It is a tale of two Americas. Obama’s opaque alternate re-election campaign is going on in New York and now Chicago, Los Angeles – and coming soon to a town near you. Occupy Wall Street, which has attracted everyone from Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore and Frances Fox Piven to many Ron Paulers, has tapped into many populist frustrations and sources of anger. Truth told, most Americans would likely agree with at least one of their gripes. Who likes corruption, unemployment, falling wages, the Federal Reserve Bank or bailouts?
I have been following the organizers’ websites for the past several months to get a handle on what it’s all about. I also cast a net over the “usual suspects”, those groups that would likely support such an action. Generally, one only has to copy a list of the logos belonging to the groups supportive of Barack Obama’s 2008/2012 election bids and you have the list. For a refresher, you can go to Van Jones group – Rebuild the American Dream (rebuildthedream.com), scroll down and see the players. For those unfamiliar, Van Jones was Mr. Obama’s former Green Jobs Czar and an avowed communist. He has been closely associated with STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement), Green for All, Center for American Progress and many other socialist and progressive organizations, and has emerged as a key leader across the environmental, social and economic justice causes. This man is smart, creative and charismatic and one to watch. He is currently in Washington, D.C. as the keynote speaker for their multi-day Rebuild the American Dream forum. Look for their associated groups joining with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. According to Van Jones, “October is going to be the turning point when it comes to the Progressive fight back.”
To add another twist to Occupy Wall Street, the hacker group Anonymous had promised to “erase NYSE from the Internet” on October 10th, and then today denied the plan. Unfortunately, this group has demonstrated many times its ability to shut down major networks. Whichever is the case, I imagine bankers and brokers in New York and elsewhere are feeling rather uneasy.
Coming full circle back to the administration and Democratic leadership, we have these two tidbits earlier this week. Dick Durbin on the floor of the Senate calling on Bank of America customers to vote with their feet and close their BofA accounts over the bank’s announcement to charge a $5.00 a month fee for their debit cards (a direct result of the Durbin Amendment to Dodd-Frank, price-fixing the fee banks charge merchants for debit card swipes, reducing them from $0.44 to $0.21 to $0.24). Bank run, anyone? The same day President Obama made the following statement during an interview with George Stephanopoulos. Obama was asked if the government can stop banks from imposing a new debit card fee on their customers.
“Well, you can stop it because… if you say to the banks, ‘you don’t have some inherent right just to — you know, get a certain amount of profit if your customers are being mistreated. That you have to treat them fairly and transparently.’
So what are the protesters and supportive groups after with their Occupy Wall Street actions? Their website has now released their demand list. Let’s take a look:
Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending “Freetrade” by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.
Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.
Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.
Demand four: Free college education.
Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.
Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.
Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America’s nuclear power plants.
Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.
Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.
Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.
Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the “Books.” World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the “Books.” And I don’t mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.
Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.
Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.
These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy. (occupywallst.org)
We are indeed living in interesting times. Mr. Obama is crisscrossing the country energizing his base playing his class warfare game to sell his “Jobs Plan”, while subtly feeding the Occupy Wall Street groups with his denigration of the banks and Wall Street types, his “tax the evil rich” fairness message, and his excoriation of all things carbon.
The President seems to be moving toward a campaign theme of “values”, essentially a watered down version of Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights, mirroring many of Occupy Wall Street’s demands. Note, too, that many of these same goals are in line with Rebuild the American Dream, the AFL-CIO, SEIU and many others.
Obama’s apparent campaign strategy is likely a good one, offering a clear counterpoint to the Tea Party movement and tapping into the widespread discontent in the country. These opposing views represent the two Americas. One can only hope that Americans will have the opportunity to make their choices known at the ballot box in November 2012, rather than have it determined on the streets of New York and elsewhere.
So far, Van Jones is calling for these efforts to remain peaceful. Let’s hope at least that lead will be followed. We have seen similar demonstrations in Greece, London and elsewhere get very ugly.
Times are indeed tough with one out of four adult males either unemployed or underemployed. And with the schizophrenia coming out of Washington, the collapsing European Union and the slowing Chinese economy the political and economic landscapes are bound to get significantly worse over the next twelve months.
By: Philip C Johnson