The 99% of Us are 100% Committed to Change
In just two months, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread across the country and across the globe, a public outcry of frustration and anger. Thousands have taken to the streets to protest an economic system that has cast most people aside – from the weakest and most vulnerable to the ever-shrinking middle class – while showering exorbitant profits on an elite few.
Some have tried to portray OWS as a rag-tag group of hippie wannabes and the homeless, but over time these protesters have come to represent the overwhelming majority of Americans, and of citizens in many lands. As Unitarian Universalists, we see Occupy Wall Street as an important messenger to the world, waking us up to the fact that these economic inequities are not only unethical, but that they place all of us in great peril if they continue unchecked. See http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/10/occupy-wall-street-spreads-worldwide/100171/
The Occupy Wall Street slogan of the 99% against the 1% has reframed the issue facing Americans. Having vast economic power in the hands of just a few is not about taxes, it’s about the impact of our economic policies, the inequities they have created, the positive, life-affirming values they eschew, and the havoc this is wreaking on the very fabric of American society.
Since 1990, CEO pay has increased 298.2% and S&P 500 profits have increased 141.4%, yet average production worker pay has only increased 4.3% and the federal minimum wage dropped by 9.3%. Adjusted for inflation, average hourly earnings haven’t increased in 50 years, yet the top 1% of wage-earners hold a higher share of total pre-tax income than any time since 1928, just before the Great Depression hit. Not surprisingly, the United States now ranks 93rd in income equality, below Egypt, India, China, Russia and Iran, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. See http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/Outside-View/2011/11/22/Outside-View-Occupy-Wall-Street-put-nation-on-notice/UPI 81901321961640/?dailybrief
Unitarian Universalists believe in common decency and in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and in the democratic process. We have been called upon to support these core values in our communities, resulting in activism throughout American history, from the abolitionist movements to civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights. See http://www.uua.org/beliefs/index.shtml
The impact of the 1% “power elite” on Washington is not only inequitable, but unsustainable. It threatens our economic viability and our role as a beacon of hope and justice throughout the world. We need to wake up, find common ground and take action: By becoming informed and informing others; by depending on reliable information sources like, the Pulitzer prize winning PolitiFacts; by standing beside NJ OWS protesters in Trenton, Morristown, Princeton, Atlantic City, Jersey City, and Newark; by voting down inordinate CEO salaries and demanding greater accountability from board members; by writing your assembly representatives and senators and demanding they be courageous politically and compromise (See http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/municipalities.asp); by demanding changes in government policy regarding financial market practices.