Occupy Wall Street

2011-11-14

The following is a letter I wrote that appeared in the Grand Forks Herald on November 14, 2011. The title it was given is, "Occupy Wall Street touches a nerve".

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YURIHONJO, Japan — Jan Raaen tells us that in the 1960s, rioters were radical and anti-capitalistic, and that the same is true of the Occupy Wall Street movement today ("Occupy Wall Streeters choose wrong target," Page A4, Oct. 29).

Raaen misconstrues what’s happening.

In any movement, there is a fringe. This is true of the tea party, the National Rifle Association and the Democratic and Republican parties, and Occupy Wall Street is no exception.

So, when Herald readers see a picture of a rally and someone holding a silly sign, they should not assume the sign reflects what everyone in the rally believes.

Furthermore, some 70 percent of Occupy Wall Street participants are politically independent, according to a recent study, so certainly opinions will vary.

Still, some general ideas are quite clear and universal, and there’s no reason we can’t recognize them.

The biggest message behind Occupy Wall Street is that corporate greed is damaging our country, and we need to do something to stop it. The evidence is clear: Today, the richest 100 Americans have more wealth than the poorest 150 million Americans combined.

Some media sources say Occupy Wall Street has no constructive agenda, but that’s false. Given that the super-rich are getting richer, Occupy Wall Street participants want to see some of that money — our money — back in the hands of hard-working Americans.

When the recession hit, Washington found money to bail out the banks that caused it but did little for the millions of Americans who can’t make mortgage payments. This must change.

The American Dream is that if we work hard and get lucky, we can land a decent job, maybe buy a nice house and raise our families in happiness. But as the rich get richer and everyone else falls behind, that dream will fade. To get it back, we need to make some changes.

Right now, Occupy Wall Street is trying to start this process. Right now, it’s a lot of Americans standing up, telling us that things aren’t all right and describing the kind of country they think America should be.

Douglas Perkins

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