Saturday, November 19, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Last year saw political upheaval, and civil unrest in many countries in the middle east and Europe. Now, it seems that those events have started to inspire folks, here in the USA, to start fighting back against the status quo and powers that be. It seems that this movement (along with the Tea Party gatherings) polarizes the opinions of those who are not directly involved. People either support the cause or they do not. Sure, there are segments of the population who don't care, but those people don't care about anything except the new season of American Idol. 

Where do I stand on it? I support grass roots movements that are started and maintained by people who want to effect change in how their world operates. So, the OWS movement is alright with me. I also supported the Tea Party deal until it got overrun by the right wingers in the Republican party. They basically booted Ron Paul (a constitution serving politician) and sucked up to Sarah Palin (a self serving politician, celebrity, social commentator or whatever she is calling herself these days). The OWS, to this point, is not organizing in a manner that is allowing too much infiltration by political components. And with that said, I don't know how long it will stay that way. There is always the urge to compromise, especially when you believe you can gain greater exposure by succumbing to being "sponsored". So long as the OWS movement stays away from direct relation to a political party, donors, or corporate organization, I'll probably agree with their direction, even if it's not specific as it could be. 

The nation, we Americans, live in was founded by groups of people who were fed up with having their futures decided for them by the powerful politicians, laws that were unfair, and exclusionary corporate growth. A group called The Sons of Liberty was formed in the mid 1770's to rebel against the rule of the British. The hard work of the colonists was being taken advantage of by the powers in England, who had little to do with the colonies flourishing. A quick check of a good history book or Wikipedia will tell you that the British government defeated France in the "French / Indian War" and then decided they would build offices and bases to house thousands of soldiers and this would all be done using money collected from the British colonists. If the colonists had representation in the British Parliament, perhaps there would not have been the wide spread anger and resentment that led to anti-government groups springing up. The most powerful and influential being The Sons of Liberty. The SoL idea was birthed in Massachusetts and soon started spreading to other cities in the colonies (sound familiar?). These people were fed up in not having a say about what was going on where they lived. These people were fed up with being ordered to pay taxes for something that was forced upon them. They were fed up with having to give money to a government that they didn't have any representation or stake in. (sound familiar?)

Today, we have situations happening, not just in our country, but all over the world. The "haves" are taking advantage of the systems that should ensure that everyone has an equal ability to make good. I'm going to stick with the United States when discussing this, although OWS type groups are springing up in many of the world's major cities. 

Our currency is in the control of the Federal Reserve Bank. OK, you say, right? Big deal, right? Well, sort of. The Fed isn't a part of the government. They are not your representative. It's a private banking entity which controls much of the policy in regards to United States currency. They set interest rates. They control when money is printed. They are partly, if not greatly, responsible for the devaluing of every dollar you earn. They also are in control of large loans which they collect interest on. Your money is not yours. It's not even truly the property of the is in the hands of a group of bankers called the Federal Reserve Bank. And it's about as federal as Fed Ex shipping. The Fed is not beholden to you, me, or anyone else, but themselves. You can't vote out those in control. The Federal Reserve Bank was signed into being by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. I don't have the knowledge, time, or space to go into it much more. You should research the Fed and decide for yourself it's been good for us and if it should continue. Obviously, the OWS folks are against letting policy be decided by the unelected. They want the power to go back to the people. 

Another problem that the OWS people are protesting against, are the major, multi-national corporations who have sold out the middle class. They have lined the pockets of politicians to get favorable laws, including tax and trade agreements which actually reward them with lower taxes for sending jobs to other countries that will provide cheaper labor and less restrictions on how their business can be run. There are companies who have taken jobs overseas and actually received federal government tax rebates for doing so. What does that do? It drives down wages in the USA, as competition for jobs increase. Driving down wages leads to a lower standard of living and increased debt for the middle and lower classes. We have allowed small stores and restaurants all over the country to be wiped out and dissolved by selling ourselves out to these corporations. Now, that was easy to do. When people need to cut corners, they can't go to "Joe's Grocery Market" and pay $3.00 for a gallon of milk. Why? Because they can get it for $2.00 at a big chain store. That's competition of the market and I get that, but it is a false competition. When people have less money, they have less choices. Once the smaller companies are swallowed up, the larger companies are free to manipulate prices and to extend jobs that are low paying, have few benefits, and are geared towards the less educated. 

Our politicians have allowed this to happen. Greed, corruption, and a simple lack of care seems to be what every politician is about these days. Major corporations give major contributions to politicians and parties and they don't do it to support the system, they do it to exploit the system. And our leadership is all too willing to accept this money in exchange for favorable legislation. The lawmakers make laws which are geared to support their own self interest and the interests of those who contribute to keeping them in office. Don't think you are going to get support from a political party, they are all a part of the problem and it's obvious that they do not care about the middle class and average tax payer. If they pass legislation that happens to help out, well, that's just a bonus for us. But never believe that what they do is for the common people. It's about maintaining the state of things as they are. The power and wealth in the hands of the few. We are all their servants and if you have gotten any sense of what I believe from past blogs, we can only control this if we never get on the ride. Once you start in on the process of living, without giving thought to what you really want out of life, it's tough to go back. 

Finally, the media is another huge problem. Most of the media is in the hands of a few companies and those few companies are conglomerates with all sorts of interests that are in direct contradiction with what it means to have a free, investigative, and truth seeking press. We were sold a war in Iraq in 2002/2003, with very little investigative journalism. FOX, CNN, and MSNBC, as well as the networks were all too happy to show us what our weapons looked like, what they could do, and how much they cost. It was like seeing what may be available as a prize on The Price Is Right. They helped our government rattle the war sabers and rallied us around a false sense of nationalization and revenge. And even if you lay those sorts of things aside, look at how they feed us the news. It's cloaked on channels devoted to news, but really, it's 80% or more news analysis. They tell you what they think and how you should think about what is going on. And, they don't even bother to cover anything that will directly impact the advertising support they get from large corporations or the government. An example; the Obama Administration didn't like the way FOX was covering them in the early days of  his presidency, so he sought to keep them from having access to him. Even if FOX was unfair, they are a news organization and a large one. I'm not defending FOX at all, they are a part of the problem too....just showing that those in power seek control. Once the media is controlled by money it ceases to be about truth and it becomes a propaganda machine for those who have power and the wallets to feed the machine. 

Alright, so I really haven't addressed OWS in connection with these things. But I shouldn't have to. You can do that. You can see that, even though you may be doing quite well personally, others are not. We all know that the system is screwed, but most of us are right smack in the middle of it and doing OK. But how many times do we stop and think about those who are outside of the system? Those who are young and trying to break into the job market that has seen decreases in numbers and compensation, probably feel cheated. Cheated by the promise of a system that doesn't work the way they were told it would. Get a college education and you can succeed. Sure......some people can. But not everyone. The opportunity is not there. These kids are told to get an education, take out tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal student loans at about 6-9% interest and then come out to a world of opportunity. The reality is, the kids take out the loans and come out to a job market that is depressed and then they are told by people like us to get a job at McDonald's. The powers that be have destroyed the American dream. It is the "haves" versus the "have nots" in every sense. These young people should be angry. They should demand change. Didn't we all think we were going to get massive change with Obama? How'd that work out? Most of the Bush policies were continued (whether you agreed with them or not) and are still going strong. Change? Despite the Dems having total control, nothing, no change. No recovery. During much of the 00's, the Republicans had total control....and where did that get us? Into two wars, at the cost of a trillion dollars a year, as we cut taxes, underfunded education, and passed legislation that rewarded companies for taking advantage of trade agreements that saw cheap goods come into America, while good jobs went out. 

I have a feeling that Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, James Madison and many other "Founding Fathers" would be appalled at what has happened to this nation. I also think they may well be pleased with the uprising of the people against this tyranny, accumulation of consolidated wealth, unconstitutional monetary policy, and marriage of politics and the press. I can't be sure, but if you look at the history of our country, read the constitution, and take heed of the words that our nations founders spoke, it's hard to get the feeling that they would not be in support of the people, the rank and file citizen, taking action against a system that is geared towards enslavement of the middle class by the very few....the very rich....the very powerful. If civil unrest is what it has to come to for us to change the way things are, so be it. That's a tough pill to swallow, especially having young children. But, blood, tears, sweat, and tough times were the foundation of our country. The Boston Tea Party would be looked at as terrorism and vandalism by many Americans today. We are distracted by consumer goods and a media that is about anything other than what is substantial and real. OWS has yet to rise to the level of the SoL. Our founding "terrorists" and "scumbags" destroyed the property of their oppressors. They burned buildings. They destroyed tax stamps that were issued by the British authorities. They wore masks. Their aim was to overthrow British rule, which they saw as unfair, oppressive, and against the rights of a person to live free. (sound familiar?) We may very well be witness to the birth of the next great uprising in our worlds history. Two hundred years from now, these OWS protesters may be seen as hero's and game changers. They may be seen as people who decided to make a difference. 

A frog sitting in a pot of water on a stove will sit there and boil to death. If you pitch a frog into boiling water, he will jump out, or at least try to jump out. What do I mean? Those of us who are sitting comfortably among all of our possessions, our car, our house, our big TV's, our IPods, all paid for by decent paying jobs, may be the frog sitting in the water. How can we know what it's like to feel the pain if we just sit and let it happen in such small doses we don't notice it until it's too late? The young people (and I'm not talking about those who are just going out there to be in some trouble...I'm talking about these OWS'ers that are genuinely afraid and upset about their nation and world and the direction it is taking) may be the frogs who are tossed into the boiling water. They don't want it. They are going to fight it. I think they should. They are the only ones who really can, because they are the ones that truly understand what it's like to see their futures hijacked and the American dream ripped out of their capable hands. 

I'll leave you with some words from the past that were uttered by men who wanted to live in a free society where everyone had the same opportunity to succeed. Success is never guaranteed.....even to those who work hard. But, if everyone is given equal footing in as many situations as possible, then that's about as fair as it can get. 

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it." Abraham Lincoln

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty." Thomas Jefferson

"Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety."Benjamin Franklin

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government."
Patrick Henry

"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God."  Thomas Jefferson

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." Abraham Lincoln

"If taxes are laid upon us without our having a legal representation where they are laid, we are reduced from the character of free subjects to the state of tributary slaves."  Samuel Adams

"A rigid economy of the public contributions and absolute interdiction of all useless expenses will go far towards keeping the government honest and unoppressive." Thomas Jefferson

No comments:

Post a Comment