Sunday, October 16, 2011

My thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

I don't know if I've ever liked the big banks. I'm talking Bank of America and so forth. Despite all of their warm, professionally printed and market-researched signage in the lobby, I always did, in fact, feel like a number and not a name. And while we're at it, I've never fully understood why Wall Street is the backbone of our economy. I'll be the first to admit that I don't fully understand all of the ins and outs of it, but my gut reaction is that anything that is designed to spike wildly up and down, and actually CRASH from time to time cannot possibly be a good and stable thing to base an economy on. A side-venture? Sure, okay, if you've got the money to lose. Maybe at one time, we did. We certainly don't now.

It's taken me a while to educate myself  on the bailouts in 2008, and all of the fallout that followed. It's not light reading, but it is stomach-churning. Not just because of how much money we gave these financial institutions and what they in turn did with that cash, but mostly the shennanigans that led up to the crash just made me so angry. I nearly ran out into the street and protested, myself, but I thought, Nah, no one cares what I think. I'm just the one guy, over here, whose concerns are never ever addressed by national political candidates of any kind.

How little did I know.

Maybe you're not following the OWS movement, because it's already white noise in the media--check that--the corporate-controlled media. Maybe you've already seen pictures of unwashed youngsters in hemp clothing playing the bongo drums. Yeah, I know, it's not exactly the best foot forward to be taken seriously, but I submit to you that neither was that guy with teabags hanging off his tricorn hat at the Tea Party rallies, either. That's never the norm. It's always the nuts on the fringe that the news guys just love to cover. It's so much easier to shoot the freaks than it is to try and break down a complex issue for people who are just wanting to watch the weather and get the sports scores.

Yeah, I'm having problems with TV news, too.

OWS and the Tea Party have--or had--one thing in common, at least initially: they all came together and fairly calmly rioted over the amount of money we just handed the big banks, with no accountability, no reprisals, no strings attached. I got the distinct impression that the Powers That Be didn't know what they were going to do with the money, either.  It was just, "Um, do what you need to do, okay? And hurry!"

Now there's riots, and police are herding people away, and everyone is in an uproar, and they are even allegedly arresting protesters who are closing their CitiBank accounts. Wow. I don't like sounding like one of those conspiracy theory guys, but what else does it sound like to you? Big Brother? Oh, it's way past that, now.

I've read some of the demands of the protestors, and I've heard some of the statements, and while I am not questioning the moral and ethical truth of what they are saying, this isn't something that can happen overnight. These issues have GOT to be folded into the political process. And if a candidate isn't willing to talk about them, then guess what? He doesn't get our vote. It's that simple. It's pretty clear to me that we've all been focusing on the wrong stuff for the past couple of decades.

In the midst of all this bumper sticker political canvassing that has gone on across FaceBook and the blogosphere these last couple of weeks, I want to put forth my two demands. These aren't simple things. Lots has to happen, and I know that. But unless we start asking for what we really want from a politician, and unless we start prioritizing what's most important to us as Americans and demanding it from our public servents, then the debate over gay marriage will continue, and corporations and banks will run amok all over us.

My demands for the movement:

1. Strip away all laws and legal rulings stating that corporations are people. Replace with a set of concrete guidelines for what corporations can and can't do, and what they are responsible for regarding their actions.

This should never have gotten to this level, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves for letting it. Mitt Romney actually said "corporations are people." And he was serious. Now, this is not to say that every corporation is bad. There are some really good, responible ones out there. But due to how they are currently structured, it's very easy for a not-so-scrupulous corporation to, say, anonymously fund political candidates, giving them literally millions of dollars that do not have to be disclosed. If I'm handing someone millions of dollars, how much do you want to bet that I have a list of conditions that goes along with that cash? Congratulations, we have just cut ourselves out of our own political process.

2. Reform banking, finance, and the stock market with a concrete set of rules as to what can and cannot be done with the people's money. Break up the monopolies so that the big banks cannot grow past a certain size. Set limits and caps on what they can do, and how.

Honestly, after all this time, after so many sayings such as "money is the root of all evil," you'd think that people would have learned. Jesus didn't even like these guys! Come on! It's our money, and we're just letting them play with it as if it wasn't.

Again, I don't presume to think that the above two things fixes everything. But it would fix alot. I'm in the 99%, as is literally everyone I know. We've all had to work our whole lives. Some of us are still working. I don't know of anyone who's doing super great right now. I only know of a few, maybe a dozen or more, who are actually sitting on Middle Class right now. And you know what? They keep their mouths shut and their heads down, because they don't want to crow about it. Yeah, it's gotten that bad. I'm not telling you anything you don't know already.

So, what are you gonna do about it? Are we going to keep letting ourselves be distracted by things like "the war on Christmas," if there ever really was such a thing? Or are we going to start looking for politicans who really want to change the system? Because that's what it's going to take. We need people who can change the system from within, gradually over time.

Of course, that would mean that everyone will have to work together. This whole two party system we have would need to...oh, wait, I'll finish this blog post later. Boardwalk Empire is on HBO right now...yeah, we'll just, um...

Viva El Revolution, OWS! You've got your work cut out for you.
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