What Is ‘Occupy Wall Street’ And Who Are The ‘99%’?

What Is ‘Occupy Wall Street‘ And Who Are The ‘99%’?

Occupy Wall Street is a movement powered by the people to return democracy.  The movement began in America on Sept. 17 with an encampment in the financial district of New York City with a few dozen middle class citizens.  Inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and the Spanish acampadas, Occupy Wall Street has vowed to end the monied corruption of our democracy.

But what’s it really all about?   What does that mean?  What exactly is being protested here?

In the beginning journalist struggled to pinpoint this.   In social media forms like Facebook and Twitter, the protest was obvious with a flood of pictures of people holding handwritten signs telling their stories.  One after the other but the majority couldn’t say what, exactly, this protest hoped to achieve, or for that matter, why they were even there to begin with.   These individual stories did not seem like rants against the system.  They’re not anarchist manifestos.  They’re not calls for a revolution.  They’re small stories of people who played by the rules, did what they were told, and now have nothing to show for it.  Or, worse, they have tens of thousands in debt to show for it.

Let’s put it into perspective.

Imagine you are a recent graduate who drained your savings and emptied your parents’ college fund, that took years to establish, then took out loans to finish college.  You got good grades, and now have graduated into a dying economy that doesn’t seem to have a use for or want you.   Imagine you did everything you were told to do.  Imagine you followed the rules that promised the American dream and it simply didn’t work out.  For many of us we don’t have to imagine, it’s simply a harsh reality and it feels unjust.   But, it’s a bad economy, and everybody is suffering right?   At least, that’s what we’re told.

But it doesn’t take long, or an overly keen eye, to look around and realize that not everyone is suffering.   This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Wall Street caused this mess, and the government (the people’s representative) paid off  Wall Streets debts and helped them rake in record profits in recent years while the middle class is rapidly being dissolved (The top 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation’s income and 40 percent of its wealth.)  There are a lot of people who don’t seem to be doing everything they’re supposed to do, at times blatantly bending or re-writing the rules, and it seems to be working out just fine for them.

There are a lot of people who are getting a raw and unfair deal right now.  And there is an elite small group of people who are getting an extraordinary good deal.  That doesn’t sound to me like a stable equilibrium or remotely reminiscent of the American dream we were sold.

The “99%” and “Occupy Wall Street” are fighting to upend this system.   The movement gains potential for power and potency as masses continue to grow with voices of “The People” who just want the system to work the way they were promised it would work.

Stated in the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City (a document that was accepted by the NYC General Assembly) the organizers of Occupy Wall Street (or perhaps more appropriate the 99% movement) outlines a list of grievances, however not all-inclusive, and can be found on the Occupy Wall St.  Facebook page.   These grievances range from the Wall Street taking of bailouts from taxpayer dollars with impunity while continuing to give executives inflated bonuses; not to mention illegal foreclosures despite not having the original mortgage to the blockading of alternate forms of energy in the name of profit and even selling our privacy as a commodity.

It’s not that 99 percent of Americans are really struggling.  It’s not that 99 percent of Americans want a revolution.  It’s that 99 percent of Americans sense that the fundamental basis of our economy — work hard, play by the rules, get ahead — has been broken, and they want to see it restored.

It is slowly becoming clearer who the 99% are, why they have converged on Wall Street and why the engine of this movement is picking up steam at an exponential rate.

According to the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, “As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors”

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