Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Occupy Wall Street

The main rap against the Occupy Wall Street Movement is that it has no discernible goals.

Contrast that with the Tea Party whose desires are easily articulated – defeat “Obamacare,” reduce deficits, and send the sheik in the White House back to Kenya or wherever he came from.

So, let me suggest three goals; but first, let’s examine the roots of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and why it’s unlikely to dissolve with the snows of winter.

Americans have been distinguished by their lack of envy of the rich, mainly because they’ve always felt there was a pathway - albeit narrow and crowded – to their own life of luxury.

Protesters would not be quite so vocal against the fabled upper 1% if they thought there was a prayer in hell of joining them in their penthouses and McMansions. What really irks the noble souls down in Zuccotti Park is that even if you’re willing to bust your butt nowadays you may never make it to the shrinking middle-class.

Once upon a time if you got into a union or went to college you could bet the farm you’d end up in the suburbs. Now graduate from Harvard and you’re still not guaranteed a gig; or get a gold-plated membership in the UAW, you’ll step onto the assembly line for 14 bucks an hour. You won’t even afford a shack out in Levittown on that paycheck – let alone get a mortgage.

To say that there’s a mass disenchantment with the state of the union would be putting it mildly.

And so to the three goals!

Number one, reform the political process. Nothing of significance can be achieved while the system is clogged and corrupted by money.

Politicians may huff and puff about issues but nowadays politics is all about the mighty buck – raise enough of them, stay off Page 6, and you too can get elected.

And you ain’t seen nothing yet! With the new Super PAC bundlers and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate donations, the floodgates of crony capitalism have just opened.

There is a solution – tighter campaign donation laws. But this obviously won’t come from politicians; it has to come from us – and the good God in heaven who might whack a couple of backwoodsmen on the Supreme Court.

With or without divine help - if we don’t act soon the Republic will sink even deeper into this current cesspit of legal bribery known as politics.

There is no way to create the new industries that will provide well-paying jobs for the protestors – and everyone else - unless we invest in research, education and the national infrastructure. But where will the money come from, unless taxes are raised – and who wants to pay the piper nowadays?

Which brings us to goal number two: there is no reason - philosophical or practical - why the US has to spend more on defense than every other country in the world combined.

The armed forces are a great employer of last resort but few would dispute that defense budgets are bloated, while the cost of weapons perennially exceeds estimate.

President Eisenhower warned against the growth of the military-industrial complex. The poor old soldier must have been doing somersaults in his grave watching arms industry lobbyists and alarmist hawks double the defense budget since 9/11.

On to goal number three: Healthcare! We spend double the amount of every other industrialized country but trail much of the world in actual good health.

Costs must be reined in before the whole country is turned into a hospital waiting room. A decent first step would be for opportunistic politicians to stop their paranoiac and misleading yelping about “death panels” and “socialized medicine.” Some hope, right?

A federally guaranteed single-payer system is the only shot. Administrative costs would drop, deals could be cut with a rampaging drug industry, and businesses could actually budget ahead. As it stands, employers can’t afford to hire new workers because of burgeoning health insurance costs – hence, so much outsourcing.

Enough said! I’ve got some flyers to print. See you down Zuccotti Park!

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