Occupy Wall Street
Though the most recent possible government shutdown (the third possible shutdown of the year) was officially averted Monday, the economic debate that spurred the crisis remains the political hotbed issue, and it's percolating not just in the halls of Capitol Hill, but in the streets of cities around the world.
With the collapse of the U.S. economy resulting in a national average of 9.1% unemployment, “everyday people” have begun organizing a movement known as Occupy Wall Street, demonstrating daily by the hundreds, sometimes thousands, at Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in NYC, citing “corporate greed and corrupt politics” as the raison d'etre.
The protesters first arrived at the park September 17th. Some have slept on the premises, and, reportedly, 80 have been arrested. Ally demonstrations are cropping up in 52 cities, spanning 3 continents.
Early Tuesday morning, Immortal Technique joined the Wall Street group, saying:
“We talk about democracy so much, but we have supported so many governments around the world that are the farthest thing from a democracy, as long as they give us access to their natural resources, as long as when we say jump, they say, ‘How high?' That's it.
We have employed bin Ladens' plenty of times, when it serves our purpose. We employed Saddam Hussein when it served our purposes. And I say ‘we' because we are the people that have a responsibility to change that sort of behavior in this country. And if we don't, we will suffer the same fate as everything that never evolved.”
Dr. Cornell West led the crowd in a call and response, saying,
“I am so happy to be here. Got me spiritually break-dancing to be here. ‘Cause when you bring folks together. Of all colors. Of all cultures. Of all genders. Of all sexual orientations. The elite will tremble in their boots... Don't be afraid to say, ‘revolution.' We want a transfer of power. From oligarchs. To ordinary citizens.”
Documentarian Michael Moore, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, and actresses Susan Sarandon and Roseanne Barr are among others who have lent their celebrity to the demonstrations, the former two making an appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher” to do so.
Wednesday, Russell Simmons joined “in solidarity,” posting a letter to his site, GlobalGrind.com stating that he wants the government to raise his taxes:
“For far too long in this country we have allowed the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.
I believe in a nation where everyone gets a fair share of the fruits of our labor and where everyone pays a fair share for what they receive.
I am asking the United States government to raise my taxes and not allow the Republicans to use this economic recession as an opportunity to strip the basic programs that protect our most vulnerable.
Lastly, I am demanding that the big banks and corporations stop unduly influencing our government to make decisions that are not in the best interest of the majority of our citizens.
We need to re-examine our whole American political system that allows corporations and their lobbyists to rule over the people.”
Last month, billionaire Warren Buffet wrote a New York Times Op-Ed supporting an increase on taxes for the rich:
“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.”
Thursday, MURS Tweeted: “#occupywallstreet is still happening pls check www.occupywallstreet.org and see what action is being taken for the 99% aka us,” and “a stand against greed. Is what #occupywallstreet represents to me [sic],” after being questioned by a Tweeter what about those in the 1% (who control the majority of the world's resources) who achieved such success by winning the Lottery.
Most recently, it was announced that New York City's Local 100 Transit Workers' Union is also in support.
While some have attempted to marginalize the protesters as unfocused, modern-day hippies with no realistic policy reform suggestions, a make-shift “media center” was built at Zuccotti Park to power an ongoing livestream ; supplies and letters of support are being received at a local UPS; and organizers are encouraging the ally demonstrations to have planning meetings, set agenda items, and follow the legal regulations of their respective cities.
Demonstrations are scheduled to launch in the nation's capital (where parts of the city have unemployment rates three times the national average) October 1st, the beginning of the new fiscal year.