Amazing that about 70 people gathered at the Sonora Courthouse Park on Saturday to “Occupy Wall Street”, but nobody knows who organized the event. The local paper expressed puzzlement. People from a group dubbing itself The 99% were there. Others came from Tuolumne County Citizens for Peace. There were Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, Peace and Freedom members, and I don’t know who else. In short, a cross-section of our community, with the same concerns.
The corrupting political influence of big money; the growing, inequitably taxed,wealth of 1% of the people at the cost of the declining income of 99% of the people; Wall Street greed and fraud that plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; a broken political system hobbled by Republican extremists willing to block any helpful measures; and a President who has failed to stand up to extremists on Wall Street and in the Congress.
Our tax money, bailed out the titans of the financial world whose scammers went unpunished while they brazenly raised their CEO’s compensation by millions in the face of mass unemployment, the under employed, and foreclosures breaking the back of working families across this nation.
I didn’t see anger so much as frustration, determination; parents with small children who know their children are going to inherit this mess.
And, most refreshing of all, young people who are beginning to understand how undermined their future has become. Corporate profits are up 22 percent while squeezing wages and salaries and ratcheting up production. Working people have fewer safeguards; they fear for their jobs if they come out and protest; Retirement income is threatened while our failed congress pushes to take away benefits, worker based health insurance, social security and every safeguard the unions have provided working people in the last century. The Governor of Wisconsin and his assembly proposed a bill to forbid Union Organizing.
It’s interesting that the OWS movement has not made up a list of demands, as in this is our agenda, and this is what we demand and it drives the media nuts. They don’t know how to attack them. They can’t call them outrageous. There are too many to ignore, as in 500,000 in Zuccotti Park in New York City, an encampment. So the pugnacious, conservative radio hosts call them stinky, unbathed – which they are. Some of them live within walking distance of their own homes, but they choose the sleeping bag in the park. They were forbidden a bullhorn so protestors use sign language and the echoing power of their own voices to communicate. What a wonderfully human and Democratic gathering to give heart to a suffering nation.
Judging from this large group in the Courthouse Park in Sonora, a small town in a rural Motherlode county, the movement has legs. And it isn’t difficult to divine what our needs are. Just read the signs.