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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The "Occupy" movement is a JUSTICE issue

The "Occupy" movement is a justice issue.

It is fundamentally about distribution of wealth, a topic addressed at length in my social justice class and briefly in the media book.

More on that later.

But it is also clearly impacting criminal justice. Just ask Marine and Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, who was seriously injured by a police officer in Oakland while peacefully protesting IN A WHEELCHAIR! Watch how here.

Talk about an inappropriate use of force. (I am not passing judgment here, I understand why it happened; but understanding why does not justify or excuse it. It is clearly an excessive use of force based on guidelines adopted by law enforcement agencies around the country).

Back to the distribution issue. We live in society where the wealthiest Americans control a large share of the wealth. This is not necessarily unjust, for if it stems from differential claims on merit based on unique skills, harder work, etc., then social inequalities are justifiable.

Only, the extreme level of wealth distribution in society is NOT often based on such claims of merit. If you are born on third base, that does not mean you hit a triple.

And besides, Americans generally reject the level of income inequality in society. Stated simply, polls show Americans think the wealthy earn too much and the poor earn too little (people simultaneously say they support and strive for the American Dream, meaning they are not opposed to pursuing wealth itself, or the presence of a gap between the rich and poor ... just NOT a gap this big).

However you feel about it, you know that most people in the country are suffering financially right now. At least the 99% of us are.

* Not corporations which are making record profits.
* Not the top 1% which have actually seen dramatic improvements in wealth during a time when the rest of us are falling farther and farther behind.
* And, get this, not Congress.

A story in Roll Call says the collective net worth of Congress in 2010 exceeded $2 billion, a 25% increase from a similar analysis done in 2008.

Get that? Members of Congress are also getting richer. So they are clearly not part of the 99%.

Thus you should not expect Congress to do anything to address the "Occupy" movement.

Even though a majority of people support raising taxes on the 1% and eliminating corporate tax deductions to help create jobs.

Even Republicans! See?

I see "Even Republicans" because you wouldn't know it based on statements of Republicans members from Congress or the Republican candidates for President. Which of them says we should do these things to spur economic improvement for Americans, the 99%.

As far as I can tell. None of them. Because they are playing a political game to defeat the guy in the White House. Their theory is that, if the economy improves, he gets re-elected; if not, he does not.

Remember that as you continue to struggle with your bills and fall farther and farther behind. Maybe you'll remember that when you vote, too. Or maybe you'll even join the "Occupy" movement.

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