Occupy Wall Street – Groundswell of Economic Injustice

Occupy Wall Street
Image by Kap Kap

The Occupy Wall Street protests have spread across the country, capturing the hearts of America’s disenfranchised. These events have sparked a debate across America — particularly online — about economic injustice in America.

Occupy Wall Street has been criticized for its lack of primary objective and message. Like it or not, pundits and critiques are dealing with a groundswell of anger towards the rich and corporate America. This effort grows stronger with each week in spite of criticism.

Image from Mother Jones

The moniker of economic injustice is being used loosely, but in a recession or depression or jobless recovery (take your pick) entering its fourth year, a movement has been touched off. Like the 18th century French mob arisen in times of famine, Occupy Wall Street demands attention.

The media ignored this movement at first. The government — local, state and most importantly, national — is for the most part still ignoring it. President Obama finally acknowledged the movement in a half-hearted statement on Thursday touting the financial industry’s strength. Yet Occupy Wall Street does not go away.

This is mostly because of the relentless will of the original New York protestors, and now their counterparts in other cities. They are not satisfied with the economic disparity and conditions in this country, and won’t be turned back by criticism, insults, police violence and platitudes.


And yes, the protestors have used blogs, Flickr photos, and social network posts helped to keep Occupy Wall Street alive. Yet another example of the Fifth Estate rising when traditional power and media structures refused to address news and/or problems.

Though dismissed, an opportunity is being missed with Occupy Wall Street. Nonprofits seeking to resolve issues of poverty and financial inequality should be leading the charge. Democrats who would naturally gravitate towards this series of issues — especially given tax debates of late — are avoiding Occupy Wall Street. Violence has tuned up the issue to new levels.

The end result? More steam with bigger and more widespread protests.


Conservative “anti-capitalism, socialist” spin isn’t going to make this one go away. Like the Arab Spring, like the Tea Party, like the angered Greeks, there is too much pain. No communications plan can fly in the face of a stakeholder groundswell centered on real problems. Occupy Wall Street is shaping the national debate.

What do you think about Occupy Wall Street?

Only Mindful Action Can Help the Gulf

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There have been many acts of anger towards BP over the past week, including protests to seize the company’s assets, using apps to create oil spills on browsers viewing stories mentioning BP, and efforts to tarnish the company’s logo. It’s totally understandable. Punishing this company for its clear and continuing wrongs relieves a very human need.

Yet, such acts fail to help the Gulf marine environment, suffering wildlife, and the many fisherman and local businesses getting decimated by the Deep Horizon catastrophe. Only mindful actions and protests can successfully and positively benefit those people that need us the most.

One of the greatest heroes of all time — Mohandas Ghandi — demonstrated that you can topple an empire by taking spiritually grounded mindful political action. It seems paramount to remember Ghandi’s lessons as we move through this crisis.

What Actually Helps

Seizing BP’s assets strikes me as the exact wrong thing to do. The company needs to remain viable so it can actually pay for the reparations it owes.

Further, as a moderate Democrat it’s been easy to laugh at cries from extreme elements about a socialist administration. That’s because it’s clear that these elements possess a great ignorance about what socialism and Marxism actually are. But a government seizing a company’s assets meets the text book definition of socialization. That kind of action will not benefit anyone, in my opinion. The U.S. government can’t effectively regulate the oil industry much less run an oil company.

BP (as well as Haliburton and Transocean) must be held accountable. I totally agree with this logic. But the situation remains more complicated. As this New York Times article demonstrates, the Obama Administration — specifically MMS — had many missteps that enabled the poor infrastructure that caused the oil well failure and ensuing catastrophe. Further, the oil industry regularly causes these types of incidents in other, less modernized parts of the world frequently!

Protests against the Obama Administration’s questionable relationship with BP and shoddy first five weeks of Deep Horizon oversight have yielded results. Witness President Obama’s remarks on Friday: “”What I don’t want to hear is, when they’re spending that kind of money on their shareholders and spending that kind of money on TV advertising, that they’re nickel and diming fishermen or small business owners here in the Gulf who are having a hard time.” As BP’s behavior and PR machine demonstrates, this oversight will continue to be needed, and that means citizens need to keep the pressure on both BP and the Obama Administration.

From a governmental reform standpoint, protesting further off shore drilling helps the environment. Demanding that elected officials run clean campaigns that disclose or eliminate corporate funding — effectively getting special interests like the oil lobby out of government — helps. Writing Senators to ask for a progressive clean energy oriented Climate Bill helps.

From an action standpoint, there have been a variety of organizations that have assembled volunteer efforts, from their action from afar via computer to on-site action. Here are three articles to consider:

Whatever you decide to do, please be mindful. Remember Gandhi’s lessons. Ask yourself does it help the Gulf and those affected? Does it improve the government or industry so it doesn’t happen again? Will it help the environment?

Also see Jennifer Windrum’s How You Can Truly Help the Gulf Now.