The Occupy Movement has legs.
I was initially skeptical of the whole thing and found it kind of obnoxious. The tents, the seemingly anti-capitalist, angry, yelling, cop-clashing protests, and a sentiment of being against everything without providing solutions to anything.
But then, I had a change of heart. I realized, after talking to people, going down there and really reading into the movement that many "occupiers" are not at all anti-government, anti-rich, anti-capitalism, but simply want to see a system that is broken get fixed.
They want to see a system where the great promises of this country are available to everyone, instead of watching a widening gap where opportunity becomes something available only to richest of the rich -- a system working so exclusively to protect a tiny, very cozy segment of an enormous population. One that is suffering through an enormous economic crisis.
As we see mass government layoffs, cuts in infrastructure projects, and a lowering in the standard of life for working Americans, one must wonder why those in the financial industry, those that played such a large role in tanking this economy by playing America's markets like a casino are seeing so little with regards to paying their fair share of the burden. If average Americans have to live with and accept cuts in jobs, schools, FDA funding, FAA funding, roads, police, firefighters, hospitals, etc. then shouldn't the wealthiest ones among us, the ones that the system has benefited the most also be asked to chip in a little? When you play a game of Black Jack and you keep winning, you tip the dealer. I don't think asking the wealthiest to help carry this burden a little is so bad. Would three yachts be sufficient instead of six? I don't even think we need to talk about enormous tax hikes, because we're talking about a group with so much wealth that the slightest increases could save this whole country from significant devastation.
Ironically even the wealthy would benefit, by living in a nation of successful, ambitious, innovative people, instead of having to gate themselves into safe communities as they watch the rest of the nation go down the tubes.
Yes, we should reward innovators, businesses that create jobs, and allow for a slim government when government can be slimmed down, but we should not tolerate a system where the financial sector and the wealthiest among us go so unregulated, and are able to harness so many loopholes that the weight of this difficult economy gets carried exclusively by a diminishing middle class, and an increasingly struggling lower class.
To me, the media has covered many of the wrong elements of the story. The clashes with the cops may sell papers, but it's not the core of what the movement is about. The radical guy with the crazy hair styles and goth appearance screaming at an officer as he gets hauled into a van may look exciting to sell papers, but is only an unfortunate side-effect of a movement mostly composed of people from all walks of life -- peaceful and reasonable folks of all ages, and backgrounds united by a simple idea that we as a country can do better. The people who really make up the movement and the people who will really benefit from this dialogue taking place are the majority of Americans, and as it pertains to people across the globe, the average working class people of many nations -- the ones fortunate enough to be in capitalist democracies who at least do not have to worry about being shot down to protest the actions of their governments.
While we have seen some very irresponsible police activity, we've also seen irresponsible protesters. To me, the headlines should not be about officers vs. protesters, but about the reasons the protesters are showing up in the first place. Those cops aren't exactly going home in cop limos, and for all the bad cops that have been demonized in the papers, there are plenty of good ones just trying to do their job.
I was looking for a concrete set of objectives from the Occupy Movement, but in a sense the core accomplishment has already taken place. It is that at dinner tables across the country, and world, we are now discussing real issues about enormous wealth disparities, income inequality, corporate corruption, and tax loopholes instead of the latest weird wacky thing Kim Kardashian has been up to. Or at least, we're discussing that alongside the latest weird wacky thing Kim Kardashian has been up to.
So the dialogue is the first step, and from here new movements will begin to sprout, which may not necessarily bear the "Occupy" brand. People are being politically active, and that is how real change is accomplished. It isn't always pretty and it isn't always structured in the beginning, but Occupy's goal is not to serve as a vehicle to make specific changes, rather it is a call for a much needed global conversation about the flaws in our financial, political system that has been long overdue.