The Status Quo Is Unacceptable and Untenable
According to Indiana University, over 46 million Americans (1 in 6 of us) are living below the poverty line and this number will continue to grow in the coming years. “If the long-term unemployed lose their unemployment insurance benefits before the economy produces enough well-paying jobs to approach full employment, the ranks of the ‘new poor’ will steadily swell between now and 2017” (from “At Risk: America’s Poor During and After the Great Recession,” a report by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.
A significant number of new “well-paying jobs” are not likely to be created due to the increasing replacement of labor with robotics and technology and because the government insists on funding costly wars (US defense spending more than doubled from $302 billion in 2000 to over $700 billion in 2011). Meanwhile, the government refuses to increase taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent (many of whom are directly profiting from the war effort, or who use their wealth to influence everything in their favor from legislation to the media to academics).
Capitalism requires the exploitation of labor and natural resources. It puts profits before human needs. A good example of this is the fact that in the US, the richest capitalist country in the world, over 16 percent of people have no health care coverage. In fact, the World Health Organization ranks the US at number 37 among the world’s health care systems, below developing countries such as Costa Rica and Morocco. At some point, the capitalist system in America will become so imbalanced that it will not be able to sustain itself any longer – we are seeing this breakdown happening now. The fallout of this breakdown is impacting the environment and has implications for the health and sustainability of human life – for example, consider the water crisis: “There is a water crisis today. But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people – and the environment – suffer badly.”
Occupy is growing as a movement of people working together to recover from the ills of unregulated capitalism and to help each other lead healthier, more equitable and meaningful lives. Whether you believe:
- Our government is too big or too little
- Our problems stem from government being controlled by corporate and military interests
- We need to focus on war, income inequality, the environment, making health care available to all, ending the fed …
Whatever your perspective is … Occupy needs your voice! One of the strengths of Occupy is its openness – anyone can participate, and the more diverse voices that join the movement, the better chance we have of developing workable solutions to these problems and succeeding in our mission to create a better world.
The Occupy movement has already realized some success and it is not even a year old! Here are some of the things Occupy has already accomplished:
- Changing the national dialogue as evidenced by a significant rise in the use of the phrase “income inequality” in the news and in the January 2012 State of the Union address
- Inspiring people and institutions to move their money from “too big to fail” banks to smaller banks and credit unions
- Revealing how oppressive the system has become by testing the limits of and defending free speech and public protest, in solidarity with nonviolent protesters around the world
You Decide How You Want to Participate
If you choose to support Occupy, you get to decide how you participate. You can join people working on something of interest to you or start your own project. If you don’t want to participate in a bank blockade or protest, you don’t have to! Whatever your talent or passion, you can probably find a way to put it to use for Occupy. In case you need ideas, here’s some ways you can help the Occupy movement:
Support Your Local Occupation
One of the best ways to help the Occupy movement is to support your local Occupation, which you can do by participating in general assemblies or working group meetings, joining in marches and direct actions, or donating money and supplies. Most Occupations have a web site or Facebook page where they list information about their general assembly and other meeting times and locations. You can also try this web site to find information about an Occupation nearest you.
If there isn’t an Occupation near you, start one! Check out this site for some great resources on how to Occupy with success. If you live in an area where a physical Occupation is not viable, or for whatever reasons you are not able to participate with an Occupation, there are still other ways you can help.
Occupy the Media
Let’s face it, mainstream media – what most people see on TV or read in the newspapers, is owned by the 1 percent. According to MIT language and Politics Professor Noam Chomsky, “American commercial media encourage controversy within a narrow range of opinion, in order to give the impression of open debate, but do not report on news that falls outside that range.” The Occupy movement has received some coverage in the mainstream media, but not all of it has been balanced. To overcome this, many occupiers and supporters act as citizen journalists, capturing video and photos and writing about Occupy. You can help the movement distribute Occupy media by sharing Occupy-generated photos, videos and articles with friends and family, using traditional means or social media like Facebook and Twitter. Check out this site for some inspiring Occupy infographics and posters.
If you are so inclined, you can also write letters to the editor or op-eds and send them to your local newspapers, start your own blog, write articles for Truthout. Or try this web site that has resources for writing op-eds.
Post comments after news articles that are positive and informed to counteract the negative posts. It is speculated that people are getting paid to post knee-jerk anti-Occupy comments in response to news articles to block genuine debate. Post your own comments to keep the conversation healthy!
Move Your Money
Move your money from an irresponsible “too big to fail” (i.e. too big to prosecute) bank to a credit union and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Here is a web site that can help.
- Neighborhood cleanup/beautification – this could include picking up trash, caring for flowers/plants in public spaces, mowing the yard in front of a foreclosed home or planting vegetables in a vacant lot
- Educate yourself on the issues – arm yourself with the facts!
- Wear an Occupy button, put an Occupy sign/sticker in your window or in your car
Volunteer for Interoccupy
- Volunteer for any organization working for social good and talk to people about Occupy!