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Archive for November 15th, 2011

It’s Not About Camping

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       A photo taken in Zuccoti Park last night.

I have watched the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country mostly from a distance. I drove to Canton one Sunday because the newspaper said that there were demonstrators downtown on Saturday and I assumed that they would be staying. Wrong. The streets were silent; apparently that was a one day thing, as I have read of no subsequent gatherings. The one exception to my sympathetic distance was last month, when I was in Flint because of my mother’s hospitalization. While she was resting I drove downtown to the Occupy encampment. I shook some hands and handed out distributist flyers (which were well received) and talked tactics with some folks there. Flint is a tough town, and these were not the well bred college grads you might have found in Zuccotti Park; these were unemployed guys from a depressed auto town. As they are camping on private land with the permission of the owner, they have not been removed.

That is not so in most of the country, where police have, sometimes brutally, been dismantling the camps. The stated reason for this is bad sanitation and incidents of violence near the sites. Some have held these allegations as “proof” that the demonstrators are uncivilized. Some have claimed that you never saw Tea Party gatherings with such problems. True, and the Tea Party never camped out in large cities. If they had, I can imagine all sorts of trouble. After all, it was not uncommon for people to appear at their rallies flaunting sidearms.

But the problems attached to the encampments also stem from both the diversity, the lived leaderless democracy, of the thing, and its appeal to the outcast. Most Tea Party partisans are comfortable middle class people. It is doubtful that the homeless would feel welcome among them, even if they wanted to join. A movement that is protesting economic injustice, on the other hand, by nature attracts those who are affected by that injustice. So you have folks like the suicidal homeless veteran in Burlington who is cited as “proof” of the dangers of the encampments.

Consider the tragedy of that phrase for a moment: “homeless veteran”. Those who work with the homeless note the disproportionate number of veterans among them. These men have been chewed up and spit out by the Empire, and their existence is a national tragedy.

As I write, the movement is at a crossroad. Provocateurs and idiots are calling for resistance, which will accomplish little aside from broken bones and bad publicity. Let us hope and pray that the majority, who are committed to nonviolence, will prevail.

Occupiers should gather during the day and disperse when the curfew laws say, while the laws are challenged in court.

 After all, the cause is economic injustice, not the right to camp out.

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Millionaires at the Trough

 

“Class warfare is a politically charged term these days, from the Wall Street protests to the Capitol Hill negotiations over curtailing the nation’s debt. But a new congressional analysis, obtained by Newsweek, may fuel populist outrage by showing the extent of government subsidies that go to the wealthiest people in America.

From unemployment payments to subsidies and tax breaks on luxury items like vacation homes and yachts, Americans earning more than $1 million collect more than $30 billion in government largesse each year, according to the report assembled by Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, who is so often at odds with members of both parties that colleagues call him “Dr. No.” The Internal Revenue Service provided the data showing how much money was going to the much-referenced top 1 percent.”

 

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