Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupy Wall Street means what?

 Okay did the police get too brutal in various cities across the US as they told protesters the tents had to go? I guess how we see that will depend on which side we stood. It's always easier to tell those who keep the peace or fight our wars to play nice than it is to be out there on the line and trying to face something that could turn deadly-- and no doubt this has always had that possibility.

I read one story criticizing how an 82 year old woman got pepper sprayed in the face in Seattle's crackdown. Now whether that should have happened brings another question-- was she using good judgment being there and not leaving when the police said to do so? Do we get a blank check when we get old and can behave however we want in ignoring the laws? Then there is the lady who was two months pregnant and was there also getting pepper sprayed... When I was pregnant, my first priority was protecting my baby and basically it's hard for me to justify a woman who would go somewhere like that, remain when told to leave, and not first concern herself with the health of that new life within. Her motivations for staying escape me. Maybe they all thought police can't do anything. They should read the newspapers of other incidences where the police must subdue an unruly individual or a mob.

Basically, like a lot of people, I think, when Occupy Wall Street began September 17th, I was in more or less sympathy with the reasons the demonstrators had gathered. I was unsure though about what they had named their movement. Occupy Wall Street means exactly what? Take it over? I also remembered many other anarchist melees where they claimed a lot of the same things but with violence as their answer. Sounds like the media who loves to stir this up with-- oh my what will they do now-- will get their answer and what they want for a bigger story!

I never liked the idea of tent cities being equated with freedom of speech. I don't really get how a demonstration morphs into setting up living quarters on someone else's property. And don't give me that the public parks belong to them. The public parks belong to all of us, not just squatters which is what this movement was evolving into.  To me then can homeless people also set up tents downtown? It's not like they don't also have a grievance that the system is keeping them from being successful-- never you mind if it's true.

I think this whole movement got a pass from a lot of ordinary citizens for a long time as we understood the frustration at an economic system that is totally out of whack for fairness. We also want regulations or things to be done to get manufacturing back in this country, tax fairness, and having a government with reasonable policies. The big debate is over how to get such things especially given how our country is divided for what we think should be done by government. We might all see a problem but we don't see the answer the same.

As the mayors began to order the demonstrators to leave I heard statements from these young people (and yes, despite the exceptions, most there or at least arrested have so far been under 40) about how they were going to come back and reclaim what they own. Wait a minute!! They own the park where they're camped? Does that mean any rules about living anywhere have to be thrown out? Sanitation regulations kaput? Squatting is back? Begging is in on a huge scale as these places need somebody else to fund them.

Then I read how Keith Olberman called the mayor of NYC a tyrant. I wasn't there the night of the removal, to know if a polite please leave was going to work, but the mayor was a tyrant for trying to maintain law and order? I wonder how Olberman would feel about it being a tent city to end abortion or from tea party types? Somehow I think his response wouldn't be the same. The mayor was doing his job for the rest of us whether that's what the demonstrators or Olberman want. Everybody can still gather there every single day for their demonstrations. That's their freedom. Living there comes under a different category.

What I don't understand (and I didn't get it when the Supreme Court labeled a corporation a citizen for purposes of giving money) is how does setting up a tent equal freedom of speech? Does freedom of speech mean someone can set up a tent on my farm and say they should have it not me? The Native Americans who were here first might have some basis for doing that.

Some said they think the taking back of the parks will be a benefit for the movement and it might well be if they understand they have to have goals and show their strength in numbers not by disrupting everybody else's lives or threatening violence in a temper tantrum if they don't get what they want. They either evolve into more than a tent city or they are not even a comma in history-- no matter how self-important they want to think they are.

As I wrote earlier, I don't want these occupiers saying they are doing it for me. No, they are doing it for themselves and those who think like them. Even though left wing media is spreading it on thick about how it's for the country, many of us over the age of fifty anyway have a physical stake in Wall Street ourselves. I guess we are the bad guys.

The stock market is where most of our investments are centered. Now if we have been responsible in investing, we didn't put it into shady operations nor things like hedge funds or derivatives. But we are investing and people over forty do have a lot of money there. Even for those who don't have direct accounts, they have pensions funds through government or corporations that are invested there.

To the young (those under forty) that's apparently wrong. Perhaps this is now a war between young and old? Over 60 and you're the enemy if you have anything material at all?

The youth do have a problem because they are at 50% unemployment and it's not hard to see how that's going to lead to protesting or worse. Roving bands of youth who have no job and feel they have been exploited is a good way to have a lot worse violence than downtown encampments. Talk of a mayor being a tyrant won't help.

What we (those of us not demonstrating) don't know is why those kids don't have jobs. Did they go to college and get a degree in theater arts or something where there simply aren't the jobs? Are they part of the sizable population who, even in the past, never went to college, really couldn't and needed manufacturing jobs to build their homes-- and those manufacturing jobs went overseas thanks to elder mismanagement and lack of government vision?

It's not just this youth movement that doesn't have a set of goals. Our country as a whole doesn't have one either if we ever had a unified one (I've been reading a lot of history recently and it's not like this kind of conflict is new.)

We really don't know why so many of the young are unemployed in comparison to the population at large. Believe me with four grandchildren growing up, I am asking myself that question how do mine get jobs when they reach that age? What will it take to get them lives like I had? Will such opportunities even be possible? If it is, it's going to take government working to get manufacturing back here and if that means Wall Street takes a hit in stock values, I am okay with that. It needs to be balanced between investment and jobs with jobs the priority and when it's not, Houston, we have a problem.

Now with these unemployed kids, maybe it's not their doing, but then again maybe they don't want to do a job beneath their dignity and therefore aren't working not because they couldn't but because they can't find one big enough for their egos. We  really do not know (their families may); but we know they have very high unemployment numbers and that leaves them with a lot of time to lie around. Doing it in a tent downtown when food is donated and they are told by cable news pundits that they are doing it for the 99% probably sounds good to them-- except they aren't doing it for me and how many others (not in the media) really don't like their method.

My age group believed you played by the rules. We believed in our ability to change the government. Now we are told the government cannot be changed. We evidently are supposed to be donating to a tent camp with no clear goals for how to change anything or else down there ourselves, resisting arrest and being beaten with rubber batons; and if we don't, we evidently are part of the 1%-- even if we are a long way from rich.

When they talk (as the above article clams) about Molotov cocktails for Macy's who is that hitting at? Now I get how 1% own more resources than the whole other 99% but I don't get how that means that 99% all agree with these kids and the pundits behind them. nor what they mean when they say they want income equality. If that's fixing the tax rates, fine it makes sense, but it takes government to do that, doesn't it?

Generally I like left wing media pretty much but about now I've had it with them as my opinion is they are stirring this up for their own ratings. I am for now getting my news from the papers online because to listen to the cable news outlet is to hear pushing of this as though it was justified and had a good purpose to it.

Rachel has been saying that these squatter camps for demonstrating purposes were like Hoovervilles before the New Deal. Well I had to go look that one up as I didn't remember any protest settlements like that. She was wrong or she lied. Hoovervilles were homeless camps where the people built shanties to live in. They were building them on government land though or private property and often did get their villages broken up for being illegally occupied.

Hoovervilles are more like today's homeless camps or really those my grandmother talked about being down in the brush around Portland after WWII. It's not like homelessness is new to after Reagan. It comes and goes. The supposed freedom of speech claim for the tent cities can't be linked to Hoovervilles-- at least until people like Rachel reworked the definitions for her own purposes.

Any city of any size has some kind of homeless camps. I guess if these kids want to go down and join them with their tents, it might be tolerated. It's occupying downtown that turns off people who are actually going to be voting in the next election, who will be turning out to work for the causes these kids claim should claim they want. By the time I get through reading the laundry list of what they want, I see it as the platform at a Democratic Convention.

For the demonstrators, I suggest they get a job. Yes, there are jobs, just not at the wages they want, not with benefits maybe, but there are jobs advertised all the time. Go where they are if required, forget if your degree fits it. Just convince that boss you know how to work, and then work for real change through candidates-- get people to challenge the existing party leaders in the primaries. It can be done. One man-- one vote. It won't be done by whiners.

As for them taking over Wall Street, that pretty near infuriates me. So they want the money average people like me and mine saved and invested? They want what they didn't work for? What they should want is meaningful regulation on Wall Street, a tax on stock trades that would discourage short trading by those who swing the market so badly on any word of crisis. Regulation is what Wall Street needs, not having it taken over by a loud mouthed bunch who disobey the police and consider the park to be theirs because an equally loud-mouthed commentator like Keith Olberman said it should be .................

You know it's things like this that mean I'm not a liberal or part of any one group. I see what I believe is right and it's often not what the extremes want from either side. I am though that middle who actually usually determines what happens. Scream at the police and the likelihood is you will find yourself on the losing side of the next election. Wonder who that benefits!


Dion said...

The Bonus Army is an interesting story. Not that it's the same as OWS, but it is a piece of our history that gets little mention.

Egypt's revolt was a success because most Egyptian military and police stayed neural. I'd imagine the cops here in America want to keep their jobs so they'll follow the orders given them. However, if OWS grows in number, there could be a tipping point in which the cops turn on their masters.

Anonymous said...

Well said!

Hoovervilles? Not yet. But, they are working on it.

I can imagine that being in a crowded city that the cost of living is higher and the jobs available are much lower. That may be their point, though they haven't mentioned it-yet.

Their communist ideology fits-how to live agreeably with so many people and scarce resources. Looking at it from that angle, I can see their point.

I read a Professor's blog that stated they-Occupy-have done more in two months than anyone else did in two years because they made the 1% vs 99% a mantra and no time since the '60s has anything been accomplished. Well, that's wishful thinking on his part I think. The 1% against the 99% has been around as long as I can remember.

But, the recent "war room" they've set up to shut down NYC is over the top!(in my opinion) Hooligans running the show. No way!

It's sad, but the truth is they are learning this in OUR public schools.

After returning to school as an adult, I realized many things had changed. One must submit to the group-or the biggest bully-in order to learn. Is that learning? Really! I then understood why kids are carrying weapons to's a necessity these days it seems.

Hi ho, hi ho,off to school we go...with razor blades and hand grenades...hi ho, ho. (Lol!)

Thanks for the space. Loved the opinion on your blog!

Dion said...

As citizens of a militaristic nation with military personal occupying parts of over a hundred countries, is it any wonder that events at home are viewed through eyes that can not see.

One truth that seems unsightly to the older generation is the right to assemble. If the government is going to herd citizens into out of sight pens, then the citizens will rise up and demand their rights outlined in the 1st Amendment are fully realized.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What gives OWS the right to protest, some ask? It starts with the 1st Amendment. The slave owning, woman has her place, founders thought enough about a citizens right to assemble to put in at the start of the Bill of Rights.

Rain said...

Egypt had a dicatorship and exactly how the military in Egypt will play out as in maybe they become the next dictatorship, that is a long way from settled. IF our police had set aside and let these camps be permanent homes, I personally would say they were not doing their job. Tent cities are not freedom of speech and they still have the right to demonstrate, just not to live there

The situation with the Great Depression was settled more with WWII and a people who could buckle down and work hard when they needed to. I am not sure we are that people anymore....

Rain said...

Yes, they have the right to assemble and that is not what is up for debate-- it's tent cities with no sanitation, with food lines being set up, with this talk of taking over. They can still assemble but if they take over say the subway system for their purposes, you tell me who that hurts? It's not the 1%. What is up for debate is whether they have the right to use the tools of anarchy to get their way. If they do use them, they can expect force against them as would the tea party likewise if they also misused the right to peaceable assembly! Assembly will be defended by mayors. Blocking roads, threatening businesses and other people, and setting up tent cities, not so much. Most didn't even have to live there. They had homes. The police did their job in clearing out the tents but they are allowing the assembling. IF it turns violent though as that article threatened, then all bets are off.

Rain said...

If we are at a place where mobs rule, then there is a mob on the other side of this also. Basically we pay police to deal with these problems and settle the potential clashes. That's what the police are doing and they should wear riot gear. It's what I'd want my son or husband to be wearing if they were cops down there. There is not the right to threaten the rest of us to get what the mob wants! and it becomes a mob IF it uses tactics of violence to get its way, when it blocks people from going about their business.

Rain said...

Do you believe in mob rule and the ability for mobs to gather and threaten others when they are angry about something? That's what we are really talking about when you have a group who claims no leadership, no purpose beyond occupying what they don't own, and finally saying they will shut down legitimate businesses. This is not peaceable assembly and would have been no more tolerated by the Founders than it should be today. It means might rules and you might not always like what might wants so much as you do this. Democracy is about working within the system not threatening everybody else to get what you want. With the latter, you do end up eventually with a dictatorship as the meanest of the mean will be the last one standing.

Dion said...

Rain - Egypt had a dicatorship

Funny how Egypt was viewed as our friend and whose leader was referred to as 'president' by the U.S. government and media. Now, the story gets changed, the history is re-written by Americans to suit some narrative that keeps most in fear of the surrounding world and makes us out to be the white knight. Meanwhile back at the ranch, we, America has the biggest, baddest military in the world and man, do we use it. And man, doesn't it cost a bundle.

I read nothing in the 1st amendment about not having tents. Any local laws that have been written to quell 1st Amendment rights will be viewed as unconstitutional. Though, let me state emphatically, I do not speak for the OWS movement.

Dion said...

Do you believe in mob rule and the ...

With a mob on one hand and a corrupt government on the other, I'm siding with the mob.

Rain said...

Our country worked with Mubarak but I think they all knew it was a dictatorship without a real chance to vote. The point was those people had even higher rates of unemployment but if you want a violent revolution, just keep going on with this and you might get it. It'll fail here but there can be terrorist tactics used with the idea they work and why not.

As for a right to squat on land you don't own. Is it okay with you if a stranger sets up camp in your backyard or better yet, your driveway where you cannot get out of your garage? This idea of having the right to block and hinder the business of others is NOT peaceable assembly which is all the Founders were discussing.

There are ways to get what a people want in a country that does have elections. Ohio showed how to do it and without tents. One way would be to take turns being there, let some spend the 8 hours at night and others during the day. So long as they don't block innocent bystanders, that'd be different than setting up tents with who knows what diseases as the end result. If they live there long enough, maybe they could claim they owned it. It will not get a thing in terms of laws changed but hey if it makes someone feel powerful, I don't care. I care when they threaten or take over what is not theirs.

Rain said...

Then kiss off any resemblance to the republic and democracy our forefathers wanted because it's history. If might rules, the guys with AK47s might just be on top when it all settles out. Those who get off on chaos will doubtless be thrilled.

Dion said...

Rain - The situation with the Great Depression was settled more with WWII and a people who could buckle down and work hard when they needed to. I am not sure we are that people anymore..

I think Americans have grown resentful of waging war to kick start an economy that has been hollowed out by over-leveraged thieving bankers.

Dion said...

Rain - "Democracy is about working within the system

Understand the basics and free yourself from the illusion. America, this is not democracy. This is corporatocracy.

Rain said...

I don't disagree on the wars not being a good answer anymore. Right now if Romney gets in and he has committed himself now to a war with Iran, who knows how he'll pay for that, we will be in another and its these endless wars that are sinking us in a mire from which we cannot get out.

Rain said...

Incidentally some say WWII wasn't needed either. That there were other ways to get what was needed to be done. I don't know. I am not one who believes no war is ever needed.

Rain said...

So, Dion, what do you want to do-- blow up something? Kill somebody? Do what Egypt did? I see it works in the system for those who are willing to do the work. Most just want to whine, not donate to the right kind of people and then complain later when they get the wrong ones. We are still a people with a vote and if the ads by media didn't work, the money would stop flowing that way. It's individuals that make that happen or not. You have become very depressed over this. Did you lose your own job thanks to the poor policies? If so, then think about who to encourage to run in your state, who is outside, who can speak well. Work outside the two parties to bring new ones in. That is what the teaparty did and disgusting as the results have been to me for what they want, it got them control of the House-- at least until Americans decide they don't want it anymore.

Bullets, rocks and people threatening others will not get us a better nation-- just a brutalized one by the noisiest element. It's not what I want to see.

Dion said...

Rain - "but if you want a violent revolution, just keep going on with this and you might get it"

Violence keeps coming up in these comments. I want a peaceful revolution. If cops are swings batons on protestor's heads, don't accuse the protestors of violence. It all falls back on Gandhi's road map...

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Gandhi

Rain said...

It's not peaceful to camp in a city park and claim it for your movement or to close down streets or businesses. It starts with that but it will escalate. A peaceful movement stays somewhere-- with a message00 but doesn't threaten. Threats lead to violence. I am being realistic and recognizing it's not just one side in this country that wants change. The other totally disagrees with this one. How do you work that out?

Rain said...

And I have another question. IF these demonstrators want a New Deal such as Roosevelt provided with government jobs to rebuild bridges etc., do they have the skills to do the jobs? Back in the Great Depression, the men did. They did some fantastic work but they were skilled craftsman. How many down there are in that category? Then here is the next question. How do you pay for it? Take my money from me?

Dion said...

Okay, I think I get it now. I should think about myself first and foremost. My money, mine, mine mine. I need to realize what I've done to fit myself into the capitalist society I live. I'm doing fine monetarily with my house in the suburbs of Jersey. I've got a job that pays me a living wage. I've got retirement money tied up in Wall St. Why should I want the government to change? Why not walk the path of the status quo?

I just can't live my life with that outlook. Not with the current conditions that we have in America and the world.

Rain said...

Okay so you are willing to sell that house in the suburbs and give the money to this movement? Join in and go homeless to stay down there with them? It is about me but I think we can see where there is also a concern of how the larger community impacts us.

Where you and I differ is not that we have a problem. It's that you want what is a violent solution to it. Oh not with bombs but with occupying a park that doesn't belong to you and then marching in streets to close them down, making shopping impossible or maybe destroying banks. I haven't seen it but my husband said he heard on the radio as he came home that Sacramento arrested a lot who were making a run on a bank. Since I didn't see it myself, I don't know what exactly happened. But this kind of thing does threaten me. And in the end, we do have to be concerned for ourselves. If we realize though that what impacts others does impact us, we can also be magnanimous in what we want done.

What you think is this can change things. What I want to know is to what if it even did?

Rain said...

I also don't get why it's so terrible to try to get people to run in primaries who are not part of the party apparatus. It worked for the tea party. Why not the progressive moment? My feeling is the demonstrations will just upset people but accomplish nothing until it turns to getting their people elected. And to say that's impossible is to ignore reality. It can be done and was by the tea party.

Rain said...

A better approach to getting banks to change their ways is do what we are doing-- transfer your money to a credit union. That forces the big banks to change their ways or fold. It is also legal. Same with buying from small businesses on November 26th. That is where it makes a real difference not just caters to the ego

Rain said...

Robert Reich had a good one on this and worth reading (of course) because it's how I feel about it. There has to be a second stage. If this whole thing is only about block parties or threats of worse, it won't change anything. The power isn't in Zuccotti Park. It is in government. Take back government or it's a waste of time. It can be done but it takes work with no glory until the voting happens. It takes finding honorable people and convincing them to run for office when it's not what they wanted either. It takes not accepting someone is on your side just because they call themselves this or that. It's what they stand and work for. So put up people to run against the Pelosis who have become corrupted by power. That is what will change it. And if there is nobody out there who will do it, who could do it, then it means the Occupy movement is corrupt also.

Robert Reich.

Dion said...

Rain - "It worked for the tea party."

Why would OWS support candidates in a corrupt system. It's the entire system of government that is corrupt. A corporate influenced government is not of the people. American democracy is an abomination to the concept of democracy. I do not support such a government.

Rain said...

Dion, what worked for them was to get in place those who actually voted for what their constituents wanted. Granted I find what they want an abomination but that's why progressives must do the same thing. If you are right, that all is corrupt, then so are these marchers and if they got in place, they'd do the same thing. Your way of seeing this means there is no hope and that includes these aggressive tactics being used by the Occupy movement. That leads to letting those who do believe they can change things to be in power. Good luck with how that works for you and yours...

I think I've pretty well said all I am thinking here. I'll let you have the last word but unless something new develops, I won't post on this again. It becomes a circle where we end up right back where we were. I believe it is possible for positive change and that our country can be salvaged. You believe it cannot. I'd rather think as I do. I absolutely believe that Gandhi tactics won't in the long run accomplish what you want. It takes taking over government. And if it is not done peacefully through elections, it will be done violently. Without a government it all is chaos and that's sure not what I want. I see that the party apparatus makes it hard to get away from the good old boys and girls but it's not impossible. And I will continue to work for that. I will not support anybody who wants to take over a downtown and make it impossible for other middle class people to get to work or shop safely. That's not my idea of peaceful. I think peaceful is demonstrations that don't threaten, that express real ideas, and don't just say I want what you have.

It's been a good discussion and feel free to post more on it if you wish. Maybe others will put out their ideas but I've said everything I can think of.

Right now I am writing a story about Portland, Oregon in the 1860s just after the Civil War when the city was growing fast and there was both corruption and a desire to make a good community for living. It's a romance (of course)but I've researched a lot about the time period. Ideas like we have discussed are not new and there always were those who wanted to work within the system and change it as well as those who just wanted to break it. I suspect there always will be.

Darlene said...

You and Dion certainly had an interesting debate. I'm not going to get into it, but want you to know I did read your post.

Rain said...

It was a good debate. I think he and I agree more or less on what must happen to fix this country (although he's less sure it can be done) but we disagree on methodology. My arguing with a tea party type person rarely can debate the issues, as this one did, but descends rapidly into personal attacks. Our goals in that case are totally different.

I appreciate that there are differences of opinion, even on the left regarding this and that I can even be wrong. I simply am expressing what I believe which is all any blog can do. The best such debates swat the ideas around-- not each other. I am fortunate to also have ingineer who visits here and he argues his side, which is not Dion's nor mine generally; but it enables a genuine debate.