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As Long as We Remember...

November 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Continues

Roy Meachum

Republicans to the core, my mostly political friends disdained the Occupy Wall Street protests from the get-go. That was long before disorderly and sanitary issues caused city governments to shut down the gathering sites, especially New York’s Zuccotti Park, where the movement first came into public view through the media.


In no way can Occupy Wall Street demonstrations be compared to the Tea Party turn-outs.


In the first place, the movements can be judged on opposite sides of the miserable economic coin. Before Barack Obama’s inauguration, the Tea Party concentrates on keeping government’s hands out of “honest” taxpayer pockets, as it sums up itself. Occupy Wall Street represents itself as the enemy of major financial interests, including Congress, which the movement capsulizes as bought and paid-for by big business.


National and Frederick GOP members dismiss the current protests as “Socialism.” They point with glee at what The Washington Post calls “recent news updates: A man shot near the encampment in Oakland. A homeless person dead in Salt Lake City. A suicide in Vermont. Two drug overdoses and a Molotov cocktail in Portland, Ore. A sexual assault in Philadelphia. Hypothermia in Denver, police brutality in California and a 53-year-old man unnoticed in his tent in New Orleans, dead for at least two days.”


The Post story casts the movement as national, way wider than New York. To determine the direction the local group will go, a meeting at the Square Corner was scheduled Thursday; in days ahead Frederick will learn how much impact the Occupy Wall Street has in this historically rural community.


But rest assured: It won’t go away, at least not before the 2012 presidential election next November. Considering its nature, Republicans suspect Democrats of having a major hand in organizing the movement. They fail to consider the marchers are impelled by unemployment.


When World War I vets created a 1932 “Hooverville” in Washington’s Anacostia, they had an identical motive, but their goal consisted of the feds redeeming bonus certificates before their due date, in 1945. There were an estimated 43,000 men, women and children that were chased away by Republican President Herbert Hoover who ordered out the Army, led by Gen. Douglas McArthur; most had no jobs since Wall Street crashed in October 1929. With billions due them, they waited until 1936 when the Democratic Congress voted to pay them – minus the interest due if they had waited until 1945.


With unemployment reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression and many jobs removed to foreign countries, America’s economic outlook is not much better than 1932’s Hooverville. Wall Street becomes emblematic of all that’s wrong with our system: greediness and corruption based on the old boys’ network. The Occupy Wall Street movement was the beneficiary of an announcement this week how Capitol Hill “insiders,” both elected and appointed, considerably lined their pockets by buying stocks favored by legislation passed or pending.


Former Republican, now Independent, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s order to close down Occupy Wall Street’s original site was not the end of the movement; but as Winston Churchill put it on hearing of Allies breakthrough in 1942: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”


We’ll see.


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