It was really just a matter of time. The Occupy Wall Street Movement has begun to build yet more followers in what is quickly becoming a revolutionary movement. The question must be asked, however, Just how ready is America for this revolution? As the movement has grown, it has brought into its fold more than just the disenfranchised youths that began the movement. It has taken on form as an extension of the middle class, a body of people who have lost their jobs, their homes and in some cases, their families due to the machinations of the elite, what are being called the 1%. But is it a revolution? Does Occupy Wall Street qualify? Barely three weeks after the beginning of the occupation, when stockbrokers scoffed down on protesters while sipping champagne from a raised balcony, the movement has grown to labor unions, community organizations, and a host of other believers in the inequities of our society, but as yet has not provided a legitimate answer to a burning question. “What does the 99% want?”
The Occupy Wall Street movement is centered around the economic problems plaguing middle class Americans today. Foreclosure, job loss, rampant inflation of educational costs cutting off middle class America from what today are basic educational needs. The Occupy Wall Street movement sums itself up, however, as such:
“Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”
We are the 99%. Really, we all are. From the lowliest homeless person to small business owners across the country, we are all the 99%. However, making villains of the 1%, calling them out for greed and the loss of the American dream is a dangerous path to start down. Like it or not, We, the 99% have to be careful-and extremely so, that what now is a peaceful demonstration doesn’t deteriorate into chaos, or a societal conclusion that might be worse. Socialism and Communism didn’t work fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, and they won’t work today.
As yet, no one leader has risen to the challenge of providing a challenge to the 1%. There are as yet no goals. There has been no leader rise up to state unequivocally that “these are our demands.” As Occupy Wall Street builds steam toward an as-yet unknown end, it’s difficult to imagine any specific demands that aren’t put forth by a single leader. Will the Democratic party rise up? A third political party? How about the 99% party? In an age of social upheaval, wouldn’t it be wise to bring forth a candidate for the 2012 Presidential election that stands unencumbered by party politics? An Occupy Wall Street candidate? a 99% Candidate? In this media age, with our ability to instantly transmit information to billions of people all at once, can’t we forgo the fundraising campaigns and the nonsense, set aside the party affiliations for a moment and just pick leaders who will actually do the job that we hire them to do?
The United States is entering a new era, and the Occupy Wall Street movement is ushering it in. Our reliance on big business has been like a feeding tube strapped to our arms since the dawn of the industrial revolution. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate where we stand. Yes, big business like GM and Apple and commodity-producing businesses do have a place in our society. So does the small businessperson, however. Have you ever considered where your dollar goes when you shop at Wal Mart? It’s perpetuation of the system that has sunk the middle class lower and lower over the past fifty years. We have allowed the small business person to be shunted off to the side in the desire for lower prices- a cheap meal. All the while, we were tearing apart the bedrock that was our American foundation. So, when these individual companies grow so huge that we, as taxpayers have to bail them out, who is to blame? Who indeed. I think you must know the answer to that. We are to blame. We shop at the large chain store hoping to save a few dollars on our grocery bill as opposed to buying fresh from local producers and merchants. We buy from corporations hat we know build their products outside American borders, often because we say we “understand” why the businesses move production to a foreign country to save money. Saving is all well and good until it hits home.
When the Occupy Wall Street movement comes to a head, when someone finally asks, “What do you want?” There are a few things that must be kept in mind.
1. Consumption of products assembled or built outside of American borders is fundamentally damaging to the system of commerce within the United States. This has to be fixed in a two-fold manner. First, corporations who wish to sell products within the United States should have a production facility within the United States. Workers at that production facility should be paid a premium on top of their base salary based on the number of units sold. When corporations do this, It is critical as part of the economic process that consumers within the United States preferentially purchase these items when they are competitively priced. This social contract is extremely important and is the only way that American jobs will grow and prosper. In this way, the addition of new jobs and the retaining of jobs will be ensured.
2. Wall Street must look more carefully at market manipulation tactics used by stockbrokers.
3. Emphasis must be placed by the Consumers in the United States on small businesses, local businesses. This will allow more individuals to become autonomous in today’s workplace, and will open up the United States to a true free market system. This can only be accomplished by consumers. It isn’t for existing companies to simply “make themselves smaller.” It just doesn’t work that way. By purchasing goods locally that are locally produced, you significantly help out your local economy, rather than contributing to the coffers of a single business conglomerate.
4. Avoid “group think” and understand the importance of your autonomy. The political parties today have failed miserably. In most cases, the election of a leader is done simply because they are “Republican” or “Democrat.” There is no basis of wrong or right, as citizens label themselves as following the doctrine of one or the other. This has led to a class system dangerously similar to communism, when a few ruling elite pretend to speak for the masses, while building for themselves a power base backed by a military power that prevents them from being removed from power. Just because it isn’t a single person in power doesn’t mean that we aren’t in danger of reliving humanity’s past mistakes.
As Occupy Wall Street marches and protests, it’s important to remember that in the end, we are each all responsible for our own actions. You cannot shop at Wal-Mart and buy an iPhone and expect to be able to say that you are not contributing to the deterioration of your own American lifestyle, and the death of the American dream. If you are unwilling to truly do what is necessary to make a real change, and help the economy in this United States recover, then you have no business calling yourself the 99%. When all is said and done, we’ve no one but ourselves to blame, for we hath fed the beast.