by Jessica Williamson
Sedona, AZ (December 1, 2011) – You might have heard about the Occupy Wall Street movement. You might also know that the movement has spread across the country and the world. Residents in the Verde Valley have supported Occupy Wall Street by organizing protests in Sedona and Cottonwood. Many people are not sure what the movement is about or what those of us involved in the movement want. Two members of Occupy Sedona put together the following information that explains why we became involved.
1. Corporate money flowing into politics is destroying our democracy. Because corporate money can now flow so freely to candidates, the amount of money needed to run for office is exorbitant. Candidates need millions – now billions – of dollars to compete. They can only get that amount of money from corporations, and the result is that they are “owned” by the corporations who got them into office, not by the people who they are supposed to represent. Corporations and government become indistinguishable and democracy threatens to become plutocracy.
2. Corporations do not act in the public interest. Corporations exist to make money for their owners and stockholders. They should not be expected to act in the public interest. Government is supposed to act in the public interest to balance the corporations’ goals with our values as an American people. When corporate monies control the government, that balance is lost.
3. The huge amount of corporate money in campaigns has distorted our democracy. Because candidates rely on corporate money, corporations “own” them and they don’t represent the people who elected them. We want our votes to count.
4. The actions of Wall Street and the financial industry seriously damaged our economy and the economy of the world. The American people bailed them out, yet they continue to collect huge salaries and huge bonuses while the American people suffer high unemployment, stagnant wages, foreclosure, and uncertainty about the future.
5. No one in Wall Street or the financial industry has been held accountable. They successfully lobbied to prevent regulation that would keep them from doing it again. We want them held accountable.
6. The middle class is being eliminated. The top 1% of Americans control an ever bigger share of America’s wealth while the rest of us see our wealth stagnating or declining.
7. The movement includes people of all ages, from all occupations, and from across the whole political spectrum. The goal is to correct a corrupt and unresponsive political process, not to further the goals of any one political party. We want to put the “We” back in We the People.
8. Government regulations protect America from exploitation by corporations. Effective regulations ensure balance in a civil society. Regulations are not responsible for the unemployment in this country. Only 1,119 layoffs during the first half of this year were attributed to regulations; 144,746 were due to poor consumer demand.*
9. Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance must be preserved. The middle class, the poor, and the vulnerable should not be the only ones to sacrifice in this economy.
10. The tax burden should be fair. The people who have the most – millionaires and billionaires – should pay their fair share to support a society that reflects American values. Tax loopholes must be closed.
11. Corporate tax loopholes must also be closed. Those loopholes allow multinational oil companies to post billions of dollars in profits yet pay no taxes while outsourcing jobs.
*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupy Sedona rallies every Wednesday at the corner of 89A and Coffee Pot Road starting at 3:00. Occupy Cottonwood rallies every Thursday at the corner of 89A and 260 starting at 3:00.
Join the discussion. Visit Occupy Sedona on facebook or join the rallies. Direct comments or questions to email@example.com.
Totally agree with OWS! OWS has brought the inequality issue to the forefront finally. Hopefully the movement will get us actually “thinking” again. The 99% were made to suffer because greed got out of hand.
I have watched this situation develop over the last 30 years – you know, when ‘beloved’ Reagan began to change the meaning of words in the English language! Greed became “good” – as did blaming government and blaming others – everyone except ourselves. Even religion, especially Christian fundamentalism in the US, got involved hypocritic behavior by OK’ing greed. This situation has been helped along by schools afraid to teach certain subjects (offend segments of our society?) and the rise of homeschooling and religious private schools where SOME prefer to brainwash their children. It has been disheartening to watch this rise of “stupid” us and mnaipulation bu others where we are today – visible everywhere, including Sedona.
I agree with Elizabeth Warren that “None of us were successful all by ourselves”. Success in a democracy depends not only on us individually, but on the bedrock of stable government, good roads/transportation, public schools, decent health care, environmental protection, and government investment in the future (like satellites , infrastructure, etc) – all things for the common good which we cannot easily accomplish individually.
I have a lot of respect for successful people who ‘got there’ for their brains, good ideas, hard work and entrepreneurial instincts. I do not have respect for those who further warped the system by behavior (whether environmental destruction, financial leadership, or government responsibilities) which should have been considered unethical and illegal by most any standard. Just because the behavior is not clearly written in US law, does not mean we are free of responsibility from ethical behavior in all we do. That goes for politicians and public personalities who lie too……
However, the biggest problem we have today is getting people to understand that a successful representative democracy requires an educated and involved public to actually examine issues. The fact that we as a society have abdicated that responsibility means we got what we deserved – the 50% or more who either have a financial ‘stake’ in the gamed system or don’t pay attention – are too lazy to actually think, and are easily swayed by repeated, loud and unreasoned rhetoric (especially words like TAXES – except for what they personally want, of course).
In the process we also got a lot of bad government and selfish people running it, who do not feel the responsibility for the future of our democratic society, but simply want to keep their power and control the money for themselves. You know – things like public money for privatized schools (even that on-line learning thing), privatized school lunch at public schools, and privatized prisons – I won’t even go into local issues. In all cases no money is actually saved the taxpayer, but profits are made at the expense of society in general – workers get lower salaries and no benefits! It is a sad commentary on “us” today whether here in Sedona or at the state and national levels.
Thank you, Jessica and others, who have been out demonstrating here in Sedona! Thank you OWS for finally rising to the threat and demanding change for the future.
Excellent and thank you for all you do and all of the OWS supporters indoor and out. I’m sure most of us never imagined that we would have to express our disappointment in our government and its business/corporate extensions standing in the streets. It saddens me that this is the current reality.
All of us must take responsibility to educate ourselves about the issues so that informed, rather than purchased, decisions can be made for the good of all, rather than for the few. We must refuse to be initimidated with thug tactics anywhere they are used and demand transparency. I believe that the Supreme Court decision granting personhood to corporations will need to be reversed if we are to achieve even just the individual liberties already taken.