Today is Occupy Wall Street’s 10th Birthday — Here is My Love Letter to It
When I walked into Zuccotti Park (Occupiers know it by its original and symbolic name of Liberty Plaza) I was already approaching three-quarters of a century in age. I was also a semi-retired executive from the accounts receivables/collections industry who apparently had nothing better to do with his time.
But I knew what I wanted. I wanted to understand. What was this influx of people who had invaded this plaza just a few days earlier with signs and slogans. They had good reason for being there.
If you remember, our country was just coming out of the “The Great Recession” of 2007–2009 in which the net worth of American households and non-profits declined by more than 20 percent from a high of $69 trillion to $55 trillion.
The politicians told us it was our fault and they and the bankers began clamoring for belt-tightening and reducing public services to pay for their mistakes. Or, greed.
The first reason I love you — you changed the narrative
As you stated so well in your Declaration of the Occupation of New York:
“We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.”
Your chant was correct as well — “They got bailed out and we got sold out.” And you let them know that, loudly and angrily. You attracted scholars and thinkers and laid the facts out so that everyone could understand them.
As one author put it in the declaration, “(the crash came after) one of the greatest periods of capitalist extraction in history. Fifty years ago, American workers produced most of the finished goods and services that we consumed and they were paid a proportion of what they produced that allowed a growing majority to live middle-class lives. Today American workers still produce most of what we consume but the wages increasingly go to a small group of economic elites who control the government through open graft and our national conversation through media ownership.”
The second reason I love you — you changed my narrative