texshelters

Archive for the ‘Occupy Movement’ Category

The Mainstream Media Ignores Illegal Arrests of Tucson Occupiers

In Current Events, Occupy Movement on April 7, 2012 at 21:28

Arrests at Occupy Tucson from azstarnet.com

On Friday, March 23, Paul Gattone, the lawyer representing many of the Occupy Tucson arrestees, held a press conference to protest the Tucson Police Department’s recent actions against the occupiers at Vente de Agosto park downtown. Despite the fact that five occupiers had been arrested two nights before the press conference, and two the night before, no mainstream media turned up.

One might think that seven arrests resulting from the police going after political activists would seem to warrant some news coverage, but the decision makers at the mainstream news outlets in Tucson decided not to cover either the arrest of the occupiers or the press conference denouncing the police actions.

Some of the extra-legal actions and abuse of authority by the Tucson Police Department that were highlighted in Mr. Gattone’s press release include:

1. Camping gear is now illegal, according to the TPD. The TPD even stated that it was illegal for one of the Occupiers to have his truck parked alongside the park because it had camping gear in it. No ordinance was, however, cited by TPD regarding laws against having camping gear in the back of one’s vehicle.

2. The police have repeatedly ignored the city park curfew of 10:30 p.m. to illegally arrest people whose crime appears to be holding signs. On the evening of Friday, March 23, 2012 at around 9:30 p.m., three individuals were arrested while walking within the four feet easement mandated by the police the night before. The victims were protesting with signs; no blankets or any other personal possessions were present. One individual was reportedly knocked to the ground and injured as the TPD arrested the three.

3. Among the illegal and irresponsible police actions are constantly-changing definitions of park and sidewalk boundaries and the subsequent entrapping and arresting of protestors.

4. The TPD has exercised selective enforcement, violated their own policies with regard to handling evidence, and refused to return personal property of protestors in deliberate indifference to the law. Many occupiers had their possessions confiscated without property receipts given to them as is mandated by city law. Moreover, for many of the protestors, the jackets, clothes, shoes and other necessities taken by the TPD and never returned constitute all of their worldly possessions. Regardless of what you think of Occupy Tucson, the police actions constitute illegal seizure of property.

The unlawful actions and abuses of Occupy Tucson by the TPD warrants investigation and reporting. However, the mainstream media is only interested in scratching the surface of a story and not taking a longer view of a new movement.

Thus, even when the local media reports on Occupy Tucson, they report various allegations about there, e.g., “being a split” in the movement, or about drugs being used, or fights, or anything that will get attention and ratings so they can sell more car commercials on the page or at the next news break. These stories are part fabrication, part conflation and none of these stories are backed up by interviews with actual occupiers.

Instead, the media relies on “official sources” and, in our case, that means the police, Chief Villasenor, and the city council; the media seldom actually talks to the people in movement. It is true that the mainstream media did give some coverage to the Occupy movement in its early days last fall, but now that coverage has disappeared. We have to ask why is it that they no longer seem to have any interest in covering the occupy movement. Is it because Occupy is no longer the new and novel sensation that it was in October? Is the decision to ignore the movement intentional, and why is Occupy Tucson no longer news worthy? Are they saving an extra column of space or five extra minutes to cover, for example, the new Arizona football coach even though the economic and political inequality Occupy Tucson focuses on effects everyone?

Whatever the reason, this lack of media coverage presents a problem for Occupy Tucson and all social movements because in the modern world of politics it often seems that if you aren’t covered in the mass media, you don’t exist. Thus, members of Occupy Tucson, even though we undertake actions of creative disobedience that result in a whole string of arrests, are then asked by members of the public whether we even exist because “they don’t hear anything about the Occupy movement anymore.” On the positive side, the experience of being frozen out of the mainstream media has reminded all of us at Occupy Tucson why it is that alternative media is so important.

Peace,
Occupy Tucson
Co-authored by Greg Evans, Paul Gattone, and Tex Shelters of Occupy Tucson with help others in OT


If You’re Reading this, You’re Part of the 99%

In Current Events, Economics, Education, Occupy Movement on February 22, 2012 at 21:47

We are the 99% from ohaflcio.blogspot.com

Many people online, in editorial pages, on television and in the streets are denying their membership in the 99%. Few if any of the people that fight against their membership to this not-so-elite group fully understand the concept of the “99%”.

Those who automatically reject anything they consider “liberal” will reject their membership in the 99% as a way to reject a group they falsely consider lazy, unclean Americans who want to blame corporations for all their troubles. However, Occupy Wall Street is not asking for you to agree with everything every member of their group believes. Admitting that you are part of the 99% does not require you reject your conservative, or other, principles.

What admitting you are part of the 99% requires is that you let go of your denial and acquire a modicum of class consciousness. First, you must let go of the myth that the richest 1% of Americans care about you and are job creators instead of job destroyers. Then you must develop an awareness that you are in the lower classes and the 1% determines, to a large extent, what happens in this nation.

Many people reject this idea because they think it means you have to be an anarchist, socialist, communist or some other ist to belong to the 99%. That’s a misreading of the metaphor. What’s more, they don’t even know it is a metaphor, a number that represents the inequality in our economic and political system but may not be literally accurate.

Even Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, showing how smart he is with numbers, took “99%” as a literal idea and corrected the notion several times in his post:

“Let’s be clear. This isn’t really the 99 percent. If you’re in the 85th percentile, for instance, your household is making more than $100,000, and you’re probably doing okay. If you’re in the 95th percentile, your household is making more than $150,000. But then, these protests really aren’t about Wall Street, either. There’s not a lot of evidence that these people want a class war, or even particularly punitive measures on the rich. The only thing that’s clear from their missives is that they want the economy to start working for them, too.”

Let’s be clear about Mr. Klein’s misreading of OWS: 99% is a metaphor that he takes too literally and thus misses the point that it’s about inequality, not exactitude. And it is about Wall Street. The protests are about Wall Street run amok, about how Wall Street gets a free pass when they break regulatory laws, about a Wall Street that is in large part responsible for our economic disaster we find ourselves in. But, it’s not only about Wall Street. The Occupy Movement is about banks, mega corporations like Monsanto that poison our food supply, BP and other large companies that pollute with impunity, the military industrial complex, and so forth. Just because it’s called “Occupy Wall Street” doesn’t mean Wall Street is their only concern, and it’s willfully ignorant to think that. Read their declaration and educate yourself about their issues.

Klein also echoes sentiments of Republicans and dismisses the movement as self-centered, only concerned about themselves, only wanting the “economy to start working” for them, thus he misses the point again. Sure, members of the occupy movement are concerned about their own welfare, and also their neighbors, their children, their family, their community, their teachers, their public servants, other workers, and all members of the 99% that might have had tough times because of the plutocracy we live under. Otherwise, why would so many employed, retired and financially secure people involve themselves in the movement?

Compassion for others is not a hard thing to understand. It’s too bad Klein’s analysis only skims the surface of what the Occupy Movement is about. If he can’t correctly interpret Occupy, he should stick to writing about the Republican primaries. There, he will see enough lies to write about, and he won’t have to write misinformation about the Occupy Movement.

You’re part of the 99% if:

  • Most of your income comes with a W-2 attached.
  • You have ever, or currently, received food stamps, unemployment, SSI, or other government assistance.
  • You don’t have an offshore bank account.
  • If you are not a financial manager or CEO of a major firm, you are part of the 99%.
  • You are also a member of the 99% if your income is less than $400,000 a year.
  • If you earn less than 25% of your income in rent and dividends, you are part of the 99%.
  • If you are one paycheck from being homeless, you are part of the 99%.
  • If you are not a manager, executive, or supervisor of a large firm, you are likely part of the 99%.
  • You are part of the 1% if you can donate millions to a political campaign.
  • You are part of the 1% if you can write laws for ALEC and thus Congress.
  • And if you’re reading this, you are a member of the 99%.

Here’s a demographic breakdown of the 1%:
https://files.nyu.edu/bps261/public/numbers.html 

Fact: the top 1% in the US control 42% of the nation’s wealth.
http://www.mybudget360.com/top-1-percent-control-42-percent-of-financial-wealth-in-the-us-how-average-americans-are-lured-into-debt-servitude-by-promises-of-mega-wealth/

Rich Versus Poor demographics
http://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/97/07/9707jw.pdf  

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Occupy Tucson Day of Solidarity

In Current Events, Economics, Education, Occupy Movement on February 21, 2012 at 02:25

The Raging Grannies performing at Occupy Tucson's 99% Meet Yourself

One thing the Republicans have yet to mention when deriding the Occupy movements and their most visible target, Occupy Wall Street, is that it’s run by a bunch of community organizers. Community organizing was evident at the Occupy Tucson Presents: 99% Meet Yourself event held at the downtown, main library plaza, Saturday Feb. 18th, in Tucson, Arizona.

The event was well organized, with a stage, music and speakers from different community based local and national organizations, tables that had information from these organizations, sign making, and information about the historical struggles of the 99%.

Several hundred people attended the event throughout the day to observe, share, learn and listen to the speakers and music and uncounted others that visit the plaza on weekends sat to witness and partake in the event. The event was also live streamed on the Internet for the world to see. Considering how dangerous the occupy movement has been portrayed in some media outlets, it was surprising that no counter protests occurred and there was little police presence.

The day focused on support and sharing of information regarding mutual and overlapping goals shared by the organizations at the event. As speaker Billy Lolos of Occupy Tucson (OT) pointed out, people ask what we in the occupy movements are about, why we don’t have one issue. The truth is, he said, was that we live in a “target rich environment”, and we will be there to protest and join in solidarity with those that share these concerns.

IT Live Streaming OT's 99% Meet Yourself

He then talked about the foreclosure crisis in the nation and in Tucson. Mr. Lolos urged us to get the Tucson and Pima County governments to use eminent domain to claim foreclosed houses and refinance homes for at risk owners. He also took aim at the banks and their bailouts and how if we let them, they will continue taking bailouts from tax payers to finance their risky ventures.

Steve Valencia, Tucson Chair of Jobs with Justice, thanked the occupy movement for helping change the discourse in this nation from cuts that would harm workers to investment in jobs and a sustainable future. He discussed what a “Job with Justice” means: a livable wage, dignity, benefits, collective bargaining, and so forth. Mr. Valencia also pointed out how the occupy movement is raising awareness for the push back against the dominance of corporations over our politics and the scapegoating of workers.

Joe Bernick, a leading voice in the Communist Party of America, author and director of the Salt of the Earth Labor College, added his voice of support and caution to the proceedings. He  reminded us that change doesn’t happen without social movements working for change. He added that capital and capitalism will prevent needed change unless we overturn the faulty capitalist paradigm.

Sal Baldenegro, Sr, a preeminent voice in the Chicano Movement and defender of ethnic studies, more accurately “Mexican American Studies”, echoed the sentiment in his presentation. He pointed out that every time laws were passed to exclude Mexicans and others from participation as members of the United States, those efforts have been defeated. When the U.S. tried to keep Mexicans from owning property, it failed. When governments tried to exclude Mexicans from certain neighborhoods, it failed. When people tried to keep Mexicans segregated and out of their businesses, Mexicans opened their own businesses and over time, segregation became less of an issue. And this happened because of the work of people to overcome those obstacles. And the ban of Mexican American Studies will also fail, he pointed out, because of the efforts of the people.

Sign making at OT's 99% Meet Yourself

David Yerkey of the KXCI show “A View from Slightly off Center”  talked about the media’s role in censorship and promoting the corporate agenda and the way marginalized groups are kept out of the national debate. One striking example he mentioned was how Wikileaks was kept out of the UNESCO debate on Wikileaks by the U.S., and how the U.S. state department filled the meeting with Wikileaks detractors. With public media and the Internet, we can get the news out about these forms of political censorship.

Gayle Hartmann, director of “Saved the Scenic Santa Ritas“, thanked the support OT has given their cause. She added that the letter writing campaign to the U.S. Forest Service against the mine in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, specifically those questioning the water quality effects of the Rosemont project, were having an impact on the Forest Service’s support for open pit mine. And she made it clear that the mine “would create only a few jobs” and that mining jobs were already available in Arizona.

The music of the day was rousing, lively, socially relevant, and uplifting. The headline band, Relic Soup, played classic songs from Stevie Wonder to Pearl Jam. Ted Warmbrand entertained us with his folk songs and traditional sing-a-longs while local favorites The Raging Grannies sang traditional songs with new updated lyrics about the 99%. Arianna Solare played her politic songs while accompanying herself on guitar while singing in English and Spanish. Guest musicians Ron Pandy entertained us with his down-home folk originals while local character known only as “Iggy” entertained us with his improvised piano and scat style a cappella rapping.

Tabling at the event were groups as diverse as a local solar power company, Move to Amend, the National Writers Union, and Occupy Tucson working groups such as the Yoga and meditation working group, PR/Outreach (the main organizers of the event), among others. Occupy Phoenix also had a table at the event to present information and invite Tucsonans to their events in the coming month.

Tabling at 99% Meet Yourself

More than all the learning, teaching, an networking, the event demonstrated that Occupy Tucson is organized, issue oriented, talented and well spoken members of a community that cares deeply about what happens in our city, state, and nation.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Happy New Year, World, from Tex Shelters of Occupy Tucson

In Current Events, Economics, History, Occupy Movement on December 29, 2011 at 23:30

Occupy the World from flyingnorth.net

To: The World and all its residents
From: Tex Shelters of Occupy Tucson, speaking for himself and not the movement
Re: Current Conditions and prospects

Dear World:

Happy New Year, World. I know we have had a rough year and not treated you well. I hope you forgive humanity and realize that many of us see some of what you are going through and want to help. I also want to acknowledge that “New Year” is a human construct and that the world has a different concept of time, living eternally in the moment and constantly in forever.

Sorry about the global warming world. I know you try to accommodate humanity, but at this rate, I wouldn’t blame you if you threw us all off for our continued burning of your forests, coal and oil fields. And sorry about the BP oil spill in the gulf, world. I only wish that the corporations that caused the spill weren’t getting so little punishment and that we would use that disaster to change our energy policy.

We are worried about your 1.4 billion that live in extreme poverty despite your bounty. It’s not your fault, world, but we have created a system that allows such suffering and depravity. The one percent hoard more than they need, and most of us have been accomplices to this plunder.

We occupiers and others are disturbed that the United States leads the way in incarcerating its people, and that the world far too often sees prison as an answer to social problems. I know that’s not what you want us to do with your resources.

We are upset about the continued war economy that puts money into weapons and their manufacturers, weapons that are created for the sole purpose of killing. Sorry world. We occupiers do want to end wars and the use of these weapons that protect the wealth of the 1%. We occupy because we don’t think it’s too late to end this endless war.

We are upset about all the foreclosures on homes, especially those that could be saved with some creative refinancing. Bankers are very good at finding creative ways to make money, hide their lack of liquidity, create credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations and other financial instruments to make money off the hard earned work of others. But neither the banks nor the government have been willing to work creatively to help people from losing their homes. And the efforts that have been made are inadequate to meet the needs of homeowners. This is not what the world needs.

We are upset by CEOs that make millions even when their companies lose money. The world would be a better place without these greedy people.

We are upset about the Washington, DC revolving door in which Congress members can get jobs making millions at Wall Street firms as Washington insiders and use their Congressional contacts to help their new companies get contracts, tax cuts, reduced regulation, and other benefits. We are upset by Congress selling our democracy to the highest donor for a few dollars and thus sell out everyone’s future. They are no better than dictators who rob their national treasuries. Moreover, we are upset that Congress can in essence practice insider trading, further selling out our democracy.

World, we are upset that many in Congress would rather cut programs that help Americans in a time of need than work with the president to create jobs.

We occupy because we don’t think it’s too late to help create positive change. So please dear world, help us educate the populous about the greedy few who want to ruin the planet for all of us and for far too long have not been challenged.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Tex Shelters’s Pet Peeves of the 2011

In Current Events, Economics, History, Humor, Occupy Movement on December 28, 2011 at 19:36

 

from petliferadio.com

I ordered these for editorial reasons; they are not ranked. The list is not all inclusive, but they are issues I have experience with and might amuse you. So on with the winners!

Google
Google has slowly crept into almost every aspect of the blogosphere and internet. Soon, you will have to log-in to Google to take a shit in your own home.

The use of the term “pro-life” and “pro-abortion”
People who use the term pro-life to define themselves are usually just pro-fetus. Many of them don’t care if a woman dies as long as the fetus is protected and are the same people who support cuts to education, school lunch programs, immunizations, pell grants, ADFC, and other programs that aid children. And, the forced-birth crowd is often for the death penalty and against health care. So much for “pro-life”. Moreover, nobody is “pro-abortion.” No one is lining up to have an abortion as if they were lining up for Jay-Z tickets. The idea that anyone is pro-abortion is just a lie that ignores the reality of choice in the United States.

Certainly, this could be a pet peeve any year, but the forced-birthers are endangering the lives of half the population to a higher degree than ever by challenging legal and safe medical procedures.  And, the way the argument is framed is part of the reason they get away with it.

Congress
Congress ignores the needs of the people to pander to the 1%. Republicans in Congress spent much of 2010 talking about the deficit and trying to find ways to cut social spending, thus increase unemployment during a recession. In the first half of this year, Republicans spent much of the year still focused on cuts until Occupy Wall Street gathered steam and media attention and helped change the debate from deficits to equity, jobs, and bank criminality. As Republicans took charge of the agenda after winning a majority in the House, Democrats either cheerfully joined in or passively sat by. Let’s hope Congress listens to the people and their needs in 2012.

People who write about the Occupy Movement but have never been to a camp or read the literature provided by various movements
Would you trust a movie reviewer who never saw the movie they are writing about? Then why trust “journalists” who write about the Occupy Movement but have never visited a camp? These critics talk about something they haven’t even experienced, first or secondhand. This also goes for many members of the general public as well who buy into the lies about the movement. One of the most misguided comments I heard was “people only go to Occupy Wall Street to hook up.” Yes, that’s where I would go for a date too, cause all that talk about a widening income gap, buying on margin, and increasing poverty and homelessness gets the ladies and gentlemen hot!

Obampologists 
Anyone who refuses to look at conservative decisions and policies made by President Obama and then turns around and blames those who criticize Obama for his decisions are Obampoligists™. They criitcize anyone who disagrees with Obama on one policy area or another as misguided fools who don’t realize that a Republican would be worse than a Obama. Sorry folks, we know Obama would be better than the current crop of Republican candidates, but he’s not better than say, Reagan. Being better than a Republican doesn’t make you a good president any more than being a better singer than William Shatner means you should win a grammy.

People who write unsupported statements online as if they are facts and don’t provide links or evidence for what they are saying
If you don’t have anything nice to say, at least back up your comments with facts or links or posts or something. Otherwise, you are wasting everyone’s time. That also goes for positive but unsubstantiated claims as well.

The idea that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme
People who think Social Security is a Ponzi scheme know little about either. Let me make it simple: In Ponzi scheme, you put money into an investment and the money actually goes into the pockets of the schemer and you receive a portion of what you invest as “dividends” with promises that you will reap more later if only you invested more. Social Security taxes, on the other hand, are put into a low yield trust for later use and the money you put in is what you are guaranteed later. And unlike a Ponzi scheme, people are getting their money from the Social Security Trust Fund.


Ron Paul supporters
Ron Paul is apparently the best thing since sliced bread for his supporters. But he is a racist who has a few things correct. He wants to end the minimal wage, get rid of a woman’s right to choose, he wants to privatize education, and opposes the separation of church and state among other things.

Sure, I don’t like other Republican (or Democratic) candidates, but the blind allegiance people have to Paul is the real version of the fantasy Obama-messiah complex. However, no one goes anybody go around calling out the followers of the Paulist religion. No, that would be heresy.  People prattle on and on again and again about how Ron Paul is the answer to our problems. If he is the answer, what is the question? Paul is only the answer because the other Republican candidates have no credibility on any issue, and at least Paul can stand by his long held anti-war and fiscally conservative stances in the past. His positions on many issues are well thought out compared to the other GOP candidates. But hey, even I look tan next to an albino.

The use of the term Nazi
Republicans have called President Obama nearly everything, including “Nazi”. The IRS, Occupy Wall Street, all government, Democrats and Republicans have all been called Nazi this year. The Nazis were a one off historical organization and nothing will ever be like the Nazis. If you need a term, although I wouldn’t use this one without reason, use “fascist.”

Promoting the misuse of the term “Nazi” distorts history and promotes ignorance, as is exemplified when a fourteen year old boy was beaten by bullies in a suburban Denver school as they called him “Nazi” for being German and “Fag” for liking musical theater.    This is disturbing in many ways, and sidesteps the fact that Nazis killed homosexuals by the thousands in WWII.  But history seldom trumps racism and homophobia. Even Democrats joined the chorus of people misusing the label “Nazi” as Rep. Cohen (an ironically Jewish sir name), compared Republican tactics against health care to Nazi tactics. 

People who don’t read my online articles
No, seriously, thanks to my dozens of readers and I wish you all a happy New Year. Please post your own pet peeves below or link this to other social media sites with a click of your mouse.

 

Peace,
Tex Shelters

The Occupy Movement has Already Succeeded

In Current Events, Occupy Movement on December 8, 2011 at 19:23

Occupy Madrid From different-kitchen.com

The current historical trend of occupying public space to address social issues began in the Middle East and Spain. When Occupy Wall Street started a U.S. occupy movement, encouraged by an advertisement in the Canadian magazine Adbusters, on September 17, 2011, the mainstream media and public officials were caught off guard.

Now that the Occupy Movement is in its third month in the U.S., my friends and colleges not active in the movement are offering advice. “You have to have a unified message”, “You have to get more media attention”, “You have to move out of the camps and do something new.” And they are full of accusing questions such as “What do you stand for?”, “Who are your leaders?”, “How long will it last?”, “What’s next.?”

So, not only have we faced media skepticism about the movement just being a fad (as well as the lies and misinformation about the movement), then attacks from the police and public officials once they realized our movement wasn’t going away, we now have potential allies telling us what to do. In a world of instant trends and fads and Republican presidential candidates that sit on top of polls for two weeks and fade away, people’s impatience for change and miracles has come to Occupy. Didn’t President Obama at least get 6 months to change things before the criticism began?

Why are we, a movement facing more obstacles and barriers to change than the President, a group without the bully pulpit and instant media attention of an elected official, a group that started basically from the ground up with the social and political capital of our members, face with such an unreasonable set of expectations? No social movement is successful overnight, and it is unreasonable to expect the Occupy Movement to meet the kind of success those outside the movement want. And let’s be truthful here; these criticisms are from those that have never set foot in an Occupy encampment, gone to a march or protest, or read much about the movement.

However, the fact that they are talking about the movement, and now talking about economic equality issues and not the manufactured debt crisis, is a sign of our success.

Republicans are scared of Occupy Wall Street
Another sign of our success is that Republicans have taken notice. Even Republican strategist Frank Luntz admits that the Occupy Movement has had an impact. And this is why we can’t and shouldn’t stop our actions, encampment or not. Luntz is afraid that the Occupy Movement’s message of economic inequality is getting through and painting the Republicans for what they are, defenders of the 1%. It’s not a message that the Republicans can successfully run on, so they must work to diminish it’s impact. Let’s keep sending out our message and not allow the Republicans and Democrats minimize its impact. On a side note, I have yet to hear Luntz or anyone else say they afraid of Obama and his message except to trump up some nonsense that he’s a secret Muslim.

The attacks on the Occupy Movement will only increase as our message makes its way from the encampments to the Internet, radio, television, and beyond. The terms Occupy and 99% have already made it into America’s consciousness. Now the challenge is to bring this successful framing to our public officials and get them to address the economic system to make it more equitable, where capital no longer crushes the 99% to make profit, a system where people’s needs are put before capital, and profit occurs only from serving the people, not at our expense. It’s not capitalism most of us object to, it’s the rigged system we want to abolish.

While it is true that the dominance the 1% holds over our politics and economics continues and there is much work to be done to change this, we have been a successful movement by getting the terms of the debate changed from having to address the “debt crisis”, to helping the 99% with life, liberty and the pursuit happiness.

Peace,
Tex “Liberate Tucson” Shelters

Myths, Misinformation and Falsehoods about the Occupy Movement

In Current Events, Economics, Occupy Movement on December 4, 2011 at 22:53

 

1. The Occupy Movement blames everything on Wall Street. This is false for many reasons. First, there are many culprits in the economic crisis and corporate takeover of government, including the government itself. We understand that. Wall Street is a symbol of excess and corporate dominance of our daily lives, not the only cause. Wall Street is a good rallying point, but if journalists and talking heads would look beyond the surface, they would find more. How about looking at the signs online and stay in your warm offices and you will see signs at Occupy Rallies and elsewhere about many issues.

2. “They have no agenda.”  Josh Barro, a “research scholar” at the right-wing think tank the Manhattan Institute has derided Occupy Wall Street (obviously doing little “research”) for not having an agenda.

But as I wrote in a response to this nonsense in his National Review article,

“You talk to one representative and now you are an expert? Have you been to an encampment or event? There are several clear goals that the Occupy Groups have, and if you had bothered to do research and looked at the various declarations of these groups (online, so you don’t even have to visit a camp to learn) you would find goals such as:

Protect homes from unlawful foreclosures
Repeal Citizens United
Single payer health care
Forgive and reduce student debt obligations
Make college more affordable for families
End foreign wars and bring our troops home
Reinvest in education and infrastructure
End indefinite detentions
Repeal the patriot act
End corporate personhood
and so on.

Perhaps the reason you don’t know of these goals is that you are too lazy to look them up and main stream reporters such as yourself refuse to report on them.

If you want to refute what I say, why not have me debate you and your ignorance.”

Perhaps I am being unfair to him and should forgive his inability to understand a movement that doesn’t fit into his “liberal versus conservative paradigm”, a leaderless movement full of capable people, and a movement that has many goals and objectives but isn’t as narrowly focused as Republican Senators are on bringing down Obama and nothing else.

3. They are all unemployed hippies who are aimless but at the same time violent anarchists, and other demographic falsehoods. The population of the Occupy encampments changes from day to day and city to city. I have seen different surveys of the group, but the highest unemployment stat on the movement I have seen is 30%. We are employed, part time workers, unemployed, retired, homeless, rental unit owners, entrepreneurs, students, vets, and so on.

The actual number of hippies in the movement is quite low, and what’s wrong with hippies anyway? Do hippies make right-wingers uncomfortable or jealous that these reporters and pundits chose a life defending the 1% while hippies are free of such nonsense and don’t have to lie and misrepresent facts for living? I know it’s hard for people in the media to understand that there is not one type of person involved with the Occupy movement, and it makes the movement hard to stereotype. But they keep trying.

4. The Occupy Movement is disorganized. This is false. With few resources and no corporate or political party backing, Occupiers have daily and weekly general assembly meetings. We have declarations, clean camps, feed people, make the media contacts available to us (somehow, the Today Show hasn’t called Occupy Tucson), and so forth. We have no central committee, and I know that is hard to understand for inflexible minds reporting news for the 1%.

Yes, we don’t fit the standard non-profit organization, or the Tea Party (paid for by Koch), but if you go to the camps and talk to the organizers, there is a lot of organization for an underfunded, non-aligned, independent organization. People say we are disorganized because they don’t understand our organization and want to marginalize us.

5.   Occupy Movements caused their own troubles and the violence. Little of the violence was instigated by the protesters, and at least in LA, much of the violence has occurred to Occupiers after they were in custody. To blame movement activists for being violent when they are attacked is like blaming a rape victim, something Republicans and many others have done. Don’t buy it when someone tells you that being hit by batons, or being pepper sprayed or being hit by rubber bullets is the fault of the occupiers. If the police would let us occupy or surrender in peace, there would be little to no violence.

6. We’re Anti-captilist.  Not true. While that may be true for a few, we are all against the rigged system. We are against a system that gives more tax cuts and affords tax loopholes to billionaires and millionaires and increases fees on the lower classes. We are against a system that passes laws to deregulate industries and gives corporate welfare in free rent, under-market prices for mining rights, military projects we don’t need to help contractors profit off of our tax dollars while they target cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, education and other social programs that help the vast majority of the people. We are against the selling off of valuable assets that only benefit the 1% such as the Rosemont Copper mine in Arizona and we are against the selling of our education system for profit while damaging that system.

Many of us own business, promote local enterprises and are for responsible capitalism that doesn’t damage the environment.

Can we ever really understand a movement that is in process, or ever? Only by being at an Occupy rally or meeting can you have the remotest understanding that you will never understand the full implications and people in the movement. We must work for the benefit of 99% forever, whatever the falsehoods told about the Occupy Movement.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

 

 


It’s time to Focus on helping People and not the Liberal Versus Conservative Divide

In Current Events, Economics, Occupy Movement on December 2, 2011 at 23:03

From downwithtyranny.blogspot.com

In the United States, we have divided the political landscape into liberal versus conservative for too long. These terms only serve to divide us and stereotype each other and this infighting only benefits the ruling classes.

Fox News commentators and Republican politicians have painted liberals as unAmerican, lazy, anti-work, pro-terrorist and made many other false claims about this group they call “liberal”. There are also the bumper stickers that highlight this stereotype, “Annoy a liberal: work hard, succeed and be happy.” Do liberals really want others to be unhappy? Who are these liberals? I am still looking for them.

A better question than is someone liberal or conservative is to ask, “Is this person, policy or politician pro-corporate or pro-human.” What do I mean by pro-corporate or pro-human? Let’s take a look.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have clearly benefitted corporations more than the American people. Corporations who make military hardware, supply the troops, and commodify oil have benefitted from the war. The wars have also damaged our economy, greatly increased our debt, damaged our credibility in the world and sacrificed thousands of U.S. soldiers for corporate profit. Soldiers lives are traded for corporate profit.

How about the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, or TARP. That saved the economy from collapsing and thus, helped all Americans, didn’t it? Well, no. TARP was a $700 billion dollar bailout for major lending and banking institutions in America. The idea was that the recipients of this money would free up lines of credit for businesses and individuals and this would jump start the economy. In truth, those banks loaned less after TARP and increased bonuses they paid themselves. The TARP money didn’t trickle down at all and only helped the major players at the major lenders. Now we learn that banks were loaned $7.7 trillion in federal dollars at .01% interest. They then turned around and loaned money at 3% to the government who had loaned it to them to make over $13 billion in profit. How does that help the people?

How about those corporate tax loopholes and rates? Those cuts lead to job creation, and thus benefits the people, right? Wrong. We have had 12 years of the Bush/Republican tax cuts and official unemployment is still around 9%, much higher than when those tax cuts were enacted. Clearly, only corporations benefit from those tax cuts and loopholes, and they have not turned that extra cash into jobs.

What about cutting regulations, that leads to jobs, right? In fact, deregulation of the banking industry was a major cause of the banking collapse and thus recession of 2008. The idea that allowing companies to pollute more, or ignore health and safety laws, or other forms of deregulation leads to more jobs, is ludicrous. Are you telling me that the deregulation of the off shore oil platforms that helped cause the BP oil disaster  lead to jobs.  Really? Obviously, deregulation of industry helps corporations and hurts citizens.

What about the Affordable Health Care for America Act? Doesn’t that help people? Perhaps. It clearly captures more customers for insurance companies with the individual mandate while doing little to address overall costs in the system. It does help more Americans get insurance by eliminating most of the “pre-existing condition” barriers to health care. The law does provide some help to low income people and also tax credits for small businesses to buy insurance.

In the long run, this law is less cost affective than a single payer plan where corporate profits are taken out and it’s managed either by a private or public agency. There is some benefit to some of the public, but corporate interests are still protected at long term budget expense with this health plan.

Even our attempt to regulate the environment with cap and trade is a compromise that doesn’t really address the fundamental problem of global warming.  Cap and trade  is an attempt to get those that pollute to pay for that benefit and those that don’t pollute to get credits. Companies will game the system, buy and trade the carbon credits and eventually it will do nothing to reduce long term emissions. If we want to reduce carbon emissions we need to set limits and create technology to reduce those emissions while investing in and installing cleaner energy plants. We should not allow corporations to buy their way out of pollution with cap and trade laws. Ultimately this type of regulation would do nothing for the people and the planet.

Why was it possible to end don’t ask don’t tell and allow gays in the military? Doesn’t that benefit the people? It is because allowing gays in the military doesn’t ultimately hurt the corporate bottom line and the ban wasn’t useful anymore as a divisive issue to distract the public from our economic crisis. It also props up the progressive credibility of their man, Obama. “See, Obama supported ending don’t ask don’t tell, so he’s not corporate.” It does allow more Americans to join the military, so perhaps that helps some, and it does end discrimination which is always a good thing.

If you are to be an informed citizen, you must drop the conservative and liberal dichotomy that the corporate and political elite promote to keep us separate. We must all look at politicians and decide for ourselves whether their actions and policies benefit the most people and will help the weakest members of society or if they are only there to benefit the 1%. If you are part of the 99%, you must support those politicians and policies that help the 99%, not those that benefit only corporations and the 1%.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 122 other followers