Consider the joy shown by Americans celebrating the Fourth of July.
If the Fourth is such a happy time, shouldn’t we now be equally furious that the government has been rigged to ignore the needs and wants of the People? Over the past few years, I’ve heard dozens of educated middle class Americans admit that Congress has ben bought―federal corruption at the highest levels is now accepted as unquestionable truth.
More recently, I’ve run into more than a few people who have become frustrated with the Occupy movement. For instance, last week I heard this from an acquaintance, who was speaking of the protesters:
Acquaintance: “They should get a job. What the hell are they expecting to accomplish out there?”
Me: Isn’t it a huge problem that all three branches of our federal government make decisions to accommodate large corporations, often ignoring the needs of ordinary citizens? Isn’t that worth protesting.
Acquaintance: “Still, the protesters are stupid.”
Me: What is your solution? Ordinary people are barred from participating in a government that is supposedly to be run by ordinary people. Further, the news media is largely under the control of these same interests―they are too often serving as stenographers for the corporations that pull the strings of the federal Government.
[Fourth of July flag photo]
Along the same lines, here’s an excerpt from an email I recently received from a DI reader:
About your note regarding ways to support the Occupy movement… yes, you are right to encourage people to talk about what is going on, but don’t you think that it is time for those who are actually doing the “occupying” to go home and do their homework. It seems pretty apparent that it is mostly the late teen to early 20 year olds that are involved and that they don’t seem to have any really intelligent, well thought out ideas or goals. The media and general public are already bored with the story, and the whole thing will have been an exercise in futility unless they move on in a dignified way. Their goal should be to have an effect on the 2012 election which is a full year away. They should go home and get organized and become better informed in order to form a voting block that will further their agenda (that is if they can come to a consensus as to what that agenda is).
In short, this reader wants the Occupiers to return home to do the same thing that millions of people have been doing for the past decade, i.e., doing nothing likely to invoke change.
Many people, much like the two people described above, are frustrated with federal government corruption, yet are nonetheless uncomfortable with images of people standing up shouting and waving signs while the police stare at them. I suspect that many of the people who aren’t comfortable with the protesters are folks who draw substantially upon Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundation of “Authority.” These sorts of people feel at a gut level that the police, representatives of our leaders are the good guys, even when they are putting handcuffs on someone who is yelling a truthful statement: that the federal government corrupt. These “Authority” people need to overcome their inhibitions about getting into the government’s face, because it’s no longer their government. If we aren’t going to try to change things, we should at least have the decency to rename our holidays.
These are times that demand ordinary citizens to step up and take ownership of their country. There is no longer any justification for living on a civic oasis―living as hough other people will take care of the corruption. It is a huge problem when private corporations buy Congress, and it should no longer be ignored by the many of us who are seeing our future damaged by the stark economic inequality that is unfolding. It offends the most important tenet of the United States Constitution, that the government is supposed to be by and for the People. Yes, it’s going to be awkward and ugly to have people living in parks. Yes, it’s going to stress out Mayors and police departments. But what else can citizens do to take back their country? Would those who are uncomfortable with the protests rather that citizens who have been alienated from their own government stay off the streets and privately rant to each other in emails and on social sites? They should know better: ranting on the Internet won’t get the job done, because millions of us have been doing that for ten years. There is no longer any way to reform the system by strictly playing within the system.
What we currently call the “government” has become a perversion of democracy. The First Amendment thus invites―in fact, demands–citizens like you and me to engage in protests like those of the Occupy movement in an attempt to take back our country. The evidence supporting my harsh accusation is extensive, and that is the point of this post. I have accumulated evidence from the past 10 years demonstrating the American government has systematically taken actions that run counter to fundamental needs and wishes of ordinary Americans, the 99%:
The federal government has allowed Wall Street to become a system of socialized losses and privatized gains.
The federal government enacted Wall Street “reform” that allows bigger banks than ever and fails to get atthe root causes of the economic collapse, all the while courting Wall Streetfor contributions.
The federal government has enacted health care “reform” that constitutes a bailout for for-profit insurance companies,shoving single-payer under the table in secret meetings with for-profit health insurers while the legislation was being hammered out.
Candidate Barack Obama promised that he would take a back seat to no one on net neutrality, but President Obama appointed an FCC commissioner who gave away net neutrality on the wireless internet, the fastest growing part of the Internet.
President Barack Obama continues and, in fact, exacerbates Bush policies regarding torture, domestic spying and prosecution of whistle-blowers.
The federal government has illegally committed financial assault on 3rd parties dedicated to exposing government corruption.
The federal government assassinated an American citizen without due process of law, and has continued widespread and indiscriminate attacks on foreigners using drones.
The federal government continues to imprison whistle-blower Bradley Birkenfeld, the UBS whistle-blower who sought to expose tens of thousands of wealthy American tax cheats.
President Barack Obama caved-in on the budget deal with Republicans.
Barack Obama has failed to effectively use the bully pulpit to address the root rot of American politics, while he accumulates a re-election war chest of more than one billion dollars.
The federal government invites alleged “investment” banks to gamble, rather than limiting them to “buying and selling real tangible stuff.”
The federal government refuses to reenact the Glass-Steagle Act, despite the fact that it was the repeal of this law that allowed banks to run amok and ruin the United States economy.
The federal government has, in other ways, failed to get tough on Wall Street banks.
There has been no meaningful investigation of Wall Street banks. In fact, the federal government has dramatically cut the investigation budgett to make sure that Wall Street misconduct does not get properly investigated.
The federal government attack Iraq in 2003 based upon false information at a time when public opinion was neutral on this war, at a time when the media heavily beat the drumbeat to go to war.
The federal government has put forward ever new flimsy reasons for starting new wars.
The federal government has failed to investigate the mortgage security fraud that damaged the U.S. economy.
The United States spends more to air condition soldier tents in Iraq and Afghanistan each year than it spends to fund NASA.
The federal government has a hands-off policy regarding the Federal Reserve, and stacks its trove of advisors with Goldman-friendly personnel, including Timothy Geithner.
The federal government has censored vast amounts of fossil fuel information that is critically important for Americans to know in order to understand and criticize decisions regarding foreign policy (and see here ).
The federal government allows an over-consolidated business owned media to suffocate news that fails to lean to the right, including PBS (which quite often does lean to the right).
The federal government has been spending $2 billion/week in Afghanistan for 10 years without any meaningful military objective, resulting in the propped up known-corrupt leader of Afghanistan indicating that he would support Pakistan, if Pakistan ever went to war with the United States.
For many decades, the federal government has been pursuing an incredibly destructive “war on drugs.”
We have ever-mounting evidence that our votes are not being properly counted.
The federal government has refused to break up too-big-to-fail banks and to enact other common sense bank reform.
Barack Obama, the “Peace President,” escalated the war in Afghanistan in the absence of any meaningful military objective, and in the process has been propping up a massively corrupt autocrat.
The federal government stands silent as the Federal Reserve invites the Bank of America to transfer untold amounts of exotic derivatives from its gambling side to its federally insured banking side.
The federal government has allowed Wall Street to become a sprawling gambling casino that accrues enough paper wealth to purchase Congress.
The evidence of quickly growing income disparity is overwhelming.
The federal government has not offered even a hint that it takes campaign finance reform seriously, leading a system awash in money to such an extent that our leaders have become psychopathic.
The federal government has not taken any effort to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizen’s United.
There are other concerns, but this list makes it clear that the federal government is in the businesses of warmongering pursuant to a tried and true recipe for war, spying, running prisons and censoring instead of serving its constituents. This long list sets forth far too many betrayals of the financial and Constitutional interests of the People to be a coincidence. Where can we turn? What else can we do? There is no other way to change the system other than taking to the streets.
Glenn Greenwald writes the following:
The reason I find the Occupy movement to be one of the most important, exciting and inspiring political developments of the last decade is that it provides the definitive answer to that question. Though still in what I hope is its incipient stage, this protest movement proves that citizens of all different backgrounds and even ideologies (though sharing common interests) possess the ability to unite, pose a threat to seemingly invulnerable power factions, and demand change beyond the mere act of voting once every two years ― and that they can endure and even grow in the face of abusive police force.
About the Author (Author Profile)Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Mark your calendars for the Anti-Fourth-of-July : Dangerous Intersection | November 26, 2011