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Awakened Americans ‘Occupy’ America – OpEd

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By Mike Jennings

The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, which started out in Manhattan, New York and soon spread throughout the United States, has gained momentum with labor unions and students joining the protests.

Although the movement has been criticized for not being well organized and not having outlined a specific set of requests, its main demand is simple.

The status quo, which has allowed one percent of the American population to accumulate wealth and continue to prosper at the expense of the other 99 percent who suffer from unemployment and struggle with the rising cost of living, should and must be changed.

Occupy Wall Street started in New York but within weeks spread to Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, California; Chicago, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Iowa City, Iowa and many other cities across the United States.

In its fourth week, ‘Occupy’ protests have become a rather nationwide phenomena. The American public have undoubtedly been inspired by the Islamic Awakening in the Middle East and North Africa, where “the 99 percenters” rose and stood up to the despotic dictators directing their destiny.

The resilience that the protesters have shown transformed the movement from one that was completely boycotted by the American mainstream media to one that was deemed important enough for US President Barack Obama to comment on it.

“I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel — that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this [mess] problem in the first place,” President Obama said on Thursday, October 6, 2011.

“So yes, I think people are frustrated, and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works,” he continued.

Although President Obama’s first term has been marred by aggressive pro-Wall Street policies that protected big businesses and those responsible for the Great Recession of 2007 from falling or facing prosecution, he now sides with the anti-Wall Street protesters, keeping an eye on the 2012 presidential election.

Obama noted the opposition to his financial reforms program – which includes a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – by Republicans and Tea Party candidates, saying, “You’ve got Republican presidential candidates whose main economic policy proposals are ‘We’ll get rid of the financial reforms that are designed to prevent the abuses that got us into this mess in the first place.’”

“That does not make sense to the American people. They are frustrated by it. And they will continue to be frustrated by it until they get a sense that everybody is playing by the same set of rules, that you’re rewarded for responsibility and doing the right thing, as opposed to playing the system.”

While Obama tries to capitalize on ‘Occupy Wall Street’s momentum, there are people like far-right conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh who claim that the president is “setting up riots” through the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the White House is behind this,” he said. “Obama is setting up riots. He is fanning the flames,” Limbaugh claimed.

However, there is no doubt that Occupy Wall Street is a grassroots movement that slams Obama for being too cozy with Wall Street.

The irony is that Occupy Wall Street is sometimes compared with the Tea Party, which before being hijacked by the Republicans, was a movement dedicated to raising awareness regarding the economic problems of the United States.

“Both the tea party and Occupy Wall Street are arguing that something needs to change. The question should be: ‘What is the source of the problem?'” Immanuel Ness, professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the editor of the “Encyclopedia of American Social Movements,” told the Huffington Post.

While Tea Party sympathizers claim the problem is that the government has grown too big and that too much government control has resulted in the financial crisis, the Occupy camp would beg to differ and argue the opposite. They would say that lack of sufficient and efficient government oversight on big corporations has consistently placed Wall Street interests before Main Street interests.

When the majority of the population in one way or another express their dissatisfaction with the overall situation of the United States, one can only conclude that the government of the United States does not represent the American people.

The American people feel that it is the big corporations and business that control the government not the people. They feel that the first three words that appear in the Constitution of the United States — We the people — has become irrelevant.

The latest blow to the government comes while the US is 14.3 trillion dollars in debt. In a report to Congress, the US Treasury Department has estimated that the country’s debt would rise to the unprecedented level of 19.6 trillion dollars by 2015.

The US government’s relentless support for the big corporations and Wall Street has also prompted American and International rating agencies to downgrade US ratings.

China’s top credit rating agency, the Dagong Global Credit Rating Company downgraded the US government’s rating to A on August 3, after the Federal Reserve revealed its monetary policy.

Moreover, Standard & Poor’s lowered the US long-term sovereign debt rating from AAA to AA+ on August 5, citing Washington’s inability to rein in its mounting deficits with spending cuts and the Republican’s resistance to raising revenues.

The fact that Americans owe 9.8 trillion dollars – or 68.5 percent – of the US debt, explains why the American public is growing increasingly impatient with the US government gambling with their money on Wall Street.

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