Today is the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Many people believe that OWS ended—was crushed, really—months ago; they think that it never survived the winter.
Those people haven’t been paying attention.
Occupy Wall Street has grown, although it has become so commonplace that it no longer receives media attention … but make no mistake: it is there.
The point of OWS is to represent the interests of 99% of the population—not just here, but globally. Most folks don’t understand that our global economy is literally collapsing and that we’re on the brink of exhausting our fossil fuels and precious metals. The people who participate in OWS understand these simple truths and are pissed off—rightfully so—that they work like dogs and have nothing to show for it but a mountain of debt. Students borrow tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars to educate and “better” themselves—and when they graduate, it is with a worthless degree and they find themselves working for minimum wage and are unable to repay their loans. In my lifetime, the cost of higher education has gone up 900%.
Every year the common man works a little harder and a little longer for a wage that remains stagnant, while the cost of living soars. We’re forced to borrow money at interest, not just for houses and cars, but just to make it until the end of the month.
More and more people are becoming dependent on government programs such as food stamps, medical assistance, and subsidized housing. These people are not lazy; they cannot support themselves on the meager wages they earn from corporate giants such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s. The six Waltons who are behind Wal-Mart have more wealth than the bottom 41.5% of Americans, yet they would never consider cutting into their profits in order to pay their employees—the people who do all of the work—a livable wage.
Time after time, the crooks on Wall Street have brought our economy to the sinking point with their inherently-risky investments and bubble economics. The latest crisis in 2008 was the worst one to date. The American government (people) bailed out the banks, who are now even more consolidated and powerful than they were before.
Mitt Romney doesn’t understand this and he doesn’t care to. A series of videos have surfaced that catch the candidate making ludicrously-candid statements, all of which go a long way toward illustrating his nefarious character.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney says in one clip. “All right—there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
What a foolish notion, that people living in the 21st Century in the “greatest nation on Earth,” would advocate healthcare, food, and housing for all citizens. The only thing standing in the way of making this a reality is pure, unadulterated greed.
Mitt Romney is right: I do think that everyone should be provided with these basic things—and don’t forget education—however, I would settle for an environment in which everyone could just afford to pay for these things themselves. Someone making minimum wage cannot afford these things, and minimum wage is supposed to be the minimum amount of money required for an adult to support him/herself. We’re called “the working poor” for a reason.
It’s true that 47% of Americans pay no federal income tax; however, approximately 7% of them are paying payroll taxes. Example: family of 5 with an income of $50,000 per year. They don’t make enough to pay income tax. The other 40% make less than $20,000 per year—these are the people working for minimum wage and seniors. Apparently, your parents, grandparents, and young-adult children are all lazy, shiftless, worthless pieces of shit and Mitt Romney couldn’t care less about them. Oh, and chances are that you are too.
Columnist George Will said this: “We are reaching the tipping point where the majority of Americans are recipients of government programs. Heavens, one in seven of Americans is on food stamps today. The gamble—it’s really not a gamble, the tactic—of the Democratic Party is to run up the dependency ratio in this country until you get 50 – 60 percent of Americans dependent on the government in at least one or often in multiple ways, at which point they figure the party of government will always win.”
This has nothing to do with the Democratic Party and it’s no tactic—it’s no accident, either. America has become a plutocracy, which can be defined thusly: In modern times, the term is sometimes used pejoratively to refer to societies rooted in state-corporate capitalism or which prioritize the accumulation of wealth over other interests.
It is greed and the shrinking middle class that is responsible for more and more people resorting to welfare. If the trend continues, there will be just a few very rich individuals left at the top while the rest of the country lives in stunning poverty.
According to The Huffington Post: But there are a few problems with the idea of the overburdened “53 percent.” Many Americans don’t pay federal income taxes, in part, because of deductions like the child tax credit that have been championed by conservatives and progressives alike. Almost all of the “47 percent” do pay other federal taxes in the form of Social Security and Medicare payroll deductions and gas levies, as well as a variety of state and local sales and property taxes that aren’t dependent on income.
Amen. It may be true that 47% of Americans don’t pay any federal income tax, but it’s because they make so little money that they can’t afford to. If you make $15,000 or $20,000 a year, you’re lucky if you can keep the lights on and a can of soup in the cupboard.
When Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho heard about the videos, she said, “Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy. As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work.” Gitcho’s nose was banging against one of the teleprompters at this point and it continued to grow as she concluded: “Mitt Romney’s plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs.”
First of all, this nation was in shambles when Obama took office and he has turned it around; although, without fixing the underlying problems in the system, we’re still doomed. And Mitt Romney’s “plan” does nothing more than ship jobs overseas and give more useless tax breaks to the wealthy, while raising taxes on the middle class.
And Mitt Romney plays the race card: “My dad, as you probably, know was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico … and, uh, had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico…. I mean I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”
I remember when the OWS movement began a year ago, Secret Laboratory was still my personal blog and I was just beginning to get a handle on what’s wrong with this country. The last 12 months have been exciting, depressing, and more than anything, busy. We’ve got an election to cover and the OWS folks are going to play a role in that. I’d like to remind you that on our homepage, towards the bottom of the screen, we have four OWS Live channels embedded in the left-hand sidebar. Check them out. And go to some of the OWS-related sites listed on our links page and see what you can do to help—or at least do your homework and find out why you too are a part of the fabled 99%.
Here’s your wisdom:
John T. Schmitz is the editor & publisher of Secret Laboratory; he is the founder of Maple Hills Press and has also freelanced as a writer and photographer, contributing to various local and international publications. Mr. Schmitz lives in Minnesota with his wife, Megan, and their two children; he is the author of five books.
Email Mr. Schmitz at email@example.com.