers have been able to provide amenities for its protesters such as “Occuplay” daycare for kids, free legal assistance from a constitutional lawyer, wifi, and even portable stone ovens. Everyone is coming together realizing that they’ve all been screwed, together. Police officers, just like teachers, students, and 99% of the country have been equally affected by Wall Street and corporate political control, and in Dallas the police decided to be part of the impending change.  We are all realizing how important it is that we participate in our own governance. We are also learning to what extent 99% of the people have actually been silenced and removed from the political process. Occupy Dallas sets a good example for peaceful Occupy protests and police departments everywhere.

Read more about the supportive Dallas police at Gather.com, and Occupy Dallas protester amenities at the Occupy Dallas Facebook page.

October 8, 2011

Occupy All the Things

The movement that has become known as Occupy Wall St. has spread like wildfire across the United States. Americans are finally drawing the line, and rediscovering the importance of being involved in their own governance. And with income and wealth inequality at an all time high, both compared with our own history and countries around the world, it is good that our voices are loud. We say, Occupy all the things!!

October 6, 2011

Day 20: Occupy Wall St.

Occupy Wall Street was in full action today. We dropped by to see Naomi Klein speak to the crowd, using the the People’s Mic. Very cool. Everyone was calm and focused, and the crowd was well-organized. We were very impressed with the coordination of communication, which included live streaming, hand signals, double echos, and calls for peaceful protest.

October 2, 2011

Media Delegitimizes “Occupy” Movement

The media doesn’t quite know how to handle the huge movement that has become Occupy.  It started with Occupy Wall Street, but has already evolved to include Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Boston and Occupy Chicago. Yet, the media continues to belittle and delegitimize the unification of the people. They have described Occupy as fragmented, “similar to the tea party,” and a phase that will likely pass.

It is important to recognize that Occupy is not similar to the tea party (Did you see any tea party people brutally attacked by police?), it is not fragmented, and it will not blow over soon. While the tea party was driven by hidden corporate influences and was made up of mostly older, white and conservative Americans, Occupy represents the bottom 99% and much more accurately captures the American Voice. Occupy includes all ages, demographics and professions, and even unions are joining the fight. Yet, media conglomerates ignored it for several weeks until people began getting maced.  Fortunately that American Voice is just getting warmed up, and bound to get louder.

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