Why Occupy?

There is a sickness in our country. A binding and far-reaching disease that has decimated our economy, corrupted our leaders, and left Americans holding the bag. It has been said that the top 1% of people in the country control 99% of the wealth, power, and government; it has also been said that we must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Over the past few years we’ve seen the divide between the haves and the have-nots widen astronomically. While investment bankers made billions off the backs of stretched-thin Americans who believed it was their time to prosper as well, corporations were given the go-ahead to channel unlimited amounts of money into political contributions by the Supreme Court. Millions of hard-working citizens lost their jobs, their homes, and their livelihoods while tax money went to bail out the investment banks and the insurance companies that made it all possible.

Always follow the money.

There is one reason our government does not work. There is one reason “our representatives” play politics instead of doing their jobs. There is one reason why even the media we rely on to get our facts and become informed citizens is slanted and processed and mainly just plain hype. It is money. It is greed.

-Corporations and people with money are able to exert influence and control over the American political system through campaign contributions and funneling cash into campaigns and lobbyists.

-Major corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google are pushing for a “tax holiday” in which the TRILLIONS$$ they hold in US BANKS as “overseas profits” (ie what they claim are profits made in business abroad, and thus avoiding having to pay US Taxes) will be transferred into the “US economy” without the appropriate taxes paid. These corporations claim this money will then boost the economy by allowing them to spend it on hiring, creating jobs, etc. However Congress has done this before. In 2004′s “the American Jobs Creation Act,” Congress allowed major corporations to bring home offshore profits at a tax rate of 5.25% – a fraction of the top corporate tax rate of 35 percent.  A two-year study by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that companies involved in the tax break failed to create new jobs and instead boosted executive paychecks.

-Despite bringing in $150 billion at a reduced tax rate, the top 15 corporations actually eliminated more than 20,000 U.S. jobs. They also reduced their research and development spending, despite arguments that the tax break would help companies spend more money on innovation.

-While those corporations whittled away their payrolls, they also spent more money on repurchasing their own stock (to increase its value) and on increasing executive pay. These stock repurchases went up by “16 percent the first year after the tax break and 38 percent the second year. Executive pay went up 27 percent the first year after the tax break and 30 percent the next.” (Carl Levin, US Senator, Argus Press)

-Since 2004, the corporations have dramatically increased the amount of money they keep offshore to avoid paying American taxes.

-At the height of the mortgage crisis in 2008, TARP and the American Taxpayer bailed out the very banks that created the crisis in the first place in order to save the economy from certain collapse. Original criteria and regulation for TARP was rejected by said banks in lieu of a loosely defined executive pay cap instead. Basically the banks that created the economic crisis told Washington that they wouldn’t take the TARP money if there were strict regulations on how they could spend it. That money should have been a solid stimulus for the failing economy, yet here we sit three years later in the midst of the same recession.

We were told we had a chance at the American dream… but came to realize that it was truly, only a dream. We went to college to better ourselves and make something with our lives, only to find the jobs we studied for disappear before our very eyes. We pulled ourselves up by our boot straps only to find ourselves in a race that needed nicer, fancier foot wear in order to compete. In America it is fairly easy to make money if you have it to begin with, but the simple truth is- the poor are staying poor, and the rich are still getting richer.

If you’ve seen the news lately you’ve seen the Occupy Wall Street movement. It started a month ago with a call to action from Anonymous, urging New Yorkers to peacefully, calmly, and democratically camp out in Zuccotti Park. Since that day the movement has not only gained press, but momentum as well. Joining the streaming/blogging/YouTubing protesters we’ve seen US Marines in dress uniform, heads of major labor unions, and celebrities alike… They’ve been corralled, arrested, pepper-sprayed, and yet almost a month later, the movement is spreading… All the while it is being laughed at by the mainstream media who view them as leaderless, left-wing, anarchist burn-outs, who should be looking for work.

Conservatives blast the movement for it’s lack of cohesiveness and singular vision, however is another mission statement what this country really needs? It is time to throw out the buzz words and the paradigms, the press releases and the sound bytes. Occupy has become larger than anyone could’ve imagined a month ago. What started with a protest in Lower Manhattan has steamrolled across the country, gaining momentum and support.

The time has come. The movement is here. They can not ignore it any longer. Use your voice. Use your internet. Use your hands. Do something. The revolution will not be televised.

“Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing a people to slavery.”

-Thomas Jefferson

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