For those involved in OWS, the title of this entry may sound ludicrous. They are, after all, making a somewhat garbled attempt to identify the “One Percent” as the oppressive elite. Their focus is Wall Street, which certainly has some merit. Some claim they are against capitalism, clearly failing to recognize what capitalism truly is and to what degree it’s even present in America. Some see the central banks as the issue because their tax dollars are rewarding corruption and irresponsible performance. Others blame politicians for the draconian legislation as well as for their liaisons with the banksters and traders alike. And some point their fingers at anyone who is super-wealthy. However, the brush they’re painting with has implications that affect not only the very wealthy, but their own bottom line as well. In other words, if we’re going to get out and demonstrate against something, we really need to clearly identify what it is we’re demonstrating against. Let’s draw clear lines.
Herein lies the problem. OWS can’t identify exactly what they’re against. Perhaps it’s because they don’t really know what they’re for. Certainly they have some legitimate grievances. I share many of them. But central to their problem as a movement is a lack of ability to clearly and concisely identify exactly what they are for. As a result, the movement is somewhat nebulous, looking for a clear and yet ever elusive cause. There are exceptions, of course, as there always are. But the resounding message that comes across is, “We’re against the wealthiest one percent because they have the money and are keeping it from us.” I know that’s simplistic. But I’m attempting to distill it down to a single cohesive theme. Here’s a pretty clear example of the problem inherent in the lack of precision in the OWS movement.
Clearly this group really wasn’t able to articulate their cause well nor credibly. They’re just mad and making a lot of noise about it. It’s easy to be against things. I’m against the common cold. I’m against stealing. I’m against drunk driving. But what does this identify in regard to what I’m for? Well, I’m for being healthy and free to pursue productivity unencumbered with physical maladies. I’m also for building resources and being able to keep them. And I’m for being able to drive down the road or walk down the sidewalk without having to worry about getting creamed by some irresponsible inebriate.
So, what are the OWS protesters for? They claim they’re for the 99 percent; but the 99 percent of what? Ninety-nine percent of the people seems clear enough. Perhaps they’d claim that it’s the 99 percent who are least wealthy. Perhaps it’s just a buzzword that doesn’t necessarily represent 99 percent, but an ideal. But part of the problem with identifying the 99 percent is simply grasping what it is that they are for. If they can articulate clearly what they’re for then they can clearly identify who the 99 percent are. And, having made this stance clear, identifying what they’re actually against becomes much more focused.
So what’s at the core of the grievances of the OWS movement? In an effort to understand more clearly the most obvious place would be what I assume is the (unofficial?) OWS website, www.occupywallst.org. In the beginning the movement made some clear complaints.
- As the two U.S. political parties unite to dismantle Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, it’s clear:
The bankers are looting decades-old peoples’ programs and the Democrats can’t help us. Obama can’t help us. Elected officials can’t help us.
- The students, union activists, and others who organized “Bloombergville” — the three-week anti-austerity occupation on Wall Street’s doorstep — have called for an August 2 General Assembly/Speakout on Wall Street, at the bull, from 4:30 to 7, to protest the ongoing pro-bank, anti-people cutbacks and gather into working groups to plan for the September 17 occupation of Wall Street.
- The perpetrators of the massive financial fraud have been allowed to slip quietly from the scene and continue business as usual. Our elected representatives in Washington have become so tightly intertwined with the financiers and bankers that public accountability has all but vanished.
- This is a call for every teacher, home health aid, parent, student, tenant, librarian, city/state employee, childcare provider, nurse, patient, employed or unemployed worker or recipient of Social Security or any type of public assistance: on August 2 come to Wall Street–the scene of the crimes now being perpetrated on the people — and make your voice heard!
- #OCCUPYWALLSTREET is all about breaking up that cosy relationship between money and politics and bringing the perpetrators of the financial crash of 2008 to justice.
- The current depression-level crisis is not due to lack of revenue. It’s due to theft. The trillions that the banks are sitting on right now? That’s our money. Whether through taxes; the looting of pension and social security contributions; or the wealth we created from our labor — all of that belongs to us. Come to Wall Street August 2 and strategize — on how to get that back!
And this solution?
- The most exciting candidate that we’ve heard so far is one that gets at the core of why the American political establishment is currently unworthy of being called a democracy: we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington. It’s time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY, we’re doomed without it.
This is part of their reasoning.
- This could be the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America, a step beyond the Tea Party movement, where, instead of being caught helpless by the current power structure, we the people start getting what we want whether it be the dismantling of half the 1,000 military bases America has around the world to the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act or a three strikes and you’re out law for corporate criminals. Beginning from one simple demand – a presidential commission to separate money from politics – we start setting the agenda for a new America.
It’s quite difficult to grapple with the implications of what they’ve set forth here. Much of the problem is that they have so much right and yet so much wrong. The wrong thoughts are woven through the right thoughts, with some sound and not so sound reasoning peppered throughout, so as to lend to them getting support while at the same time assuring that they’ll never really accomplish their goals. The effort is like an arrow without a tip. It’s going to get some attention. But, unless they sharpen their focus, it’s never really going to penetrate.
Here’s an example. Part of what they’re protesting is the result of big government. However, they demand the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act? In other words, they want to have their desires legislated into action. It’s this mentality that got us here in the first place. This is exactly opposite of what’s needed. The Glass-Steagall Act is the perceived necessary reaction to the results of previous government intervention. With every act, law, policy or whatever that the government comes up with in order to address the problems, the result is more problems that they then, again, perceive a need to address with more legislature. That’s central to what got us here in the first place. But it has so many tentacles grasping in so many directions that grabbing a hold of it is quite difficult. Their call for a “presidential commission to separate money from politics” is another example of a failure to grasp the real issue at hand.
There is a very sense in which the movement is just plain shallow too. They’re working hard for an idea, but they just don’t understand the machine they’re up against. And, even more evident is the fact that they don’t understand their role in it. They don’t recognize that their demands for social reform that rewards them is part of what got us here as well. They don’t understand the sacrifice that’s necessary to correct the massive tsunami that’s bearing down on America today. They don’t grasp the implications of a fiat currency that taxes them into the poorhouse through rampant inflation. They don’t realize that the fascist mechanisms in our government have destroyed any real capitalism. We do not have a free market system any longer. It resembles one, but is clearly moved and shaken by those whose lobbyists and whose money are the most persuasive.
This is where the state has done a wondrous job indoctrinating the masses. Somehow we have the idea that more legislation is needed to solve our problems. And much of this stems from our twin complexes of entitlement and victimization. Nothing’s our fault and we deserve everything. This leads us to a desire to get what we want without sacrifice. But this current mess cannot be fixed without some major sacrifices on the part of the people. You can’t tame a beast the size of our current bureaucracy without receiving some serious wounds in the process. Jobs must be lost in the public sector simply because they’re superfluous and self-justifying. In other words, they produce nothing to help society. They’re leech positions that serve only to drain resources from the people while offering nothing in return. It’s not their fault. They’re just doing their jobs. But their jobs are cellulite on the thighs of Lady Liberty that will require some serious exercise to get rid of them. The adage, “No pain? No gain.” is quite fitting in this instance.
Let me offer a few suggestions to ponder that Another Joe’s convinced are necessary in order for us to pull out of this current nose dive.
- The Federal Reserve serves no gainful purpose for the people of the United States of America. The only ones who benefit from them are them and the banks. It should be scrapped and replaced with a currency system based on intrinsic value. Historically this would mean a gold standard.
- Has anyone calculated how much freedom we would regain if every executive order was repealed? That would be an interesting read for sure.
- The IRS is perhaps one of the most pork laden tentacles that lends to our poverty. There really is no reason for an IRS. This could be remedied easily enough with a graduated flat tax with no opportunities for write-offs. Perhaps those at poverty level pay no taxes while with ever $5000 over that level there is an increase in taxes by 1 percent until a maximum rate of 10 percent is reached. There might be a better formula. But simply getting rid of the IRS will trim costs by enough to sanction such actions.
- Divorce the government’s ability to save any company from collapse. If they’re messed up, let them collapse. That’s how a free market works. We’re all free to fail. There really are worse things than failing.
- There are more lines I could put here, but this work isn’t intended to be exhaustive. It’s intended to promote thought and awareness.
You see, what the OWS movement fails to realize is that a truly free capitalist system promotes industry. It promotes jobs. It opens opportunities. And these large companies with a great deal of wealth need to hire more people to help them continue to offer their goods and services in order to continue making profits. Freedom from the oppression of over-taxation through both inflation and income-taxes will free the entrepreneur to be more creative and seize opportunities to build wealth and create more jobs. But none of this is possible as long as the government is in the way. And that’s really the answer to the challenge before us. The government needs to get out of the way so that the people can pursue productive lives unencumbered by the shackles of Washington, D.C.
This is why I’ve entitled this article as I have. The 1 percent need to be identified. But the line isn’t based on income or prosperity. It’s based on abuse of power. The one percent are the ruling class that no longer follow the rules while at the same time impose new rules for all the rest to follow. And they use the arm of the law to impose their collective will upon the people they continue to bleed dry in order to build upon their wealth. They are parasites that have latched on to their host and continue to bleed it dry. That’s what we’re experiencing today.
But it’s not based on wealth. Many of the very wealthy are our benefactors. They work hard to keep factories open. Their ingenuity gave rise to places of business for us to work. And because of them being willing to take a risk at some point, a risk that paid off well, we enjoy the fruits of their labors without the risk. For these things we must be grateful. It’s fine to aspire to attain such wealth, as long as it’s not our chief end in life. But it is not fine to degrade those who have succeeded at what, if we would be honest with ourselves, we all wish we could accomplish.
Another Joe doesn’t have all the answers. But if enough folks with right answers speak out and ever get together in a movement like this, perhaps something really grand and wonderful could happen. Perhaps we could actually keep the fruit of our labors. Perhaps we could pass down inheritance to our children without Uncle Sam the Reaper ripping it apart first. And perhaps, just maybe, we would see a people who once more were able to focus on their ingenuity to make America great because they’ve been given the freedom to do so. That’s certainly a day I’d love to see.