After watching uprisings throughout the middle-east this past spring, the winds of change have just begun to blow here in the US.
After watching mid-western Republicans gut laws protecting union activity, and Tea-party hypocrites seek to emasculate the National Labor Relations Board, workers are getting pretty riled up.
And yet Wall Street remains silent. Lending money to people who they knew would never be able to pay it back. And then packaging those loans in investments which they sold while simultaneously shorting (and betting against those investments).
Now Wall Street wonders if the Occupiers will have concrete goals and objectives? Smugly figuring the demonstrators will fizzle out for lack of structure and concrete aims.
It is no coincidence that the past few years have also seen a decline in earning power, a decline in net worth, and a savage increase in poverty. At the same time, jobs with the benefit of union contracts have shrunk to their lowest levels in decades.
Eventually, we'll all realize the problem is not too much government regulation. It's too little. Excessive regulation did not cause the oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. Or the financial crisis on Wall Street and at AIG. Or salmonella and listeria outbreaks. Do we really want more people to die of cantaloupes polluted with listeria? Or ground beef and turkey with salmonella? We rely on the government to protect us. And the problem is not that we are overprotected, but that Republicans continually try to thwart and prevent government from doing the job.
Occupy Wall Street is a wake-up call to us all. We can't allow extremists to dismantle our protections. And we can't allow businesses to force us to accept minimum-wage jobs with 1099's, and no overtime protections, and, heaven forbid, no medical benefits. We had those protections thirty years ago. And little by little, we let them get taken away from us while Wall Street got richer and richer..
Last week I read that donations to the New York City Opera company had INCREASED this year by more than 50%!! Rome burns while Nero fiddles?? Opera????
Come on. Yes, it is a lovely art form. But there are homeless people on the streets of America. Record numbers are hungry. And uninsured. And unemployed for years at a time.
We can turn it around, if we all realize that if we stick together we can cause change. We can light a single candle. Or we can curse the darkness.
We can make a start right here by banding together, uniting, and demanding better working conditions for ourselves, and our fellow workers. This is the start of something. And I think it's the start of something good.