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Some facts on the Occupy Fort Myers Movement

November 8, 2011
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

The last issue contained an ill-informed rant or, at worst, vicious slander concerning the Occupy Movement, President Obama, and a variety of other frustrations. Let's assume that the writer is simply mistaken. Others may be similarly misinformed. Since our president is doing just fine in his own defense I focus on what I know about the Occupy Movement, having joined in the Fort Myers effort. I'm 71 and spent 30 years as a research economist. I know something of political and economic history and how we got into this mess.

First, charges of trashing the park and stopping others using it - Nonsense. If the writer had actually visited us she would have seen 15 or so tents and pavilions fitting neatly in a tiny corner. Trash? None! Relations with police and the passers-by have been respectful and calm. Indeed, most visitors support our effort. Many have engaged in animated discussions. And we voluntarily and temporarily moved so that the Taste of Fort Myers could go on without distraction. Social Misfits? It surely applies to me, but for the most part these folks are employed and have to leave to go to work. Homeless? Well, there are some of these too-though I thought it might be a cause for pity, instead of attack. Occupy participants are very respectful of other's opinions and are mostly young with a sprinkling of older folks like me. They are very intelligent, if I do say so myself, and knowledgeable of what has really happened to our potentially great nation.

Of the efforts to dismiss the numbers of people who are participating and what they might represent, one web site - Occupy Together.Org- estimates about 360 demonstrations world-wide, most in the U.S. One can get the web addresses of these to check them out. But of course, the unanswered question is how many in the U.S. sympathize with our efforts. Here the numbers are much larger but they cannot all participate as their families or jobs rule out actually occupying anything. Their full effect has yet to be seen-but count on it growing.

Killing Capitalists?? An outrageous lie. The movement has non-violence as one of its principles, though some across the U.S. and abroad have taken another path. Then, too, one cannot rule out provocateurs. No capitalists have been killed as far as I know. On the other hand, it's easy to document the real casualties among the 99 percent of us that resulted from many-certainly not all - corporate efforts over decades. Regardless, corporations are attacked by this movement not for their positive role in organizing production in the modern world, but for those corporations that use their money-power to corrupt/influence/purchase the governing process. We recognize that Incorporation as a means of limiting liability was an invention at least as important as "the wheel." Indeed, we are all capitalists, though many don't realize it. Similarly, we value a proper banking system, yet severely criticize many of their practices.

Corporate power used to purchase the entire political process is our main target, though many participants have other ideas; For this central problem has many ramifications that can be traced back to it. The outright purchase of our governments and legislators-yes, in many nations - by large corporations, whole industries, or the uber-rich such as the Koch Brothers here in the U.S., is the central problem. This is not to suggest a conspiracy: It is a "natural" which is to say, explainable outcome of the obscene concentration of wealth in the hands of so few. Even in "so-called" democracies like the U.S., it amounts to $1=1 vote, rather than 1 person=1 vote, which is supposed to be the way it works. However, the extreme mal-distribution of income today, though explainable is not inevitable and can be questioned on a variety of moral and economic grounds. However we got here, the uber-rich's purchase of governance in its entirety, the entire tax code, and judicial process etc. has put its power in their hands. This is the fount of their rapidly increasing and already obscene share. Or do you really think ALL their so-called success is a simple matter of merit or hard work. This illegitimacy-based as it is on the purchase of our political process, and its immense scale, is what I mean by "obscene." With a huge majority of us having few resources compared to the small percentage of folks at the top, there is literally nothing left to meet the urgent needs of the 99 percent. Indeed, the recent Supreme Court decision giving "person-hood" to corporations, is only the most recent nail in the coffin of hope that the "people" actually have some say in how they are governed. This kangaroo court (which also gifted "Mission Accomplished" Bush his first term) freed these financial entities to "vote" with all the money at their disposal. But lest I'm thought unfair, both political parties are complicit. Regardless, this is a "game-over" winner-take-all policy. No democracy can long survive such an obvious contradiction. This false-nay suicidal - court opinion must be and can be reversed.

Not that instituting real democratic processes, if carried out rigorously, could guarantee a heaven on earth. But our current system where a miniscule group reaps almost all the benefits, while the majority bear all the costs, is sure to fail. Such costs go far beyond the mere accounting in dollars and cents. All must participate in the political process without the advantage of money. Such a policy, while never guaranteeing success for the "whole" is, nevertheless, more likely to succeed as more voices participate in deciding our collective fate. In short, people should be free to spend their legitimate earnings on anything they want, EXCEPT THE POLITICAL PROCESS!

Our nation-according to the Pledge of Allegiance-embodies "Liberty and Justice for All." This is an ideal and by definition, is impossible to achieve in any complete sense. Yet we can strive for it. But our current system virtually guarantees political control to those with money to buy the executive, legislative, and judicial system outright, and to control/influence the majority of print, TV, and radio media on their behalf. Such a farce mocks our Pledge and National Anthem. Our survival as a democracy demands that money-corporate or personal-be kept out of the political process. This in turn, requires the public financing of elections at all levels. Without such a limitation, concentrated wealth at the top will win every time.

Dennis Bradley




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