In 2007 the richest 1 percent of the American population owned 34.6 percent of the country’s total wealth, and the next 19 percent owned 50.5 percent. Thus, the top 20 percent of Americans owned 85 percent of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80 percent of the population owned 15 percent. However, after the Great Recession which started in 2007, the share of total wealth owned by the top 1 percent of the population grew from 34.6 percent to 37.1 percent, and that owned by the top 20 percent of Americans grew from 85 percent to 87.7 percent. â€”Wikipedia, â€œWealth Inequality in the United States.â€
Occupy Wall Street deserves the praise and thanks of all Americans not of the fascist or plutocratic persuasion. OWS has reawakened our social consciences. OWS has reaffirmed our strong belief in social justice. OWS has reminded us what the teachings of Christ are all aboutâ€”in particular, that Jesus Christ was not a capitalist, a banker, a stockbroker, a corporation, a coupon clipper or a rich man.
OWS has reminded us of our duty to take up the cause of the poor, the evicted, the weak, the homeless, the politically powerless and all the victims of our heartless, relentless system of predatory and greedy capitalism, which favors the rich and the powerful and the strong, and cares nothing for everybody else.
Thank you, OWS, for reminding us that Ayn Randâ€™s defense of selfishness and greed, her sick notion of capitalism Ã¼ber alles and her hostile indifference to the plight of the lower socioeconomic classes is not the American way.
Thank you, OWS, for reminding us that there is a big difference between Jesus Christ and John Galt.
Thank you, OWS, for being a truly grass-roots movement, not a front financed by the wealthy and the powerful.
Thank you, OWS, for reminding us that the establishmentâ€”that is, the 1 percent and their zombified defenders and mouthpiecesâ€”have been bringing, are bringing, and intend to continue bringing ruin and suffering to the 99 percent.
Thank you, OWS, for reminding us that it was the capitalist establishment that wrecked our economy and produced the terrible unemployment and the foreclosures and the bankruptcies and the miseries that bedevil us today. It wasnâ€™t poor people, it wasnâ€™t labor unions, it wasnâ€™t blue collar workers, it wasnâ€™t students, it wasnâ€™t educators, who are responsible for the recent disastrous failure of capitalism. It was the affluent upper class that caused this catastropheâ€”the banksters, the stockbrokers, the big corporations and Wall Street itself.
Thank you, OWS, for reminding us that of course corporations are not people and of course they deserve fewer rights than citizens. In the language of one of the most popular OWS protest signs, â€œIâ€™ll believe corporations are people when they execute one in Texas.â€
Thank you, OWS, for showing us something we had forgottenâ€”the importance of free speech, free press and the right of the people to assemble peaceably and to petition the government for redress of grievances.
Thank you, OWS, for your courage in the face of police hostility and brutality. You have flourished despite mass arrests, kettling, pepper-spraying, flashbang explosive devices, tasers, rubber bullets, clubbing and phony criminal charges. You have braved our increasingly aggressive, militarized, out-of-control police. Armed only with the cause of truth and justice, you have bravely confronted Darth Vader look-alike police officers dressed up frighteningly in riot gear. Your bravery demonstrates that the American police establishment is more committed to rule by the rich than the rule of law. When the Tea Partiersâ€”and they are only the same old right-wing extremists, except they dress like Paul Revereâ€”publicly demonstrate with menacing words and while carrying loaded firearms, they are treated with kid gloves by police. On the other hand, when peaceful OWS protesters do nothing but exercise their First Amendment rights they are beaten and otherwise mistreated by police. They are also spied upon and infiltrated with police undercover agents. Shame on the American police! They are exposed as the bootlickers, the lickspittles, the sycophants of the 1 percent.
Thank you, OWS, for showing the feebleness of our Christian religious establishment. The silence of the pulpits speaks loudly. Why are the Christian clergy and the Christian churches not vocally supportive of OWS and the causes it represents? Do they, too, like Paul Ryan and other right-wing politicians, think Jesus was on the side of the wealthy and the powerful?
Let me also say that the Athens OWS protesters are among my heroes. I admire all of you for what you did. You were treated shamefully by local police, especially the UGA police. The UGA police chief in particular deserves a few biting words. In defiance of the Bill of Rights he personally and unilaterally criminalized the act of simply standing peacefully on the steps of the Arch while holding a protest sign. I hope you have seen the memorable video of him turning on the flashing lights of his parked police car, swaggering over with another armed policeman to the OWS protesters at the Arch, and threatening to arrest any protester who stood on the steps of the Arch. His behavior was a textbook example of something Justice Douglas once noted: â€œPower is a heady thing.â€ The UGA chief of police should have been fired or resigned in disgrace long ago.
Finally, thank you, OWS all over America, for giving us hopeâ€”hope that the power of the ruling plutocracy can be broken, hope that government and politicians will return to serve the interests of ordinary citizens rather than big corporations and the rich, hope that we will stop the endless wars and curb the military-industrial complex, hope that we will get serious about protecting the environment and the Earth, hope that we will assure everyone a decent job, adequate housing, proper medical care and a modern infrastructure and hope that we will again have judges who are not slanted in favor of government and who do not usually side with corporations, the military, prosecutors, police and prison officials instead of with the American citizen. People first, not corporations or wars.
When the great French writer and humanitarian Emile Zola stood up for Alfred Dreyfus and insisted that this innocent man, who had been falsely convicted of treason and was imprisoned on Devilâ€™s Island, be freed, Zola became for a while the conscience of humanity. Right nowâ€”certainly not forever, but at least for nowâ€”Occupy Wall Street is the conscience of humanity.
Let us all heed that conscience.
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