The occupation of Zuccotti Park in New York City may be over – or it may not. But either way, this thing has been wildly successful.
Consider a few items that have entered the lexicon – some ideas we’re discussing that hadn’t taken center stage before these neo-hippies started camping out in lower Manhattan:
* Right-wingers had comfortably been screaming “class warfare” at anyone who said tax cuts for the rich hadn’t really bought us full employment like they were supposed to. Now. however, we hear more and more people screaming back, saying class warfare actually has been waged by moneyed interests against the rest of us – and quite lucratively, too.
* We’re talking about the top 1 percent of wage earners, and how their interests seem to have trumped those of other hard-working people.
* We’re talking again about the undue influence that money has on government. We’ve always known about this, of course, but occasionally we get tired and stop thinking about it – stop wondering why it doesn’t change.
* A lot of people moved their checking accounts out of some of the major banks. This sort of activity apparently prompted Bank of America to drop some proposed ATM fees. Great.
Would we have been talking about any of that if these unwashed moppets and elderly flower children hadn’t flopped down at the park? If they’d merely stuck to Twitter, would you have noticed? If their demands had been a bit more concrete and centralized, could this movement have translated so universally, spread to towns across America, to cities around the world? The Tea Party, for all the press it’s gotten, never inspired mass demonstrations in Madrid.
Now, OWS has been martyred – which also counts as a win, frankly. If the protesters had stayed there much longer, the sanitation and security issues in the enclave would have overshadowed the politics. And there were sanitary issues – oh yes indeed. You had people living in a place that had no sewage infrastructure. Plus, the kind of folks who can simply set up shop at a protest for several months … well, let’s just say they didn’t come dressed for a job interview.
But if jobs had been available, many of these people wouldn’t have been there in the first place. That’s kind of the point.
Now we’re asking where our tax dollars went from the Wall Street bail out. We’re asking how – in a functioning capitalist system – we’ve got businesses that aren’t allowed to fail. We’re wondering where the money is going, and what it’s doing to us.
And all OWS had to do in order to achieve this was set up tents near the Stock Exchange. Ironically, from a business standpoint, that’s an amazing example of high-yield results for relatively little capital.