By Mark David Blum, Esq.
I am bearing witness to what I believe is the beginning of the next American revolution. Based on my years of study and work, I opine that the United States is on the verge of a dramatic change in its economic, social, and political model. What will be this outcome, I cannot foretell. What I do know is that the People are angry and are getting united.
If they have accomplished nothing else these past weeks and months, the Occupation movement has forced the subject of who we are and how we are going to do business to where it dominates the national discourse. Every news media, right or left, is discussing the Occupation. Some criticize; others support. Still others are very confused. But the world, from facebook to Fox news has made the Occupation and all the issues it has raised the number one topic of their focus. For that, let the Occupation take a bow.
We need to be having this discussion. Some of us really believe that Wall Street, the moneyed elite, and large corporations have too much sway over national policy. The health care debate alone had five lobbyists for every legislator. Others are very satisfied by the status quo and want to see more. Whatever may be the outcome, it is about time these issues were put on the table and the majority of Americans can decide for themselves through the power of the ballot.
With more than 1,300 ‘Occupation’ sites across the nation, a large and varied group of people – people who otherwise probably wouldn’t even say ‘hello’ to each other – are standing together and demanding some accountability of government to the rest of us. There are now enough voices raised in anger that “they who make the rules” have to listen and respond to us as well as the lobbyists. The one percenters may have all the money, but not one legislator or lobbyist keeps his job without people like me casting votes. Now my voice has merged with many tens of thousands more.
Do I have all the answers? No. I don’t think anybody does. I don’t think I have even heard all the right questions asked. But I have a laundry list of issues that I think are so intertwined, that even a handful of steps would yield dramatic easing of our nation’s finances. I also have my own wackjob tax solution; and it costs more than $9.99.
The waste has got to stop. Not just the bad people who abuse the system. We want the system. We need the system. The system operates (in a perfect world) for the benefit of us all. But there are basic policies supported heavily by money that keep defective and costly policies in place. There are social policies that have no place in the federal government. We do not need 350 military installations around the world because we have these really big missiles that can bring about a lot of pain should anybody harm us or threaten to. Our nation has drug laws and sex laws and privacy laws and the most outrageous expansion of police powers. My President cannot even discuss the drug laws without giggling like a school girl. Ultimately, we need our safety net because at birth, none of us knows how our lives are going to turn out. Henry Ford and Bill Gates did it all in their lifetime. Each was but one bad cantaloupe away from never achieving what they did. None of us in the Occupation begrudges anybody their success. But both Ford and Gates could have ended up having to live on $7.50 an hour without benefits and have only social security and medicare to look forward to in their retirements. We cant all be gazillionaires like Rush Limbaugh.
I want every American to have access to education. The more educated our society, the greater are our chances of success and achievement in the global marketplace. We also have to be healthy.
Three years ago, I was given great hope that change was coming. I have lost hope and nothing has changed. Let me tell you my favorite example. Speaker Pelosi, at the time when the Democrats had the government, got a rule passed by the House, to get rid of Styrofoam coffee cups from the House cafeteria. Whatever. When Speaker Boehner took the gavel, he put forth a rule which would return Styrofoam coffee cups to the House cafeteria. Whatever. There was a vote. Styrofoam cups were returned to the House cafeteria. The tally for the vote went straight down party lines. This told me my government is broken. The Congressfolks couldn't even decide the issue based on their conscience. Their votes were a pure solid demonstration of what the party wants versus what their conscience dictates. What are the odds of each member truly voting how they morally felt about the issue (that is why we elect them) and that result being a match to their party affiliation.
Also, instead of change, we bomb Libya, we invade Uganda. We assassinate two Americans because it was more convenient than capturing them and taking them to trial. My government is giving away so much money to so few people and demanding that my children and grandchildren pay for it. I am thoroughly convinced that a time will come where Congress sits down and writes a Bill that tells the world “fuck it” and simply says we cannot honor the national debt and walk away. That is what millions of Americans are doing right now with their homes. What we are willing to accept as normal is changing. Or, we are going to fracture in some other way. I believe this and as a student of sociology, feel as though I am living through a remarkable social upheaval. It started with the Tea Party before it was usurped by the religious right, and the became the ‘Occupation’ Movement which another name for “the rest of us”. One of the original founders of the Tea Party admitted as such in a recent publication.
My business has suffered in this economy. My friends, my clients, my colleagues all tell me tales of how the current economy is causing so much misery and loss. There are trillions of dollars in circulation. Where is it all?
We all know that government cannot create jobs. But we also know there are 14 million Americans out of work. We can either pay them welfare or we can provide them with public sector make work jobs. They can fix infrastructure. Or, we could just let them die on the sidewalk as an alleged employee of Syracuse’s publicly funded Upstate Hospital told me. We need to resolve this. What kind of People are we? What do we aspire to be?
This nation was born in the fires of revolution. Thomas Jefferson and others pledged their lives, their good names, their fortunes on what they believed was right. We won. We fought to end slavery. We won. We marched for civil rights and Americans died and suffered for that cause. We won. Americans marched for ten years to end the Vietnam war. We won that too. The Tea Party protested and won, This Occupation movement is an abrupt demand for a reconstruction of how we see the world and where we see ourselves in it.
Thomas Jefferson voiced his worries about the dangers of unregulated corporate behavior. President Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the military industrial complex. President Madison went to War against the Bank of the United States (the modern day Fed). The New Deal was enacted and we suffered greatly because of Wall Street’s last great series of blunders.
Today I saw hundreds march. They did it in the rain. The wind blew and it was cold. But hundreds came and marched and stood their ground and demanded accountability. This Occupation may dissolve when the snow falls. But the fire it has lit will burn in people’s hearts. We will remember. We demand change.
Spring will come.