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Occupy The World

The year 2011 was unlike any year in history. People all over the world decided, almost all at once, to put down what they were doing, look out into their world with gritted-teeth determination and a lowered brow, then rush out into their communities and places of opinion to lead the charge to demand that we set our world straight. Every major political and social issue was on their placards and in the front pages of the world’s media. From aging dictators, to metastatic corruption throughout business and government, all the way down to the greedy little fees that banks, phone companies, and airlines tried to charge, but had to rescind because of public outcry. -The People had enough.

The facts show growing income inequality and erosion of real income over the past three decades. The ratio of corporate executive’s to worker’s pay in the United States has grown from 24:1 in 1965, to 70:1 in 1990, to over 340:1 in 2010. Average CEO pay is currently over $11 million to worker’s average of $33,000. Current ratios in other parts of the world are in the 25:1 range.

In spite of the American system that is advertised as democratic and fair to all, the top 5% owns 95% of our nation’s wealth. The bottom 50% controls 2.5% of our national wealth and has a total monetary value of $1.45 trillion in 2010 dollars. This includes everything they own -homes, cars, savings accounts, furniture, lawn mowers —everything.

Yet the average person, in their humility and naïve belief that our system is working for them, is content with their modest home and life. They do not suffer an affectation of desire for tremendous wealth. Most people have modest expectations of life and thank God every day for their life, job, hobbies, health, and the love of their family.

Yes, the People are an easy-going lot, and they put on a happy face every day and don’t complain as long as they get enough for themselves. But now the people are being squeezed; the screws are being turned to take away healthcare, retirement, and investment security from those who have worked a lifetime with their trust in the promise of a system that would provide a nation’s people the best that the world could offer.

Now there is no retirement security, healthcare has been made less accessible, costing more and providing less, with some things, such as dental care becoming uninsurable. Investment security is gone as companies have figured out how to keep profits for themselves, and pass the risks on to ‘investors’, who are really now just suckers for markets that crash every ten years, where companies wipe out their stockholders with clever bankruptcy schemes, only to start selling more stock, to more suckers, within a few months. The stable 7-8% interest rates that we used to count on in our savings accounts disappeared many years ago. Bonds, deposit certificates, and savings accounts now earn far less than the rate of inflation.

—The People are being squeezed.

There was a time, in the years after WWII, that Americans admired and took pride in the American companies, the manufacturers, the automobile companies, and the great technological innovators like Boeing, Dow, and IBM that gave rise to new industries and a growing middle class and the wellbeing and prosperity that our nation enjoyed in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Then came the so-called ‘Leaner and Meaner’ era of the 1980’s, with hostile takeovers, mysterious holdings companies, and globalization with its sweatshops, overseas outsourcing. —Even call centers were moved to India. In the world of global corporations, trust and loyalty have broken down between companies, their employees, and investors.

Companies play dirty. American companies have unbolted production equipment from the floors of our factories and shipped our manufacturing industries overseas, or to Mexico, or to ships 12 miles offshore in international waters, where essentially, slave labor is now used to do the work that once supported the American middle-class. Workers who were once considered assets, and part of the character of a company, are now scorned as liabilities, an expense that needs to be trimmed, a replaceable commodity. Companies push people out when they hit their 50s. They gamble with their employee pension funds and with their investors’ money in risky and untested investment strategies. Companies manipulate their stock and play insider’s games to keep all the money for themselves, then they eventually use bankruptcy (and good lawyers) to take their investors’ money and to get out of paying their pension and healthcare plans. We’ve seen it over and over again.

Former managers are living in their cars, children are going hungry, pets are left to fend for themselves, millions of homes stand empty, and the dreams of millions of people are replaced by the struggle to survive this year, or even this week. The last 30 years have seen a massive redistribution of income from the working class to the wealthy, and it seems that little will change unless the People do something. The People have to do something. —And now, the People are in the streets.

The Occupy Movement

A Thousand Demands, From Each And All

1 - Corporate Reform. - Overturn the Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission ruling. -The Supreme court ruling that gave corporations the same rights as people, and equated money with free speech.

- Reinstate the Glass-Stegall Act to regulate investment risk and financial leveraging.

- Restrict the use of bankruptcy as a means to profit, avoid responsibility, allow reckless management, or as an incentive to take untested risks.

- Control corporate welfare. Subsidies and tax breaks to companies or industries should serve the national interest, and benefit the nation as a whole through such things as research, or access to services in underserved communities or areas of the country, or by providing training, or for keeping and creating jobs here in our country.

- Preserve the Constitutional rights of employees. The rights of those working for companies should remain intact and separate from the company, and not be restricted in areas such as the right to assembly and free speech, privacy, search and seizure rights, and judicial rights when dealing with management. The company should not interfere in the personal lives or affairs of their employees, such as in what they eat, drink, or smoke, or what they say on Facebook.

- Maintain a wall of separation between business, which benefits a few, and politicians, who are elected to serve the People.

2 - Demand responsible government. - Change legislative rules to control partisan deadlock, stop filibusters and procedural trickery. Expand the use of referendum and recall. Hold public officials responsible for incompetence and bias such as Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, who has stated publicly his ideological bias. Require judges and legislators to recuse themselves in cases of conflict of interest, or stated or documented bias.

- Maintain fiscal balance by controlling costs, but also by returning to the balanced revenue structure that existed in the Clinton years. Eliminate tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs and investment offshore or overseas.

- Make election campaign finance reform happen, and bring transparency and truth to campaigns, affiliated action groups, 'think tanks', fundraisers, and advertising. Hold politicians liable for libel or defamation for lies or 'Swift Boat' attack ads.

- Take improper influence out of government. Industries control the political lives of our politicians, and outside groups, such as AIPAC, and tax and religious extremists have demanded allegiance under threat to destroy the political careers of those who do not accede to their demands. Public records show that dozens of public officials have dual citizenship with Israel. One has to ask with whom their allegiance lies, and whose interests they are serving. The only pledges that politicians should be allowed to sign are those that say they are serving the People and the nation as a whole.

3 - Banking reform. Banks, insurance, and investment companies gambled in risky investment schemes, and leveraged to dangerous levels. They made loans to people who they knew could never pay them back. Loans with high fees, obscurely written, hidden within many pages of fine print that paid their profits first. When the house of cards collapsed, they were bailed out, but these companies pocketed the money instead of using it to ease credit or to adjust the terms of underwater mortgages. Republicans now want to pass the burden on to working people by paying for the bail-outs by cutting pay and benefits, and by firing thousands of public sector workers.

4 - Nationalize Healthcare. Just like a military, healthcare is a national and public priority that cannot be left to the inequalities and corporate plundering which happen in a for-profit system. The health of our nation is declining, with rising rates of diabetes, mental illness, and infant mortality. We've all heard unfortunate stories like the uninsured guy who died from a toothache, and the insurance agent who retired at 61 with heart trouble to find out that he could not get health insurance. How many of the millions of gravestones in our graveyards should read 'Died At The Hands Of Republicans' ?

Healthcare System Facts

- Every department in a hospital nowadays is a separate company, each with a corporate board, a CEO, a COO, and a bunch of other highly-paid guys that work the system to charge as much as they can get away with, adding artificial costs. That's why a ten minute surgery costs $10,000, and the doctor only gets paid $2000.

- Medicare is already partly privatized, with Medicare Advantage, where companies game the system to maximize what they can charge the government.

- Pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, and middlemen charge the government inflated prices for medicines, tests, lab work, medical supplies and apparatus, computing, consulting, and training.

- Insurance companies try to restrict access to healthcare with complex exclusion rules and by requiring permission, where they can overrule doctors recommendations and deny coverage.

- Health insurance companies are under no obligation to cover you. They can charge as much as they want, and they can drop you at anytime without reason. if you are 55, a $10,000 deductible plan that pays 60% can cost more than your house payment. It is not insurance, it is extortion.

5 - Access to education and training. Make at least two years of college or professional education, as well as community and adult education programs accessible to all. Every child should grow up with a personal connection throughout their education, a parent, mentor or someone who cares about them and who they can always talk to about anything and develop self esteem, and relationship and leadership skills.

6 -Energy and environmental leadership. Embrace new technologies and fund research into the next levels of development, which will be the beginnings of many of tomorrow's industries, with a symbiosis of environmental and energy sciences, such as the technology and bio-engineering that uses carbon dioxide to grow algae that becomes a livestock feed and a source of biodiesel.


 

These are just some examples of the many things in our world that most agree should be changed, and could be changed if we all stand in and do our part. There is no downside to a society that is composed of informed, active people who learn, think, and communicate with others and help add their own leadership and efforts to make this world, as a planet, and as a people, the best that it can be.


 
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