Occupy Building Momentum in 2012

Let’s start the new year off on a positive note. Sure, our government is bought and paid for, our law enforcement seems more intent on stifling dissent than arresting those who hijacked our economy wholesale, and the country is slowly turning more and more into a police state. But there are some glimmers of hope out there, and I credit the Occupy movement with helping to turn things around….


The Bad: While everyone was getting ready to celebrate the new year, President Obama signed into law new provisions that allow for Americans to be detained indefinitely.
Glimmer of Hope: Senator Diane Feinstein has introduced a law to repeal these provisions. It’s called the Due Process Guarantee Act, and as the name cleverly implies, it restores due process for all Americans. It’s still completely shameful that we need a law to restore something that the Constitution and American tradition upholds.

There’s a petition circulating to persuade senators to support this. Sign it!

2. Citizens United

The Bad: This is the Supreme Court ruling that essentially said Corporations are People. It allows corporations to fully participate financially in elections, and means that if you thought the flow of corporate money into politics was bad before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Glimmer of Hope: The cities of Los Angeles and New York both voted to declare that corporations are not people, and the State of Montana’s Supreme Court has also said that corporations are not people. Furthermore, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ted Deutch both are working to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to declare that corporations are not people.

There’s a petition on Senator Sanders’ site that needs the support of as many of us as possible. Sign it.

3. Big Corporations vs Consumers 

The Bad: Well, apart from the fact that large corporations control a disproportionate amount of the GDP of this country, that companies are increasingly listening to their shareholders first, and customers second (or third, or fourth…), AND that thanks to the repeal of Glass-Seagall (I could go on about this one, but it can wait for another post), the large financial institutions went on a gambling binge with our money, lost, got a sweetheart deal from us taxpayers to save them, then headed straight back to the casino to start all over again….
Glimmer of Hope: Bank of America became the first large bank to announce a $5/month debit card fee. However, thanks to the incredible, coordinated outcry from customers, including a massive exodus of consumer accounts to credit unions, Bank of America backed down, and other large banks publicy announced they were abandoning plans to do the same. Last month, Verizon Wireless announced plans to charge a fee for manually processed electronic bill payments. The outcry was swift and furious, and they also backed down.

It’s clear that since Occupy Wall Street protests began in September, the spotlight is shining more and more on the criminal business practices of the financial industry, the increasing wealth gap in this country, and the way our government and large corporations are listening to each other but ignoring the electorate.

The road ahead is difficult, but I’m feeling more and more confident that this movement is going to gain more traction across the country, and have a greater and greater effect on national discourse. Here’s to 2012…

City Giving Occupy LA Protesters “Opportunity” to Learn About Free Speech

As reported in the LA Times:

Many Occupy L.A. protesters arrested during demonstrations in recent months are being offered a unique chance to avoid court trials: pay $355 to a private company for a lesson in free speech.

The irony is so thick you could cut it with a chainsaw. At a time when our governments are working overtime to figure out new ways to curtail First Amendments rights as much as possible, and at a time when corporations are running more and more of our lives, the city decides to outsource their justice with a free speech class?

Free speech, protest, and civil disobedience are integral parts of American history. Without them, there would have been no civil rights movement, no end to segregation, no right for women to vote, and in fact, no independence from Britain!

Occupiers deserve a huge thank you from all parts of society, for standing up (finally) to the gross imbalance and corruption in our political system.

People like Carmen Trutanich should be ashamed of themselves for this patronizing, insulting behavior. If they spent half as much of their resources fighting against the true criminal actions going on in our midst, we wouldn’t need Occupiers in the first place.

A Quick “Thank You” to Councilmember Ed Reyes

Dear Councilmember Reyes,

I am writing to you in regards to your comments quoted today in the LA Times article Councilman wants to see the bill for allowing, ending Occupy LA, and I wanted to personally thank you for helping keep people’s attention on what is truly important about this movement.

I was so disappointed in the mayor’s decision to clear out the camp this week, and appalled today to see the debate centering on petty issues like cleanup of the park space. I am so sick and tired of seeing politicians and the media try to distract our attention from important issues by focusing on irrelevant sideshows, and today’s brouhaha over the state of the City Hall park is just one more example of this.

As you rightly pointed out, we should instead be discussing why so many people feel that their only option is to go out and occupy spaces all over this country. Instead of belittling them and telling them to get a job, we should be trying to create opportunities in this country so they can find a job. And instead of complaining about the homeless around the camp, we should be focusing on the root cause of why there are so many homeless on our streets in the first place.

It is so easy to overlook it when one of our politicians says something we agree with it, and so easy to jump on them when they do something that rubs us the wrong way. I wanted to take a moment to let you know that your words are very much appreciated, especially at a time when they are also so needed.

Brian Haigh

A letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Dear Mayor Villaraigosa,

I’m hearing disturbing reports that the city is planning to clear the Occupy LA camp sometime next week. I have to urge you in the strongest possible terms to let them stay.

I understand that Occupy LA is an inconvenience to the city, and there are concerns over the well-being of the park space around City Hall.

However, this pales in comparison to the actual suffering of millions of Americans right now. The men and women in Occupy LA are sacrificing so much to try to change a system that so many of us have lost faith in. To try to stifle their voices would be to turn your back on the qualities that have made this country so great in the first place.

PLEASE, let Occupy LA remain. I assume you originally entered politics to try to make some kind of a difference, and to leave a legacy with this city. Here’s your opportunity. Moments like this come once in a generation, if we’re lucky. Make the right choice, for the sake of Los Angeles, and for sake of the United States of America.

Brian Haigh

Support H.R. 1489: Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011

As the Occupy movement has taken hold, we have been searching for concrete changes we can stand up for. Despite what many in the MSM (mainstream media) would have you believe, it is not the job of Occupy protesters to come forward with solutions to problems. THAT job belongs to politicians (who have been hired to write laws on our behalf). One of the goals of this movement is to get those in power to stop listening to lobbyists and talk radio hosts, and start listening to the 99%.

However, there is one, simple demand many of us have: a return to the regulations that kept commercial banking and investing banking separate – ie, return many of the Glass-Steagall provisions that were repealed in 1999 (and which lead to this unregulated mess we found ourselves in less than 10 years later). Fortunately, a little googling, and lo and behold, there is a bill floating around to do just that. As the title of this post suggests, it’s called The Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011, and one of its goals is to get Glass-Steagall protections back on the books.

You can read the text of the bill here: H.R. 1489 (thomas.loc.gov)
Here is a page listing its status:  H.R. 1489: Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011 (govtrack.us)

As of May 2nd it was going through the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises.

This bill is vitally needed to help put a stop to insanity that financial deregulation has caused, and everyone reading this should do something to help persuade our members of Congress that they need to listen to the 99% and support this.

I will begin compiling action items here we can all do to help push this bill through Congress. And of course, if you have any resources you have found (petitions, etc) please post them in the comments below. And please get the word out!