Sociology

Occupy Wallstreet an Overview of the Occupy Movement Poverty Foreclosure Eviction



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The Occupy Wallstreet Movement may have dwindled on the journalistic radar, but it is still going strong on the streets. With a movement so large, controversial, and seemingly unorganized in their demands, it's hard to get an overview of what the movement is about. One source implies it's a bunch of lazy hippie bums piling together in the streets for no specified reason while the next seems to say its a bunch of folks protesting corporate corruption. Having read dozens of news articles, blogs, and attended Occupy rallies, an overview of the movement rises. A couple of themes emerge. What is this about? What tactics are being used to protest? Who is the movement made up of? What type of changes does this movement want to see?

Corporate Corruption - The issue of corporate corruption is an obvious one. But what does corporate corruption mean? It isn't easily defined and is best described with examples. Keep in mind that the Occupy Movement is not just a nation wide protest. It is world wide and partially instigated by the housing crisis including the Spain housing crisis and the American housing crisis. The housing market is an accurate indicator of a nation's economy. When a housing crisis hits, this means trouble, and many can end up in tough financial positions. When events outside of personal control occur, or as some deem it to be “tough luck”, people start fighting back.

One example is the story of Ruby Brown who, out of her control, came face to face with an unjust foreclosure. In short, during the process of modifying her loan with Countrywide, Bank of America took over, or otherwise absorbed Countrywide. In this process documents were irresponsibly misplaced. Ruby was doing everything she could to be responsible. She was doing her part, but, the banks were not doing theirs. This is how Ruby came face to face with foreclosure. Luckily, she was selected by Occupy Homes MN, which is an extension of the larger Occupy Movement, to resolve the matter. They took on the bank together and prevented the foreclosure from occurring.

Minimum Wage – America is run on an unchecked capitalism. Let's say Walmart amongst some other big employers who think that giving employees minimum wage is enough. The existence of such ideas that run corporations extends from the original philosophy that started the nation. Laissez Faire is defined by, “a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property rights”. Occupiers know that minimum wage is not enough to make it by. Let's just say that a diet of egg rolls, preprocessed oodles of noodles, and frozen pizza isn't necessarily good for the obesity pidemic in America. So how are people fairing on minimum wage?

The story of Jenna S. on the blog post titled Life on Minimum Wage is one of way too many stories that reek of corporate greed gone unchecked. A raise on minimum wage is seen as “government interference”. Jenna works as a waitress. The law states that restaurants don't have to pay waiters and waitresses minimum wage because tips should account for the rest. When people aren't going out to eat as often and start tipping less because the economy crashed after a housing bubble, Jenna, alongside many other waiters and waitresses find themselves in a tough spot. As a single mother, Jenna is living paycheck to paycheck. Just like Ruby Brown, Jenna is not lazy. They both have jobs and are both at mercy of an unchecked capitalism.

There is likely someone you know who lives like Jenna or Ruby. Or someone who works three jobs, goes to school, and cares for children. Ask yourself, are they good people? Do they deserve to work constantly for so little or nothing? Have they been giving it all they got with the cards of life they've been dealt? Or are they really just lazy, incompetent, and need to go to college and find better work?  Because college is so affordable for single mom's who are working full time to maintain a household off from minimum wage.

Corporate corruption and minimum wage are only two issues that make up a very large list of subjects that the Occupy Movement is taking on. Many of them also advocate for going green, subsidized farmer markets, better treatment of our veterans, efficient public transit, racial equality, LGBT equality, ethical food practices, affordable education etc. The list is huge. Yes, there is no fundamental premise, but all these issues are directly and indirectly tied to an unchecked capitalism. So, what are they doing about it?

They are pitching tents on “private” land owned by corporations and government, breaking what they see as unconstitutional laws that infringe on the freedom to assemble and protest, and are demanding the attention of politicians and the American people to stop the progression of economic downturn. They are radicals; some identify as revolutionaries who will stop at nothing to create change. They aren't going away anytime soon. If the economy continues to push people unjustly out onto the streets, the movement will only grow as uncontrollable factors, manipulated by politicians and people of power, force more out of their homes. Occupiers will camp, they will march, they will scream hoot an holler, and they don't care if they are arrested. That's how far they will go.

The good news is, they are very friendly people. Regardless of how anyone stands on the movement, occupy folks will take you in, feed you, give you a knitted blanket, and show you their liberally biased and self compiled libraries. (Well, the camp I stayed at was like this. Others are likely somewhat the same.)They are ready to inform you of what they stand for. And if you ever do take the chance to meet an occupier, be prepared for some inspiring and life changing stories. You'd be surprised at how similar these “radicals” are to you or to someone you may know.

Lastly, the group is diverse. No surprise it is just as diverse as the issues they try to tackle. Nonetheless, there are a couple of notable demographics that are prevalent. Many college students attend in protest of the ever heightening cost of education, veterans attend in protest of the limited resources available to reintegrate suffering war veterans who struggle covering their medical costs to cure injuries both physical and mental, to older folks who protest the inability to sustain themselves on the drying up social security benefits promised to them on retirement, to the homeless who protest the system that likely forced them into the streets, to the well educated who understand and empathize with those who are effected by these issues that are overlooked by politicians. These politicians who seem to find tackling Poverty in America a non-moral issue, but gay marriage a detriment to society.

Remember that someone you know is likely on the edge of poverty and perhaps even qualifies as living in poverty. Of course, there might be those one or two lazy bums out there who do simply whine and complain. The majority, on the other hand, are are likely your neighbors. (Even if only through empathy and sympathy.) If you find yourself complaining about not being able to make it by, are living it paycheck to paycheck, or are frustrated that you just can't get ahead, take another second to consider those sitting on the streets in protest. Remember that whether you like it or not, there's a small fraction of society who's taking a vacation to a really sunny place every couple of weeks. The one percent has their houses cleaned by maids and butlers. And while you are trying to make it through, there are people out there fighting against the greedy so that you too, don't end up on the street.The people in the Occupy Movement are brave. They understand what would come if nothing was said. They are protesting the worst possible outcome before homeless and poverty becomes a reality to the most unsuspecting of Americans. That's why they are there. Not because they are lazy hippie bums, but because they know the unimaginable could happen to anyone. And they don't want that for themselves, or anyone else.

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://thefinancenewstoday.com/2012/03/30/the-evictions-in-spain-reached-a-historic-record-in-2011/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_housing_bubble
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.kare11.com/news/article/984586/391/Woman-wins-foreclosure-fight-with-help-from-activists
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.occupyhomesmn.org/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.sirc.org/articles/poverty_and_obesity.shtml
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://raiseillinois.com/my-life-on-minimum-wage/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.npr.org/2012/04/22/151166529/poverty-in-america-defining-the-new-poor
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://occupywallst.org/