*The mass movements happening around the nation are indicative of a shifting mood of intolerance to the continuing rape of America’s free market capital system and the indifference to the increasing wealth gap occurring in America. Called “Occupy Wall Street” in its inception, it has become “Occupy Chicago,” and “Occupy Los Angeles” and “Occupy Oakland, and “occupy” any city that has experienced high unemployment and mass eviction of homeowners from their foreclosed homes by banks and bankers who got bailed out by taxpayers and whose senior management make 150 times the average wage earner. The future of America rests in how the protest of the 99% exposes this travesty.
One percent of Americans control 35% of the nation’s wealth. The other 99% live on 65% of the nation’s wealth, but that’s really misleading. The top three percent of the population control 65% of the nation’s wealth, which means the next top two percent take another 30% percent of the nation’s wealth. What it really means is 97% of the population is living one a third of the nation’s wealth while the rich resist taxation, at the time, controlling two-thirds of the nation’s wealth. Never in the history of America has class disparities been this large, but when you call it out, you’re promoting “class warfare” against the rich. It’s insane to suggest rape of the capitalist system is okay. Rape is never okay, but the rich is taking “goodies” (principally their homes and jobs) from the people without their consent and now the people are saying, “No means no.” The people have taken to the streets and instead of going to sleep under freeway underpasses as homeless and the distressed do, they are going to sleep at the steps of government and capital power where they can’t hide from these disparities any longer. Mass protest is occupying America for the sake of opposing corporate greed and government complicity.
Like ancient Rome, America is about the collapse under the weight of its own decadence. But not even Rome witnessed the elements of greed and lawlessness—yes, I said lawlessness—inflicted upon the American people. The banks who took money from the federal government because they “were too big to fail.” Once the President put a cap on executive compensation ($500,000), the banks gave the money back so they could pay their executives ten of millions of dollars in bonuses and other residual compensation.
The expectation was that if government helped the banks survive, the banks would help the economy survive by helping Americans stay in their homes. Turns out that was a false expectation. Federal monies given to the banks to modify home loans have only been used to the tune of less than two (2%) of the money—not because the people don’t qualify—but because the investors won’t take the bite on reducing the return on investment they were promised. See, the banks themselves don’t hold the paper so they have little control. The banks are servicers for foreign investors who use them as the debt collectors on mortgages they were sold. Instead of rewriting all the paper, where the banks take the loss, they become more aggressive to investor demand—the corporate equivalent to “B*tch better have my money!” The banks are merely the prostitutes for the foreign investor pimps who saw easy money, knew the mortgage paper was funny money, but tied in the banks who sold it to them by making them collect on it or pay for it. They have the banks by the proverbial “testicles” in the event default on payment were a consideration. They know who they’re dealing with here in America. The bubble burst, and they said, “So?” So, more people were pushed out of their homes, but the people finally pushed back, refusing to let the “American dream” succumb to greed and politics.
I had a student from China tell the class last week that he believes the “American Dream” (a job, a home and a pension) is no longer a reality. He said it was a 20th Century fallacy that worked for a while but began to die in the 1980s (around the time China became to come out of its isolation). The Chinese knew that America’s capital system was being exploited and that it couldn’t hold up for long. As much as one hates to hear that, when you think of what our children will face in the next 20-30 years, with the disappearance of work, the prospect of owning a home and looking forward to a pension is a farfetched proposition if the masses allow class disparities to persist.
Without the sentimentality of American patriotism, immigrants see it for what it is, a money grab by the rich—which is why many of them are here. Free money in America. If you got money, you can make money. If you got no money, you live in the streets or rent while millions of vacant homes exist…that’s the new American reality.
Unless ALL OF US come out into the streets and stop the raping of the nation’s financial and capital systems, this will become a formalized class caste system. Watching a rape take place makes us complicit in the wrong. If we, “the People,” take a stance, we can return the nation to the masses and manage America’s plutocracy like we always have. We have to remember we are a society of equals and the government and free markets are accountable to us.
We are the 99%
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com or on Twitter at @dranthonysamad.