Friday, October 14, 2011

The 99% Are Being Heard

Most of the mainstream media still don't "get" what the Wall Street protests are about. This CBC interviewer tries rubbishing the protesters in the usual way, and Pulitzer Prize reporter Chris Hedges politely explains where the interviewer is wrong and then calmly folds the man up and puts him back in his sanitary wrapper.

There must be a circulating rule book titled "How to Dismiss, Insult and Marginalize Anyone Who Opposes the Total Power of Hedge Fund Billionaires", which instructs network talking heads how to be rude to people outside the money elite. Most TV hosts are contemptuous of this movement, and contemptuous in the same way, using the same words, the same references to the 60s and hippies and drugs and guitars and bongos. There has to be an approved script. Maybe Frank Luntz provided it.

(You might not know this, but most TV talking heads live in small furnished apartments inside the pockets of the expensive suits you see billionaires wearing when they creep from marble office to forty foot limousine. So talking heads are always alert to the moods of their billionaire hosts. Sadly, they have a tin ear for the lives and concerns of the real people living on the other side of the TV screen.)

Good news. According to this story in Business Insider, the Occupy Wall Street movement, sometimes called "The 99%", are twice as popular as the "Tea Party" movement (which is paid for and fully owned by the Koch Brothers and other billionaires).

The movement is spreading and gaining allies. It has a way to go yet. Take a look at the popular protests that took place in Paris in 1968. They were huge. They involved everyone, every class, every walk of life. Their mistake was resorting to violence––if they hadn't they would likely have succeeded.

The trick of true influence is a mixture of assertiveness and patience. The 99% have a real message. They are us. They are teachers, electricians, firemen, students, nurses, engineers, small businesspeople, retirees, people from working and middle class neighborhoods.

The majority of Americans agree that concentrated wealth has harmed the economy, made it less stable, less sustainable. We aren't pushing for confiscation of capital, we are talking about putting capital to work the way we used to. Putting Americans to work, and paying for that work in a way that strengthens the entire economy not just the top 1%.

Call it liberal if you like. But wouldn't a true conservative want to restore and keep the institutions and rules that have worked well for us? The system that grew out of the New Deal worked very well between 1945 and 1980, the most prosperous period in American history. The Republican revolution dismantled that system, and we've seen what happened. Look who's prospered and who hasn't.

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