Some old friends of mine from when I lived in a semi-1 percent neighborhood posted a Halloween photo on Facebook recently. They are now in a true 1 percent neighborhood, and I am in the Valley of the 99 percent, so I was hardly amused by the photo. The husband, a big time corporate lawyer was dressed nattily as a “1 percenter.” His wife? A big sign on her identified her at the 99 percent.
Ha-ha? Only the rich can joke about these things. But it’s not funny. The husband as a 1 percenter? It’s like the hooker going to the Halloween party as a ….hooker. Not funny. And the wife with a 99 percent sign?
I wish being a 99 percenter was all about wearing a costume.
My bias toward the OWS movement should be fairily obvious. Americans tired of corporate greed and the economic reality should be able to loudly protest and make the banks rethink actions, just as B of A did recently on their greedy little idea to charge for using debit cards.
The question becomes is OWS the best way to protest? Is Occupy Oakland the best way?
I wrote about the recent Occupy Oakland general strike on the Asian American Legal Defense Fund blog: www.aaldef.org/blog
The city of Oakland it turns out has stalled on forming a resolution to support and “collaborate” with OO campers at Frank Ogawa Plaza, but mostly because the local group, just as the national group, is a leaderless, amorphous, venting operation subject to whatever loud voice prevails within. So when veterans join in, there are veterans marching. When the unions support the group, the call for a general strike is inevitable. When anarchists want to have a little fun, bring on the tear gas.
It makes civil disobedience and protest more of an improv. But as skilled improvers know, half the art is making people think you’re making it up as you go. There’s still a plan, a structure, a sense of a goal. Do the Frank Ogawa plaza folks want to camp indefinitely?
I give some kudos to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan for trying to work things out with protestors. A resolution planned by the council to support the campers is the right thing, because if one occupies anything, the First Amendment should be top of the list.
But the politics is getting tricky as the general srike, marred by anarchists’ violence truly at the end of the day, has polarized the city.
The council couldn’t really vote on Thursday night after a majority of people expressed outrage at what appears to be a city giving in to the city. Some city officials were concerned that Oakland can’t afford to keep paying for the services and cleanup as a result of the continued encampment and protests. Do they want to camp forever? Before more people bail on the OO group, I hope someone comes up with a plan soon. It’s making one yearn for a little capitalist action. Perhaps they need a consultant?
A little venting as long as it stays non-violent is fun. But at some point, OWS/OO/OSF and all the rest need an exit plan? Does it IPO like Groupon? Or pack up go home and spend the winter thinking of something a little more constructive–like campaigning for an alternative vision in 2012?
Or is that too mainstream and indirect?