|[Poster of 99%ers]|
The Occupy Wall Street movement is intriguing in that it is hard to say whether it has run its 15 minutes of fame or whether it will coalesce into a true political forum or party. OWS, the hashtag for the movement occupy wallstreet is already widespread. What started out with a few hundred people in September 2011 at New York City’s Wall Street became a countrywide protest. What are the people protesting for? What do they want to achieve? Is it really a mass movement, organized from the bottom up? What are the common interests (with whom?)? What can really be achieved?
Regardless, it seems clear, with the advent of the Tea Party and now the OWS, that the American people are slowly waking up to express their displeasure with the direction that the great old USA is taking.
As Benjamin Disraeli famously said "Change is inevitable. Change is constant."
The USA has thrived on change. From its humble origins through these times, we have witnessed the birth of a country which has undergone constant change and has embraced and succeeded with such change. Based largely on the notion that every man has an equal chance and that an entrepreneurial spirit was rewarded, the USA grew into the most powerful Country in the world.
Along the way, we have also witnessed as a few have succeeded and prospered to such a degree that they created staggering wealth; Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Astor, Gates, Carnegie, Ford, etc.. See for example this story by the New York Times The Wealthiest Americans Ever .
While their business practices and the staggering amount of wealth these individuals accumulated was not without controversy, most saw it not as informidable obstacle but as the "American Dream" - that any person had the opportunity to become a Rockefeller.
But today we face a time when people are questioning whether the American Dream is still alive. Can anyone still succeed or have we witnessed the birth of a ruling class who control the vast majority of all wealth in the United States and are now using that power to the detriment of the majority. It has been styled as the clash between the 1% and the remaining 99%. The 1% of Americans who make the most money and own the most assets.
Rick Perry has said that he doesn't care about income inequality - just blame the less off for being poor. But countless studies have shown that where there is great income inequality, the have nots do not have the same opportunities as the rich. The 1% become a ruling class, an oligarchy, and the remaining 99% become debt serfs. That is not an expression of the American Dream.
The rallying cry of those in Occupy Wall Street is the "99ers" - those who are not members of the elite 1% who make more and control the most assests.
Although the OWS movement has not fully coalesed and there are no clear spokespersons or formalized agenda, OWS has launched a movement against the finacial system of the USA which it describes as corrupted and controlled by the 1%. And it is not just here in the USA but around the world where people are questioning the global finacial system and who really is "in charge."
Regardless, increasingly Americans, be them Tea Party members, Occupy Wall Street protestors, are saying that "change is needed."
Will we embrace this change as we have in the past or has the system changed so much that there is now a ruling class? Only time will tell but as Disraeli said "change is inevitable."