Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is now in its second month and, instead of going away, it has increased to hundreds of cities, large and small, in our country. In my opinion (isn't that what most blogs are about....an individual opinion) is this good or bad? The answer to both sides of that question is yes!
The good part is that the demonstrations, sit-ins, occupations, whatever you choose to call them have touched a nerve in this country. which has long simmered just below the surface. That being the general discontent with the banks and the fat cats who control them. Discontent because, while job seekers, home owners, and the middle class in general suffer from a long lasting financial downturn, these same banking fat cats have prospered at the expense of those in financial need. With ever increasing new fees, the large banks are constantly inventing new ways to separate the average citizen from their money, and they are doing so while sitting on huge profits, and large piles of cash, which normally would be used for loans. So, they sit on their piles of cash and nickle and dime us to death. Citizens have had it with the blatant gouging and money grubbing of the banks. No one denies that banks, like any other business, should make a healthy profit, for otherwise they wouldn't remain in business. But the extent that they are running roughshod over the public no longer represents making a healthy profit, but is instead, a prime example of big business out of control. Many in the OWS movement are out of work people, homeowners who are over their head and stand to lose their homes, union members who have seen the Republicans severely curtail their bargaining rights, and otherwise just plain fed up people.
And that brings us to the bad side of the Occupy Wall Street movement. There are many justifiable causes represented in this movement. Out of work people, home owners, union members and others have legitimate complaints about problems and situation that need to be addressed. However, there are two troubling aspects to this movement. The first is the lack of goals and actions. When someone is standing on your foot, hollering about it for a brief moment is understandable, but then you must do something about it. Yes, hollering will get the attention of the person who is accidentally standing on your foot and they often will remove their foot from yours. But for those who are doing it deliberately (as are the banks, Republicans, and others), then you must have a plan to correct the situation. I have yet to see any such plans among the OWS crowd. All good movements start with protests, but those that accomplish needed change do so with plans and action. We hear the occupiers and many of us agree they have raised valid concerns. Now where is the action? Where are the goals? Where are the plans to reach those goals?
The second troubling thing about the OWS movement is the trouble makers (as Mr. Rogers might say with his calming voice, "Can you say anarchist?"). The recent violence in Oakland, turned a large, but peaceful demonstration into chaos. The cause was a mere 80 to 100 anarchist and thugs who were not there for any political or social action, but merely to cause as much mayhem and damage to property as possible. Until the OWS can police itself and rid their ranks of these punks, their message will be diluted at every turn. Yes, police (who have been shown to have a few anarchists and mayhem makers in their own ranks) can stop such violence after the fact, but to be truly effective, it must be stopped from within before it happens,
I'm rooting for the movement in hopes that it will bring about needed change in the business and social atmosphere of our country. In my last blog entry I said if the movement did not show some organization and goals it would disappear as a forgotten footnote in history. That turned out not to be true, as it has now grown large enough and has gone on long enough so that whether it bring about positive change in our country or not, it will not be forgotten.