The 99 Percent Movement!

Think this protest movement doesn’t include you?  Think again!  Do you think the protesters are “freaks,”fringe,”radical left,” “mobs,” “anti-American?”  I’m telling you that YOU are part of the 99 Percent so be careful what you call them!

"stars" and stripes, Credit: thinkprogress.org

Although this image is pretty telling, it isn’t the whole story.

This movement is not necessarily against Wall Street, corporations, government;  it is against Wall Street influencing Supreme Court decisions and governmental policy.  It is against corporations being called “people” and being allowed to buy politicians and votes anonymously by the Supreme Court (see Citizens United) and politicians like Mitt Romney (see: “Corporations are people, my friend“).  This movement represents people from all communities, all action groups, all people who have had their voice and vote stolen by lobbyists and special interests that are buying the votes of the representatives of you, me, WE the People!  It represents all who want their representatives and senators, both state and federal, to listen to the 99 percent rather than only the 1 percent.  This movement includes Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers.  This protest is not against the government, it is for the government listening to the people and being held accountable by the people.

The corporate media, when they reluctantly give coverage to the movement at all, claim there is no coherent message or agenda.  You’ll hear and read that nobody really knows what it’s all about— is it anti-government? anti-corporate America?  Is it environmental activism, pro-jobs?  Who are these people?  Unemployed slackers? Liberals? Conservatives? Students with nothing better to do? Small business owners? Women’s and Civil rights advocates?  Who ARE these people?

THEY ARE US, FOLKS!  WE ARE THE   99 PERCENT!

That means this movement is about making OUR voices heard — even if I stand next to someone who wants something different than me, we just want our voices to be heard rather than just the 1%!  We don’t have the money to buy the votes and influence legislation (see Koch Brothers), and even if we did, we wouldn’t do it because that’s not what this country is supposed to be about!  This is a Republic.  Representatives are supposed to be making policy based on what their constituents want.

Speak up, Everyone!  Make your voices be heard, finally!  And, if you can’t attend a protest, at least support those who do!

Occupy Wall Street — Wonder why they are protesting?

Are you wondering what the Occupy Wall Street protesters are protesting?   Here’s an example:  A corporate board of directors decides to give the CEO a salary increase from $15 million last year to $21 million this year when the company has had a 7% decline in revenues (that’s a corporate LOSS) and cut close to 3,000 employees in their “trimming” of expenses (yes, these “trimmed” people are now eligible for taxpayer funded unemployment benefits), there is a huge morality problem.  I’m not just making this up for the sake of writing words, see this Oct. 3, 2011 Washington Post article.

In case you were reading it too fast, here’s the simple version:

  • CEO making $15 million/year (what was your annual salary last year?).
  • Corporate revenues decline by 7% (Company is losing money).
  • Cuts expenses by dumping almost 3,000 employees (3000 people had jobs, now don’t).
  • Board gives CEO $6 million MORE for what?  Losing money and making 3000 people unemployed!  CEO now making $21 million/year.

This graphic on the Amgen/peer CEO salary comparison goes with the article in the Washington Post.

10/3/11 Washington Post

So what does one CEO have to do with the Occupy Wall Street protests?  It is just one example of many, many, many showing the disparity between ordinary Americans (the 99%) and the rich and powerful (the 1%).  I don’t think the protesters are actually protesting the CEO making a lot of money, it’s the underlying rationale for how he ends up with a $6 million raise while 3000 people lose their jobs, their livelihoods and possibly homes, etc. and then are told that it’s their own fault (see Cain, Herman:  “If You Don’t Have a Job and You’re Not Rich, Blame Yourself!”);  I think the protesters feel that they are not being heard (see Utah redistricting); I think the protesters feel that our government is no longer of, by and for the people, but rather bought and paid for by big bucks from big business.

There has been very little corporate media coverage of the OCCUPY WALL STREET protests, much less coverage than of the early “Tea Party” gatherings (think maybe the word “corporate” has anything to do with it?).  The limited coverage there has been could be called primarily the “dissing” of the protest–distant, disparaging, disdainful.  Maybe it’s not news that people are sick and tired of politicians making policy that WE THE PEOPLE have to live with that continues to diminish the “least among us” and erodes the middle class while fattening the top end.  History lesson here:  EVERY civilization, culture or government that has done this either through policy or practice has fallen.  Everyone should know that pride fueled by greed will bring a society down.  In Utah we have a dominant Mormon culture and hear often referrals to the “pride cycle” so it should look very familiar. One particular movie also comes to mind, Metropolis, the 1927 silent film.  Check it out–  Sign of the times.

Finally, to answer the question of “Why they are protesting,” I am inserting a comment that I read on the Salt Lake Tribune website this morning (10/7/11) by commenter reunitedstatesofamerica.  I can’t say it better.

I would just like to say that it is the democracy of this nation that is in question.

The point is that many of the corporations/special interest groups are buying specific actions from (some of) those people we vote for.  Hence, what “vote”, “say”…democracy do we really have?

Instead of seeing losers that should get a job, I see big money that bought the laws to ship our jobs out of this country, and enjoy tax breaks too.  Instead of seeing losers that should go home, I see a mortgage industry controlled by big money that bought the laws to sell our mortgage debt plus interest, claim it as profit to soar their stock prices and issue a whole hechovalota bonuses.  The same big money, I might add, that reinvented the retirement system into stock market styled plans, thus having millions of people purchase stock in their falsely inflated trading companies.  Those bailed out’s fell behind in their mortgage sale loan payments – because people couldn’t pay their mortgage payment –  because their job got shipped out to a 4 year old girl overseas making $3 a year (sorry for the sarcasm).

I am sitting pretty with a house, cars, retirement, and a job with benefits.  I go to work every workday on time and do a great job.  I pay my bills on time, save and plan on paying for my own dang retirement.   If they ship out my job and blow my retirement with a shady deal, I will be jobless and homeless with…absolutely no law, no representative changing this risk because of this special interest favor-tism.

1.   I CAN’T VOTE FOR SOMEONE THAT WON’T ALLOW MY JOB TO BE SHIPPED OUT BECAUSE BIG MONEY BUYS THEIR VOTE/ACTION.

2.  IF THE BANK MAKES A BOO BOO AND LOSES MY RETIREMENT INVESTMENT/PENSION, WHILE PAYING COUNTLESS CEO’s MILLIONS PER YEAR…I CAN’T STOP THEM BECAUSE THEY BUY THE LAWS TO PROTECT THEM, NOT ME.

I live in the United States of America.

Ya’ll my friends, are the exact same as all those left jobless, homeless, pensionless….because if it happens to you, what are you going to do about it?

To the comfortable looking down upon the protesters, wake up tomorrow and pretend you got laid off because your job was shipped overseas, pretend your retirement disappeared because of fraudulent bankers.  Then call your mortgage company, explain this to them and see if you have a law or representative to protect you.  While you are begging them to not take your house over a measely $4000, turn on the news and listen to the latest round of bonuses to the millionaires that defrauded you out of your job and retirement.

If it happens to you, what are you gonna do about it?

I’m going to revisit this movement as it progresses as I happen to believe it’s about time!  Stay tuned.

Bipartisanship

It appears that enough people have spoken out against the initial proposal by Sec. of Treasury Henry Paulson that the hammer crew got together yesterday and very nearly came to an agreement on modifications. Those modifications, to my economically untrained mind, seem to have been good ones — give some oversight to the bailout, phase it in, put caps on executive pay in some way, and in some basic ways get something in return.

If you read my earlier posts on this subject you know I strongly objected to it in the original form. I felt, as did many, that yes, the government was going to have to do something but that needed to have protections, oversight, and returns for taxpayer money. Essentially, they were going to throw our money at Wall Street and hope it solved the problem. Now it appears that intelligence has prevailed. Or perhaps it was just taxpayer outrage that prevailed.

The economic stimulus package ($167 Billion) gave many of us $300 or $600 checks earlier this year which we were instructed to immediately go spend. Now we were being told that $2,300 per person was going to go to this $700 Billion proposed bailout program. Granted, this was not money that came directly from our pockets, it was tax money we have already or will be paying, but nonetheless, when you put the two packages side by side and look at them very simply, that is depleting tax money by 867 Billion dollars. That is a mindboggling amount of money.

A package will be approved even though House Republicans felt empowered to balk due to John McCain’s arrival in his “straight talk express” to save the day. They, House and Senate Republicans, need to remember their role in dismantling regulations that prevented this kind of economic meltdown. McCain has been a long-time opponent of regulation, just this week changing his stated opinion. Deregulation combined with the war in Iraq (See Think Progress, Sept. 26) are major elements of our current but foreseen by many financial crisis.

Chan Lowe
Sun-Sentinel
Sep 19, 2008

It seems to me that Congress must pass something soon, if not today. It has been announced, everyone is expecting it and now many of the problems with the original are being worked out. It seems to be the best of a bad situation.

Just Say NO!

Momentum is growing against the proposed Wall Street bailout as many Americans apparently don’t want to buy into “Paulson’s Plunder,” even after George W. Bush tried to sweet talk the nation last night into accepting his Treasury Secretary’s plan.

Congress is working on the “plan,” trying to figure out how best to modify and implement the proposal, but it is still a $700 Billion Bailout! We — you, me, your spouse, your children, your grandchildren — are going to end up paying over $2,300 for every man, woman, child (U.S. population estimate according to the CIA World Factbook).

How would you spend $2,300 if you had it free and available to do anything you want? What would you do with that much money if you were restricted to do something relating to the financial sector–banks or stocks? Would you put it in savings? Certificates? Stocks? Something that would be an “investment” and would perhaps give you a return of some kind?

We are being asked to donate that much of our tax money to a bailout that, as written, gives no return to the investor, the taxpayer. Proponents of the plan say that our return will be a stable financial system. Economists nationwide are finding flaw after flaw with the plan the more they study and analyze it. There are no financial returns and few regulations on the use of the funds. The initial proposal included no oversight from anyone outside the Executive Branch of the government — the Administration. It was an attitude of “just hand over the money and trust us.”

Trust. What an amazing betrayal of trust. After what this president and his pack of pals have done to the American people and imposed on the world the last eight years we are supposed to trust them?

We’ve lost civil rights, been wiretapped, experienced continued deflation of our dollars, died and killed in a misbegotten war and now we’re being asked to just “hand over the cash.” The only thing missing in this scenario is a thief’s mask.

Alternative economic plans are emerging as economists continue to work through all the layers of the current situation. Most say timing is an issue, but they have been saying that for two or three years! There were warnings of the upcoming crisis in 2006 and even earlier! This MSNBC clip is dated 8/28/06 and shows the two opposing economic views and I’ll bet you can pick up the position supported by the Bush Administration! It is also obvious that at least half of this duo knew what was coming and now we’re in it.

I would be interested in what others, anyone, think are possible solutions? Everyone has ideas, whether they have been trained in economics or not. Most of us have and use money. Don’t we regulate ourselves? What kinds of regulations do you have on your personal finances? Do you think those same basic principles apply to our communal finances, taxes? How do you feel about all of this?

If you want to speak out, here’s one way. I just received the following in an email:

Today (Thursday) there will be emergency afternoon street protests across the country. Please find the nearest protest and bring a sign and a friend:
http://tinyurl.com/3sh2cb

You can surely call, write or email (it’s gotta be fast though!) your congressmen and give them your opinion, even if it is simply, “NO! No, to Paulson’s plan.” You don’t have to be an economist or give them an expansive explanation of your alternative, you “JUST SAY NO!”

Let Them Eat Cake

I interrupt the film postings from TIFF to bring you my thoughts on the current economic crisis and proposed bailout.

We are all hearing about the financial meltdown of the big investment banks: Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley. We are also hearing about the proposed bailout of this system by the government.

I am not an economist nor a financial scholar, sometimes wish someone would bail me out financially, but there are things going on here that interest and concern me. I also think the majority of the American people are suffering from personal economic exhaustion or they would be much more vocal regarding what is being proposed.

One important thing to be aware of is that the proposed bailout ($700 BILLION!) of the investment banks with taxpayer money was written by Henry Paulson Jr. (Bush’s Treasury Secretary) and has the stamp of approval from Ben Bernanke, head of Federal Reserve. Now, lest you think that because of their positions and that they obviously know more about it than you do, here are a couple of interesting quotes from Mr. Paulson (from The Progress Report, Sept. 23, 2008):

“Our institutions, our banks and investment banks, are strong.”
— Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, 3/08

VERSUS

“The events leading us here began many years ago, starting with bad lending practices by banks and financial institutions, and by borrowers taking out mortgages they couldn’t afford.”
— Paulson, 9/23/08

The track of these quotes leading to the current proposal goes: Bad mortgages, bad lending practices, banks are in great shape, banks are now failing and need us to foot the bill for their greed. In other words, he wants us, the average American taxpayer to eat it financially while paying for their (investment banks and their CEOs) cake.

Do you think there will come a time when Americans say “Enough?” “We’ve paid enough.”

We’ve had “free market” bullhorned at us, telling us to buck up, deal with it, if you work hard enough you’ll get what you want, blah, blah, blah and now those “free market” folks don’t want to play by their own free market rules. Economists all over the country are saying that there are alternatives; we don’t have to give handouts to investment banks, there are other, more rational and practical ways to deal with this.

“But leading economists and financial analysts argue that there are a host of alternatives that would reduce taxpayers’ liabilities and perhaps more effectively address the urgent crisis in financial markets. Although these experts concede that the clock is ticking, they say other approaches have been dismissed too quickly. . . .

“One approach seeks to reduce taxpayers’ liability by offering collateral-backed loans to troubled banks, leaving them to work out their own solutions. Another idea is to have the government set up a profit-driven investment fund with the aim of infusing the financial system with cash without taking on bad debt. Still others suggest radically different tactics of directly helping homeowners by reducing mortgage principal or bolstering banks by suspending capital gains taxes. . . .

“‘They presented this as a comprehensive, decisive solution, but it’s clearly not comprehensive and probably not decisive,’ said Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Anthony Faiola and David Cho, The Washington Post)”

Write/call your Congressman and tell them that you want them to take their time on this! We should be as skeptical as we can possibly be about anything the Bush Administration is proposing — remember Iraq and WMD? Remember National Security and wiretapping? Remember Patriot Act and the erosion of your civil rights? Don’t do something fast, do something RIGHT!

Killing People Because of their Beliefs is Okay??? — NO!!!

Quoting from The Progress Report (Center for American Progress Fund, 7/29/08):

Jim Adkisson, the man who shot two people to death in a Tennessee Unitarian church this week because he was angry at “liberals and gays,” had an array of right-wing books at his home. Inside his house, “officers found ‘Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder’ by radio talk show host Michael Savage, ‘Let Freedom Ring’ by talk show host Sean Hannity, and ‘The O’Reilly Factor,’ by television talk show host Bill O’Reilly.”

Can’t we make the same type of correlation here that has been made between acts of violence (e.g. Columbine shootings) and violent movies or video games (e.g. The Matrix, Doom)? Maybe we should call for a boycott of these right-wing radicals as they are now shown to influence certain personalities toward dangerous, violent behavior — sounds kind of like drugs and alcohol!

Most of us realize hate is not limited to the right-wing radicals nor to Republicans but the above-mentioned talk show hosts along with others, such as the venomous Ann Coulter, have done tremendous damage to our country. They screech Hate and Fear, key elements of their mantra, all while trying to hide their hideousness behind the veil of religion and shrouding their stench under the American flag. What a foul use of the name of Jesus Christ who taught peace, charity and love.

Clearing Tomato States!

The FDA is keeping us updated on states where tomatoes are cleared from the salmonella threat. Here is the link for the article but I’m pasting the list below. Tomatoes grown in these states are safe to eat raw (according to the FDA).

UPDATED LIST

Alabama
Alaska
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Delaware
Florida (counties of: Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Suwannee, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Hardee, DeSoto, Sarasota, Highlands, Pasco, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, Charlotte)*
Georgia
Hawaii
Indiana New!
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico New!
New York
Nebraska
North Carolina
Ohio
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Baja California (Norte)**New!

Belgium

Canada

Dominican Republic

Guatemala

Israel

Netherlands

Puerto Rico

Update on Tomato Warning!

The FDA has issued an update on its salmonella/tomato warning. Click here for more details.

Remember to look for the originating region and ask your grocer or produce manager if it is not posted. Here is the updated (as of June 12) list of SAFE states/regions:

States:

Alabama
Alaska
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Delaware
Florida (counties of: Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Suwannee, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Hardee, DeSoto, Sarasota, Highlands, Pasco, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, Charlotte)*
Georgia
Hawaii
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Nebraska
North Carolina
Ohio
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin

Countries
Belgium
Canada
Dominican Republic
Guatemala
Israel
Netherlands
Puerto Rico

Be safe, folks; check where they came from, cook any suspect tomatoes and grow your own!

Tomato Warning!

At first I thought this was a joke! It is, in fact, much too real. Last year it was spinach, now it is tomatoes.

For details, read the linked article above. In short, salmonella has been traced to raw tomatoes, specifically red plum, red roma, red round tomatoes from certain states/regions. Cherry and grape tomatoes, organic or stem-attached tomatoes are safe as are the other round fatties from these states/territories/countries: Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands, and Puerto Rico. If you’re not sure where your tomatoes came from, cook them rather than eating them raw.

Most grocers post origins of produce but if you can’t see it be sure to ask. If they can’t tell you, either don’t buy the tomatoes or buy then cook.

Safest yet: grow your own!

“Bitter”??

Is this a joke? The campaign news being pounced on today is that Senator Barack Obama referred to some Pennsylvanians as “bitter” that they’ve been forgotten or neglected by their government. For having made such a reference he is now paying the price — “Elitist!” shouts John McCain with disdain, “that’s not my experience,” smugly says Hillary as she smiles and shakes hands with those folks who have been paying the price for failed domestic economic policies for the last two decades (one over which Hillary’s husband called the shots).

Where’s the truth and honesty in all this? Who isn’t bitter? I’m bitter that the people of this country elected a man to be president who, with his pack of cronies, should be examined under a war criminal microscope. I’m bitter that there are millions of poor in this country who cannot get health care or many so-called basic needs because they don’t have a strong enough financial portfolio to put them in the tax-favored bracket. I’m bitter that we are in a war that should have never been engaged in, invaded and are occupying a country that had nothing to do with September 11th and have been endlessly lied to by our government about the war that never ends. I’m bitter that many of the leaders of our country have dragged us into the moral whirlpool of torture. We must, rather than merely being bitter, look forward. We must admit the bitterness that is here, realize where it has come from and move forward with the hope for change that OBAMA offers.

Speeches:

‘A more perfect union’ – full transcript of Senator Obama’s speech on race as prepared for delivery

Democratic National Convention, July 27, 2004