The OB Media Rundown for 2/27/12

Occupy The Bourgeoisie: ‘First they came for the factory worker, and I said nothing. . .’

I think that even the most Occupy-sympathetic will acknowledge the “threat of being reduced to proletarians” motivates many protestors, whether they’d term it thus or not. After all, the fundamental orientation of American capitalism – deindustrialization, the supremacy of finance, the extreme concentration of wealth among the tippy-top, the increasing indebtedness of everyone else – has been much the same for most of the past 30 years. For those of the 99% who could also be described as of the 5-10%, this wasn’t much of an issue. It’s understandable, if not exactly inspiring; first they came for the factory worker, and I said nothing. . .

Professor: ‘We are Closer to the Homeless on the Street’

Professor Edward Gomez came to Redlands’ Ed Hales Park on Saturday to speak about the rich, the poor, their history and the world they all inhabit.

It was an address that stopped many in their tracks, especially when he attacked the notion of the “middle class.” The term, he told a crowd of some 60 people, implies most possess at least half the wealth of some billionaires.

“Someone pulled the skin over my eyes and wants you and me to believe we are at least halfway to the billionaire’s world,” Gomez said with intense passion in his voice. “We are nowhere near them. And if you don’t understand this 99 percent — and I’m sure you do because I’m preaching to the choir — I know that … somebody in our level is nowhere near them. We are (financially) closer to the homeless on the street.”

The robosigning deal is a useless embarrassment

Politically, the settlement reveals the corrupting influence of bank bailouts. Government is supposed to enforce laws equally and fairly. Instead, it is protecting its investments in rogue banks. They are committed to their original error and are loath to admit it. This is the reason that after a surgical accident, a new surgeon does the repair. He is objective and has nothing to hide. Conflicted governments, though, are focused on their reputation and reelection.

The robosigning agreement will serve as an exemplar to future generations of what not to do when confronted with failing banks.

On the graduate with no future

The political implication of [the] shift in subjectivity is that the field of higher education becomes characterised by isolated, competitive, self-interested individuals who think of themselves as mini-entrepreneurs competing in a marketplace. Whereas the public university was funded on the grounds that it was a collective investment that would benefit society as a whole, the neoliberal university attracts funds on an individual basis from students who want to invest in themselves and their own market potential.

One of the flaws in creating an education system that encourages students to think like mini-capitalists is that capital requires a profitable return on its investment or else people will lose confidence in the system and it will go into crisis. This is exactly what is happening in the current environment of recession and austerity, as a whole generation of young people who personally invested in their education on the assumption that they would be rewarded with added earning power are graduating only to be greeted with indifference from potential employers.

The itinerant US left has found its home in the Occupy movement

Over the last decade in the US there has been an itinerant quality to the progressive left. Activists have sought shelter in the anti-war movement, Howard Dean’s primary campaign, gay rights, immigrants’ rights or the Obama campaign. Each more powerful and hopeful than the last; each too narrowly focused and lacking the social or economic base to sustain it. In the occupations, these political vagrants found a home.
. . .

Polls have shown almost twice as many Americans agreed with OWS than disagreed with it. Far from alienating middle America, the movement has captured the public and political imagination. It has shifted the national debate from debt to inequality and the focus of the problem from victims of the crisis (the poor) to its perpetrators (the financial institutions). A Pew poll released in December revealed 77% of Americans believe there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and corporations, while those who believed “most people who want to get ahead can make it if they are willing to work hard” was at its lowest point since the question was first put in 1994.

How to make Occupy catch on

Were history a guide to today’s politics, progressives would be redoubling their efforts to turn the still-unraveling crisis of capitalism into an opportunity for system-changing reform. Certainly they would be doing everything within their power to combat the logic of austerity and entitlement-slashing that has crystalized into a new Washington “consensus,” and instead to shape the debate around issues of employment, inequality, the erosion of the safety net, and the unprecedented concentrations of wealth and economic power that have survived the Great Recession intact. But they would also move to engage the debate at a deeper level: in terms of what a just, equitable and socially as well as financially productive economy looks like and what roles the state and the market should play in bringing it about.

Yet, 2012 finds progressives without any such unifying vision to mobilize a broad-based reform movement, let alone to define the debate about the economic future.

Voting Rights Act under siege

In a political system where even the most trivial issues trigger partisan rancor, the Voting Rights Act has stood for several decades as a rare point of bipartisan consensus.

Until now.

An intensifying conservative legal assault on the Voting Rights Act could precipitate what many civil rights advocates regard as the nuclear option: a court ruling striking down one of the core elements of the landmark 1965 law guaranteeing African Americans and other minorities access to the ballot box.

How Working Outside the Law Helped Labor Win on the West Coast

Earlier this month longshore workers in Washington state reached a contract with a boss that has spent the past year fighting to keep their union out. That company, the multinational EGT, sought to run its new grain terminal in the town of Longview, as the only facility on the West Coast without the famously militant International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). A victory by EGT would have emboldened employers up and down the coast to seek to free themselves of ILWU influence. And if the union – with the help of the Occupy movement – had not defied the law, EGT would have succeeded.

Barack Obama Deals Crippling Blow to Unions, Black Economic Self-Help

The most successful organizations for economic self-help of the last hundred fifty years have been labor unions, and in the US, African Americans have been more likely to form and join unions than any other group. So when President Obama imposed new restrictions on organizing unions, and make it easier for companies to dismiss and disregard union contracts he struck a blow first and hardest against black collective action for economic security.

Once again, market speculators behind sharply rising oil and gasoline prices

U.S. demand for oil and refined products – including gasoline – is down sharply from last year, so much that United States has actually become a net exporter of gasoline, unable to consume all that it makes.

Yet oil and gasoline prices are surging.

Hundreds gather for Occupy Eugene

Hundreds of Occupy Eugene protesters took part in a People United rally and march in downtown Eugene Saturday, according to a press release issued by the group.

Organizers called it a “celebration of humanity.” After speeches at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza, the protesters took to the streets.

The aim of the event was to let people know that the Occupy movement is still alive and well, and they hope for increased energy into the spring and summer, organizers said.

Occupy Bozeman To Picket Against Wells Fargo

Occupy Wall Street will hold a nation-wide protest this week, and protesters in Bozeman plan to join the campaign with a slightly different focus.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is Occupy’s target, and in Bozeman protesters will zero in on Wells Fargo.

Beginning Wednesday, Occupy Bozeman will hold a picket line, saying the bank is hurting the economy and deserves to suffer.

Occupy Syracuse plans vigil Monday against police brutality

Occupy Syracuse has planned a vigil to protest police brutality Monday evening in front of the Syracuse Public Safety Building on South State Street.

The 6 p.m. event will include speakers addressing local issues and individuals’ rights when dealing with the police, according to a news release.

Occupy Louisville protesters arrested after police drag them inside bank

Louisville Police can be seen in the video asking individuals to accompany them inside the bank.
Allison Hill: “Can you stay out here and talk to me?”
Officer 1: “No we want to talk to you in here.”
Officer 2: “No that way we don’t hear the banging and everything.”
Hill: “I don’t feel comfortable with that. Can everyone be quiet so they can talk.”

Protesters allege it was a trap, because once there those individuals would be arrested.

Occupy protesters rally in Fullerton

About 50 others joined Kaluzny, most of them starting the two-hour, 3.5-mile walk at the Occupy encampment in Hillcrest Park. From there, they advanced south along the sidewalks of Harbor Boulevard through the heart of the downtown business district.

They made their first stop at the transit center at a memorial for transient Kelly Thomas. There, they had a moment of silence. Thomas died five days after struggling with Fullerton police officers, two of whom have been criminally charged.

Austerity anger spills into ‘Valencia Spring’ protests

Thousands young Spaniards and teachers have once again packed the streets of Valencia and other Spanish cities on Saturday to protests against education cuts and labor reform.

The demonstration, the latest in the stream of rallies, was dubbed “Valencia spring” after uprisings that swept across parts of North Africa and the Middle East.

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