Monday, November 28, 2011

What Do They Want?

Many commentators, particularly those who sympathize with the monied elite who are being referred to as the One Percent, have been criticizing the Occupy movement for not setting forth their demands. Maybe these critics should turn their gaze to the One Percent and ask what it is that they want.

Does the One Percent want young men who are living in gang-infested, economically distressed, racially segregated parts of our cities to shoot each other on a daily basis? Do they want innocent bystanders to get caught in the crossfire? Does the One Percent want children to drop out of high school because, seeing no successful people in their neighborhoods, they have no hope that education can help them succeed in life? Does the One Percent want middle-aged workers to sink into depression when they are laid off and unable to find work because their jobs have been sent overseas to maximize shareholders' values?

Does the One Percent want young people who cannot pay their student loans back to rely upon an underground black-market economy for their livelihoods and the goods and services they need, generating no tax revenue? Does the One Percent want to be catching colds and flu and more serious communicable diseases because people without health insurance do not get treatment? Does the One Percent want to feel they have to barricade themselves in their houses to avoid burglaries and muggings and kidnappings which increase as desperate people do what they feel they have to do in order to support themselves or their families?

Does the One Percent want their children to grow up in a world where increasing numbers of people resent them because of their privileged position? Does the One Percent want to have to walk to work through a gauntlet of beggars tugging at their sleeves? Does the One Percent want to live in fear that if they make bad investment decisions or are just unlucky they will be forced into the misery people at the other end of the economic spectrum experience on a daily basis?

An historically high level of economic disparity is the status quo that the police are protecting. Is that what the One Percent wants? Or do they really want what the Occupiers want – more hope, more justice, more equality, more respect, more peace, more democracy. If the One Percent and the Occupiers each wrote up their demands, how similar would they look? And if they were different, whose list would you sign on to?

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