As the mainstream media starts to pay attention to the Occupy Wall Street (and LA, and Austin, etc) movement, the effort to figure out what this movement is really all about is intensifying. But rather than seriously attempt to understand it — the mainstream media is instead projecting its own orientation on it and “painting” it in the manner that suits the politics of the media organization in question. Those on the left paint it as a progressive version of the Tea Party that gives voice to legitimate and widely felt concerns about corporate greed and concentration of wealth, and those on the right paint it as, alternately, a “mob” or a liberal-orchestrated sideshow. What’s the truth?
Searching for insights, I went to the Occupy Wall Street page where there are thousands of statements from participants and supporters which give a much better articulation of the range of motivations and views than we (the public) are getting from the soundbites selected by the mainstream media not on the basis of how well or poorly they articulate the movement, but rather based on how well or poorly they support the orientation of that media outlet.
The following comments are culled from several hours going through the statements on the official Occupy Wall Street Facebook page, and here are some of the more interesting and, it seems to me, representative quotes. These are real comments by real people — if you’re logged in to Facebook, you can click on their names and see their profiles.
- Paul Blouin : I want the 1% to be held accountable and pay their fair share in taxes, even more because the 1% stole most of what they have from Mom and Pop. I want to have an open mind and even though many people here are from the left, right and the middle I want us to have an open line of communication and work together! Unlike Washington. We elect and they neglect. I want what YOU want. I want what the 99% of us want. RESIST and peacefully OCCUPY!!
- George Medford : Asking middle-class folks to pay a higher tax rate than millionaires is like telling your waitress at a restaurant to forget about getting a tip from you because you have more class than her
- Thomas R Bishop What can do at home to show our support. My wife and I are not young can someone post what we can do.
- Deborah Hensler I don’t want to destroy their jobs. I just want them to make less (let’s start with half as much which will still be way more than others get) and contribute more to society (let’s start with half again as much which sadly will still not be much given the baseline). And like Mr. Buffet I think that’s possible.
- Michael Martorell A sleeping giant is awakening…& the wolves are coming out. I’d be very concerned if I was an elite, rich, greedy person.
- Lauren Betts Thomas, there is plenty you can do no matter how old you are. If you can get out at all then try and attend a general assembly in your area. It is an experiance that every one who believes in democrocy should have. Don’t expect it to be like a political rally though. It is people centered not party centered. If you can’t get out odds are you can still participate some with a local group on facebook or somewhere else on the web. Listen to the stories of other people who are part of the 99% and share yours. Do research online for your group so that they have solid facts to work with.
- Stephanie Mittelstadt Ghostkeeper Keep talking! The more I read these posts the more I see the grievances and desires we have in common emerging. We may not agree on exactly what the root cause of the problems is, and may not agree exactly on what to do about it, but THIS is how we make progress toward coming to a a consensus as a community. Don’t….stop…talking! Washington shut the dialogue down long ago and money is the only thing talking there. I believe that this is our best hope toward getting back on track. Occupy your neighbors
- Cece Hines how about we say what we want….like tax the 1%; no government subsidies for companies out sourcing out of the U.S;. break up these” too big to fail” banks (what happened to anti-trust) …clean up the fed. reserve ( there must be existing ethics rules that are being grievously ignored) does anyone else think that if you track the money spent on wars it would end in the pockets of not only the 1% , but also be sticking to a lot of policy makers? how about campain reform? how about lobby regulations?
- Carol Lindsey What happened to the days when people got rich because they worked hard and were smart instead of now, where they are just smart enough to not go to jail for stealing from the rest of us.
- James Paulson I’ve been tracking this movement’s growth the past few days to see how the trend is emerging, and it appeared to be growing at a new person joining every 15 seconds. While the trend line varies somewhat, you also must remember that trend changes in the overnight hours. Keep the conversation going.
- Alex Blass the brothers and sisters in Europe are with you! we follow your steps..even here things are realy bad.. we are surrounded by the greed and the corruption of the banks & politics..keep on going and let us tell them: your time is gone!!
me..i am one of the 99% L&P..SANTI ( center europe )
- Keith Jaret I hear many people crying how you guys will never make a difference and have no message..I am here to tell you you ARE making a difference and your message is LOUD and CLEAR…as a child of the 60′s I saw firsthand how the power of protest can effect great change..I support and applaud you all….POWER TO THE PEOPLE
- Katherine Griffith This is about the growing seperation of wealth in this country, the ridiculous amount of political power the wealthy have through their lobbyists, the lack of regulations in the banking industry that allowed the collapse of the economy, the lack of any sense of corporate responsability to the American people, the insanity of trying to have free trade agreements with countries that artificially manipulate their currency to maintain a trade advantage, the lack of middle class jobs in the US, and the death of the American dream. There is blame on all sides of the political isle. The arguments between left and right are short sighted and miss the fact that the divide is really between the wealthy and everyone else. We have finally woken up to the fact that the wealthy in this country are manipulating politics to increase their influence and remove the voice of the American people from the process.
- Joshua Nomen-Mutatio A free market is not an unregulated market, that’s anarcho-capitalism. A free market is not a market with companies that are “too big to fail”, that’s plutocratic fascism maintained by corporate welfare. The irony about all of this “socialism is the devil!” nonsense we hear from The Right is that the massive corporations they prop up at their own peril are engaged in socialism themselves! Receiving billions in government subsidies is a government handout to groups that have wormed their way into the system so deeply and monopolized the market so broadly that they’re more powerful than our elected officials, who, by the way are supposed to reflect the will of the majority of the nation’s citizenry not a few Captains of Industry who embody, not only Mussolini’s definition of fascism (“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”) but also FDR’s Vice President’s definition of fascism (“If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States.”) and this ridiculous idea about shrinking the power of government is simply anti-democratic. People are in desperate need of a 3rd grade civics lesson in this country that would boil down to three words that so many have lost sight of the actual meaning of: “We the People.”
- Johan Kharabi I for one am not personally run by labor and Democrats, Lorretta. I work all day long and get paid roughly 8 times less than my superiors. I am swamped in student debt, I see a system that offers my generation no future. I am watching my Earth be pillaged. I feel like I’m being robbed. I have no connection to either unions or Democrats, and I do not consider myself ideological. I simply see an unequal, unfair, dangerous situation and I am speaking out against it. It has nothing to do with political affiliation; it has everything to do with being human.
- Mick Hargreaves Anyone who’s been downtown to the NYC protests or encampment would know this thing is NOT being run by a political party, or the unions, but it they ARE getting more organized every day. Go see for yourselves. Or sit in front of the television and believe what is spoon-fed to you.