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…

A Blatant Disregard for Personal Responsibility

Penn State and Occupy Wall Street may seem like two completely different issues, but they both underscore something fundamentally corrupt in our society. There are rules for the 99%, and a separate set of rules for the 1%.

This is nothing new. You can look back throughout history and see that a small sliver of society has used its power and influence to get away with whatever suits it. The world has finally changed enough, and people are finally waking up to just how corrupt and sick this two-tiered system is. From Cairo to London, from New York to Los Angeles, and everywhere in-between, people are fed up.

Look at Penn State. This man used his position of authority to rape countless children, while using his position of authority to have other people look the other way or cover up for him. Using his power of authority, prestige, and money to buy off whatever he wanted. Just as the Catholic Church has been doing for who knows how long.

And look at Wall Street. People in positions of power using it to bend the rules to suit them, and to enrich themselves.

They are like parasites, feeding on the society around them and sucking it dry.

We are waking up to the bloodsuckers amongst us. And we’ve had enough.

But these allegations at Penn State are the last straw. It’s one thing to have bankers stealing your money, but to have someone target and rape young boys, and for people to LOOK THE OTHER WAY, is reprehensible. For people who bask in the glory of being a leader and a role-model (like Joe Paterno), who then try to poo-poo their involvement with half-hearted “I wish I’d done more” press releases after the fact, they are complete frauds.

We’ve been doing business with frauds, electing frauds, and admiring the achievements of frauds.

We live in a country where people are actually debating whether or not someone who WITNESSED a child being raped in the ass should have reported it to the police.

This has to all STOP NOW.

It’s time to demand accountability. It’s time to accept responsibility. For 100% of us. This means those who have done wrong MUST face justice. We have to demand no less than that.

And we need to wake up and stop supporting people and organizations that are actively sucking away the lifeforce of this country.

This movement is NOT about the have-nots being jealous of the haves. It’s not about the 99% demanding handouts from the 1%. The right-wing spin machine has it all backwards! The 99% is tired of the 1% taking handouts FROM them. We’ve had enough of footing the bill for their recklessness.

This movement is about stopping one tiny group of people from changing the rules as they see fit to further their own self-interest.

This movement is all about people, EVERYWHERE, being responsible citizens. As I’ve said before, this isn’t a left-wing or a right-wing issue. It’s pure, common sense.

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!

Occupy Los Angeles

I thought I’d write about our own experiences taking part in the Occupy LA protests. I’m in my early 40’s, at a well-paying job as a web developer for a large hospital in Los Angeles. My wife and I have no children. We’re very fortunate – we actually have a steady income and good health insurance. Yet, we live in a house that we share with another college-educated friend of ours because we couldn’t afford our own place. The house is deep underwater, and we’re drowning in debt (and shame on us for not reading the fine print when some of the credit card issuers arbitrarily raised our interest rates to 30% on cards that had never had a late payment EVER). We’re barely making it check-to-check, but somehow we are still making all of our payments.

It would be so much easier to walk away from it all, but we have a sense of responsibility to these debts that we voluntarily took on.

What we’re demanding — what people in the Occupy movement are demanding — is the same responsibility from these large institutions, and the so-called 1%. It’s really that simple.

When the financial industry came to the brink of collapse because of the reckless behavior of these “too big to fail” corporations, we saw an amazing ability for our government to come together to bail them out. In return, they’ve repaid the favor by working night and day to lift the already watered-down provisions of the Dodd-Frank reforms so they can continue with their same insanity, and to basically act like spoiled, entitled brats towards those of us who saved their butts in the first place.

Contrast this with any legislation in Congress that might actually help out rank and file Americans, and suddenly everything becomes gridlocked and impossible to achieve. From out here, it appears that when you have a lobby on your side, government works, and if you don’t, well tough luck.

We march for three simple things: tighter regulation of the financial industry (a return to Glass-Steagall would be a big step), a demand for shared sacrifice amongst *100%* of this country, and to wake up those in Congress who have been listening only to the lobbyists and the media chattering classes, and losing sight of the fact that this country is a DEMOCRACY, of the people, by the people, and for the people.

These are not radical notions, and they’re not even strictly left-wing (personal responsibility seems like a classic conservative belief to me). This is the no-longer silent majority in this country, across the spectrum, who have finally had enough.