We Are 99%

Editor’s Note: When the Tea Party movement was gaining steam, I asked for reflections by any SDA participants. I didn’t get any takers. When the Occupy Wall Street movement started to take off, I again called for writers. Here, Giovanni Hashimoto shares his views and experiences:

We Are 99%: Why We Should All Wish for Occupy Wall Street’s Success

By Giovanni Hashimoto, a freshman Honors Student at Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, taking a double major in Journalism and American History.

The stats are shocking: the upper 1% of the U.S. population control 40% of the
nation’s wealth—a proportion unparalleled in history. Between 1979 and 2007, the
top 1% earners saw their after-tax income grow by 275%. Meanwhile, the lower
20% only saw their income increase by 18%. Despite this great imbalance, public
officials have largely betrayed their trust by ignoring calls to take action to level the
playing field and restore balance to America’s economy. These were the facts which
was catalyzed Occupy Wall Street’s creation.

Occupy Wall Street principal demand is very simple: hold those responsible for
causing the economic crisis accountable and prevent it from reoccurring. Other
articulated goals include an end to corporate money’s stranglehold on our
government, compelling Wall Street to invest in creating jobs for Americans, stop
foreclosures and other common sense approaches to level the playing field for the
average American.

For the past year instead of focusing on creating jobs, growing our economy and
protecting middle class Americans as a majority of voters support, Republicans in
the House set a narrative demanding austerity. Outgunned by a right-wing fueled
by special interest cash, Democrats largely acquiesced to Republican hostage taking
in this regard, allowing them to pass their radical agenda.

Despite recognition that preserving and protecting the unearned and ill-
gotten wealth and perks that the top 1% enjoy while obstructing job creation,
cutting funds providing for access to education and eradicating the social safety net
is draining the blood out of America’s future, Republicans have been busy working
to reduce the already light burden on corporations while increasing burdens on
middle class families. There has been little push back—until now.

Even the most ardent detractor will admit: Occupy Wall Street has changed the
narrative. No longer do we turn on the TV to hear about the newest austerity
measures being proposed. Occupy Wall Street has changed the dynamic, and has
grown dramatically in the process. House Republicans have lost control over
messaging, as the media focuses on protests demanding a restoration of the
American Dream.

The occupy movement is spreading like wildfire. Nearly two thousand local entities
already exist. Through its growth, one message comes across clearly: Americans do
not support a radical transformation of our society into one where social mobility is
impossible. Americans do not support a return to gilded age conditions where the
rich simply got richer while exploiting the rest of society and corrupt politicians look
away.

With so many groups out there, it comes as no surprise that there are a few groups
located around Pacific Union College. A few weeks, I had the privilege of witnessing
one, Occupy Santa Rosa.

Like with most grassroots movements (as opposed to astroturf “movements” like
the Tea Party), the corporate media has created caricatures of the protesters. It has
fabricated stories claiming that the protesters demands are radical while
simultaneously claiming that they have no clear goals. Apparently, they also attract
fringe characters to unsanitary conditions at the protests.

My experience at Occupy Santa Rosa a few weeks ago vastly differed from these
negative accounts. The protesters’ demands (summarized above) are reasonable.
They are often supported by the country’s top economists (Paul Krugman,
anyone?). The protest did not attract any more fringe characters than other groups
of its size. The conditions also showed notable actions to insure hygiene at the
protest.

As Adventists, we desire social justice and should want to correct a system that
allowed for a monstrous failure causing massive damage to our economy and bailed
out those responsible, inflicting massive injustices to the American middle class in
the process. Many of us would also like accountability for those responsible, you
should be one of thousands (including many Adventists) across the country and
globe who support Occupy Wall Street. Our future may depend on it.

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One Response to We Are 99%

  1. Suranjeen Prasad Pallipamula says:

    Dear Giovanni,
    Thanks for writing in. I have been keenly watching the movement from its early days with awe and inspiration sitting here in a remote part of India.
    The issues raised are pertinent and distressing.

    As a minority christian in my country – I am always wary of the moral majority and movements that claim to be heard because they are the majority.

    Suranjeen

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