Tools to Change Society
Conservative pundits are busy whistling in the wind, arguing that the Occupy Wall Street Movement has no objectives, no common complaints, and worst of all, no leader! They’ve been hoping that the American people would believe them when they keep trying to argue that the demonstrations springing up around the world are a group of bongo playing hippies. The mainstream media has gone out of its way to show participants from the fringes of society, because their pocket book wielding masters don’t want the rest of us to catch on that the movement is really coming from people just like us. Oops! Too late! We’re the 99%!
The reason the Occupy Movement is going viral is very simple: The “Social Contract” is severely broken. The second half of the 20th Century was relatively comfortable for most living Americans. After years of war and depression, the powerful focused their attention on building the American economy. This meant huge growth for the economy, and opportunity for all. Americans could grow up in relative comfort, be educated, go to work, raise families, and die with a modicum of dignity.
So why are people suddenly in the streets, like the French Revolution? The answer is summed up by the famous French quote from that time, “Let them eat cake.” It reflected the fact that one of the French princesses, who apocryphally uttered this phrase, was totally out of touch with the conditions faced by her people. So it is with the 1% “Masters of the Universe”, who have infamously overstepped their powers and rights, and brought Americans into the streets in great and growing numbers.
Most of us are looking around and saying, “What ever happened to all of these things we were promised, earned and were expecting, but now seem to be evaporating before our eyes?”
In my case, those things are simple. I invested heavily in my home, so that my wife and I could be comfortable in our retirement. I served 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, so that we would have a small pension and health insurance in our old age. I had great pride about the Rights all Americans enjoyed thanks to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
But what do I have? A house “appraised” at 41.5% of its “appraised” value in 2004. Its value in supporting our retirement is gone with the wind. A Republican Congress that seems intent on reducing the health insurance benefit, which I already earned for my military service, and to squeeze my small pension by not allowing it to keep up with the rate of inflation. The health insurance was converted to Medicare during the Reagan Administration, and now they are cutting payments to doctors so badly that most doctors won’t accept Medicare. That’s the backhanded way to steal my earned healthcare benefit and Medicare in general. And then there’s the series of politicians across the United States (I won’t call them public servants), who think it’s OK to ignore our Constitutional Right of Assembly and our Constitutional Right to Petition the Government for Redress of Grievances. Who are these people anyway?
I often say that America’s Diversity is the Glory of God, and the one factor above all others that has consistently contributed to making The United States of America the envy of the world. As Winston Churchill famously put it:
"Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities."
So it is that when good ideas emerge from any of our thousands of interest groups, we all adopt them. But when bad ideas emerge, we all shout and argue, and sometimes fight, until the bad ideas are pushed out of the system.
The “Masters of the Universe” thought “trickle down” economics was the right way to go. They thought it was perfectly fine to pay themselves $100 million annual bonuses, at the expense of their shareholders. They thought that adding financial leverage on financial leverage was perfectly fine to grow their wealth. Even famous economists like Alan Greenspan thought that their profligacy could go on forever. They were wrong! That’s why people are in the streets now!
Most of us have been feeling the pinch for decades. Oh, it wasn’t that much at first, and it was only a little bit at a time, but the prosperity of our parents has been taken away for us. The Occupy Movement is only a way of saying that the “tipping point” has been reached, and now it’s our turn to set the rules. The Occupy Movement is not going to dissipate until a new “Social Contract” is written for everyone!
Thank heaven for Scott Walker, temporarily the Governor of Wisconsin. His infamous over reach against collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin has awakened all Americans to the fact that the “class warfare” the rich are now complaining of has been going on for 30 years. The rich are only now feeling the pinch because the American people are in the streets telling them, “Enough!”
Skip Conover is an international businessman, author and artist.