Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Occupy Movement As Battlefront?
First it was the Arab Spring in Tunisia, then Egypt, Libya, Syria. Then middle class humanists here at home joined the fray. What a freakin' turnaround, huh?
If nothing else the Occupy Wall Street movement (better known as the "99%" movement) has occupied the consciousness of America, indeed, the world, as similar movements spring up organically from the economic frustrations of people all across the face of our planet (think Great Britain, Greece and Italy). The current savage Capitalist course is, at best, more than a bit out of kilter for the overwhelming majority of people. And, the whole world knows it. Well, the masses do. The top one percent? Not so much. Here in America, they know not at all.
Proof of cluelessness is apparent as our federal Republican legislators are refusing to sign off on extended tax relief (payroll tax reductions for FICA—which pays out for Social Security and Medicare, Unemployment tax, etc) for 160 million working Americans (numbering much of Bachmann's fabled 47 percent that don't pay any taxes) so that 300,000 of America's top one percent won't have to have their Federal income tax raised 3.25 percent; these are people with total wealth averaging $8,200,000; people whose share of total income more than doubled to 23.5 percent from 1979 - 2007; people that have seen their income nearly quadruple (rising 275 percent). In comparison, from 1979 – 2007, household incomes for the three-fifths in the middle rose only 37 percent and only 18 percent for the poorest fifth. That's an annual average rise in income of 1.2758 percent for 60 percent of American workers while the bottom fifth only averaged 0.6206 percent increase.
Current level of income inequality is at Great Depression era proportion (c 1929). This trend has been a long time in the making. From our Founding Fathers' not-very-representative Democracy to our current plutocracy there has been a steady progression. During Reagan's Administration the onslaught against the American middle class began in earnest and has continued without interruption through both Republican and Democratic Administrations. In fact, a case could be made that the presidency of Bill Clinton did more to undermine the middle class than did Reagan and the two Bushes put together. Clinton did, after all, triangulate his way rightward far enough to give us NAFTA which has resulted in lost jobs and pay cuts at home. He gave us Welfare reform that left women with children without day care but with a demand they work for their meager stipends thereby guaranteeing a culture of poverty well into the future. It was on Clinton's watch that Glass-Steagall was killed thereby allowing banks to make staggering gambles guaranteed with our money. It was on his watch that the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 passed thereby making it illegal to regulate hedge funds and derivatives markets. These latter sad examples of Liberal capitulation are directly culpable for the financial collapse (2007) that we are still struggling through today.
As I wrote in a previous blog, "multi-billionaires are pledging to 'give back' half their fortunes. In America, 400 of just such wealthy are being asked to pledge $600 Billion via donation to charity of choice. Which means they're worth over $1.2 Trillion; or, to put it in perspective, worth more than the combined GDPs of Mexico and the Caribbean (22 nations); or equal to that of Brazil; or all of South East Asia; or that of all of Africa (52 nations); or worth just a few hundred Billion less than the entire Middle East consisting of the GDPs for Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, Israel, Jordon, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, United Arab emirates, West Bank and Yemen United, COMBINED (notice these include the "oil rich" Arab states). GDP defined as the value of all products and services created/performed in a nation during one year; this includes all income earned."
So, these few, just a handful really, people richer than the entire continent of Africa begrudging a 3.25 percent increase in their Federal Income taxes, are the people that demand you give up your pension, your health care, your quality of life, your collective bargaining rights, and for many of you your very livelihoods or, at the very least, your just-getting-by middle class paychecks need reducing. Yeah, those people. The ones that have long since declared class war on the rest of us. The Knights of the One Percent, those proxies carrying on this class war, are the politicians on both sides of the aisle that have been bought and paid for. Current Media exists to serve the status quo, not challenge it. And law enforcement/homeland security exists to secure the property of that upper class. You—as a regular person –have become the enemy. Do not confuse the Corporate "personhood" with your own. The former has much more rights because "s/he, Inc." can afford them. You, on the other hand, a regular flesh and blood person, have the right to demonstrate against not having rights. Well, to a point, that is. As we've seen, local authorities (elected officials, mind you) conspired via teleconferencing to coordinate the nationwide crackdown on the Occupy Movement under the usual rubric of public safety. That's why protesters had to be safely beaten with clubs, pepper sprayed and forcibly arrested.
We've heard from the Left a unified chant that this movement has changed the national conversation. Really? If one watches the mainstream news, reads the mainstream press, learns of the world via hearing about it from uninformed friends and neighbors, one would necessarily have to conclude that no one is much talking about the 99%ers. Sure, left stalwarts such as Democracy Now, NPR, MSNBC, covered the protests replete with cropped shots to give the impression of huge crowds. But, as for radically changing the dialog?
What dialog? It's more like a monolog delivered from above. Which brings me to the central question for the Occupy Movement: Who do you think you're talkin' to? The elites have complete cognition of what they're doing. They have no problem with their obscene wealth. They think of themselves as Ayn Randian producers (of jobs) without giving a single moment of thought to the laborers that make them their fortunes. Thus, it has always been so. Here in America, after the Great Depression left millions of people utterly destitute, FDR implemented the New Deal. It was a mea culpa to the People having suffered so much and for so long because of the profligate ways of a tiny class of the wealthy elite. The New Deal produced for the People, Social Security, Federally insured bank accounts, retirement provisions, 30 year mortgages, safe housing standards, and the Wagner Act, which promoted labor unions, etc. Seeing as Finance/Business/Industry had not taken care of their workers, government had no choice but to do so.
Now, after trillions have accrued to their accounts, while the masses' incomes haven't even kept pace with inflation (thereby actually denoting a loss of income over the 29 years studied) the wealthy elites demand any/all cuts come from the People in order to rectify the huge debt we've accrued under distinctly Republican Administrations with a profligacy unmatched in human history and a rapaciousness that these very elites applauded. Yep, for Knights of the One Percent the ONLY solution to that massive debt load is to cut the People to the bone. If you're not one of them, that's your fault. A central tenet of elite belief as rendered by Republican Presidential candidate, Herman Cain, "Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself."
So, if you aren't speaking to the jaded upper tenth of one percent, how about the remaining fraction of that top one percent? You know, CEOs, financial executives, Wall Streeters? Well, they're the ones that leveraged their concocted, high-risk derivatives, Credit Default Swaps and Collateralized Debt Obligations on the backs of unscrupulously issued subprime mortgages and made billions in the process. They knew what they were doing. Betting on high-risk, high-yield payoffs without any concern whatsoever for the hundreds of millions of people that would be ruined if the betting didn't pan out because they knew the de-/unregulated process had become so entangled internationally and domestically that essentially whatever their betting losses might add up being, the Government would back them up with the People's money. Classic privatized profits and socialized costs. You know, "too big to fail," so you, the People, take the fall.
Ah, then, it must be to the government with whom you rhetorically speak. The Obama Administration in particular. Yes? Well, that Administration has capitulated on every issue thus far and just gave up on taxing the top one percent (it remains to be seen if Obama will also cave in on the Keystone XL Pipeline provision Republicans snuck into the House bill for the expansion of the payroll tax relief and extended unemployment benefits, a provision that seeks to allow the exploitation of one of the dirtiest oils on Earth, tar sands oil, thereby contributing even more CO2 to the atmosphere which exacerbates global warming and subsequent climate change).
News Flash: no government from here on out will ever listen to such talk of "income inequality" and "fairness" or any other sort of socialistic conceptualization. The big reason for such a pessimistic outlook is due to that legally binding agreement, called the Financial Services Agreement, forced down the throats of the top 152 nations in the world in 1997 (Oh, yes, another bit of Clintonian fuckery that cannot be undone without dire consequences for the exiting parties). The FSA disallows any nation from regulating the high-risk, high-reward markets and, in effect, forced the world's banking institutions and governments to purchase the toxic concoctions that Wall Street created so that, by 2007, the entire financial world was so interconnected or, to use a Jon Stewartism, Clusterfuckered, that now we're all in the same boat. We, the Peoples of the world, are being told the ONLY solution for a decade of indiscriminate and costly war-fighting along with decades of out-of-control financial sorcery, is for the people to give up their retirements, their pensions, their guarantee of safety at the workplace, their health care benefits; with Medicare and Medicaid being decimated, wages lowered, collective bargaining eliminated and unionism destroyed.
Of course, that is utter BULLSHIT! And, that is why the Occupy Movement will continue on into the future. More and more people will enjoin the demonstrations as they lose work and then, their homes. More civil disobedience will occur. But, those very few that need to hear what this protest is all about, aren't listening, haven't been listening and, will never listen. For, in actuality, the ONLY true solution is a replacement for Capitalism as worldwide paradigm. America's elite top class of one percent, worth more than the entire continent of Africa, would have to share the wealth as we, the People have shared the burden. As history has shown, however, wealth must be wrested from the holders of same. Caution: look at what happened in Detroit when Occupiers took over an empty car dealership; the local SWAT Team was summoned with weapons drawn. The explanation for such over-the-top militant response? Without the Occupiers even knowing it, they had been officially transformed from protesters to anarchists. In fact, that is what our buildup of Police State/Homeland Security apparatus has been premised upon; to secure that wealth accumulated in the hands of an elite few from hordes of homeless unemployed, the economically ravished, the People. Reagan's vile lie of "trickle down" has finally been utterly exposed. His legacy (as well as that of the Tea Party Republicans' and spineless Democrats') will stain the streets blood red.
While I salute the Occupy Movement, I wonder at the naiveté of today's youth and the desperation of the older participants that allows them to believe two months of protest will alter the course we've been hurtling along since the New Deal; having quickened its pace since Reagan. It will take nothing less than a revolution to actually make a reality of one world, one people, operating together for one another, to best use the remaining finite planetary resources we have towards building a future that will allow for the evolution of humankind.
Already the Occupy Movement is experiencing human nature. Ego is surfacing and the immature inability to compromise will once again prove the adage, Democracy is messy. But, if these protesters actually want things to change, for America to be about the People, all the people and not just the very few at the top, then they had better be ready to battle, not just demonstrate, for generations to come.