E-mail from #1 Son received Sunday night. I think he sent it to a LOT of people.
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To be published in the next issue of my hometown paper in northwest Wisconsin, the ###. Needless to say, any of you would be welcome to join in, especially if you haven't already.
Welcome to the Occupation
Here We Stand, and Here We Fight
I don’t know what took us so long, but we’re finally fighting back.
Average real weekly wages in this country increased every decade from 1830 to 1970, but they have been basically flat for the last two generations. The richest 400 Americans now hold more wealth than the entire poorer half of the population.
President Clinton repealed the Glass-Steagall Act to let Wall Street speculators gamble with taxpayer-insured deposits, and, when their house of cards and derivatives predictably collapsed three years ago and caused a recession, President Bush bailed the banksters out with no justice, no accountability and no strings attached.
None of the banksters went to the guillotine. Shockingly, none of them even went to jail. They answered that undeserved mercy not with gratitude, nor even with a modicum of pretended humility, but rather with arrogance, solipsism and redoubled avarice.
In 2009, when the median household income was $51,000, Goldman Sachs, the investment bank whose staff gave more money to President Obama’s campaign than did those of any other company, and whose alumni were rewarded with key jobs in his administration, paid its employees an average of $595,000. Why do they deserve that much money?
“I’m doing God’s work,” CEO Lloyd Blankfein explained.
Occupy Wall Street grew out of the vast reservoir of popular anger at the slump the banksters brought us. Today, 62% of Americans believe the gap between rich and poor in this country is too large, and 68% believe that Wall Street and its lobbyists have too much power. Righteous rage at the selfish financiers who wrecked our economy for their own profit has become as American as the Superbowl, and the movement born of that fury has given me some beautiful memories over the last month.
I remember that feeling of communal joy and liberation and power two weekends ago when thousands of us took over all three outbound lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge, and I remember the man stuck behind us in his car for hours, sitting back and contentedly reading our newspaper, the Occupied Wall Street Journal.
I remember working the Liberty Park medical table last weekend where it seemed that, for every actual patient who came to us seeking medical attention, at least one supporter showed up with a donation of aspirin or money or bacitracin or Band-Aids or socks for out-of-town marchers sleeping in their boots.
I remember the cheer from the crowd of protesters under the Times Square news ticker yesterday when it ran the up-to-the-minute headline “Occupy Wall Street protesters take Times Square.” I remember the man who climbed a construction scaffolding at that crossroads of the world and lit a sparkler to lead a moving, thousand-throated chorus of “This Little Light of Mine.”
I remember running with a rowdier crowd, streaming the wrong way down the middle of Sixth Avenue and blocking traffic at midnight as cabbies and other drivers smiled, honked and shouted their support. I remember when the police caught up to us, and we sprinted away en masse to try to join up with another outlaw march happening simultaneously in Alphabet City.
I remember hearing something last night whose like I have never heard in a decade of activism in a previously complacent nation: while it wound its way downtown on a Saturday night, that illegal and unpermitted march grew steadily as its members stepped into the restaurants and the nightclubs that they passed to call on people to leave their drinks and their dinners behind and join the movement against the Wall Street crooks. And they did.
There’s something happening here. Waves of political awakening and struggle swept across this country in the 1890s, the 1930s and the 1960s. We are overdue for a popular rebellion against the corporations that have stolen our politics and wrecked our economy, and we are finally bringing the ruckus that should have been brought long ago.
The movement that exploded from Tahrir Square to Times Square and through dozens of cities across this country has yet to unite around any specific demand. I believe that many of those who pretend not to know what we stand for only ask the question of goals because they suspect they won’t like the answer, but to give some idea where we’re going I’ll end with a selection of signs and slogans I’ve seen:
Why are so many out of work when there is so much work to be done?
I no longer feel alone in my disappearing faith in the American dream.
I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.
We are the 99%.
Banks got bailed out; we got sold out.
Lost my job, found an occupation.
Tax the rich.
End the Fed.
Bail out student loans.
This is what democracy looks like.
Let us build a society based on human needs, not hedge fund profits.
The 99% includes cops.
I’m 84 and mad as hell.
Protect Medicare, not billionaires.
Medicare for all.
Wall Street has the real weapons of mass destruction.
God hates banks.
Fox News: misinterpret this.
I can’t afford my own politician, so I made this sign.
Two parties, one greed.
Protesting the fact that I have to protest.
Second time I’ve fought for my country, first time I’ve known my enemy.
Turn off the TV and join us.
A graduate of Unity High School and New York University, [#1 Son] is in his final year at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is currently applying to masters degree programs in public health. Appearances to the contrary, he does not intend to go to school forever, and he promises to finally get a real job, as a family doctor, before anyone from his high school graduating class has even one grandchild.