In the last few weeks we have seen a wave of popular demonstrations around the country. The biggest were in New York City, aimed at the financial giants of Wall Street, and in Washington D.C. aimed at the US government’s war machine. But there have been hundreds of smaller demonstrations around the country as well.
“Occupy Wall Street” has caught many people’s imagination and people who normally don’t go to demonstrations and rallies have decided to check it out. Small wonder! The overwhelming majority of people in this country are hurting from the economic crisis. Tens of millions are facing long-term unemployment or underemployment. Millions have been evicted from their homes and more from their apartments. There have been massive cuts to public services – from education to transportation to basic social services. Those who are still working have had their wages frozen or get tiny raises that don’t begin to keep up with the rising cost of living. Health care and retirement benefits are under attack, and those who have health care face rising premiums and co-pays.
What is remarkable is not that people are demonstrating against all this. But that it has taken so long for us to finally stand up for ourselves.
While ordinary people have been suffering all over the US (and all over the world), the corporations and the banks have been making out like bandits. While unemployment continues at record levels, their profits, salaries and bonuses have been skyrocketing. While millions have lost their homes, banks are rolling in sky-high profits. While people can barely afford the gas to fill up their tanks, the oil companies are making their highest profits on record.
And yet, we are told that more sacrifices are necessary because there isn’t enough to go around. This is a lie! There isn’t any scarcity, not the scarcity they talk about. The problem is not the lack of people who would work or the places where they could work, or the lack of goods and services that are needed. The cause of the crisis is that the less than one percent who own and control these resources will only invest if they can make a profit and keep the lion’s share of the wealth.
We are told that there is a political crisis in Washington DC and across the country because governments don’t have the resources to pay for what we need. Another lie. The resources are there. What is lacking is the political will to take them; to tax the banks and the corporations; to tax the millionaires and billionaires. But even if they were taxed, who would control how the money is spent? Today trillions of tax dollars go to corporations and banks through military spending and subsidies.
This is the way this system functions – to protect the interests of those who control the vast amounts of wealth of this society, the large banks and corporations. They maintain it through their control of the Democratic and Republican parties.
They also try to control what we know through their control of the news media. They tried to ignore the occupations for as long as they could. But now that thousands are starting to participate, the corporate news media has to cover them.
We don’t have to wait for a privileged minority to recognize us. We are the majority of this country. How dare this class of billionaires cause so many people so much misery! How dare they tell us that we have to give up our lives to increase their wealth and power!
Those who are part of the protests, from Wall Street to the West Coast, are right to demand a change. This is our society and our world – not theirs! We are the ones who do all of the work. We are the ones who produce all the goods. We are the ones who run all the transportation. We are the ones who provide all the services. Without our labor nothing would happen, nothing would function, nothing would run.
It is about time that we stood up for ourselves and demanded what is rightfully ours. And we need to organize ourselves not just in downtown occupations but also where we work, go to school and where we live. It’s time for those of us who do the work, the majority of people in this country and the world, to demand control of our lives.