Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Occupy Wall Street: 1st Anniversary

It's hard to believe but it was only a year ago that Occupy Wall Street -- or OWS, as it became known -- suddenly sprang to life and took over the national psyche.

What OWS was (or is?) is very simple: it was a group of Americans who felt totally shafted by the current economy and wanted to shed light on the enormous income inequality that exists in America today. This was represented by people literally occupying a private/public park in Lower Manhattan day and night. 

They called themselves "the 99%".

Like any social/political movement, OWS immediately caused controversy. Those on the political left praised it as grassroots movement against "the Man." Those on the political right called it basically a movement of, by, and for society's losers. Needless to say, this debate rages on more than a year later.

Yours truly had and has mixed feelings about OWS. The fact that people were able to grab the attention of the public and the media and start a national dialogue on income inequality in this country is a great thing. Before OWS, this issue had never received the widespread attention it deserved and has now gotten. But my problem with OWS, like any "movement", is that its legitimate message can sometimes come off as nothing more than rage, that the messengers themselves don't do themselves any favors by ranting. That's why I've never been a joiner of "movements" -- very often the messengers cannibalize the message. 

Last year, just as OWS was cresting in its public attention, I wrote a blog post about how NYC has become a corporate city and how it doesn't matter who we elect, it is and will probably always be so. Also, one of the things OWS showed is how the "liberal/conservative" schism in this country sort of misses the point: while one side may be socially liberal and the other side socially conservative, both sides are basically corporate and this shafts working and poor Americans no matter what. And how, no matter who we elect, this "corporate state" will only continue to thrive -- here in NYC and everywhere else. 

So I'm pretty sure that, a year from now, no matter if we have a President Romney or still have President Obama, OWS's message will still resonate.  


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