Occupy Wall Street “News”

The majority of the 99% watched from our couches and computer desks as the Occupy Everywhere protesters had a very busy and contentious week.  About 50% of the 99% do not agree with or simply do not understand what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about.  Although we live in an age of information overload, I believe that much of what we are fed is bullshit. If I care about something I have to go to several sources to collect different views and then do background searches on the veracity of stated “facts”.  This is how I know that they feed us a lot of bullshit.  We also have a tendency to ferret out information that supports our beliefs and reject any news that contradicts those same beliefs, so we must take some responsibility for media catering to a captive audience eager to be validated.

I can easily find slanted news reports  to support either my dislike or empathy for the Occupy movement.  The media and Mayor Bloomberg tell me that Zuccotti park along with protest sites in Portland, Oakland, Denver, and Salt Lake City were rife with health and safety concerns.  Protesters were unhygienic and even urinated and defecated in the parks, despite the availability of  portable johns a few blocks away.  In order to avoid a confrontation, a coordinated police effort raided protest sites in the middle of the night.  Mayor Bloomberg graciously offered Occupy protesters readmittance to the park once it is cleaned, but they will not be allowed to camp out because this whole thing has a hefty price tag for already financially strapped cities.  I use the term “graciously” because it is how he is portrayed in the news of the eviction, along with being unerringly reasonable.  The movement in our neck of the woods is Occupy Grand Rapids, which was never allowed to camp in the park where they protest daily because we have a city ordinance against it.  Grand Rapids prefers to keep our homeless safely tucked away in shelters and under overpasses, out of the public eyes that are spending money in the downtown hub, especially visitor’s eyes.  We also have a church on every corner, one of which offered up their parking lot to the Occupy Grand Rapids protesters for overnight accommodation.  I hope that the Occupy movement is here to stay until we see big changes like job growth, fair trade, and regulation of trading and speculation that drive prices and fleece retirement funds.  Judging from the solidarity protests across the country yesterday, it seems like a good possibility, but winter has not arrived full-force yet.

The media also gives me plenty of fodder for my angst on these issues with new unemployment numbers each month.  The good news is that unemployment decreased in Michigan by half a percentage point in October.  The bad news is that it still stands at 10.6%.  National Public Radio gives me plenty of news on the state of the top 1% and even told me this week that the top 5% hold 40% of the nation’s wealth.  I believe that these reports are not necessary information, but are related with a transparent incendiary purpose.  My personal experience requires that I consider that some of the wealthiest Americans extended their post-college education to attend graduate, medical, and law schools, while others launched successful businesses.  I do not begrudge them their fruits, only wish that the Bush-era capital gains tax breaks would be allowed to expire.  It is harder to not react to these reports of surplus while I am unemployed, but I hold onto my beliefs and keep reminding myself that they are not situational.

The media is feeding the fire of those that sympathize with the Occupy protesters by giving us stories of police brutality such as the Marine who was attacked by officers and suffered a life-altering head injury and 84-year-old Dorli Rainey who received a face full of pepper spray in a Seattle Occupy protest on Tuesday.  I would love to meet this gal, who stated the next day that she will continue to participate in Occupy Seattle protests because, “I’m pretty tough, I guess.”  Images of conflicts between police and Occupy protesters show us what the punishment is for civil disobedience and likely influence many supporters to stay home and search for safer means of aiding the movement.

My measuring stick of Occupy Everywhere’s impact is whether the Bush tax cuts will be extended by the Super Committee tasked with cutting the national budget by November 23 and the subsequent congressional vote.  I keep hearing the old Kent State memorial song, For What its Worth, “There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear, There’s a man with a gun over there, Telling me I got to beware, I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound, Everybody look what’s going down”.  Today I am grateful for the Occupy protesters fighting for our American Dreams (in my not-so-humble opinion), their focus uninfluenced by the media coverage on any given day.

 

My afternoon with Occupy Grand Rapids

No bail money was needed at the Occupy Grand Rapids rally this past Saturday, coincidentally located at the tiny Monument Park across a busy street from the Grand Rapids Police Department.  A diverse group of about 30 fed-up people gathered to protest the state of our union and listen to scheduled speakers on topics such as consensus, the legal boundaries of local ordinances in regard to public assembly, and managing various media outlets.  There was an abundance of heart and rebellious attitude in the small group which grew in number as the afternoon wore on.  Several
folks held up signs along the sidewalk, others knelt on the grass listening to speakers, and spontaneous group discussions popped up as people introduced themselves to one another.  Vehicles driving by honked their passive support and a few passers-by yelled out, “Get a job!”  This is a fledgling movement that is in the early organizational stage, which is my way of saying that the Occupy Grand Rapids movement is in need of structure.
Although an organized structure is practical and I think essential, the Occupy movement was born out of frustration and anger, so it may take some time to create long-burning coals from the initial blaze.  Occupy Grand Rapids has a core group that have the potential of long-burning coals, but personal time constraints of even the most devoted highlight a need for a larger group of participants to assist with the organizational aspects.  Children must be cared for, work and college require participation, and personal relationships need attention.

This is all my opinion, on my blog, which is not a voice for the Occupy movement, but rather the voice of a woman in her 40’s musing on life’s changes in the 5th decade.  It
seems that the biggest challenge for this movement will be engaging people like me who want to fight for concrete changes, like campaign and financial institution reform, concepts that some Occupy demonstrators deem as working within The Broken System.  While the majority of Americans are not happy with the direction of our country, we know that a few steps in the right direction can affect our 401k balances, our children’s future, and our employment opportunities.  The 99% consists primarily of working middle and lower-class families who want the America we were raised on, that idealistic democratic model in which our interests are represented.   Perhaps that is a pipe dream, in which case our indoctrination was a huge mistake.