I have remained largely silent on the Occupy Movement until now.
I support the message the Occupy protestors are trying to send, and agree that we need serious reforms to better balance social and economic disparities.
I, too, believe that corporations have too much political power; I find it deplorable that a rich few in this country keep getting richer off the backs of the middle class, the disadvantaged and the poor, steadily decreasing our salaries, our benefits, and programs that can help many of the less fortunate survive, and in many cases, thrive.
I find it appalling that our politicians can cut crucial funding to help women, children, the homeless and the poor under the guise that “we can’t afford” these programs, while simultaneously handing billions- hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars- to corporations that lied and cheated themselves into dire straits.
That the government labeled the banking institutions “too big to fail”, propping them up, while allowing us to be pushed out of our homes and out of our jobs is detestable.
The people of this country- the small business owners, the middle class, the working class, the veterans- are the people that built this nation from the ground up. These are the people the government should have deigned “too big to fail”, or at the very least, “too important to fail”. Instead, it was a bunch of nameless, faceless billionaire corporations who knowingly- and criminally- suckered people into homes they could not afford; companies that openly took huge risks, gambling with the livelihoods of the masses that the government deemed worthy of “bailout”.
That these corporations financed all of it with money nobody actually had available to spend, finally sticking it to those who could least afford the backlash by way of shady mortgages is maddening.
Finally, as everyone knew it would, the bubble burst.
The banks responded to the crisis by blaming the middle class. They took no responsibility for the fact that they manipulated and wheeled-and-dealed their way into an economic crash of epic proportions. No, they simply responded that the homeowners should not have purchased homes they couldn’t afford to live in- even as it was those very banks that were manipulating and tricking those people into believing they could and should do it.
It was everyone else’s fault but the banks’. The reality that they, themselves, were willing participants in what amounted to a glorified Ponzi scheme was lost on them.
No one forced these people into those mortgages, after all!
The government, it seemed, agreed, and gave the banks $700 billion in tax payer money to keep them from closing shop. They said it was necessary to “shore up” the economy.
The banks, in turn, on a handshake, agreed to begin lending money again, to do their part to get the economy moving.
The politicians of C Street believed the lying CEOs of Wall Street, despite the undeniable proof that Wall Street, in its criminal behavior, had helped create mess we found ourselves in…
… and the rest is history.
It’s largely understood today that the banks did not fulfill their end of the bargain, and after receiving the bailout money, did not begin lending again, as promised. Instead they paid out their golden parachutes and multi-million dollar bonuses to the richest among them, making them even richer…
… doing so, yet again, off the backs of the middle class and working poor.
They are the 1%.
Outrage and unrest was the predictable outcome. The only surprise is in the fact that it took so long to come to fruition.
Here we stand, in the middle of the moment, giving birth to a movement that has long been gestating.
Is it perfect? No.
Do we need to make changes? Absolutely.
That being said, however, I am still- proudly- the 99%.