The Re-emergence of Occupy Wall Street
This is a column about Occupy Wall Street and it's May Day March.
The Re-emergence of Wall Street
Tomorrow is May 1st, commonly known around the world as May Day, a celebration of working
people and their labor unions. Over 80 countries recognize this day as a National Holiday, a day off from work, from school, and in some places a chance to have a Macy's Thanksgiving Day type parade. This should not surprise anyone, but The United States of America is not one of those countries who chooses to take part in the festivities. You see here the good old U.S.A. has a long history of suppressing and in a lot of cases crushing organized labor unions. Elected officials here try to pacify the working class by offering up the first Monday in September and calling it Labor Day, but as someone who drove a forklift at a Manufacturing Plant for the better part of 10 years, I certainly do not remember being home with my feet up watching Sportscenter on any of those days.
Which brings us to Occupy Wall Street, a protest movement that has conjured up the greatness of The Civil Rights, Women's and Vietnam Peace Movements. Just as every capitalist everywhere was hoping that it had gone the way of the T-Rex, Occupy re-emerges tomorrow with it's “Day without the 99%” protests, In over 100 cities across the country Occupy groups, immigrants rights groups, and labor unions will join forces and take to the streets.
This is just another feather in the cap for Occupy who last fall successfully shifted the conversation in this country to income inequality, and boy was it need it. From 1992 to 2007 the top 400 earners in the U.S. Saw their income skyrocket 392%, meanwhile the total share of income going to the lower earning 80% of americans dropped to less than half. In the midst of subprime mortgage scandals and car manufacturers run amuck this was something politicians were silent about.
While Occupy may have differences with President Obama, and in particular some members of his cabinet, CEO's and wall street denizens like Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Jeffery Immelt, The President himself should fall on his knees and thank Occupy for helping him focus his re-election message. Remember the President was coming off of a terrible summer which included the debt ceiling debacle and may have been at his lowest point as Commander and Chief. The kids in Zuccoti Park, refusing to be silenced by an overzealous police department and a mayor who represents everything they are opposed to, gave Obama and House Democrats like Nancy Pelosi their voices to champion income equality and the courage to push legislation like “The Buffett Rule”.
With that being the case it's no wonder that the other side of the political aisle was quick to try to destroy the goodwill built up by the Occupy movement. GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is on record as saying Occupy protesters were “dangerous”, and has accused them of inciting “class warfare”. Gov. Romney has now embarked on his class warfare presidential tour, with prominent Republicans as his backup band.
The remarkable thing about Occupy is that they really are the epitome of a non-partisan group (as mentioned earlier by their disgust for members of Obama's cabinet) unlike that other grassroots organization that has sprung up over the last two years, The Tea Party. In grooming and then ultimately getting elected their far-right nutjob candidates like Joe Walsh and Allen West, The Tea Party has done its part in contributing to the petty, do nothing, partisan politics that Americans hate. Occupy on the other hand has said that rather than buying into the system, the system needs remaking.
Probably the most interesting offshoot of the Occupy Movement, and there are many, is a group that calls itself Occupy The SEC. They are a mixture of your typical idealistic, free thinking kids and current and former Wall Street employees themselves. They spend their days pouring over complicated legislation like The Volcker Rule, a provision by the President that prevents commercial banks from making investments that are not in the best interests of their clients. It's this kind of organization that will go a long way in holding the financial bigwigs accountable, not electing politicians who will just co-opt them even more, and as those individuals continue to try to insulate themselves in old fashioned Washington politics, count me as someone who says welcome back Occupy, it's been way too long.