Sunday, October 16, 2011

#Occupy Wall Street Protests = Taxation without Representation

There are many different people attending the #Occupy Wall Street protests in NYC and all over the country.  There are many different political views, classes, ages, education levels and motivations there.  Someone said to me that there are people there who are just there to be part of something big.  They said it as if that was a bad thing.  I say, why not be part of something big?!  What a great reason to go, because you can believe if you don't know about the protests before you go, you better be sure that you will know once you experience it.  What a great learning experience.  I wish I could go and be a part of this something big!

I am sure there are people there just as hangers on, just for the food that is being distributed, just for the drugs that I am sure show up in a gathering of that size.  I am sure there are people who just want to agitate, there always are in such crowds.  But remarkably, from everything I have read and seen, the crowds seem very well mannered.  Civil even...and isn't that appropriate it since this a grand example of civil unrest. 

Civil unrest is how our country started.  How many of us remember "taxation without representation" from history class?  *raises hand*  I do.  This protest, when it is boiled down, is about the same thing.  People are tired of the smallest percentage of the population controlling the government of our country.  That is called an Oligarchy by the way.  As best as I recall, our government is supposed  to be a democracy, of the people, by the people for the people.  Not the wealthiest of the people, but all the people.  When our government bows to the concerns of the wealthiest, who aren't paying taxes at the same rates as the rest of  us, then that phrase comes back into play, "Taxation without representation",  because the middle class is paying the majority of taxes, yet the representatives are all serving only the wealthiest among us. 

Now.  Our forefathers protested in a much larger way, in a much less...civil way.  But they were protesting against a government that was much further away, and a monarchy as well.  Our government was made for us, and yet has now been usurped by the wealthiest 1% of the population, it has been bought out by the biggest corporations.  I am not advocating redistribution of honestly earned wealth.  I do believe that corporations that succeed in America do so, because our laws, our government, our system allows them to do that, and so these successful corporations should pay their dues, should pay back into the system that allows them to grow their wealth.  I think that these corporations should not just pay back into the system, but should be socially and environmentally responsible as well.  Why should they want to weaken our country, the very country that allowed them to grow successful, by creating environmental or social instability, by polluting or cutting corners in safety and health procedures, by not taking care of the employees that do the backbone of the work as well as they take care of the heads at the top of the pyramids. 

These are not original questions to me, nor are they unreasonable ones.   These are the sort of questions that the protestors are asking.  These protestors want to know why the investment bankers and reinsurance companies aren't being held to the same standards, the same laws as the rest of us.  So now, not only are the middle class paying the taxes, without real representation, but we are also being held to laws that the wealthiest are not being held to.  Wait a minute.  I thought that democracy meant everyone is equal, that same rights and laws apply to everyone.  Apparently I am mistaken.  At least these days.  There are more regulations about grandmothers selling their cookies at a local bake sale than there are regulations controlling investment bankers, handling huge chunks of our country's wealth. 

And why is that?  Because grandma cannot afford a cadre of lawyers and lobbyists to plead, or rather bribe her case to our representatives in the government.  Grandma pays her taxes, always has, but her voice isn't represented in our government anymore, because she cannot sell her cookies to amass her fortunes, or she wasn't born with a trust fund, she didn't cheat anyone out of the retirement savings by selling them purposefully risky investment vehicles that were insured and built to fail...

The protests are growing because there are more of us in the 99% than there are in the 1%, by definition alone!  We need to hearken back to our beginnings, stop representation without taxation.  Demand that our government stop representing only the wealthiest, demand that the government stop caving to the corporations' concerns rather than the concerns of the people.  Don't complain about the small percentage of people at the protests who are just along for the ride.  Hope instead, that the momentum will sweep them up and change them too.  Don't deride the people who are saying that we don't live in an oligarchy, but are demanding a return to democracy.  Don't look for reasons to hate, instead find ways to make  your voice heard.