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Occupy Wall Street
Posted by Delfina

Zuccotti Park is an expanse of granite benches and a few granite tables, dotted by trees. There are sleeping bags on the ground, rectangles of cardboard, coats, a guitar left on a bench that reads, “This guitar kills cops.” People at tables have laptops open in front of them. At the lower end of the park, a patchwork quilt of signs has been laid carefully on the ground, like a tapestry of voices. A naked woman wearing only panties stands at the sidewalk. There is something written on her chest about “the naked truth.” I don’t remember exactly because I didn’t want to stare. She is holding up a sign that says, “I didn’t say look, I said listen.”

On one side of the park, a general assembly is being held. A large crowd sits in a circle, maybe a couple of hundred strong. Because the police has disallowed the use of bullhorns, the crowd repeats, in unison, the statements made by each speaker, so that they can be heard. At the front of the park, a few people stand holding up signs so they can be seen by the passing buses of tourists and the choked traffic of Broadway. They are joined by a man playing a drum, energetically, and a guitarist whose yellow guitar strap reads, “Police line, do not cross.” An impromptu, lively dance breaks out beside another man playing the guitar. Members of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra gather, playing horns, drums, and a clarinet. They launch into a rendition of “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” A march on Wall St. is scheduled for 3:30. On time, a man rushes into the park yelling, “March in five minutes!” I join the march, a boisterous affair chanting and singing to the accompaniment of the marching band.

Many of the people present are counterculture types, with matted hair and dirty faces. Some you can smell as they pass by. But I am in no way put off. These used to be my people — the anarchists, dreamers, and travelers — when I was a volunteer for Food Not Bombs for several years. But I don’t talk to anyone, except for the “vibe watcher” who flits by with a bouncy smile to ask how I am doing. There are other types in the park as well, who are part of this effort to Occupy Wall Street. There are lawyers in suits and ties there to lend their expertise. There are students and other mainstream-looking folks whose professions — or lack thereof — I cannot guess. A well-dressed woman in trendy sandals and short, well-coiffed gray hair joins the march, delighted. She carries a sign picked up off the ground that says, “Castrate the bull.” It is decorated with an illustration of a bull with his testicles cut off and left bleeding on the ground.

This is my second visit to Zuccotti Park to support this effort. I would do more, but I am so exhausted all the time that I can only offer up scraps of my time. I am so disgusted with the state of affairs in the world that I can’t tolerate standing idly by. Parasites who speculate on Wall St. and produce nothing of value get rich by placing cynical bets on the misery of others. Wall St. is not, as we are led to believe, a barometer of the health of the real economy in which actual goods and services are produced, it is a parasitic structure built around gambling on the future perceived value of stocks and commodities. As long as greed fuels speculators to place larger and larger bets, the face value of stocks continues to increase (regardless of the actual value of the companies and goods that the stocks and commodities are meant to represent) until the bubble is no longer sustainable, and it bursts. The speculators take home the profits they have amassed along the way, and the unwary small investors watch as the real worth of their savings dwindle. An economy based on gambling is not and will never be sustainable. More importantly, since it does not produce, it cannot create real wealth that can lift anyone’s boat except its own.

As a result, economic inequality is soaring. Poverty is rising. And the very-wealthy few are getting richer — and make no mistake, their wealth is amassed at the expense of the many.

The grubby encampment in Zuccotti Park may seem like a counter-culture carnival or — less charitably — a congregation of wingnuts, but it is a truly heroic effort to call attention to a fundamental issue that is keeping — and further burying — the majority in poverty while enriching a tiny minority.

Check out Occupy Wall Street’s website, and articles in The New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Guardian. (There are many more if you search Google news.) For background on the financial system, read this excellent and simply stated article: The Financial Economy and the Real Economy.

September 23, 2011 at 4:32 am [ Category: News, Personal ]

Comment from Jaime September 28, 2011, 11:52 pm

Delfina, I think I’m going on Saturday! If you are going and want to attempt a meet up, let me know!

Comment from Delfina September 29, 2011, 12:49 pm

Hi Jaime, thanks for stopping by. I sent you an email.

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