Saturday, November 19, 2011

What is the Occupy movement all about?


The right to assemble peaceably is guaranteed by the first amendment.  This must have been important to the Founding Fathers since it IS the first of the Bill of Rights, which means that they thought about it, discussed it, perhaps had protests in favor (or not) of it, and decided to include it.  This was first differentiated from the right to petition in 1875 by the Supreme Court as part of “United States v. Cruikshank”, which states, “…the right of the people peaceably to assemble for the purpose of petitioning Congress for a redress of grievances, or for anything else connected with the powers or duties of the National Government, is an attribute of national citizenship, and, as such, under protection of, and guaranteed by, the United States.”

Clearly the OWS movement is within its rights to peaceably assemble, and I would think that they do have grievances worth petitioning the government for.  Read this Wiki article for history and descriptions of earlier protests, and here is the Wiki article specifically about OWS.  Also, take note of my earlier advice about Wiki articles.

Some of the lengths that these protesters go to, to continue their agenda, are quite inventive.  One example is that since the movement does not have a permit to use amplified PA systems, they are using human repeaters to help disseminate the speaker’s words.  After the NYFD removed the gas-powered generators citing a fire hazard, the protesters turned to bicycle-powered ones to provide for their electronic needs.  They also constructed their own greywater system to recycle dishwater for use in the park.  If only Wall Street could find a use for this creativity and innovation (of course only the 1% would likely profit from this).

All that said, I think that they could probably spend their time and effort in better ways.  For instance, if the main complaint is about the wealthy owners of various corporations, how about organizing a boycott of their products and/or services (in the specific case of banks, this should work well).  If the need is for government officials to take their concerns more seriously, have sub-groups maintain a 24/7 picket outside their houses?  That should get their attention.

Here’s another idea: pick out the worst 25 or so perceived offenders and the get retailers and service people to refuse them service.  No more taxi rides, lost reservations, no more best seats in the best restaurants; they wouldn’t be able to buy things in stores or online.  I think that this would send the message that no one can live comfortably without the workers who make business possible.

I dearly hope that this can be resolved peacefully, before more drastic measures are taken by the protesters.  Revolutions have started because of similar grievances before.  Isn’t the Tea Party movement homage to the original namesake?

As I have frequently found, the Founding Fathers had comments that are surprisingly apropos, so I leave you with their thoughts.

"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat in our drink, in our necessities and comforts, in our labors and in our amusements, for our callings and our creeds...our people.. must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live..  We have not time to think, no means of calling the mis-managers to account, but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow suffers.  Our landholders, too...retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must...be contented with penury, obscurity and exile.. private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance."

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

"... God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
--- Thomas Jefferson

"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it."

"Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics. There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honour, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superior to all private passions."

"[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few."
--- John Adams

"But the mild voice of reason, pleading the cause of an enlarged and permanent interest, is but too often drowned, before public bodies as well as individuals, by the clamors of an impatient avidity for immediate and immoderate gain."

"If individuals be not influenced by moral principles; it is in vain to look for public virtue; it is, therefore, the duty of legislators to enforce, both by precept and example, the utility, as well as the necessity of a strict adherence to the rules of distributive justice."

"If it be asked what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer, the genius of the whole system, the nature of just and constitutional laws, and above all the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it."
--- James Madison

And, although not strictly one of the FF, also an important man in early American politics.

"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the Bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.. corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed."
--- Abraham Lincoln







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