Solidarity Time: The Young People Occupying
Wall Street Are Standing Up for All of Us
By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin’ On
The actions of thousands of young people in New York City’s financial district, simply calling themselves “Occupy Wall Street,” is now entering a second week, with many camping out overnight in the area’s parks. How long its will continue and whether its numbers will swell is anyone’s guess, but the response of the NYPD in arresting and otherwise restricting them is already banging heads with our First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble.
“At Manhattan’s Union Square, police tried to corral the demonstrators using orange plastic netting,” reports the Sept 25, 2011 Washington Post. “Some of the arrests were filmed and activists posted the videos online. One video appears to show officers using pepper spray on women who already were cordoned off; another shows officers handcuffing a man after pulling him up off the ground, blood trickling down his face.”
Most of the youth are students, but many are also unemployed and underemployed young workers. And a small but important grouping of staffers and activists with NYC’s trade unions have also made their way downtown to spend a few hours helping out.
The students certainly have a just cause. While the denizens of Wall Street have bailed themselves out and paid themselves huge bonuses with trillions from the public treasury, these young people are saddled with a degree of crushing debt to pay for their educations that would have been unthinkable 40 years ago. If they manage to graduate, they face a financial burden large enough for a home mortgage-all before they start their first full-time jobs, assuming their lucky enough to find one that pays a living wage.
But these youth and students are fighting for more than their own immediate concerns. They have raised a whole range of demands-Medicare for All, defending social security, for passing the various jobs bills in congress, opposing racism and sexism, ending the wars, and abolition of the death penalty in the wake of the recent unjust execution of Troy Davis.
They are the cutting edge of a new popular front against finance capital.
Young rebels often manifest a moral clarity that awakens and prods the rest of us. Through their direct actions, they become a critical force, holding up a mirror for an entire society to take a look at itself, what it has come to, and what choices lay before it. The historic example is the four young African American students that sat at a lunch counter and ordered a cup of coffee in Greensboro, North Carolina back in 1960.
The Wall Street protests are thus a clarion call to the trade unions and everyone concerned with economic and social justice. While the youth are clearly a critical force here, when all is said and done, they are not the main force. That power resides in labor and in the wider communities. It’s in the hands of everyone that’s part of an emerging progressive majority for peace and prosperity, everyone that wants a U-Turn against the country’s current path to more wars and deeper austerity.
It’s time to exercise that power and lend a hand with active solidarity. More actions are in the works, including an occupation and encampment on Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC starting Oct. 6, following the ‘Rebuild the Dream’ DC conference focused on a renewed labor-community coalition for the 2012 election.
It’s going to take more than votes to push back the right wing and its Wall Street allies. It’s going to take some serious ‘street heat’ as well.
Shameless Opposition to the Jobs Bill Reveals
The GOP’s Deep Hatred of the Working Class
By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin’ On
If you want to have your class consciousness raised a few notches, all you have to do over the next few weeks is listen to the Republicans in Congress offer up their shameless commentary rejecting President’s Obama’s jobs bill.
This week’s doozy came from Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, who was outraged that capitalists were being restricted from discriminating in hiring the unemployed, in favor of only hiring people who already had jobs elsewhere. I kid you not. Here’s the quote:
“We’re adding in this bill a new protected class called ‘unemployed,’” Gohmert declared in the House Sept. 13, 2011. “I think this will help trial lawyers who are not having enough work. We heard from our friends across the aisle, 14 million people out of work — that’s 14 million new clients.”
One hardly knows were to begin.
First, the Jobs Bill does no such thing as creating a ‘new protected class.’ It only curbs a wrongly discriminatory practice.
Second, so what if it did? Americans who uphold the Constitution, the 14th Amendment’ equal protection clause, and the expansion of democracy and the franchise generally, will see the creation of ‘protected classes’ as hard-won progressive steps forward from the times of the Divine Right of Kings.
Third, if Gohmert had any first-hand knowledge of the unemployed, he’d know they usually can’t afford lawyers, especially when the courts are stacked against them.
Fourth, to create even more confusion, Gohmert raced to the House clerk to submit his own ‘Jobs Bill’ before Obama’s, but with a similar name. Its content was a hastily scribbled two-page screed consisting of nothing but cuts in corporate taxes.
What’s really going on here is becoming clearer every day. The GOP cares about one thing: destroying Obama’s presidency regardless of the cost. They don’t even care if its hurts capitalism’s own interests briefly, not to mention damaging the well being of everyone else. Luckily, Obama is finally calling them out in public-although far too politely for my taste.
The irony will likely emerge if and when they ever do take Obama down. I’d bet good money that a good number of the GOP bigwigs would then turn on a dime and support many of the same measures they’re now opposing.
But most of them, especially the far right, would still likely press on with their real aim, a full-throated neoliberal reactionary thrust that repeals the Great Society’s Medicaid and Medicare, the New Deal’s Social Security and Wagner Act, and every progressive measure in between. Their idea of making the U.S labor market ‘competitive’ and U.S. business ‘confident’ is to make the whole country more like Texas, with its record volume of minimum wage work and poverty, and then Texas more like Mexico-the race to the bottom. They’re not happy with 12% unionization; they want zero percent, where all of us are defenseless and completely under the thumbs of our ‘betters’.
In brief, prepare for more wars and greater austerity.
If you think I’m exaggerating, over the next months observe how the national GOP is trying to rig the 2012 elections in Pennsylvania, Michigan and a few other big states. Our Electoral College system is bad enough, but they are going to ‘reform’ it to make it worse by attaching electoral votes to congressional districts, rather than statewide popular majorities. This would mean Obama could win the popular vote statewide, but the majority of electoral votes would still go to the GOP. Add that to their new ‘depress the vote’ requirements involving picture IDs, which are aimed at the poor and the elderly, and you’ll see their fear and hatred of the working class.
We’ve always had government with undue advantages for the rich. But just watch them in this round as they go all out to make it even more so. We have to call it out for what it really is, and put their schemes where the sun doesn’t shine.