Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Is the Occupy Movement Up To?

Here is what I got from this article, as well as my reaction and personal opinion on each.

1. Fight BAC! Occupy Takes on Bank of America
The cause here is great, but I am never sure what tactics are to be used or what meaningful results, if any, might be achieved.  The article said that the day of protest was to be March 15, but it apparently was pretty much a non-event.  I heard only about a demonstration against B of A in St. Louis, where more than a dozen people were arrested, but these took place after the B of A protest at an assembly in a public park.  Again, a good cause, but no tangible, positive results.  Not a "great action" in my opinion.
2. May Day General Strike: A Day Without the 99 Percent
The idea is catchy, but I am very pessimistic regarding its possible results and its overall impact.  Asking the 99%, who are the downtrodden (whom the Occupy movement claims to represent) to lose a day's pay in bad economic times is not going to be all that well received by the 99%.  If they were to get even 10% of the 99% to comply (which I am sure they won't), that would mean 89% were unwilling (or unable) to go along with the strike.  We'll just have to wait and see how that goes.
3. The Student Movement
The article acknowledges that this is a distinctly separate movement from the Occupy movement itself.  The students' actions have been taken on their own (although Occupy members have frequently participated in solidarity with the students)..  This items references a link to the Occupy Student Debt Campaign site to sign a petition, and makes a nebulous reference to "look out for actions on April 25, the day that student debt is going to surpass $1 trillion."  
4. Occupy Our Homes
This item references past actions: eviction defenses,occupying foreclosed homes, and shutting down foreclosure auctions."  It provides a link to a site that describes some of these recent actions, foremost of which was an action that referenced another group called ForeclosureFighters.  Another item described a home of a deceased woman in Atlanta that is occupied by "members of the Atlanta community," but there was no mention of the Occupy movement itself. The Occupy Our Homes site also provided the following: "Find out more about what Occupy Our Homes has planned here" but this link was right back to the page where it is posted.
5. Re-Occupations: Citywide Assembly and Pop-Up Occupations
The only specific plan mentioned here is for an April 14 Citywide Assembly at some yet-to-be-identified location in New York.  Other than that, there was a general reference to "lots of pop-up occupations around New York City."  These events are described as being fun and giving Occupy a chance to do outreach as well as meeting together in a park for an afternoon.  I don't see this as a "great action."

6. ____________________
Ummm...  There doesn't seem to be a number six.
All in all, this still sounds to me like a movement without much movement and one that is tremendously short on accomplishments, other than raising people's awareness on critical issues.  I they want to be a viable force for reform, they are going to have to do something beyond what they are doing and planning to do.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why America is No Longer a Democratic Republic

Based on an editorial by David Model, posted at OpEdNews
Cited here are quotations from David Model, a college professor, author, and public speaker.. They are excerpts from his recent editorial titled Media Circus Obsession: Obfuscating the Real Deficiencies of U.S. Democracy, In addition to the statements below, Mr. Model presents what he sees as thirteen defects in our government that keep America from being a democracy.Aside from his list of thirteen defects, these are the comments I see as being of greatest interest to Americans who dread the erosion of democracy in America.
When commenting on the impact of elections on democratic ideals, it is necessary to look beneath the symptoms and identify the real problems.”
Barnum and Bailey would turn green with envy at the circus masquerading as an electoral campaign currently in the United States.”
Electioneering spectacles are both artificial and superficial but are really just a symptom of the underlying infringements of democratic ideals.”
United States, Britain and Canada are the only three democracies that have not implemented some variation of proportional representation but have clung to the First-Past-The-Post system, a majoritarian system, in which only a plurality is needed in each voting district to determine the outcome.”
.”.. it (is) virtually impossible for smaller parties to gain any ground in the elected chambers of government. ”
.”..the Electoral College ... enhances the possibility of the winner having fewer popular votes than the loser.”
American election campaigns are incapable of informing the public about the real stances of candidates on all the issues and revealing the true character and integrity of the candidates.”
In many European countries paid advertising has been banned due to the overriding manipulative nature of a thirty second ad designed by public relations and advertising experts who are only interested in selling a product rather than informing the public.”
Many democracies have also banned donations by any groups such as corporations and unions …”
... the ideal method for funding elections would be based on a fair formula by which the government would either provide all the money or a balanced combination of government funding and individual donations with strict limits.”
In the U.S., there is a two party system in which both parties are beholden to corporate donors …”
In 2011, a total of $3.3 billion was spent on lobbying by 12,633 lobbyists translating into $6,168,000 spent on each member of the House and Senate on average and 23.6 lobbyists per each member of both Houses.”
In 2012, many pundits are predicting a total expenditure of $5 billion for all campaigns, the major source of which are wealthy benefactors or corporations.
Lobbying virtually destroys political equality in the United States thereby undermining the principle of "by the people, for the people" and "dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal.”
It is impossible to govern with only the public interest in mind when candidates are beholden to the people who funded their victory.”
As for ordinary citizens, they may be able to meet with their member of Congress or Senate but the extent of their influence is often minimal.”
The bailout during the financial crises ignored those who suffered the most, namely those who lost their jobs, the poor and those who lost their homes.”
Leadership in Congress has been accorded too much power which can be used to serve ideological ends rather than the public interest.”
In the United States, Supreme Court appointments are tainted by ideological considerations.   The Citizens United and the Florida Recount cases demonstrate the role of ideology in the Court's judgments.”
.”.. the criminalization of dissent and militarization of the police have resulted in a multiplicity of violations of civil and legal rights not to mention the First Amendment.”
Corporate ownership and advertising and the symbiotic relation between big corporations and the government have reduced the media to stenographers of power.”
I hope the items quoted here will prompt you to read Mr. Model's entire editorial on the subject. And, of course, you will have to read his full statement to review the thirteen defects he sees in our government today.