I have a small herd of link icons on my desktop related to the Occupy Wall Street movement, so today seems ripe for playing catch-up. Doubtless you are aware that what started as a thousand demonstrators protesting corporate influence on government in New York City, has spread to include millions of demonstrators cities and towns across the U.S. and around the world ~ as evidenced by this map and list of demonstrations planned for this weekend alone. This is the most impressive display of activism since the anti-Vietnam War movement 40 years ago.
Here is a video of Keith Olbermann reading the OWS declaration of intent ~ a link to the written declaration was previously posted here on October 10. And here is Mike Treder's summary of that document, and the implications for our current economic system. The protests echo one researcher's findings on the growing income gap between the wealthiest 1 percent (or less, depending on whom you talk to) and the rest of the population.
His findings are seconded by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, whose essay Panic of the Plutocrats draws attention to the fact that "the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent .... the way to understand all of this is to realize that it's part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is .... Wall Street's Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They're not John Galt ~ they're not even Steve Jobs. They're people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.
"Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees .... So who's really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America's oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth." (see image above, click to enlarge)
These are exciting times ~ "exciting" taking on different meanings for the demonstrators, for the bankers and corporate CEOs, and for the politicians who defend the status quo and who smear anyone who dares disagree. It was all entirely predictable. In fact, check out this interview conducted nearly two years ago with Elizabeth Warren, on the critical need to reform Wall Street by imposing regulations designed to limit the effects of greed among the powerful and wealthy. This isn't rocket surgery, folks. It's common sense, guided by the wisdom of those who founded our nation. Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were among our early leaders who warned explicitly against allowing the banking industry to accrue too much influence, echoed years later by Dwight Eisenhower's famous warning against the military-industrial complex. Elizabeth Warren is now running for the U.S. Senate, and I sincerely hope she wins. We need more voices of reason and advocacy for ALL the people, and fewer voices of duplicity and advocacy for the richest 1 percent.
The last word today goes to two Marine veterans who joined the OWS demonstrators. Their simple and explicit reply to neocon Sean Hannity's bizarre accusation that the OWS protesters are un-American and "hate liberty", speaks eloquently for the other 99 percent.