DAVE JOHNSON- The highly-profitable company Verizon — the 16th largest corporation in America — is asking its workers for givebacks amounting to as much as $20,000 each, while tripling the compensation of CEO Lowell McAdam from $7.2 million to $23.1 million. The company made $22.5 billion in profits over the past four years while paying its top five executives $283 million over that period. Because of this the company has earned the nickname â€œVerigreedy.”
Jim Cook – After all the talk about “the 1%”, who are these people really? Where do they work and how much do they really make? At the top of the list is Tim Cook, who replaced Steve Jobs at Apple.
JESSE JACKSON – Republicans on the campaign trail denounce Obamaâ€™s health-care reforms as a virtual threat to the Republic. Itâ€™s â€œsocialized medicine,â€ â€œa job killer,â€ â€œa government takeover of health care.â€ All the Republican candidates for president promise to repeal it, and Republican legislators are virtually united in trying to do so.
LES LEOPOLD – Day in and day out we are told that if the government doesnâ€™t tighten its belt, weâ€™re all headed for debtorâ€™s prison. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are under attack. State budgets are in disarray. Teachers and firemen are getting canned. Public services are slashed. This is the new America and we’d better get used to it, the pundits proclaim. You would think we were a poor country.
CHARLES EISENSTEIN – Occupy has awakened a potent energy that had been lying dormant. It has made activists of people of a new generation, and brought renewed hope to veterans of past movements. Unlike earlier protest movements, it has not objected to any specific policy, such as segregation or the Vietnam War. It is a protest against a condition of society, highlighted by the maldistribution of wealth and debt whose symbol is Wall Street, that goes deeper than anything the Occupiers can easily name. As we say, no demand is big enough.
BROOKE JARVIS – On December 3, just two days before Occupy L.A. was evicted by police, the General Assembly of the occupation passed a unanimous resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood.
J.A. MYERSON – Yesterday, no one had lived in 702 Vermont Street for three years. Vermont Street sits in East New York, the Brooklyn neighborhood where foreclosures are five times more frequent than in the rest of the state. Today, Alfredo and Tasha and their son and daughter moved in, with the help of a number of friends whom they’d never met. Some were from the advocacy groups Picture the Homeless and Vocal New York, others were clergy or members of the city council.
JOSH HEALEY – Over the last two weeks, mayors across the country (apparently coordinated by the FBI) shut down many of the largest Occupy encampments, including in New York, Oakland, Portland, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, and more. Police arrested hundreds of peaceful activists, inevitably leaving clouds of pepper spray and millions of dollars in their wake. While I fully condemn the police raids, I also think they offer us an opportunity to move to the next stage: itâ€™s time to Occupy more than just tents.
TYGER RICARD – We are told, and have come to accept, that the Occupy movement lacks focus, direction, and purpose. How can a group be successful without a linear plan and a list of demands? How does camping in a park solve the world’s problems? Onlookers often say that in the last two months, Occupy has yet to accomplish anything. As we come to Thanksgiving, however, I want to offer seven reasons to give thanks for the Occupy movement.
TOM CORDARO – The weekend of Oct. 15-16 my daughter Angela and I had the privilege of attending the Pax Christi Metro New York Fall Assembly where I gave the keynote address. As you might expect a lot of the conversation focused on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement that started in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street.
CHRIS HEDGES – Welcome to the revolution. Our elites have exposed their hand. They have nothing to offer. They can destroy but they cannot build. They can repress but they cannot lead. They can steal but they cannot share. They can talk but they cannot speak.
GLEN FORD – It was never in the cards for a plutocrat mayor to long tolerate a movement whose essential logic is the dissolution of his class. â€œIf the Occupy Wall Street movement has been about anything, it is the absolute necessity to rid the nation â€“ and the world â€“ of the collective tyranny of the Bloombergs, the dictatorship of the moneyed classes.â€ The next phase of the movement must more self-consciously â€œhave, at least, the goal of shutting down the infernal machines of capital.â€
RUSS BAKER – Conventional journalism is increasingly irrelevant in a time of crisis. We find abundant proof in a recent column from the New York Timesâ€™ so-called â€œPublic Editor,â€ who is supposed to somehow magically represent the public interest and rarefied ethical values to the rest of the paper.
ROBERT REICH – Republicans are debating again tomorrow night. And once again, Americans will hear the standard regressive litany: government is bad, Medicare and Medicaid should be cut, â€œObamacareâ€ is killing the economy, undocumented immigrants are taking our jobs, the military should get more money, taxes should be lowered on corporations and the rich, and regulations should be gutted.
DAVID SWANSON – We can fit our demands on a bumpersticker: “Majority Rule” or “People Over Profits” or “Love Not Greed.” But we don’t want to. Our government is doing everything wrong, and we should be allowed to present the full list of grievances. We can, however, give the world a thousand words’ worth in an image, a pie chart to be exact. Our federal budget funds the wrong things. We want it to fund the right things.
CHRIS HEDGES – There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Union leaders, who pull down salaries five times that of the rank and file as they bargain away rights and benefits, know the foundations are shaking.
ZAID JILANI – It may shock you to learn exactly how wealthy this top 1 percent of Americans is.
As the ongoing occupation of Wall Street by hundreds of protesters enters its third week â€” and as protests spread to other cities such as Boston and Los Angeles â€” demonstrators have endorsed a new slogan: â€œWe are the 99 percent.â€ This slogan refers to an economic struggle between 99 percent of Americans and the richest 1 percent of Americans, who are increasingly accumulating a greater share of the national wealth to the detriment of the middle class.
NAOMI KLEIN – I was honored to be invited to speak at Occupy Wall Street on Thursday night. Since amplification is (disgracefully) banned, and everything I say will have to be repeated by hundreds of people so others can hear (aâ€‰kâ€‰a â€œthe human microphoneâ€), what I actually say at Liberty Plaza will have to be very short. With that in mind, here is the longer, uncut version of the speech.
KENNETH RAPOZA – The economic crisis in advanced economies is accelerating the timeline in which big emerging nations like China rule the global economy. Instead of the market focusing on American shopping habits, theyâ€™ll be focused on consumers in Shanghai and Mumbai. Unless the US can recover the 8.5 million jobs it lost in the recession, and unless incomes begin rising, the US will be knocked off its pedestal within a generation. The post-Western world is coming faster than we think.
BRIAN J. TRAUTMAN – The debt deal cuts roughly $2.4 trillion in federal spending over the next decade without any new revenue streams. It slashes social services like education and health, and threatens to weaken the vital entitlement programs of our frayed social safety net. It is far from representing the shared sacrifice that an overwhelming majority of the American people had demanded of their elected officials in the days and weeks leading up to the debate and negotiation.
WORLD PUBLIC OPINION.ORG – An innovative study has found that when a representative sample of the American public was presented the federal budget, they proposed changes far different from those the Obama administration or the Republican-led House have proposed.
SAM PIZZIGATI – Once upon a time in America, back a century ago, our nation’s rich paid virtually nothing in taxes to the federal government. And that same federal government did virtually nothing to better the lives of average Americans.