Thursday, October 20, 2011

Swimming Against the Rural Western Mainstream in a World of Misconceptions

[Edited 10/21/11]
In This Edition:

- Lengthy Comments on Herald Op-Ed: "Sharing the protesters' anger, but worrying about my 401(k)"

- Additional Links on #Occupy Wall Street

- Iris Dement--Wasteland Of The Free


Comments on Herald Op-Ed: "Sharing the protesters' anger, but worrying about my 401(k)"

When, as an adult, I was able to explore the rural west, I was struck by its conservatism, as represented by the large majorities of registered Republicans and voting patterns in western rural counties. Millard County, Utah, where I once owned property and spent several months of each year, was a real shock, given that votes for Republican Presidential candidates hovered around 90%. When I moved to Grant, and then Baker County here in Oregon, similar feelings of minority political status surfaced, even though the political distribution was less lopsided and extreme than was the case in rural Utah. Only in these rural western counties had I experienced small town businesses putting pressure on local papers to tow a particular political line, and, at least in one case where the local businesses publicly spoke about removing their advertising, and thus the life-supporting revenue needed by the paper, if editorials or op-ed appeared with which they disagreed.

In the case of the small town commercial media, dependent on subscribers, and most importantly, on advertising revenue, one may reasonably suspect that when the opinions rendered by the local paper most often reflect the political makeup of the community, that it is the the local politics, especially those of the business interests that provide advertising revenue, that drives the opinions and articles rendered. On the other hand, one might also reasonably assume that people who pass the hiring filter at the local paper may reflect the political opinions of the publisher or owners who reflect the major political forces in the community. (After all, it is unlikely that a news outlet in business to make money is going to hire a howling progressive to run a paper in a conservative community.) Either way, it works out well for the commercial interest of the media outlet, with the only problem being that media likes to present themselves as the great objective voice that readers and viewers can trust, fair and balanced, as they say.

If anyone is aware of the local political demography here in Baker County, besides the County Clerk and political party heads, it is Jason Jacoby, editor of the Baker City Herald. He wrote a delightfully detailed article a while back (The urban-rural divide in Baker County; and eating crow on Dudley) that carefully described those demographics. His investigation revealed that:

- 46 percent of of all Baker County voters are registered Republicans.
- 28 percent of all Baker County voters are registered Democrats
- the rest, about 26 percent, are not affiliated with either party
- Within Baker City, "41.9 percent are registered Republicans, and 30.5 percent Democrats."

More telling perhaps, is, as Jayson says:

"Voter registration isn’t a foolproof way to gauge the political preferences of a populace, of course.

In the 2008 presidential election, for instance, Baker County voters went for Republican John McCain in a relatively big way — 64 percent."

So it is a bit complicated, but none-the-less, quite "conservative." Nothing, however, like rural Utah.

My take on all of this is that there isn't much difference between Republicans and Democrats in Baker County. Both parties here are really rather conservative, as they are nationwide. That's why some call them the two wings of the business party (or is that the war party?)

(I must admit, that I am particularly alone as a member of the Progressive Party aligned with the likes of Ralph Nader--do they still exist? Haven't heard much from them lately.)

Trust of media, of course, as opposed to trust of partisan bloggers like myself, depends on objective journalists, who try to stick to the facts, and check on whether those "facts" are actually facts. Otherwise, we would be left with demagogues, who report any notion, or recent email, as fact, and twist their falsehoods as they want, in order to please themselves and the political persuasion of their audience. Worse than self-admitted partisan bloggers perhaps.

Recall that Dan Rather, long-time anchor of CBS News was fired for reporting "facts" that may have actually been true:

"The documents [presented by 60 minutes in early 2009] suggested that Mr. Bush disobeyed an order to appear for a physical exam, and that friends of the Bush family tried to "sugar coat" his Guard service.

After a stubborn 12-day defense of the story, CBS News conceded that it could not confirm the authenticity of the documents and asked former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press President Louis Boccardi to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.

Their findings were contained in a 224-page report made public on Monday. While the panel said it was not prepared to brand the Killian documents as an outright forgery, it raised serious questions about their authenticity and the way CBS News handled them."

Was Dan Rather fired for reporting the "facts" or for reporting questionable facts? Apparently there is at least a selective standard applied to the "facts" that commercial media journalists report, as opposed to those reported by "crazy" bloggers ("crazy blogger"--Dave Miller-"Think Out Loud"/OPB/NPR).

All of which brings me to a recent Jason Jacoby Op-Ed in the "Baker City Herald", which mocks the Occupy Wall Street movement "Sharing the protesters' anger, but worrying about my 401(k)."

In a county as conservative and ours, I have no doubt that it was well received by most.

About the Occupy Wall Street protests, Jayson, in his admirably sarcastic and flowery prose, says:

"Well, I kind of understand.
The economy stinks.

And Wall Street is the symbolic, and malodorous, heart of the putrefying American financial system."

and that:

"(. . . the presence of sign-waving hordes is as predictable as autumn rain puddles.)

What’s not clear to me, though, is which actions we’re supposed to take against the omnipotent cabal that controls America — the so-called 1-percenters — that will confer any tangible benefit on everyone else.

And by “we” I mean the voters.

Forgive my childlike innocence, but I still believe the best way to fix any mess in the halls of power is with the ballot, generally speaking a more potent slip of paper than the most cleverly phrased protest sign."

"Childlike innocence" indeed, and from such a bright guy! This full half page (The Herald will give you 350 word to express your opinion.) of mocking misrepresentations, with its barely veiled contempt for Americans practicing their rights to protest policies that have left them in dire straits, was printed on the Friday (10/14/11) before last weekend's unprecedented worldwide protests against the prevailing global financial system involving "1,500 cities, including 100 cities in the United States—all in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement that launched one month ago in New York City." See Democracy Now!

I understand why, after the outrageous Obama fraud, and many fruitless protests over the years, one might question whether these protests will go anywhere, but given their depth and breadth across this nation and the world, I wouldn't characterize them to be exactly "as predictable as autumn rain puddles."

What actions are we, Jayson says, "supposed to take?"

Hint--Something more than badgering cynicism and demagoguery.

Something more than inferring that the most important social movement in recent American history is insignificant.

Something more than saying that one is worried about their 401(k), which Wall Street no doubt trashed a few years ago anyway, along with the 401(k) s of millions of other Americans.

(See: Retirement Dreams Disappear With 401(k)s March 23, 2010

"(CBS) The effects of the current economic crisis have touched everyone. Even if you still have a good job and a paid up mortgage, chances are your monthly 401(k) statement will remind you that you've lost a good chunk of your savings.

Trillions of dollars have evaporated from those accounts that have become the prime source of retirement funds for a majority of American workers, affecting their psyche and their future. If you are still young enough, there's time to rebuild and recover, but if you are in your 50s, 60s or beyond the consequences can be dire, and its drawing attention to the shortcomings of a retirement system that has jeopardized the financial security of tens of millions of people."

Something more than the cynical or naive true believer notion that "'we' ,,, "the voters" can fix the problem with a vote" in a system controlled by big money and the political elite.

Something more than blind faith in a system that in recent decades has failed the majority of Americans time and time again--from the union busting, consequent wage depression, and deregulation of the Reagan administration, to the long-term flooding of the labor market via mass immigration policies, to the savings and loan fiasco, to the high-tech bubble, and on to the really monstrous and predictable collapse of the housing bubble. Boom and bust, over and over. It is a system that burns up decent hard-working Americans in one crisis and phony war after another, and then largely ignores them. Looks like the people are getting a little tired of it and are willing to start doing something about it, which of course scares the bejesus out of the comfortable, who came through these upheavals unscathed for the most part.

As Richard Wolff (Professor of Economics Emeritus, U. of Mass., Amherst) said recently ("Letters and Politics,"):

"If you lived with a [loved one] who was as unstable as Capitalism, you would long ago have moved out, or demanded that [the] other person get some professional help! But you live in an economic system that is unspeakably unstable, and you accept it."

The Herald Op-Ed speaks about the 1 percent, but doesn't tell us much about them. The one percent are but a symbol, used by #Occupy Wall Street, to represent the social and economic inequality in this country. The inequality in wealth and opportunity between the top one percent and those in the middle and below is so enormous that, once understood, crystallizes in general discontent, now represented by a movement that is about much more than the one percent.

According to Henry Giroux, (Got Class Warfare? Occupy Wall Street Now!):

"The richest 1 percent in the 1970s only took in about "8-9 percent of American total annual income," whereas today they take in 23.5 percent.(9) Furthermore, as University of California-Berkeley Professor Emmanuel Saez states in his study of inequality, 10 percent of Americans as of 2007 have taken in 49.7 percent of all wages, "higher than any other year since 1917."(10)"

No big deal to the presently comfortable I guess.

The Herald piece goes on to say that:

"Even if we seize a significant portion of the 1 percent’s allegedly ill-gotten gains, I don’t see how, if we spread this considerable sum among the 99 percent in anything resembling an equal formula, that anybody’s going to end up with much more than a couple payments on the mortgage."

Perhaps, but the claim is really just a straw man distraction from the real motivations and intent of the #Occupy Wall Street movement, which is not simply about taking the money of the 1 percent and sending checks to the 99%.

Right now I don't have those figures, and the article doesn't provide a citation for them either, just some speculation. What is missing from the Op-Ed's analysis, is any understanding that Occupy Wall Street's 1% is simply symbolic of our country's gross inequality in income distribution, and all that it entails. Inferring that Occupy Wall Street is busy devising a scheme to seize and divvy up the 1 percent’s booty so as to send out checks to the 99% is a gross mischaracterization and distraction from what they are really about, which in part is to create a more participatory and meaningful democracy where greed, fraud, and inequality are minimized, starting with Wall Street.

For the sake of argument though, here is a figure from Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research, concerning the effects on the typical family of the upward income distribution to the top 5%:

If Our Children Don't Do Better Than Us, It Will Be Because the Top 1 Percent Took It All

Monday, 17 October 2011 05:46

Robert Samuelson warns that our children may not do better than us. His warning is based on rising health care costs, aging of the population and the resulting rise in Social Security and Medicare expenses, and the risk of an end to productivity growth. Remarkably the upward redistribution of income doesn't feature in his story.

This is striking since upward redistribution is such a huge part of the picture. His example of workers not gaining is taken from a Health Affairs article that reported that 95 percent of compensation growth from 1999 to 2009 for a median four person family was eaten up by inflation and health care costs. However, if there had not been an upward redistribution of income over this period, compensation for a typical family would be about 10 percent higher (@$10,000 in today's dollars).

What about $10,000 per family, or at least a 10% increase in family income that was instead accrued by the top 5%? Is that enough money to pay the mortgage on foreclosed property owners for enough months to please the nervously comfortable?

And then there is this analysis, Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%, by Joseph Stiglitz:

It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent.

One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top.

In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today.

The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

Some people look at income inequality and shrug their shoulders. So what if this person gains and that person loses? What matters, they argue, is not how the pie is divided but the size of the pie. That argument is fundamentally wrong. An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this.

First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible.

Second, many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy. This new inequality goes on to create new distortions, undermining efficiency even further. To give just one example, far too many of our most talented young people, seeing the astronomical rewards, have gone into finance rather than into fields that would lead to a more productive and healthy economy.

Third, and perhaps most important, a modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. The United States and the world have benefited greatly from government-sponsored research that led to the Internet, to advances in public health, and so on. But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels. Further cutbacks in these areas lie ahead.

None of this should come as a surprise—it is simply what happens when a society’s wealth distribution becomes lopsided. The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good. The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes. . . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called “self-interest properly understood.” The last two words were the key. Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what’s good for me right now! Self-interest “properly understood” is different. It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else’s self-interest—in other words, the common welfare—is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being. Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook—in fact, he was suggesting the opposite. It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.

The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late."

See the rest of this important article, written over four months prior to the world-wide Occupy Wall Street protest.

Jayson: [I] "understand--kind of"?

Next comes the suggestion that we would be shooting ourselves in the foot if we redistributed wealth:

"Besides which, if we take all that money then who’s going to pay the taxes that keep Medicare and Medicaid and all those social programs afloat?"

This question implies that the rich are paying so much money in taxes that we are fortunate that things are arranged the way they are.

Thing is, as Warren Buffet recently explained (see "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich", the very rich folks like himself are paying a much smaller percentage of their income in taxes than do the middle class workers he employs. Buffett explains:

"If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage [in taxes] may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.
To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher [Higher still, like around 90% for top brackets, if you go back to the 1940's--Chris], and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
. . . .
I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.
But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."

Here is another enlightening article:

How I Paid Only 1% of My Income in Federal Income Tax

"In a recent newspaper interview, I mentioned my absurdly low tax rate to illustrate the extent to which the tax system is biased in favor of the wealthy (my income varies widely from year to year, but is typically north of half a million dollars). My point was that with our country facing frightening budget deficits amid an ever-widening income gap between the rich and everybody else, I consider it both unwise and unfair that a former investment banker like myself pays less in taxes than working Americans with far lower incomes.

Among the dozens of emails I received in response were many from people who assumed that rich people avoid taxes through complicated strategies devised by an army of expensive advisors (many correspondents asked for the name of my accountant). But under our current tax system, the rich don't need high-priced lawyers who exploit obscure loopholes; I wasn't even trying to minimize my taxes (and, in fact, could have paid zero tax if I was). Warren Buffett has observed that if there's class warfare in this country, the rich are winning. I offer my 2009 tax return, then, as a flare to illuminate the battlefield.

Americans are understandably angry over the government's multi-billion-dollar bailouts of reckless bankers. But low tax rates on investment income have put far more money into Wall Street's pockets than the TARP bill did. Even President Obama's proposal to let the Bush tax cuts lapse for the richest Americans would leave a top marginal rate on capital gains and qualified dividends of just 20% -- half the proposed rate on labor income.

This difference creates a loophole you can drive a Rolls Royce through. . . . ."

My take is that if the wealth were redistributed downward, more revenue would be raised, because the lower brackets seem to always pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. If, in addition, tax rates on the very rich were raised back towards what they used to be, assuming reasonable fiscal responsibility in Congress, our budget problems would be over.

But who cares about concentration of wealth in America, because, after all, Jayson says:

". . . such abominations [should not be used] as a pretext for, in essence, busting up an entire economic system. For all its faults, that system has contributed to a society in which even those in the lower tier of the 99 percent, were they to consider the matter soberly and honestly, must admit they’ve made out pretty well over the decades.

(Sure there are exceptions. But how many bloated-belly toddlers have you seen recently? And Africa doesn’t count.)
[Apparently, belly size is supposed to be the new standard for health and a satisfying and productive life. -Chris]

Yet dismantling the Wall Street oligarchy seems to be a theme among this budding protest movement.

This might sound satisfying when you’re striding down the street, aglow with populist solidarity, your critical thinking skills subsumed by the crude power of the crowd."

Whoa--wait a minute--"busting up an entire economic system?" "dismantling the Wall Street oligarchy?"

My take is that people participating in the protests want to see Wall Street and the financial system regulated in an effective manner (yes, they used to be) which prevents the sort of greed, fraud, bubble creation, and Too-Big-to-Fail behavior that has brought financial disaster, home foreclosures, and personal insecurity to many millions of Americans.

And given the thought and facts that went into the Op-Ed, don't get me started on "critical thinking skills."

Jayson Jacoby, the editor of the Herald then states:

"I haven’t filched any of my meager dollars from some oppressed minority of laborers, either. I just show up for work when I’m supposed to.

There are tens of millions of Americans who do the same (although not as many as a few years ago). We’re all part of that mistreated middle class the protesters purport to represent, and as I said, many of us are equally disgusted by the more egregious abuses of crony capitalism."

Great Jayson, so glad you have a job you can show up to, with the family and all, but many millions of Americans who want one, with families and all, don't have one. But then maybe they can't produce mindless Op-Eds that cater to the well off and conservative patrons.

"Equally disgusted?" I'm thinking maybe they are not equally disgusted, but in fact much more disgusted, given that they don't have a paycheck and the security you now have. They might be disgusted because the homes they live in, or used used to live in, and had invested in, are now underwater or foreclosed upon. Maybe many of them, our younger generation, are wondering how they are ever going to pay off their gargantuan student loans in a system that has provided no jobs for them. They might even be wondering why their government doesn't provide free or subsidized higher education, as some other successful countries do. Maybe they don't have the national heath insurance for all that other western industrial nations provide. Perhaps an unforeseen health issue has caused them to go bankrupt. Perhaps it was not because they didn't want to "show up for work," but because the system controlled by the greed and criminal behavior of Wall street speculators, bought off politicians, and corporations, not to mention simple discrimination, caused the current economic disruption they are victims of.

The Op-Ed goes on to toss out yet another straw man:

"But I’d also wager that most of us would appreciate it if the marchers avoid trampling our 401(k)s while they’re clambering up to the penthouse to get their hands on those conniving 1-percenters."

Interesting imagery considering that the protests have thus far been pretty peaceful, aside from some bad behavior by the gendarmes.

Interesting too, because there is no mention of the harm done by the Wall Street bubble collapse to the 401(k)s of Americans lucky enough to have them. (See link above (

And then we are told:

"But speaking as a member of the people, I don’t want to spend my golden years eating ramen three times a day (or scraps of poster board) because one of the consequences of my power grab is that the market gobbled my retirement and excreted a few pellets of Social Security.

(And I probably won’t get those anyway.)"

I hate to be the one to inform the Herald that "the market" and the corporations have been gobbling up retirements for decades now. (Most recently, see again (

See also, for example:
Court approves termination of United Airlines pension plans

One suspects that some true believers still don't understand the game.

While I understand people's nervousness, given the mainstream media's constant propaganda about the coming end of Social Security, the reference to the collapse of Social Security is not supported by the facts and only serves as a self fulfilling prophesy. As more people, young people in particular, are led to believe that Social Security won't be there for them, these claims provide political support for it's dismantling. Then all people will have is their winnings or losses gambled on 401(k)s, if they are wealthy enough to have one.

According to Dean Baker, in the post mentioned above (If Our Children Don't Do Better Than Us, It Will Be Because the Top 1 Percent Took It All)
Monday, 17 October 2011 05:46

"it would take just 5 percent of the projected wage growth over the next 30 years to make the Social Security trust fund fully solvent for the rest of the century."

So there are some problems with the Op-Ed from my perspective. But then we get to the part that I found even more troublesome--the most flimsy "straw man" allegation of them all perhaps:

"But after perusing some of the material allegedly associated with their campaign, including a 13-point manifesto, I see little reason to trust my financial future to their judgment."


"I hate to be cynical but it may well be that the protesters aren’t motivated mainly, or even largely, by a beneficent concern for the well-being of ordinary, politically obtuse Americans like me.

Consider, for instance, demand number three on that manifesto I mentioned: 'A guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.'

I have no idea if most, or even many, of the people participating in the various protests consider this a reasonable demand.
But I hope not."

These concerns are apparently in reference to a bogus manifesto that was circulating on the internet as early as October 9, 2011. But it was false.

The disclaimer is prominent at the top of the list:
Admin note: This is not an official list of demands. This is a forum post submitted by a single user and hyped by irresponsible news/commentary agencies like Fox News and This content was not published by the collective, nor was it ever proposed or agreed to on a consensus basis with the NYC General Assembly. There is NO official list of demands.

In the first edition of “The Occupied Wall Street Journal,” published a week or so earlier, they wrote:

"We are daring to imagine a new socio-political and economic alternative that offers greater possibility of equality. We are consolidating the other proposed principles of solidarity, after which demands will follow."

"No list of demands"
We are speaking to each other, and listening.
This occupation is first about participation." [The No list of demands statement was repeated in issue #2. ]

and that:

"Through a direct democratic process, we have come together as
individuals and crafted these principles of solidarity, which are points of
unity that include, but are not limited to:

- Engaging in direct and transparent participatory democracy;

- Exercising personal and collective responsibility;

- Recognizing individuals’ inherent privilege and the influence it has on all interactions;

- Empowering one another against all forms of oppression;

- Redefining how labor is valued;

- The sanctity of individual privacy;

- The belief that education is human right; and

- Endeavoring to practice and support wide application of open source."

They also said:

"Even now, three weeks later, the elites and their mouthpieces in the press continue to puzzle over what we want. Where is the list of demands? Why don’t they present us with specific goals? Why can’t they articulate what they need?

The goal to us is very, very clear. It can be articulated in one word — REBELLION. We have not come to work within the system. We are not pleading with the Congress for electoral reform. We know electoral politics is a farce. We have found another way to be heard and exercise power. We have no faith in the political system or the two major political parties. And we know the corporate press will not amplify our voices which is why we have a press of our own. We know the economy serves the oligarchs. We know that to survive this protest we will have to build non-hierarchical communal systems that care for everyone.

These are goals the power elite cannot comprehend. They cannot envision a day when they will not be in charge of our lives. The elites believe, and seek to make us believe, that globalization and unfettered capitalism are natural law, some kind of permanent and eternal dynamic that can never be altered. What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished. It will not stop until the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites, stops. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into massive debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured.

And that is why the elites, and the rotted and degenerate system of corporate power they sustain, are in serious trouble. . . . ."

A difficult task, for sure.

What troubles me, more than Jayson printing things he admits may not be true, even as he attacks them (straw men), is that somehow the Occupy Wall Street protestors "aren’t motivated mainly, or even largely, by a beneficent concern for the well-being of ordinary, politically obtuse Americans like me." Why would someone admit they lack political intelligence and sensitivity, and then suspect that the protesters might not be concerned about them? Could it be that protesters may not be concerned and beneficent towards people that are clearly hostile to them? Beats me. I do hope the statement is not yet another version of the "I'm doing OK, so what's wrong with you?--get a job!" mantra that seems so prevalent in conservative circles these days. Seems to me that the Occupy Wall Street folks are trying to create a more fair and democratic system (spare me the rhetoric about a "republic" unless you also want to talk about the "general welfare" mentioned in the preamble to the Constitution!) that benefits everyone, even newspaper editors that disparage them.

That's what it is about folks, from their own journal. It is not about the Straw Men erected by the media so as to discredit and trivialize a promising movement that the media and the comfortable see as threatening. It is in fact a serious movement with the best of intentions and values, backed by action and sacrifice, about real hope and social change--one that could bring something valuable to the whole of society, as well as to the oligarchs and their apologists.


Got Class Warfare?
Got Class Warfare? Occupy Wall Street Now!


Former Financial Regulator William Black: Occupy Wall Street a Counter to White-Collar Fraud

Dylan Ratigan Show--Occupy Wall Street--Not Left-Right, Republican Democrat--William Black, David Degraw

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Chris Hedges: "This one could take them all down." Hedges on OWS w/ OccupyTVNY -- 10/15/11


Occupy Wall Street (FULL) Interview with Chris Hedges Part 1


Public and 'Occupy Wall Street' Movement Agree on Key Issues

SEC Cases Bypass Top Execs to Target Employees for Negligence


Iris Dement--Wasteland Of The Free

Living in the wasteland of the free...

We got preachers dealing in politics and diamond mines
and their speech is growing increasingly unkind
They say they are Christ's disciples
but they don't look like Jesus to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got politicians running races on corporate cash
Now don't tell me they don't turn around and kiss them peoples' ass
You may call me old-fashioned
but that don't fit my picture of a true democracy
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got CEO's making two hundred times the workers' pay
but they'll fight like hell against raising the minimum wage
and If you don't like it, mister, they'll ship your job
to some third-world country 'cross the sea
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let's blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars
So what do we do, we put these little kids behind prison doors
and we call ourselves the advanced civilization
that sounds like crap to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got high-school kids running 'round in Calvin Klein and Guess
who cannot pass a sixth-grade reading test
but if you ask them, they can tell you
the name of every crotch on MTV
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he's standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let's blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

While we sit gloating in our greatness
justice is sinking to the bottom of the sea
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free

Iris DeMent & Emmy Lou Harris - Our Town

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