By Lloyd Agte
In September I wrote to Dan in an email that this Occupy Wall Street phenomenon seemed to be really heating up and spreading and turning into a Movement, and to let me know if it was starting to happen in Portland, and that I might come over and we could check it out.
Well, that was many cities and protests ago. Yes there were some Occupy protests in Coeur d'Alene and Spokane, but I heard of them only belatedly, they being 30 and 50 miles away. So I missed all of the occupations except for what I read on the Internet, what I read in the newspapers (which after a brief flirtatious romance, steadily lost favor and interest in the Occupiers), and what I saw on TV, particularly FSTV (Free Speech TV) on cable (the one redeeming channel on Direct TV).
And then after a warm but short lethargic summer (rain and cold here in Northern Idaho until well into July), and the sudden death by heart attack of my beloved nephew Steve, and many seasonal duties and undone projects, and my involvement in a local newly-formed Human Rights group as well as a nascent Community Development Corporation of which I am a board member, and then add the usual "race with winter projects" in the country--of pouring sidewalks before the freeze, insulating crawl spaces, etc, etc., all of which added up to a conspiracy to sabotage any political writing on my part, or even close monitoring of events taking place. (Or at least the above is my excuse for being out of touch.) In an email to Dan I wrote in October, my main political goal at the moment was Occupy My House for the winter.
The Occupy Movement was clearly something where you had to be there to fully appreciate what was happening. For it was, as I sensed early on, primarily a forum, where otherwise unheard voices connected with each other on issues that the mainstream media continually swept under the carpet. This is an extremely important activity in our time--to sort out the truth from the media and ideological chaff pretending to be information that blows our way 24/7.
Before all the summer distractions and duties, I had planned on writing a blog on income inequality, titled "It's the Inequality, Stupid," parroting the Clinton campaign staff mantra of "It's the Economy, Stupid." (I thought Obama could win with such a slogan, but I guess I was being naïve, for I think he always wanted to be a "one per-center," and now he is.) And the article was to begin with something like the Common Dreams email-blog I received March 25, wherein Andy Zimit wrote: "General Electric, the nation's largest corporation and maker of Japan's failed nuclear reactors, last year had worldwide profits of $14.2 billion. They paid no taxes - and claimed a $3.2 billion tax benefit, thanks to fierce lobbying and what the Times calls "innovative accounting." Oh yeah, and Obama just named its CEO his liaison with the business community." But I did not get it written, and thankfully the Occupy movement to a great extent usurped my need, as the 99% theme encapsulated the income divide--a divide, unfortunately, that is still growing as I write. For the past few decades the middle-class could pretend they were not poor because they could buy a car and a house on time and presumed things would get better soon. But the collapse of the housing market and the labor market caught them up by the short hairs and they suddenly realized that their net worth was a negative number. No longer could they thumb their nose at legislation aimed at helping the poor, for they realized "The Poor Is Us." So the Occupy movement has done a lot to expose the reality of the inequality in this country. But if we back door barking bloggers stop barking and let the Occupiers carry the banner, we will be derelict in our democratic duty to expose the falsehoods in our political society that our training and experience has bestowed on us.
Thus it is important I feel that we keep hammering away at the present and growing wealth inequality and the governmental Rule by Corporation that, in a silent and largely unseen coup, has overthrown our fledgling democracy. We need to keep shouting, "WE WANT OUR DEMOCRACY BACK." Well, okay, I agree, we have never had a true democracy but rather a wealth-biased republic. However, with the slow but sure enfranchising with the right to vote of African Americans, then Women, then Native Americans, we were making progress. But I can't think of a single major area where we are truly making democratic progress today.
Quite the contrary. As Capitalism creaks like the pillars of a failing bridge as unrest among the unemployed and displaced grows in the streets and as the fear increases in the one percent, expect more restrictions on democracy and civil and human rights. And will the 1% start a war with Iran both to get more oil secured and to try to make us behave? Would they then label protest during war as terrorism? Of course they would. Fine, then we could take back the country and have an honest democracy run by terrorists. Hey, it's just a word.
Addendum By Dan Perin
Thanks, Lloyd, for taking time to write this article. I think it is very appropriate.
I have to say that I am worn thin on protesting anything. All the things you mentioned in your piece are reasons I just feel more and more like "a voice crying in the wilderness," about things that nobody cares to listen to. I know the Occupy Movement seems to have legs and will probably continue even through the winter with some modifications allowing for more "indoor" activity, but folks don't seem to connect the clown show of the Republican debates with the problems the country has and how the clowns--none of them--can possibly provide an answer. And anyone who thinks they will is absurdly demented! I simply cannot believe so many have already forgotten how close we came to financial disaster and who was responsible for it, as well as the road-blocking thrown up against any effort to resolve the problems. While I think Obama is beginning to show some strength, I mostly feel that our problems are well beyond being solved by politicians. They have staked out their territories so far apart that there is no relevance to anything remotely bi-partisan they plan to do "for the country."
So, tell me again, why I should not be discouraged? "A plague on both their houses!"