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photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy- We ARE the 99%

So many people are having a terrible time figuring out "exactly what this Occupy Thing is all about". The problem, I think, is that there isn't ONE thing that it's about. It's about a whole lot of things that have been going south for a very long time.

It's about people- good hardworking people who go to work, pay their bills and follow to the letter the steps to attain the American Dream.

That dream was within reach 50 years ago. A family of 4 could not only subsist, but thrive on one income- buy a house, buy a new car, pay for nice things and college educations for the youngsters. A good job meant fair wages AND health insurance benefits AND a pension.

Then society started shifting. Some folks say it began with Womens' Lib but I call bullshit. I know MY mom had to go to work to help pay the bills and she sure didn't do it with a smile on her face- I don't think most moms did. They did it because wages did not keep up with rising prices and they HAD to.

But it was easier to blame Womens' Lib on "destroying American Families".

And it kept shifting. Prices kept rising and wages rose just barely enough to allow people to think they were "getting ahead". Good steady jobs weren't quite so steady anymore and people started re-locating to follow the money, sometimes every few years, meaning hardly anyone anymore stayed anywhere long enough to collect their 20 year gold watch. Or pension. Or pay off a house. Or make and keep friends and maintain family ties and roots.

But it was easier to focus on the presumed assumed benefits and advantages of a constantly moving society than to worry about what all that upheaval was doing to our collective families.

Meanwhile, up in the penthouse...

Rich people have always been with us- they do things like build factories and start banks and spend their pocket change on frivolities like the Arts and sports teams.

Here's some other things they've always done until recently.

They've paid ALOT more taxes. Sometimes up to 75% (compared to the 23% they are taxed now). And here's the funny thing. THEY WERE STILL FREAKING RICH. But more than that- those were the years our country could afford to do things like
-build an interstate highway system
-send people to the moon
-construct a whole shitload of community colleges

But WAIT- there's MORE.

They also employed lots of people.

Then, right around the time everything was going to hell in a handbasket on accounta Womens' Lib and people re-locating for work, two things happened.

Laws changed which allowed the really rich guys to pay a lot less in taxes, and the really rich guys moved lots of their business out of this country.

But I'm pretty sure those two things had nothing to do with the decline of the standard of living here in the USA. As stated before, it was the damn Womens' Libbers and those greedy people running all over creation in search of the almighty dollar.

That the income of the top 1% has increased by over 200% while the income of the other 99% of us has stagnated is surely just an anomaly. Which I also like to refer to as "bullshit".

Meanwhile, on Wall St...

The banks (owned by some of the really rich guys) and investment companies (ditto) and all the big corporations (____) were getting annoyed by any sort of activity that looked like they weren't being trusted. So they bought themselves politicians. Actually they bought damn near ALL the politicians and told them to get rid of any pesky regulations- they just slowed down the process of making money "for everyone".

So the politicians did. And all the big guys on Wall St. and in the board rooms of the corporations smiled. Some of them tried to do the right thing. Some of them saw a wide open road lined with money just for them and they ran with it. All the way to overseas bank accounts. Even though it was OUR money that we had put there for them to keep for us.

If any of us down here at the bottom of the heap were to take someone elses' money and run with it, we'd be arrested and tossed in jail. The banks told their purchased politicians to "fix it", so the politicians took MORE of our money and literally bailed their asses out.

So they did it again.

Meanwhile, down on the farm...

Companies like Monsanto (Native American for "Bastard Devil Seed") have been willfully and with complete knowledge poisoning our families while siccing their purchased politicians on dangerous folks who have the audacity to grow their own food instead of buying it at Walmart like good Americans.

Meanwhile, at the homeless shelters...

Folks who were told that the only way they could get money to buy a home would be with adjustable rate mortgages signed on for them- because that was the only thing offered. They were told that "most likely" the rates would not go up and in fact (are you a betting man, buddy?) may even go down please sign on the dotted line.

Meanwhile, in the cemeteries...

Tens of thousands of Americans die every year for lack of affordable accessible health care.

So Occupy is about a lot of things.

Here's what it's NOT.

It's NOT The Liberal Tea Party.

It's NOT "just" Occupy Wall St.- there are now Occupy's all over the country (actually all over the world) in front of banks, corporations, political and civic buildings- anywhere and everywhere shit needs changed.

It's NOT a buncha unemployed disenfranchised dope smoking drum beating hippies who are reluctant to pay back their student loans in underwater basketweaving. There are retired people, families with children, military people, nurses and doctors, anyone and everyone who are not looking for blood- just asking for morality and accountability from those who are holding all the cards...and all the money.

It's NOT being run or financed by any political party or union or private entity- people from any other group are welcome as long as they do NOT co-opt it. It's being powered by individuals and reported on via the interwebs from digital cameras and cell phones.

It's NOT Obama supporters- most of us are frankly disappointed in our current President. And it's not liberal democrats. It's everyone from every walk of life.

It's NOT advocating for a government or financial collapse. Just some adjustment to make things a little more American than they've gotten lately.

It's just what it says- Occupy. Be there. Show up. Peacefully resist the inequities that do NOT have a damn thing to do with how this country is supposed to work.

Occupy is the first step. Facing things that need changed head on.

Next week is the next step- Turning our backs on 'em- Move Your Money. Out of the big banks and into local banks and credit unions. This should go hand in hand with a shift to doing EVERYTHING locally- grocery shopping, clothes shopping, haircuts to donuts- locally owned and run businesses rather than national chain stores.

People say, "This has to turn violent before it accomplishes anything- no one wins anything they're not willing to fight for".

Not necessarily.

If Occupy can maintain its solidarity without becoming attached to any other group or movement, if it can remain aggressively passive and peaceful despite being baited and bullied, and if enough Americans Go Local even if they never show up to protest real change can occur.

That's a lot of "ifs", but if it doesn't work, we're either headed for violent civil strife, or a continuing spiral into something ugly, either way America- the America our Forefathers imagined and the America we'll be leaving our children- will be lost.

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