The Occupy Wall Street movement is a response to the growing political influence exerted by corporate America, of which the financial meltdown is but a symptom.
We’ve all heard about the predatory lending, the buying on massive margin, the deliberate deception of investors, the paying off of rating agencies, the insider trading, the unearned bonuses, the bailout, and the golden parachutes. Watch Inside Job if you haven’t yet – watch it twice and take notes. Recently it’s come out that Hank Paulson held a secret meeting with his old friends, the board members of Goldman Sachs, in Moscow, during which he shared his intentions as Secretary of the Treasury. Wow.
What’s most striking about all this is not the fact that these extremely unethical practices took place but the fact that in most cases these practices were perfectly legal. They are legal because over the course of 30 years a self-interested Wall Street has been able to exert disproportionate political influence (money) to chip away at the laws and regulations that kept the American economy relatively stable.
The situation is worsening. In the Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that enables corporations to donate unlimited funds to political candidates – anonymously! They’re now able to buy politicians legally!
The Occupy movement endeavors to draw attention to this disproportionate influence so that we as a people can make our democracy more representative. There is a striking amount of resistance to this change but the Occupiers are doing it to help the American people. When Scott Olsen, the veteran marine, suffered brain damage from being shot in the head by Oakland Police; when the petite girl with black bangs was viciously and repeatedly clubbed on the campus of UC Berkeley; when the sitting students were pepper-sprayed at UC Davis; chances are about 999 to 1 that you were one of the people on whose behalf they were protesting.
The National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate 93 to 7, has a new provision that enables the military to throw American citizens in military prison, without trial, forever. Seriously, it does. They need only be accused of being a terrorist and they can be taken away forever without the right to defend themselves against the charges. This is about the most un-Constitutional, Un-American thing ever. Incidentally the City of London Police Department has already gone ahead and listed the Occupy movement as a terrorist organization.
You can call them pot-smoking hippies, unemployed bums, and entitled kids. The truth is that there are millions of Americans who’d be camped out with them if they could afford to leave their jobs and familial obligations. The truth is that they’re sacrificing to make this country better.
The truth is that they represent your best interests better than just about anybody else, whether you realize it or not.