Tag Archives: Occupy Wall Street

Number 2 Hero of the Year Award 2011: Occupy Movement

30 Dec

Number 2 Hero of 2011

Thank you to the overwhelming number of TSM readers for nominating the Occupy Movement for Hero of the Year!  How I understand the Occupy Movement is that finally the 99% woke up and spoke truth to power–the absurd distribution of power and wealth in the United States must come to an end.  Of course, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission certainly brought home the point that America was officially for sale.  Extending the Bush tax cuts to the top 2% of Americans just added insult to injury.  We can thank the Fecal Five for selling out America.

While I only attended a dozen Occupy Portland demonstrations, I was consistently impressed that people were getting the message out about the maniacal distribution of wealth and power, despite the heroic efforts of the media to vilify the movement.  My heart was also warmed when many of my cohort of social workers withdrew their money from the big banks and put it credit unions–go social workers!

My hope is that the Occupy Movement will continue in its various incarnations and will eventually affect real change in how wealth and power are distributed–that humanity will prevail over greed.

Flashback 2010: Number 2 Hero of 2010 was Bernie Sanders.

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Occupy Black Friday!

22 Nov

As we witness Occupy Movements across the country being shut down and the media vilifying the movement, as “it is cutting into Christmas revenues” (we all know how poor profits make the baby Jesus weep), the constant advertising and promotion for us to shop on Black Friday is enough to make me spit up!

Workers are being exploited like never before.  Walmarts around the country will be open 24 hours.  We are being encouraged to start consuming/shopping as early as 2:00 am.

  • For you to shop at 2 o’clock, someone has to be there at 1:00 to set up the store; or stay after closing the night before so all the special advertising material isn’t shown before the sale begins.
  • The stores and malls that offer shockingly “great” deals for earlybirds have to be staffed by people, people who should have lives of their own.
  • Most of those retail staff are underpaid; many try to support families on wages below poverty without benefits.
  • Before you shout “But they’ll earn great commissions!” please realize that most retailers drastically reduce commission levels (if they offer them at all) starting on the day after Thanksgiving because it’s “too easy” to earn the extra money being run off your feet by extra hoards of shoppers fighting over the last Tickle Me Harry Potter.
  • Many of those workers rely on public transportation, which doesn’t operate during the hours it takes to get to the workplace to staff these special sales. So even if they get commissions or overtime (or just extra work hours), those minimal wages get eaten up with cab fare or parking fees paid while they deprive the rest of the family of the one vehicle they own.
  • You don’t need a bargain so badly that it’s worth going to the store at 4a.m. Nobody does.
  • An extra 5% off an X-Box isn’t worth your sleep or your time with your family. Really.

So please join me in saying “NO” to abusive sales practices.

  • Shop local businesses with rational hours.
  • Stay home, save the emissions, and shop online.
  • Know the business practices of the major retailers;

Times are hard, so shop smart and save where you can. But please remember the thousands of people it takes to get that bargain ready for you, and treat them with human kindness this holiday season.

7 Billion People: Sustainability

3 Nov

A Very Tired Earth

On Monday, the population of the earth reached 7 billion people.  If that number does not scare you it should.  When I was in grade school in the 1970’s, during the campaign for Zero Population Growth, the population of the globe was about to reach 4 billion and I learned that the earth would have great difficulty sustaining anything over 6 billion.

Sadly, my grade school teacher was correct.  Currently we see food and water shortages around the world.  We consume resources at an alarming rate; a rate which is growing exponentially as both India and China start to want the lifestyle many of us in the US take for granted–bigger houses, air-conditioning, and cars.

As  I  reflect on resources, responsibility, and sustainability, I also think about the amount of resources families consume, my family included. It is difficult for me not to be critical of Mitt Romney who has five children, or the Duggar family with 19 children and they get to have their own television show.  How pathetic that we scapegoat women and the LGBT community and distract people with issues around civil rights, rather than addressing conspicuous consumption, resources, and sustainability.

Yes, it seems to be far easier to blame women and their reproductive organs and blame the LGBT community for wanting equality than to address sustainability of the earth and consumerism and profits.  We need look no further than the Occupy Movement to look as we see how out of touch American politicians are with the justifiably angry 99%.

As resources are depleting and jobs are harder to find, we have obstructionist Republicans and apathetic and acquiescent Democrats refusing to raise taxes on the 1% and on corporations.

Recommendations:

Identify ways we can all use less–Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Start Zero Population Growth program again.

Attend an Occupy Movement protest and get involved.

If you are able, look at where you buy your food–is the food grown locally?

The call to action is: please  reflect on what ways you can decrease your carbon footprint. Everyone can Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  

Sonny and Cher and Ronald Reagan: Now Tie These Together…

23 Oct

Late last night my husband and I watched an old Sonny and Cher show — a great piece of nostalgia.  We got to see a very young and cherubic Steve Martin and a baby-faced Teri Garr.  What started as a lark turned out to be a very interesting conversation and reflection of just how far backwards we have gone as a country.

In the early 1970’s, America was on a progressive trajectory.  We witnessed the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the second wave of the Women’s Rights Movement, and Roe v. Wade.  We witnessed desegregation finally being implemented in the South. We also saw a nation angry and protesting the war in Vietnam and it was safe to be anti-war / pro-peace and still be considered patriotic.  All of these values are reflected in a witty and fun-loving way on the Sonny and Cher Show.

The particular episode we saw included a skit that both mocked and celebrated CBS’s All in the Family.  The skit was exceedingly well crafted and addressed racism, misogyny, homophobia (Steve Martin plays the gay character), and hypocrisy.  It was this particular skit that gave both my husband and me pause to reflect, “what the hell happened to this progressive trajectory our country was on at that time?”

We had no further to look than 1980 and what I will call the American Reign of Terror for 12 years: the Reagan/Bush Years.  While the GOP have canonized St. Ronnie (and today he would be considered a socialist by Republican standards), Reagan set into motion the undoing of the United States.  Reagan gave voice to religion in a qualitatively different way that set a course for the co-opting of religion to its current incarnation of a cult of unadulterated hate; by no means am I lumping together all religions, but certainly the loud and powerful christians.

Reagan can also take credit for expanding government and for his signature “Trickle Down Economics.”  We have now had over 30 years empirical data to prove how ineffective and damaging Trickle Down Economics is, unless you are part of the top 1% of Americans. Is it any surprise that we have the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, with Republicans categorically refusing to create jobs and raise taxes on the wealthiest of Americans?  Talk about obstructionist!

While watching one of my favorite skits, The Vamp, I experienced both being tickled by Cher as Nefertiti and saddened as I thought about where we are today as a nation. When I think about the Tea Party (the party of hate and blatant racism, homophobia and misogyny) and I think about the current crap (oops, I mean crop) of GOP presidential candidates, I’m horrifically shocked at the downhill slope our country has taken.

I hope the OWS movement will pave the way for thinking Americans to take back our country from being held hostage by white heterosexual christian terrorists. I hope Americans will learn from people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who refers to Rousseau’s Social Contract. I hope we, as a nation, can stop the greed and talk again about peace and civil rights for all.

And the beat goes on…

Politics

9 Oct

The Personal is Political

For the purposes of this article, we shall define Politics as: the wise distribution and maintenance of power.  I would hope that as compassionate thinking human beings we would all agree with this definition.

It is painfully obvious that we currently have a bankrupt and corrupt political system in the United States, as evidenced by the necessary Occupy Wall Street and the solidarity Occupy cities across the country. I shall point out some rather disturbing facts that corroborate the gross imbalance in the distribution of power and wealth.

71% of the current debt was accumulated under Republican Presidential administrations.  Since 1960 2/3 of the debt-ceiling elevations have been signed into law by Republican Presidents.  Here is the real kicker that completely supports all of us that have participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests: The percentage of profits paid by Corporations in 1961 as compared to today: 1961–40.6.  Today–10.5.  The estimated value of government subsidies that will go to the oil and gas industries between now and 2015: $78,155,000,000.

Now I would like to call your attention to the graph:

As one can see, ONE % of the population controls 47% of the net financial wealth of the country; the next 19% control another 44% of the wealth, which leaves 80% of the population of the country to try and get a share of the only 9% remaining wealth and resources available–not exactly a wise distribution of power. (Social Service or Social Change? Who Benefits from your Work, Kivel, 2000)

Current Economic/Political Pyramid

The grossly disproportionate distribution of wealth aligns directly to the distribution of power. It is not a great surprise that the 1% is composed of mostly white, heterosexual men who identify as Christian. What is sad is that this 1% is clearly out of touch with at least 80% of the population of the country.  What is worse, is that there is a growing trend of much of the 80% voting against their best interest, due to fear rooted in religion.

Let’s talk about some concrete examples. President Obama has put out a Jobs Bill that Republicans have threatened to block; not a wise distribution of power, but certainly a way to maintain the embarrassing imbalance of power. President Obama was also instrumental in the repeal of DADT, which several Republican candidates now want to overturn.

Americans have the opportunity to have a voice in how our country is run, but you have to vote.  I would ask that before you vote, you look at the following: are you being represented? how many women are in positions of power? how many African-Americans? how many people from the LGBT community? Look up voting records.  Look and ask where candidates stand exactly on specific issues.  I, for one, could not support any candidate that would willfully deny civil rights to a population in the United States based on gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  The war on women and their health rights is directly linked to homophobia and sends a message to the globe about human rights in general.

Finally, when a host of Republican candidates sanction the “booing” of a US military member because of his sexual orientation, and sanction the behavior of a crowd cheering to let a human being die rather than ensure we all have healthcare, it worries me beyond words.  Have we become a Nation of Swiftian Yahoos?  I also want to underscore the disconnect from those in power to the rest of the country.  67% of Americans said they would vote for a well-qualified homosexual candidate for president.

*All statistics came from Harper’s October 2011

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