By Jamie York
Why occupy Wall Street? Well, the short answer is that corporations have overthrown the United States. I had a teacher in middle school who spoke about the dangers of monopolies and how concentrated corporate ownership resembled a dictatorship. She was right. The richest one percent control trillions of dollars.
The more entrenched corporate conglomerates become in the systems of power, the harder it is to remove them. They control production, transportation and distribution of essential consumer goods and they have created a system to manipulate markets, create shortages, raise demand, raise prices, and avoid federal taxes. They WANT to tank the economy, and natural disasters, terrorism, and prolonged economic downturns help them do just that. It gives them the opportunity to privatize with impunity and create special emergency rules to speed up the process. They can keep people so afraid of losing their jobs that they are willing to accept wage and benefit cuts. New Orleans after Katrina was a test case for them. Huge federal disaster payments went to Halliburton and other contractors and sub-contractors, leaving nothing left for people to rebuild homes and small businesses. The money did not stay in the community where it was most needed, but lined the pockets of the rich and super-rich, the same people who want us engaged in permanent warfare and keep going back to Congress for more and more money under the pretense of stopping terrorism. The rich are not content with being rich; they want ALL the money. They want TOTAL control. They want a corporate dictatorship, a subservient, dependent citizenry where dissent can be easily crushed. They want Orwell's 1984 to become reality while they sit back on private islands, sipping Daiquiris and enjoying their riches while the majority of humanity goes hungry and suffers from curable diseases.
Corporations, like big banks, media and cable networks, weapons manufacturers, drug companies, agribusiness, oil companies, and so forth, are all owned by just a few conglomerates with widespread influence in elections, court decisions and policy. Corporate cash is funneled into the electoral system through paid lobbyists. And money buys policy. If corporations do not want their activities regulated, then they lobby the candidates and corporate-friendly judges who support their positions. Huge dollars are spent on our elections and the money trail remains a secret. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations are equal to persons, with the same rights, even though real people cannot ever be equal to a corporation. This status gives them the Constitutional protection of citizens, but without any accountability or culpability. The result is that only one dominant message gets heard in the media and those who challenge corporatism openly are portrayed as kooks, as irresponsible trouble-makers who should shut up and buy things on credit, who should not complain about gas prices, relentless TV drug advertising, genetic tampering with the food supply, global warming, and the lack of diverse educational programming that Americans need to become informed citizens and voters. Americans are no longer aware of their own history as a people and nation because history is being transformed and scrubbed clean of dissent, of racism, of unions, of genocide, of imperialism. This is no accident. The most wealthy, powerful people in the country want people to have mindless entertainment, sports, comedy, games -- anything to keep them from learning, from organizing and challenging the huge and rapidly growing gap between rich and poor. Their advocates lobby that the history books and literature books used in schools should omit references to genocide against Indians, slavery, mass movements, labor strikes, and war dissent. By revising and erasing history, corporations believe they can better control people. If people do not learn about the reasons for a Bill of Rights, then those rights will not be missed as they are systematically eliminated by the courts.
Privatization of government services is a big theme in the mass media, although they call it "smaller government." A lot of news pundits talk about vouchers for charter schools, privatizing prisons, eliminating so-called state unions so teachers, nurses, police, firefighters, corrections officers, an so on, cannot negotiate for health and pension benefits or for matters concerning seniority and working conditions. Privatization means large transfers of public money to corporations. The Bush tax cuts and corporate bailouts were also huge transfers of wealth. The rich and super-rich, who have been shaking down consumers for years with little organized opposition, are emboldened by this and want as much public money as they can get their greedy paws on. Occupy Wall Street is a growing worldwide movement to challenge them.
The rich and super-rich do not pay taxes like working families do. Corporations not only use their political power to lobby Congress and get corporate-friendly laws on the books, but they own public relations firms to sugarcoat everything they do, including tax cuts and loopholes. "Oh, but we will create jobs. Give us the money. Trust us." Once they get the money they invest it overseas or hoard it. They have plenty of money to pay American workers a living wage, but corporate law states that they must make a profit for shareholders. This is their excuse for going overseas where they pay low wages without benefits or pesky environmental and safety regulations. And they do so without penalties of any kind, not even high import tariffs to bring their products back into the US. Strict regulations are necessary to control runaway capitalism, but there must also be enforcement and high fines and penalties to keep corporations in check. This is for the benefit of the majority of citizens, for the common good.
Corporations, with their media and public relations influence, helped instill in citizens a false idea that capitalism and democracy are the same thing. They aren't. Capitalism is an economic system, which can exist with a variety of social systems, but often requires use of force as it expands or if it feels threatened. Democracy, however, is an all-inclusive social system in which decisions are made by the majority of people acting in the common good and respecting the rights of the minority.
Why occupy Wall Street? Because we need a voice in what kind of a world we want to live in. Do we want to keep funding endless foreign wars or bring that money home and use it to create jobs? To create a single payer, cradle-to-grave health care system where every citizen is in and no one is out? This can be done by replacing the for-profit insurance mafia and by expanding Medicare to include dental and eye care. Do we want a safe, regulated food supply or are we OK with being Guinea pigs for untested, unlabeled genetically enhanced agricultural products engineered to increase yields and profits for the biotech seed industry? Do we want continued deregulation, or should we eliminate the Federal Reserve, the IMF and end unfair trade agreements like GATT and NAFTA? Should we re-regulate with tough new standards, stiff penalties and high import taxes for American companies that have taken our jobs overseas? Should we create a system of fair trade and hold corporations accountable when they break the rules? Should we eliminate private campaign funding and replace it with public funding, where candidates get fixed travel expenses and equal television and radio time to explain their positions?
Why occupy Wall Street? Because Wall Street has failed us on many levels, dangling high interest credit card applications like candy to a populace already saddled with unrealistic mortgages, low wages, high prices, and a lack of relief organizations to help people. ACORN was one of those relief organizations, set up by a fake journalist with a video camera and vilified by a bandwagon news media that reported the story and showed edited film, but did not do the independent reporting necessary for the truth to be told. And now ACORN is gone, no longer able to perform its humanitarian mission to serve the poor. Will private companies step up to perform the grassroots "boots on the ground" work in poor communities? Don't bet on it. Unless more liquor stores and Wal-Marts are considered relief organizations. Churches might help some by providing clothing and meals, but that is not enough.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is a worldwide movement a long time in the making. The movement has either been ignored in the corporate media altogether or has been portrayed as a violent fringe movement. Now that it has spread to dozens of US cities and hundreds worldwide, the media are reporting on it some, but nothing compared to OJ, war cheerleading, and royal weddings. OWS became energized recently when Egyptians camped out for days in Tahir Square and brought down the Mubarak regime. It was a high-tech revolution with an outcome far from certain, but it was an inspiration to the millions of human beings who now desire a democratic, fair, equitable economic system. If violence takes place here or there, it is typically a reaction to police-state tactics that the rich and super-rich have in the past had no qualms about requesting. And political officials, loyal servants of the military/media/industrial complex, dutifully comply with requests for police or National Guard to move in on one pretext or another.
Why occupy Wall Street? Ask Orwell.