Wednesday, October 26

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. [Howard Zinn]

I've been going back and forth (some might say flip-flopping) on whether or not to write this post, because I like my blog to be funny or flowery. Not political. And I have a lot of conservative friends, who I hope not to offend. The truth is, this post really isn't about politics at all. But I know they'll disagree with me.

It's just... sometimes you get a case of word vomit, and you can't hold it in anymore.

I wasn't sure at first, but I've decided I like the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I'll tell you why (besides the fact that they're nice and I love a good underdog). Based on what I know about American history, this movement reminds me of our country's roots.

Regardless of your political persuasion, you cannot tell me that you don't think our economy needs more than a little work. The wealth gap in America hasn't spanned this large since the Roaring 20s. You know, that brief flicker of brilliance jusssssst before the Great Depression?

See for yourself:

Click here to see the full size chart, and here to read the excellent article. From Business Insider, by the way. It's not Mother Jones, yinz.

And you know what happens when a massive group of people feel forgotten? Some might say "without representation"?

Now, let's be serious here. I'm not comparing our current state of affairs to the Revolution. But this is how our country works best, and it's nice to see that people still believe in the power of peaceful assembly.

I'm not about to go pitch a tent with the Occupy Pittsburgh protest in Mellon Park, but they've been there for three weeks now, and it doesn't look like they're going anywhere. And, like I said, they're nice. And by and large, they're educated. And I know this because I've talked to them, and while some are a little fringe for my tastes (being moderately liberal doesn't make me a Socialist), a lot of them want basic things. Things that make sense. Things like remedies for gross economic inequality, corporate greed, and lobbying.

I can't imagine what it's like to live without health insurance. Or with $50,000 of student loan debt. It's not like these are one-in-a-million examples, either. These things happen to people all around you. And yes, I'm all about pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps and all that, but when banks are getting massive bailouts, and disgraced CEOs latch onto golden parachutes, and the top 1% of households in America enjoy higher tax cuts than, say, the very-much struggling middle class, something isn't right. The trickle-down effect has apparently run dry.

Like I said, a lot of these people are fringe. But they are inclusive fringies, and they want all you Average-Joe, middle-class, workaday folk to get involved. Not pitch a tent. Maybe not even sign a petition. But at least read up a little and not dismiss them out of hand. They actually have some interesting things to say, and unless you're sitting atop millions of extra dollars, what they propose would probably benefit you.

The fringies are the ones who get things started for the masses, anyway. These men below were radical in their day, and I don't mean that in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sense of the word. Actually, I mean it in both senses.

So maybe with the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, we're just returning to our country's roots. We're now in that messy, leaderless, fringe-driven state of affairs. And while sometimes it's infuriating, I also think it's pretty cool.

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