From Los Angeles to Wall Street, from Denver to Boston, homeless men and women have joined the protesters in large numbers, or at least have settled in beside them for the night. While the economic deprivation they suffer might symbolize the grievance at the heart of this protest, they have come less for the cause than for what they almost invariably describe as an easier existence. There is food, as well as bathrooms, safety, company and lots of activity to allow them to pass away their days. . . .
But their presence is posing a mounting quandary for protesters and the authorities, and divisions have arisen among protesters across the country about how much, if at all, to embrace the interlopers. The rising number of homeless, many of them suffering from mental disorders, has made it easier for Occupy’s opponents to belittle the movement as vagrant and lawless and has raised the pressure on municipal authorities to crack down.
The Occupy Wall Street movement went Uptown on Friday night, as more than 100 people filled the second-floor sanctuary at St. Philip’s Church in Harlem for the first general meeting of Occupy Harlem.
Unlike their downtown comrades, those in attendance were mostly black and Latino, save for a handful of whites who sat and listened intently, a few lifting their fists to shouts of “Power to the People.”
…for the first time in more than half a century, a broad cross-section of the American public is talking about the concentration of income, wealth and political power at the top.
Score a big one for the Occupiers.
Even more startling is the change in public opinion. Not since the 1930s has a majority of Americans called for redistribution of income or wealth. But according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, an astounding 66 percent of Americans said the nation’s wealth should be more evenly distributed.
A similar majority believes the rich should pay more in taxes.
Plus Zombies, Bicycles, and Fat Cats
John McWhorter and Glenn Loury have an interesting discussion, mostly about Occupy Wall Street. McWhorter went down there the other day and noticed that it’s small.
Yes it is. Was there yesterday afternoon (Sunday 30 Oct) and it IS small. A whole city block, yes, but a small block. And crowded with tents. It’s large in the imagination, but physically small.
And jammed with people taking photos, shooting videos, and doing interviews. Which surely is the point, get in the media however possible.
The crowd, more diverse than some reports suggest, though it’s hard to tell the OWSers from the one-time visitors. Some folks, of course, visit time and again. I got an armband of orange mesh—just like the police use to corral people—from an older couple who were helping out. I also saw some seminary students offer a sympathetic ear as Pastors for Occupy Wall Street (something like that, I forget the exact banner they flew under). Yes, lots of young folks, but also middle aged and old. Women as well as men, and a child singer playing a pink guitar in one placer, a child drummer in another. Black white yellow, probably red too.
Will OWS Last?
But back to McWhorter and Loury. McWhorter thinks they’ll all disperse in a month or so when the weather gets really cold. Perhaps.
What McWhorter and Loury were wondering is whether or not THIS is the sort of thing that really stirs the passions so that the protest will last and last. And thus really get in people’s minds and under their skin.
Yes, the 1% vs. 99% message is clear enough, economic inequality. But you push beyond that, and what do you get? They feat that the enemy may be too abstract. Financial manipulation, derivatives, that’s a bit abstract. Cheating is not abstract, but is that cheating? How so?
I think they’ve got a point. How to bring the message home? Continue reading
I saw this over the weekend. This is cool technolgy and a brilliant OWS move.
Time’s Up! in conjunction with OWS Sustainable Working Group, are creating energy bikes to replace all the generators that were confiscated by the City from Occupy Wall Street (OWS) last week. We’ve secured funds for 5 human-powered energy cycles that will be installed this weekend. Please donate what you can so we can secure the additional bikes needed to ensure that OWS is fossil-fuel free! Check out the video to see the current energy bike at OWS in action:
Or, Why Republicans Prefer to Waste Money on Military spending over doing something constructive with government money.
A shrewd take on “weaponized Keynsianism” (Barney Frank’s phrase):
But why would anyone prefer spending on destruction to spending on construction, prefer building weapons to building bridges?
John Maynard Keynes himself offered a partial answer 75 years ago, when he noted a curious “preference for wholly ‘wasteful’ forms of loan expenditure rather than for partly wasteful forms, which, because they are not wholly wasteful, tend to be judged on strict ‘business’ principles.” Indeed. Spend money on some useful goal, like the promotion of new energy sources, and people start screaming, “Solyndra! Waste!” Spend money on a weapons system we don’t need, and those voices are silent, because nobody expects F-22s to be a good business proposition.
But there are also darker motives behind weaponized Keynesianism.
For one thing, to admit that public spending on useful projects can create jobs is to admit that such spending can in fact do good, that sometimes government is the solution, not the problem. Fear that voters might reach the same conclusion is, I’d argue, the main reason the right has always seen Keynesian economics as a leftist doctrine, when it’s actually nothing of the sort. However, spending on useless or, even better, destructive projects doesn’t present conservatives with the same problem.
Our financial industry has grown so large and rich it has corrupted our real institutions through political donations. As Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, bluntly said in a 2009 radio interview, despite having caused this crisis, these same financial firms “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they, frankly, own the place.”
Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery. One consumer group using information from Opensecrets.org calculates that the financial services industry, including real estate, spent $2.3 billion on federal campaign contributions from 1990 to 2010, which was more than the health care, energy, defense, agriculture and transportation industries combined. Why are there 61 members on the House Committee on Financial Services? So many congressmen want to be in a position to sell votes to Wall Street.
The debate over horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the injection of huge quantities of chemically treated water underground to free up natural gas, has become increasingly contentious across the Eastern United States, with dozens of communities passing or considering bans. But that ill will often takes its most intimate form in small towns and rural areas like this one, best known as the home of baseball’s Hall of Fame, where fracking has emerged as the defining, non-negotiable political issue.
The dispute has pitted neighbor against neighbor, and has often set people who live in suburbs or villages against the farmers and landowners who live outside them. The discord is compounded by hard times on both sides and by communication online giving everyone instant access to limitless information confirming their point of view.