Lewisburg Pennsylvania is a small (Pop 5500) town in central Pennsylvania, It is located in the 2nd most republican county in Pa. with a 2-1 D-R voter registration. More than 300 people showed up for the Occupy Lewisburg event on 10/15 The highlight of the event was a 10 year old speaker saying very simply "Please help me have a future"
I'm impressed with how the Occupy movement in reaching out to each other is also forming alliances with other grass roots groups that are alienated from the system. The OWS folks in State College have joined with citizens protesting fracking, the coalition building of groups that might have separate agendas, but the same underlying complaint - the injustice of crony capitalism - is something the powers that be could not have forseen. Just as the Arab Spring caught the power elite in the Middle East by surprise, the national suicide watch that Congress made the nation endure this past spring absolutely enraged Americans, a few took to the street, their numbers grew, the government/finance axis of evil was not only caught off guard, but in their stupidity engaged in acts certain to grow the movement. The one thing that revolutionaries have historically had going for them is the stupidity and blindness of the ruling class. And it appears todays situation is no different, Wall Street better hope Obama can pull a FDR and save capitalism.
The Occupy Movement from New York City has spread across the globe and popped up in Lewisburg, PA on Saturday, October 15th. Venturing down to the Lewisburg Post Office, I was not sure what I would find, but was definitely surprised to see the crowd that was swarming the front of the building. While looking for a parking spot, I thought that I was doing something wrong because everyone kept honking, but I soon realized that there was a man on the edge of the crowd (which pushed into the street) with a sign that read “Honk if you are fed up!”
I first stood on the outside and observed as various leaders, students, and children spoke, but then worked up the courage to make my way in. I wanted to see if the citizens of Lewisburg had the same reasons for protesting as the citizens of New York. I was wondering if the reasons I found in my last blog of corporate greed, economic inequality, and function of banks were relevant to the citizens of Lewisburg.
The first lady I spoke to was a middle-aged woman who has Type One Diabetes and has been unable to get medication. She believes that health insurance is tied directly to employment and that people that are unemployed do not have the opportunities for proper healthcare. If the 1% was taxed more heavily, it could be used to create better healthcare programs for everyone. She then told me about a documentary called, “Apology of and Economic Hit Man,” which showed how Americans would go into Latin America and demand them to follow certain rules. She related this to the current ties between politics and Wall Street, saying that Obama is just a puppet of Wall Street.
I was next drawn to a family with captivating signs and they expressed their concern of the Marcellus Shale debate. Owning property in the region for over 300 years, they were concerned for the effects on the environment. According to the family, drilling in this region would lead to exploitation of the land. The elderly man of the group even joked about Pennsylvania becoming “Pennsyl-tucky” or “Pennsyl-ginia.” The family has put their land into conservation for these reasons. (If you are interested in taking a field trip to his beautiful property, let me know because he gave me his number!)
The last people I spoke to were two students from Susquehanna University. Their biggest concern is that Americans in power don’t care and that our entire system is based on elitism. The male student explained his concern with the cost of higher education (which seems to be mandatory for a good job) and how difficult this made it for families with lower incomes to get the same opportunities as those with higher incomes. This perpetual cycle beats down the poor and further elevates the rich. The students compared America to other countries, such as Austria and Denmark, where healthcare and college education are free. Their solution is to tax the corporations and the rich. I was still curious about their thoughts on economic inequality and the students’ response was that “people on Wall Street think that nobody is working as hard as they are, so they deserve such high pay.” Instead, they believed that employees of Wall Street had connections, which led them to these jobs, not because of a superior work ethic. Most interestingly, the female student concluded by saying everyone should think twice about taking these opportunities to use connections because it is not fair to those people who don’t have those opportunities. Although this would make sense in a morally equal world, I am not sure if it could ever actually be implemented in today’s world.
The people who I spoke with today all had completely different concerns and reasons for occupying Lewisburg, but still came together under the common belief for a need for change in America (Della Port et al’s framing idea).
Let's meet in Lewisburg, PA Saturday, November 5, 2011, 1:00 PMSelected By: David Kristjanson-Gural
Post Office Building, Downtown
Lewisburg, PA (map)
Selected by: David Kristjanson-Gural
Occupy Lewisburg will rally on Saturday, November 5th from 1-2pm to support Bank Transfer Day along with MoveOn's campaign's Make Them Pay. Bring a sign; come prepared to speak your mind.
The Act-Up to follow the rally (2-3:30) will be a chance to organize local actions with other members of the community. It will be held at the Campus Theater on Market St.
We will also have a free public showing of the movie Inside Job, starring Matt Damon at 10:30 AM at the Campus Theater.
We hope you can join us. Spread the word.
Let’s Occupy Together by David Kristjanson-Gural
I’m not sure why the media are having such trouble figuring out the demands of Occupy Wall St. Recently, a seven-year-old girl, Celia Cooley, went down to Zuccotti Park and, posing as a reporter, she asked people why they were there (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x12iOQYY0w8). What they said was quite consistent and quite reasonable and quite comprehensible to this young girl. They said: We want our democracy back.
Anyone who is confused about what the protesters want has probably been listening to too much corporate news. Corporate news stations present themselves as trustworthy and unbiased, but they are owned by large multinational corporations like General Electric and Westinghouse, and these are the folks that are benefitting from the policies that the protesters decry.
These news outlets don’t want the message of Occupy Wall St. to be heard. They don’t want the protesters portrayed as ordinary Americans who have been bilked of their savings and booted out of the middle class and who are justifiably demanding that things change. If you’ve been watching corporate news and you are confused, the first thing to do is to broaden your sources of information. Go to the non-commercial news sites on the Internet and listen to the chorus of ordinary Americans who are saying very clearly what’s wrong and who are making sensible suggestions about how to go about fixing it.
Here is some of what you will learn:
The economic crisis did not start because suddenly poor people started taking out mortgages on homes they couldn’t afford to pay for. It didn’t start because of some corporate bad apples. Think about it. The job of a lender is to determine if a person is credit worthy. The reason loans were given to people who couldn’t afford them was simply that banks no longer had an incentive to find out if people were credit worthy. Why? Because banks were permitted to sell the mortgages to other companies for a profit, rather than waiting to collect on the loan. The big banks pushed loans on people because they were making profit, hand over fist, from selling these loans to investors.
Why were the investors buying bad mortgages? Because they were permitted to bundle them together with other loans to look like safe investments. Why did these investments look safe, because the folks in the rating agencies, who were supposed to rate these investments, were not sufficiently regulated and worked in cahoots with the big banks.
The problem, in short, was not individual behavior; the problem was that the system was jury-rigged. Corporate lobbyists took over Congress and rewrote the banking laws in their favor. As long as home prices went up, banks made a killing. When the music stopped, instead of taking their consequences, big banks got their insiders at the Fed and the Treasury Department in D.C. to bail them out. Then they got their friends their in corporate media affiliates to point their fingers at the borrowers ( the ones who are now homeless) and at big government (for wasting taxpayer money). Meanwhile, Wall St. banks go on their merry way, paying out bonus, rewarding failure, avoiding the consequences of their actions, and continuing to use our Congress as their personal playground.
That’s just wrong. That’s why folks are on the streets.
If you are in the Tea Party, you probably believe many of the same things that Occupy Wall St. supporters believe. People should play by the rules. People should be punished when they do something wrong. If you reward people for cheating, they are likely to continue to misbehave. Like supporters of OWS, you probably believe that our government should be accountable to us, we the people, and that the government should not collude with powerful elites to deprive people of the right to a livelihood, or to kick them out of their homes. You probably believe that government shouldn’t write laws that favor powerful interests in order to raise enough money to get re-elected.
I support Occupy Wall St. You and I may have our differences, but I think we share a commitment to restoring the integrity of this democracy. I think we can agree that when a government no longer is responsive to the desires of the citizens, that it is the responsibility of citizens to act together. The government itself is not the problem; the problem is that the government has been taken over by wealthy elites who do not have our interests at heart. It is time for us to stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder, Republican and Democrat, on the streets of this great country and take our democracy back.
Turn off the corporate news, talk to your fellow Americans, one by one, until you decide for yourself whether what I am saying is true. That’s what Celia is doing. There is no other test in a democracy but that of the ability of ideas to stand the test of evidence and reason. The values that our forbearers fought and died for are at stake. Nothing less.
Link ot Occupy Lewisburg On the Rachel Maddow Show - http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/08/8700203-and-how-did-you...
Occupy Wall St. befuddles the corporate media but that’s only because the message is so simple, so reasonable, and so unwelcome to corporate interests. We want our democracy back; we want economic justice. By occupying public space in approximately 350 cities and towns across the country, Occupy Wall St. is creating a dialogue about what has happened to our economy and democracy, how we can act to restore integrity to our democratic institutions and how we can restore fairness to our economic lives.
The occupations are making it possible for this debate to occur but they are doing more. The occupiers themselves are also demonstrating, by their internal organization, what real democracy looks like. The occupiers are taking their responsibilities as citizens seriously. They are informing themselves, discussing issues, formulating tactics and engaging in non-violent civil disobedience in an effort, as Mahatma Gandhi recommended, to “be the change they want to see in the world.”
If we believe their two key messages – that our democracy is not working and that we need to restore economic justice – then we have a civic responsibility to take heed of the example of these, our fellow citizens. We have a responsibility to inform ourselves of the arguments and evidence concerning our economic and political institutions, to decide what we believe to be true, and to then take what actions we deem to be appropriate.
We cannot rely on corporate media sources to uncover the message and meaning of Occupy Wall St. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the corporate media is not the solution to the problem; the corporate media is the problem. By all means, examine what these folks are saying about this movement, but then check this version of the facts with other sources, sources not beholden to shareholders or corporate money.
Here is a short list of a few sources that will provide you with a powerful antidote to what the corporate media has been selling, sources that will help you to determine, for yourself what is true, and what is to be done.
For an overview of the causes and consequences of the financial crisis that began in 2008, see the documentary Inside Job, produced and directed by Charles Ferguson. You can purchase this film inexpensively on-line and it is well worth the small investment, or you can borrow the film from Netflix or a local library.
For ideas concerning how ordinary citizens can act to restore control of government regulation and insist that elected representative represent the will of the people:
1. Learn about how Iceland is responding to the crisis by using referenda to wrest control of the economic lives from the corporate financial elites.
2. Learn about how Maine has passed electoral reform to support public financing of elections.
For news and editorial coverage that is supportive of the aims of the Occupy Wall St. movement :
For economic facts, figures, humor and analysis:
For local information on Occupy Wall St. actions.
If you support the value of democratic participation, inform yourself by confronting information in both corporate and non-corporate forms of media. You find some surprising information and points of view. And you will come to hold your beliefs with the secure foundation of having grappled with others who think differently.
In 1980 Howard Zinn published "A People's History of the United States" in his conclusion, which follows, he predicts the Occupy Movement.
"THE COMING REVOLT OF THE GUARDS
People with time, in friendly communities, might create a new,diversified, nonviolent culture, in which all forms of personal and group expression would be possible. Men and women, black and white, old and young, could then cherish their differences as positive attributes,not as reasons for domination. New values of cooperation and freedom might then show up in the relations of people, the upbringing of children. To do all that, in the complex conditions of control in the United States, would require combining the energy of all previous movements in American history--of labor insurgents, black rebels, Native Americans, women, young people-along with the new energy of an angry middle class.
People would need to begin to transform their immediate environments-the workplace, the family, the school, the community-by a series of struggles against absentee authority, to give control of these places to the people who live and work there.These struggles would involve all the tactics used at various times in the past by people's movements: demonstrations, marches, civil dis-obedience; strikes and boycotts and general strikes; direct action to redistribute wealth, to reconstruct institutions, to revamp relationships; creating-in music, literature, drama, all the arts, and all the areas of work and play in everyday life-a new culture of sharing, of respect, a new joy in the collaboration of people to help themselves and one another.
There would be many defeats. But when such a movement took hold in hundreds of thousands of places all over the country it would be impossible to suppress, because the very guards the system depends on to crush such a movement would be among the rebels. It would be a new kind of revolution, the only kind that could happen, I believe,in a country like the United States. It would take enormous energy,sacrifice, commitment, patience. But because it would be a process overtime, starting without delay, there would be the immediate satisfactions that people have always found in the affectionate ties of groups striving together for a common goal.
All this takes us far from American history, into the realm of imagination. But not totally removed from history. There are at least glimpses in the past of such a possibility. In the sixties and seventies,for the first time, the Establishment failed to produce national unity and patriotic fervor in a war. There was a flood of cultural changes such as the country had never seen-in sex, family, personal relations-exactly those situations most difficult to control from the ordinary centers of power. And never before was there such a general withdrawal of confidence from so many elements of the political and economic system. In every period of history, people have found ways to help one another--even in the midst of a culture of competition and violence-if only for brief periods, to find joy in work, struggle, companion-ship, nature.The prospect is for times of turmoil, struggle, but also inspiration.
There is a chance that such a movement could succeed in doing whatthe system itself has never done-bring about great change with little violence. This is possible because the more of the 99 percent that beginto see themselves as sharing needs, the more the guards and the prisoners see their common interest, the more the Establishment becomes isolated, ineffectual. The elite's weapons, money, control of information would be useless in the face of a determined population. The servants of the system would refuse to work to continue the old, deadly order, and would begin using their time, their space-the very things given them by the system to keep them quiet-to dismantle that system while creating a new one. The prisoners of the system will continue to rebel, as before, inways that cannot be foreseen, at times that cannot be predicted. The new fact of our era is the chance that they may be joined by the guards. We readers and writers of books have been, for the most part, among the guards. If we understand that, and act on it, not only will life be more satisfying, right off, but our grandchildren, or our great grandchildren, might possibly see a different and marvelous world."