I want to tell you about Occupy Wall Street. I’ve started this piece about OWS, I don’t know, four or five times at least and I just haven’t been about to finish it. Surprising, because this is just the kind of thing that for me should pretty much write itself – you’ve got your drama, your bad guys, your uplifting moments, your social commentary, your fighting back against the system, and all the other social justice things I so love to go on and on about. But even with all of that laying right there in my lap, I haven’t been able to write about OWS. And it’s not that I didn’t have enough to say about it, it was the opposite – there was too much, where could I possibly start? Now there’s even more to write about because it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Occupy Wall Street officially began on September 17, 2011 when a small group of protestors moved into the Wall Street area of lower Manhattan in New York City, eventually parking themselves in Zuccotti Square, one of those urban parks with cement benches and tables, about a block from Wall Street and the big bull statue, and right across the way from the footprint of the Twin Towers. Renamed Liberty Park, the number of people on site has grown tremendously, now in the thousands, not to mention the sites that have started across the country and across the globe. Why did they do it? I can’t speak for everyone involved, but it’s pretty safe to say that they did it because they wanted to bring attention to the growing power and apparently unlimited greed of banks and corporations, taken at the expense of the individuals in the United States.
Here are some numbers: The unemployment rate is currently over nine percent (14 million people), and that number doesn’t include the underemployed, those working well below their prior income level, sometimes holding two or three jobs just to get that much. The unemployment/underemployment rate in the U.S. is actually closer to 20% when you count the unemployed that are now off the rolls because they are not currently receiving unemployment benefits. That translates to well over 20 million people who can’t find a job. Over 50 million people in this country have no health care coverage. Over one million people have lost their homes through the foreclosure process since 2008. The poverty rate has increased every year since 2007 from 12.5 to 15.1 in 2010. Nearly 15 million children (21%) live in families with income below the federal poverty level -$22,050 for a family of four, with 42% living in low-income families, those with income of roughly twice the federal poverty level. This is criminal and an outrage and none of us should sleep at night knowing this is true. Real wages of the American worker has been relatively flat for the past twenty years. All of this is bad enough, but let’s add insult to injury by forcing us to pay for the bailouts of the very companies who caused this mess in the first place.
There comes a time where the people must stand up and say ENOUGH. Apparently, that time has come.
I think I’ll get out of the way now and let you take a look. My colleague and partner on Working for Your Life, the Documentary, Franklyn Strachan and I have been to Liberty Park several times, as well other OWS marches and sites. We’re putting together videos of what we see.
Take a look: This is What Democracy Looks Like.