Weather wise, the recent three-day weekend in the City by the San Francisco Bay was perfect. The sky was clear, the bay relatively still, mirroring the silhouettes of the once “endangered” Brown pelican flying, in a small flock, beneath the thunderous jet-wings of the “Blue Angels”. The angels were engaged in their annual dare-devil flight exhibition, as the City celebrated Fleet-Week’s 100-years of Naval Aviation. The roaring-supersonic sound and energy vibrations from the angels overhead could actually be felt on the ground.
Football fans were on hand to lend visual, body, and moral support to the San Francisco 49ers, during their home-town game. The game was seemingly plastered on any device that was capable of streaming-in the signal.
The city also hosted “Columbus Day” activities, which were visited by both supporters and opponents. The mood of the public, although contentious, was tolerant, and remained amazingly peaceful. While the angels, the Navy, 49er, and Columbus fans undoubtedly enjoyed the excitement and exhilaration from all the stimulation, it was apparently adding fuel to an upwelling of discontentment among indigenous Native American people and others who are offended by the celebration. While witnessing this cacophony of activities, standing across from 250 The Embarcadero, there was this massive structure depicting a bow and arrow plunged into the earth, leaving one to ponder, how this may affect indigenous peoples.
In the backdrop of those and many other activities, the Occupy Wall Street-99 Percent Movement, still in its infancy, was also making a portion of the 99 percent’s presence known in major cities across the nation. Those demonstrating in downtown San Francisco could not have chosen a better day to demonstrate. The bay region was packed with outdoor and sports enthusiasts, enjoying a few-well-deserved days off with family, friends, and pets, out in the sun.
The participants in the movement essentially had a captive audience, as they were surrounded by a mass of people moving slowly by foot, bicycle, wheelchair, and in motor vehicles; giving passers-by the opportunity to partially discern what the 99 percent’s fledgling message(s); and providing many with a brief opportunity to openly express support for the movement, by waving, blinking their vehicle headlights or gently tapping on the horn.
Reportedly, it is the fourth week since the movement of Occupy Wall Street began in New York City’s financial district voicing concerns about and calling for an end to corporate greed, while vowing to hold government accountable.
Numerous other 99 percent demonstrations are taking place in other cities throughout the USA, and in California cities such as San Jose, Sacramento, and LA. Police have made hundreds of arrest of the participants purportedly for acts of “civil disobedience,” hinged on locally adopted ordinances.
Ironically, the participants coming together are being prompted by a myriad of factors, such as, high-unemployment rates; foreclosures, outsourcing American jobs; exporting the country’s raw materials; out-of-control government spending; tax cuts for the rich, government unaccountability; shifting the tax burden onto the backs of the middle class and lower-income earners, along with draconian cuts in safety-net services.
The Wall Street bankers are credited for the upwelling of the 99 percent movement. Participants admit that it would not have been possible but for the bankers’ greed and policy-makers’ incompetence inflating an $8 trillion housing bubble.
The top 1 percent of U.S. households owns more than half the nation’s stocks, according to the Federal Reserve Bank. The same 1 percent also controls more than $16 trillion in wealth — more than the bottom 90 percent.
The term 99 percent was contained in a 2006 Citigroup “dead peasant” memo, wherein Citigroup and the others members of the billionaires’ one-percentile, allude to the 99 percent as a potential threat source. The issue of wealth redistribution, the disparity between the one-percent and the 99-percent is on the table.
In his book published two months before the Great Recession began in December 2007, Michael Perlman, a professor of economics at California State University, Chico, placed the current social crisis into historical context. As the nation’s gross domestic product tripled from 1970 to 2003, the “top 13,000 tax-paying households … saw its wages and salaries increase fifteen-fold,” Perlman writes. Meanwhile, for the bottom 99 percent of American taxpaying units, average income remained basically unchanged between 1970 ($36,008) and 2004 ($37,295). In the view of Perelman and other radical students of capitalism, such income inequality is the driving force of the financial crisis currently (The Confiscation of American Prosperity: From Right-Wing Extremism and Economic Ideology to the Next Great Depression, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
In the meantime, some participants in the 99 percent movement claim they became involved because of the government’s Wall Street bailout of the too-big-too-fail banks, from derivatives and sub-prime mortgage scams to wholesale usurping of billions of dollars in pension funds. Meanwhile, the local and state budget deficit crises fester, as the dollar remains overvalued. The latter pushes prices of imports down and exports up, reducing manufacturing employment and driving up the U.S. trade deficit.
A middle-aged couple living in the SF Bay region facing foreclosure said: “What’s the point of spending on billions for Homeland Security?” They pointed out the obvious: a rising number of Americans do not have a home to secure. The preponderance of the evidence, provided in official records; news accounts by reputable journalist, and documentaries, Congressional hearings and related-reports, support the assertion that it is those same banks that did and do profit from the “housing crisis,” Wall Street crisis, the local and state budget crises, and a host of other crises that are at the root of the nation’s ailing economy instability, placing a great deal of stress and uncertainty among the 99 percent.
Movement participants also sight the subprime “crisis” and the financial crises resulting from the home foreclosures, and their discontent with Elizabeth Warren’s inability to find out precisely where the $700 billion that the banks received from Congress, as part of the Wall Street banks’ orchestrated bailout, including the funds that went to the Goldman Sachs’ TEAM (Take Everything Americans Make).
Supporters of Warren believe she has the potential to make things happen. Unfortunately, others have her running for U.S. Senate; while others argue that she should stay focused on the money that the banks “made-off” with; not just the $700 billion, but the trillions of dollars that American homeowners had invested in their homes, many of whom are at retirement age. That money would be indentified as the “real equity” of homeowner family- invested money earned over a lifetime; this is the money homeowners are in need to recover. The banks packaged up both secure mortgages with high-risk sub-prime mortgages, and sold them as securities graded AAA by corrupt credit rating agencies. The perpetrators knew that would bring windfall profits in the short-term. The long-term brought a tidal wave of mortgage defaults and home foreclosures to the American populace.
According to the preponderance of the “evidence” made public, the financial crises were planned, executed, and finalized by many of the government officials appointed by the present and former presidents, with their legions of former Goldman Sachs executives.
In Sacramento, California, protesters have been arrested for occupying a city park, after midnight. They have vowed to take a stance and are calling for an end to corporate greed, and are circulating a petition to take back the parks. Sacramento City Councilmember Angelique Ashby said that the city ordinance to close the park at midnight has something to do with a lack of funds to ensure the users’ safety.
Mayor Kevin Johnson, earnestly campaigning for a new sport arena as budget woes close swimming pools and other community resources, agrees with the arrests of Occupy Sacramento protesters for violating the city’s anti-camping ordinance. Meanwhile, Johnson’s non-profit group has a charter (contract) to operate Sacramento High School, formerly a public institution.
A reporter for a Sacramento TV CBS affiliate raised questions as to how much it is costing the city to pay officers stationed at the Cesar Chavez Park. There, Occupy Sacramento protesters have been encamped since October 6. Chavez is the late labor leader of farm workers during the 1960s.
In the meantime, the state of California has been shutting down its parks, and requiring the taxpaying public to pay off hundreds of millions in general obligation bonds that were used to purchase parks in the first place. The bondholders win. The public loses.
Resistance grows. Native Americans, student, labor and civil rights groups join the call for all communities across the Americas to join in the struggle to denounce this so-called Columbus Day “celebration” and replace it with a national holiday to honor and remember the indigenous people. Oct. 14th there will be a march to the state Capitol for an Indigenous Day of Resistance Protest & Occupy Sacramento to denounce the United States ’ glorification of the atrocities committed against native ancestors of the Americas during the indigenous holocaust let by Christopher Columbus .
San Jose State Professor Scott Myer-Lipton said that the movement opens up an opportunity for suggestions, but that it needs to solidify around clear demands and solutions. Lipton’s concerns were also expressed by former Ambassador Andrew Young, who marched along side of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 1960s civil rights movement. Young reportedly stated, for the movement to be effective it has to be more than people just voicing their frustrations. It has to have a cohesive message and be well organized.
At a congressional hearing last Wednesday, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke was asked what he thought of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Bernanke was among those that supported and pushed for the Wall Street (TBTF) bank bailout.
Bernanke replied: “Like everyone else, I’m dissatisfied with what the economy’s doing right now. They blame, with some justification, the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess, and they’re dissatisfied with the policy response here in Washington . And at some level, I can’t blame them.” Read more.
Bernanke failed to see the $8 billion housing bubble that blew up and wrecked the economy. Why is that recent history not front-page news?
Mainstream media tends to miss the mark; the movement does not appear to be just about people demonstrating their frustrations, and/or being arrested, simply because they are exercising their rights as Americans to express discontent toward the government officials and the Wall Street TEAM; families are being thrown out of their homes onto the streets, as American jobs are being off-shored and employers strive to expand the 88 percent of American lacking union representation higher.
Movement participants say that the big banks should be arrested for breaking the law. There is even talk of possibly filing a RICO lawsuit against the banks and all of the government officials responsible for the recent financial crises. RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations and the civil and criminal penalties are set forth in 18 U.S.C. 1963 through 18 U.S.C. 1965 RICO lawsuit. RICO is generally a violation of these Federal statutes which define RICO, provide for civil and criminal actions based on RICO and set the damage standard.
In the interim, 50 state attorneys general reportedly have been engaged in dialogue and/or possible settlement negations with the banks to discuss ways to reconcile the damages caused by Wall Street bankers; however, recent news account indicate that very little, if any, progress is being made.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced yesterday that her office is pulling out of a pending 50-state settlement with banks over wrongful foreclosures. “After much consideration, I have concluded that this is not the deal California homeowners have been looking for,” she wrote in the letter.
In a letter to Associate U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perrelli and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Harris said the agreement would allow “too few…homeowners to stay in their homes” and shield banks from further investigations.
Settlement negotiations between the 50 attorneys general and the nation’s five largest banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Co., Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Allied Financial Network, commenced last fall. Beginning over allegations of mortgage “robo-signing,” or the practice of bank employees notarizing or signing sworn documents without verifying or understanding them, they later expanded to include other abuses related to mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices.
Reportedly, a key reason for Harris to pull-out, said Shum Preston, spokesman for the California attorney general’s office, was a troubling “surge in foreclosures” between July and August. Harris ‘ letter states: “During the period we have been negotiating, more than 560,000 additional homes in California have fallen into the foreclosure process.”
There appears to be a growing number of the silent 99-percent that are taking effective actions without putting themselves or family members at risk; they are simply taking their money and business away from the big banks and placing what remains of their funds in credit unions and small banks. They are using their discretion and exercising their rights as citizens and taxpayers to hold government accountable.
The movement is on its way to define its objectives and provide solutions that the 99 percent can afford. Much of what they are asking for, in its own way, was drafted by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his proposed “Second Bill of Rights, expanding the rights and economic security of the American people.”
Although Roosevelt’s amendment was not adopted, it seemingly embodied many of the elements necessary to ensure a sustainable economy and more economic fairness than now exists for ordinary Americans’ lives.
Arguably, there is absolutely no need to re-invent the wheel. People’s commitment will determine the success of the 99 percent. It is their active involvement that will drive progressive changes to economic policies for consumers, homeowners, renters, students and taxpayers. After all, it was and is the 99 percent that made it possible for the one-percent to become as rich. Conversely, the 99 percent can shift the redistribution of wealth back, by the choices each and every one of them makes in the course of each and every day.
Planetary Solutionaries, as servants “For and of the People”, have and will continue to provide information, answers, and viable solutions to ensuring the sustainability of our economy, public trust resources and the well-being of the public.
Readers are invited to visit the website at www.planetarysolutionaries.org
Patrick Porgans is with the research firm Porgans and Associates. Seth Sandronsky lives and writes in Sacramento, CA.