For what it's worth: The Wall Street protests
"There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear.”
Those lyrics from a Buffalo Springfield song over forty years ago come to mind while following the Occupy Wall Street movement which began as a small demonstration in New York City, protesting corporate greed and economic inequality and has since spread to other cities across the country.
As the gatherings grow, so have the issues which include the economy, unemployment, the wars in Irag and Afghanistan, the environment, energy, political reform, education and more. People continue to show up and vent their frustrations about what is going on or not going on.
They show up because they are angry at Wall Street for ruining the economy, and rather than being punished, it seems they are being rewarded. They show up because they have lost their jobs. They show up because they have just graduated and can't find a job and pay back their school loans. They show up because they can't afford health insurance. They show up because they can't get a loan for a house or a small business. They show up because they are making less money and the cost of living has gone up. Some show up to protest the protesters.
I find it encouraging and exciting that people, so fed up with a political system that has ground to a complete halt, feel their only option to be heard is to take to the streets with placards and bullhorns. They are fed up with politicians on both sides who seem more indebted to the special interest groups that finance their campaigns rather then the constituents they are supposed to represent.
Not even the internet can replace that need to voice an opinion when you feel that no one is listening or responding, although, the internet and social media have made organizing easier.
It is too early to tell where this movement will lead. As it grows, politicians on both sides of the isle will jockey for positions that cast to their advantage. Others will denounce it or dismiss it. Already we've heard terms like “mobs” “anti-American” “class warfare” and “socialism” hurled like Molotov cocktails.
It is a sure sign that these demonstrators are on to something just as they were during the suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement or the feminist movement. Any type of obvious and needed change that impacts the status quo produces anxiety among many initially, and they in turn will attempt to start a back fire by igniting and fanning the flames of fear.
The rhetoric is likely to get louder and more hysterical as more and more people come to the realization that democracy and capitalism are not the same thing. Criticizing an economic system that appears to be rigged and approved of by the government does not threaten democracy. It only strengthens it the way a weak muscle is strengthened when it is used.
For what it's worth, China's capitalism is much more vibrant than our own, but as a citizen you better not get caught questioning government policy. At least here it's worth a discussion.
Jim Black is a community blogger and is not a part of the Walworth County Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of Walworth County Today staff or management.