Have you heard the news that multiple organizations, led by Occupy, are calling for a general strike on May 1st? This date was chosen because it has historical significance – 146 years ago (1886), thousands of Americans took to the streets, clamoring for an eight-hour workday. It has remained a symbolic day for strikes internationally. And today, we have those Americans to thank that we are not toiling away 12 hours or more a day. Well, most of us, anyways. This day of “inaction” is intended to show what happens when the 99% unite.
The biggest rallies will be taking place in large cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Chicago. To find an action near you, search the web with “Occupy” “May Day” “General Strike”. The basic request is to call out from work and/or school and to avoid making any financial transactions for the duration of the day.
I don’t generally discuss politics, but posted something on my Facebook page that I thought was funny about someone who dropped out of the Presidential race, and found myself embroiled in a discussion with someone about our opposing viewpoints. It reminded me why I don’t like to discuss politics – it can feel like a personal attack when people are really passionate about beliefs that contradict yours. Also, it’s kind of a losing proposition; if someone has really strong opinions, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to influence their thinking, so why argue? But it also showed me that there are people out there who really have no understanding of what’s going on in the world around us these days.
That person stated that this country can’t take another 4 years of President Obama. Can we? I don’t know the answer to that, but what I do know is that he inherited this mess – he didn’t directly create it. He could have, and probably should have, taken some different steps than he did, but we are the ones who elected someone considered unseasoned because we couldn’t take another 4 years of a Republican President!
As a reminder – Bush’s offices created the bailout plan for the banks. He signed it into law mere months before Obama was sworn in. The mortgage derivative market was created under the Bush administration. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were started by Bush’s cabinet. Slews of jobs were lost in 2006, well before Obama took office, and the largest decline in employment occurred in September 2008 – 2 months before Obama was even elected. And one of the most important things that we have to remember is that the President is often just a figurehead – there are few completely independent decisions any President can make any longer. This is something we learn in primary school, but many people seem to forget this when complaining about the State of the Union.
Now, I’m not trying to push my political beliefs on anyone, but I have learned over the years that it is so easy to get swept up in political rhetoric. We have a tendency to focus on what’s wrong right now – whatever the media is hyping today is the flavor of the moment. In these times, it is especially important to read between the lines of any publication out there, including this one. Decide for yourself what it means to you. Research for yourself. Figure out what your truth is.
I’m sure you’re wondering – what does all this have to do with foreclosure? Please bear with me, and continue reading. I promise I’ll clear up this question.
The Occupy movement has had its’ share of ups and downs; media ridicule and media praise. One thing that really burns me is when people declare to those allied with the 99% movement, “Get a job.” I personally know it’s not that easy. With the depth of media reporting about the unemployment numbers and personal stories of people impacted by the dead job market, it blows my mind that anyone in this country can hold that simple-minded belief. I myself have been downsized in each of the past 3 economic downturns – 2001, 2006, and 2008. I personally know it’s not that easy to “just get a job.” One of the main differences in this downturn is that people on all levels have lost jobs – from fast food clerks to executives. People from all walks of life are learning how to live with a little less, how to prioritize. Many “needs” have now become “wants”. But our most basic needs should not be wants – in a country as wealthy as ours, I feel all of our citizens should be able to obtain and maintain safe shelter and food.
Without a job, it compromises our ability to secure shelter and food. So many people have moved in with relatives, given up their cherished family pets, sold their vehicles, and otherwise completely disrupted their usual way of life to ensure their basic needs. Anger, depression, and despair are documented at higher rates among people who have lost their jobs and homes. In turn, this has created a higher need for medical care among this group of displaced persons, making it more difficult to make ends meet. Where do we draw a line in the sand and declare that the cycle stops here? When?
I support the Occupy, the 99%, and the Other 98% movements. Though I have not personally camped out or carried a placard, I have participated in other ways. It is my personal belief that foreclosed homeowners, those in danger of foreclosure, and anyone who has endured a long period of unemployment should also support them, or at least what they stand for. And I hope that people who haven’t been through any of this will also support them, because it could be you next.
I have been through too much to stand idly by. I have seen too many friends lose their homes or seek out government or charity assistance – when none of us had to worry about any of that three years ago. We need to make our voices heard, loud and clear, to get laws changed, to create laws that protect us, get justice for us, make things right and re-establish the balance.
This doesn’t mean you have to go camp out or join in a group of people carrying signs, or set up a living room inside a bank branch office. But if you feel strongly that laws in place aren’t protecting people; that you have encountered or been a victim of unfair, deceptive, or illegal business practices; or that corporations have more rights than living, breathing people, then, please, do something productive with that terrible, gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach.
That is part of the reason I started this blog – it’s one of my contributions. I have also written a letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris, to report on my belief that the judicial system is not operating by the code of conduct set up for it. Even though my current employment status is tenuous (read: temporary), I plan to join in on the strike on May 1st. These are small steps, but just imagine my actions as three tiny raindrops. When millions of raindrops fall, all at the same time, we can create quite a roar.