I’m reading about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and watching the “Occupy Portland” protests skeptically. The protesters in Portland (estimated by police to be about 5000) gathered in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland yesterday after marching from the city’s waterfront. With so few news outlets in the northwest, we’re not quite sure what these protesters want. Some say they want Obama re-elected, but claim to hate “Wall Street.” You know the same Wall Street that gave its largest campaign donation in history to Obama, who in turn, bailed out the banks and made Goldman Sachs what seems like the 4th branch of the government!
The one thing we do know is they’re angry, that 1% have all the money and they’ve got next to nothing and believe they are the 99%.
People are hurting. This is not a one party issue. This is a human issue. This is a fight over the future of America. I’m not saying you can’t be rich, but you’ve got to pay your taxes. How much should they be? Let’s start the debate. However, when people are losing their homes, their jobs, everything they’ve saved, and you don’t exhibit compassion, you don’t reach down to help them, then you’re on the wrong side.
We all know friends or have family members who have worked really hard all their life only to lose their home and get no support from the banks. The banks are on the wrong side. Greedy real estate bankers loaned money to anyone who could “fog a mirror” which then cratered the housing market and is now helping bankrupt the country. Then they demanded taxpayers bail them out, a demand that complicit, corrupt politicians (yes, of both parties) were only too happy to oblige.
And, like most of the protestors I’m fed up with the political gridlock in Washington. Both sides stand in the way of change. At this point I don’t see any difference between George Bush than when Obama was elected. The middle-class is worse off. The gap between rich and poor is alarming. Because it stifles ambition. Why make the effort if you can’t get ahead? And if you think the American Dream still exists, you probably live in Europe, the odds of going from the bottom to the top are much more difficult.
And suddenly all of this is a hot issue?! Huh?
Some politicians and members of the media have chastised the protesters suggesting that they should stop protesting and go get a job or should instead start companies so they can help form a less self-involved, more gregarious and forward-thinking American capitalism. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Slam the folks trying to shed some light.
These people aren’t against the system. Most are not lazy people sitting around looking for a handout. They don’t want to bring down America. They just want some sense of fairness restored to the system as it is, and they want a chance to participate and be heard. Instead, they’ve been marginalized by corporate money and ripped off by their banks and financial institutions. They’ve been promised that hard work and a good education are what it takes to succeed, then slammed by a lack of opportunities, then told by sneering political candidates that if you’re poor, well it’s they’re own fault. It’s not really surprising that things have reached a boiling point.
This isn’t about protests; it’s about how banks, corporations and corrupt government policies are disenfranchising and bankrupting everyday Americans. The protests are about taking proactive steps towards rectifying — or at least shedding light on — that situation.
Since the Vietnam War, I’ve never seen anything like this as a form of political protest. It’s wrenching, honest and true. Personally, I can’t stop thinking about this guy,
Photos courtesy of AP (Map), Oregonlive (Pioneer Place) and We Are The 99 Percent.