What has now become known as “Occupy Wall Street” (OWS) has gained momentum in the internet circles of facebook, tumblr and some blogs, including newspapers like the Washington Post. The Wonk offered a somewhat jaded and disengaged look at the protests, much like someone being caught in the running of the bulls in Spain without realizing what day of the year that started.
But the Wonk did bring up a valid point by asking what the protesters want. Several blogs since then have offered suggestions, such as the Wonk article itself links to. And since this is an ongoing fascination for me - I support the OWS effort, I am the 99% as they’ve been chanting in the streets and posting on tumblr - I will do so in a later post. Right now, I am interested in the Wonk’s poser-academic-disengagement concerning the topic of not understanding the growth of this movement, or how this growth has been going on since at least the Seattle protests in 1999. I myself am not an academic in this area, but I am an activist. While I don’t have the time right now to give statistics (again, I will put more into the posts following), I will at least give a small set of unrelated American events and movements that have been responses to some of the things that are being addressed in the OWS protests.
1999 in Seattle, there was a massive city wide protest to what was then the G8. Since then, there has been heightened security and less media coverage of the smaller groups protesting continuing meetings by what has grown to the G20 – this is the acronym for the richest countries who discuss economic planning for the globe. Random screw-ups by police escorts at these meetings are what bring small media coverage, like the G20 meeting last year in Pittsburgh. Mainly the media covers how people are not happy that often bystanders have gotten the police’s flack rather than the protesters who are at least more prepared.
Then there’s the Tea Party – yes, the Tea Party. While mostly they dislike government, they dislike the amount of money being spent by government, and the lack of control the People seem to have. Alternatively in a libertarian, progressive and/or leftist viewpoint, this can be drawn back to seeing who pays the politicians to make certain concessions and regulations, and why money speaks instead of the People. Since the Tea Party, there has been a counter movement (that hasn’t been given as much media attention) called the Coffee Party. It was created as a direct counter to the Tea Party, who has made these connections openly. While this group started off just as people who wanted to talk about issues in a non-partisan or “left v right” way, it has since focused its issues of campaign finance, corporate corruption, and making Wall Street pay their fair share.
And then there’s the recession. Even before the economic crises of 2008, there has been the constant people-and-cash drain of not one, but two wars. So even with the bailout funding, the stimulus packages, the cash for clunkers, and even the 2010 health care laws, and the President’s current push for a jobs bill, there has been a pall over the nation’s motivation to get back into generating jobs. Whether or not this is Wall Street’s direct fault, it’s hard to say - in an academic and objective sense. But there is a general sense that the “job creators” aren’t doing what their title says. So perhaps they need to listen to the People’s Mic as it now spans into other cities besides New York.