Dear person who thinks the Occupy Wall Street movement is a bunch of whiny hippies who are protesting against money or capitalism or the fact that they have college loans. Dear person who thinks the protesters are envious of people who have more money than they do or jealous of people who have beaten them at the game of life.
Dear person who thinks the protesters are lazy and ought to go get a job, that they are entitled crybabies who don’t have the sand to go out and make their own way through good old-fashioned hard work.
Dear person who says the protesters are hypocrites because they use iPads and shave with Gillette razors and make their signs on cardboard made by Weyerhaeuser while “protesting against corporations.”
I am sure you’re a nice person. We might even be friends. I bet you’re a reasonably intelligent person. If that’s the case, I believe you are willfully misunderstanding what the protests are about. That is, I think you have made up your mind to distort who the protesters are and what they’re saying. And I think you are glibly arguing against these made-up statements.
I don’t want to argue with you because I don’t think you will listen to me.
But maybe I’m wrong about that. Maybe you really haven’t taken the time and made the effort to understand what the movement is all about. If that’s the case, I’d like to invite you to read the pieces I’ve linked below.
Please read them with an open mind. I might add new pieces from time to time. If you read the material below and still want to argue about the occupy movement or its aims, I’d be interested in what you have to say. But if you’re still inclined to repeat the arguments above, I’m not going to waste my time or yours arguing about a fantasy world.
Thanks to my friends around the web for suggesting some of these:
I know I’m giving you a lot to read here. If you’re going to do me the honor of reading any of it, but you’re only going to read one, read this one. It’s a short interview with American University professor Peter Kuznick, in which he spells out very clearly what people are upset about, and ties the movement to earlier social and protest movements in the U.S.
Excerpt: When you add to [“stunning” income inequality] the fact that the government bailed out the top Wall Street banks at the same time that homeowners were being hit with foreclosures, Wall Street was doling out huge bonuses, taxes for the wealthy were being cut, unemployment was rising, students were drowning in debt and facing miserable job prospects, and the U.S. was waging three wars and supporting an overseas empire of approximately 1,000 bases, you can see why Americans are angry.
Another (see below for the first) lucid explanation of “what they’re protesting about” from the former Labor Secretary, this time on video.
Excerpt: Now some public officials say occupiers are public nuisances. Well, it’s true: Peaceful non-violent protests, inclucing encampments, can be inconvenient. But the real public nuisance is the tsunami of big money into politics, making it almost impossible for the voices of average Americans to be heard because most of us don’t have the dough to break through.
And that’s exactly what occupiers and others like them are protesting. We don’t have the money to influence politicians directly. We are not Wall Street or big corporations that can now spend unlimited sums, corrupting our democracy. We are the people, and all we have is our ability to peacefully assemble and make our voices heard loudly and clearly.
Excerpt: When you take into consideration all the theft and fraud and market manipulation and other evil shit Wall Street bankers have been guilty of in the last ten-fifteen years, you have to have balls like church bells to trot out a propaganda line that says the protesters are just jealous of their hard-earned money.
The New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist is some kind of bogeyman for conservatives, so this is one of those times where I’m asking you to read with an open mind. Krugman wrote this a few days into Occupy Wall Street, which he admits to underestimating at first.
Excerpt:There will, of course, be the usual attempts to dismiss the whole thing based on trivialities. Look at the oddly dressed people acting out! So? Is it better when exquisitely tailored bankers whose gambles brought the world economy to its knees — and who were bailed out by taxpayers — whine that President Obama is saying slightly mean things about them?
If you think the protesters are just a bunch of whiny deadbeat students who don’t want to have to pay back the loans they agreed to take out, read this TruthOut piece. Brown explains how student debt could wreak as much havoc on the economy as the toxic debts on the books of Wall Street banks.
Excerpt: A whole generation of young people has been seduced into debt peonage by the promise of better jobs if they invest in higher education, only to find that the jobs are not there when they graduate. If they default on their loans, lenders can now jack up interest rates and fees, garnish wages and destroy credit ratings; and the debts can no longer be discharged in bankruptcy.
Total US student debt has risen to $1 trillion - more than US credit card debt. Defaults are rising as well … The threat of massive student loan defaults requiring another taxpayer bailout has been called a systemic risk as serious as the bank failures that brought the US economy to the brink of collapse in 2008.
Excerpt: Altogether, according to “Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers 2008-10,” a blockbuster new report put together by the Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy … 37 of the United States’ biggest corporations paid zero taxes in 2010. The list is a blue-chip roll-call. …
Listening to our politicians talk, you would imagine that corporate America’s neck is permanently under the tax man’s steel-tipped boot. When, in fact, the exact opposite is the truth.
The former Labor Secretary on the disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country, which he writes is greater than it’s been since the ’60s.
Excerpt: The two worlds are on a collision course: Americans who are losing their jobs or their pay and can’t pay their bills are growing increasingly desperate. Washington insiders, deficit hawks, regressive Republicans, diffident Democrats, well-coiffed lobbyists, and the lobbyists’ wealthy patrons on Wall Street and in corporate suites haven’t a clue or couldn’t care less.