Last month, I blogged about the Occupy Movement & Free Will. This is an addendum to that. People ask me why I'm against the Occupy movement. Colleagues in spiritual communities have blasted me for my anti-Occupy stance, calling me all kinds of names, judging me, saying I don't walk my talk, lack integrity or I'm creating more division. Paragraphs below should set the record straight.
After months of OWS research and listening to all sides, it seems very simple. While the Occupy Movement may work in countries where citizens do not have a voice or choice - dictatorships, communist, fascist or socialist countries like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Greece or Canada (country of origin for founders of Occupy Wall Street - adbusters.org) - it does not work in the US because every legal US citizen has a voice, choice and action steps if they use it, provided by our US Constitution. It's called contacting your Congressman, getting involved in the system that's run on auto-pilot for decades, educating yourself about the process, current & pending laws & bills, and letting your voice by heard.
The US Constitution highlights individual Free Will, Personal Responsibility and a call to Action like no other government document in history. It is what separates the US from the rest of the world. Its edicts and philosophy is what draws many across the globe to live here. Why not use it?
When John F. Kennedy stated "Political action is the highest responsibility of a citizen," he meant taking action, not occupying. Why Occupy when you can rid our country of corruption by using the system & contacting your Congressmen? That's where it all starts. That's where Bills start. Bills supported by US citizens become law - that's true change in our current system. The US Constitution gives all of us a voice. If we use it. Protesting highlights a problem and is a necessary part of the process. Developing & bringing solutions is the next step. Communicating those solutions to those we elect, holding their feet to the fire and reminding them they work for us are the remaining steps. And we're able to do those things very cheaply.
Occupying US streets & cities is costing taxpayers millions of dollars in clean-up and/or "allowances" to Occupiers, like port-a-potties, extra police over-time costs, controlling criminal behavior, protecting innocent bystanders. Real change and ridding our society of corruption is free - emailing our congressmen and policy-makers, holding them accountable, or occupying the hallways of Capitol Hill. So far, Occupy across the country has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. What if those millions were spent on our National Debt? Or our budget deficits?
Critics of OWS & the Occupy movement's peaceful demonstrations have one main premise: Occupying is unnecessary in the United States because our Democratic Republic, as outlined in the US Constitution, allows each person to act on his/her beliefs to affect change in our existing system - through our votes and communicating with our local US congressmen & policy-makers. The US Constitution since 1787, gives us the power to directly communicate our grievances and make stealthy changes, ridding our country of any type of corruption by our active participation in the system. Prohibition happened that way. The 18th Amendment passed in 1919 by citizen action across the country long before internet, instant email or even telephones in every household.
If Occupy Movement truly wanted to rid our country of corruption, why not use the system combined with internet tools to make that happen? US citizens made real change back in 1919. Their action was later repealed, however, citizens used the Constitutional system and it worked! Now we have more powerful tools to make change happen faster, easier, cheaper. The use of the internet allows us to email policy-makers with a click of a button - in just a few minutes! We all see Occupiers with computers, webcams, etc. What if they put that technology to good use? Instead of YouTubing their fights with the law to get attention, what if they used their energies and education to develop real solutions to end corruption? Then contact Congress or governments that hold the power to make those real changes? Using their "en masse" approach for real change?
As swarms of individuals Occupy cities with no real agenda except ideas, critics wonder why these folks aren't using their voice, sense of "community", education, computers, internet to learn what really caused the economic mess, how Congress and Special Interest groups (e.g. lobbyists) helped create it. Many Occupiers feel more regulations on businesses will remedy corruption and put people back to work. That theory's proven false for decades. Corruption will always exist, with or without regulations. Malpractice suits, Medicaid & Medicare fraud, corporations skirting around tax laws, congressmen getting kickbacks from Special Interest groups, the recent "green" energy debacle (e.g. Solyndra), over $5,000 in farm subsidies given to non-farmers - all prove that corruption happens in all areas of society with or without regulations. More regulations will not stop corruption. If someone wants to beat the system, they will find a way.
Regulating businesses restricts their ability to hire or grow, which restricts our economy. We learned that from the Reagan administration during the '80s. Employment rose, commodities and gas prices decreased when industries were deregulated. So those Occupy groups who desire more regulation have not done their homework. And they have the tools to find these facts & trends: computers, internet, etc. Why aren't they educating themselves? Regulation isn't the key to ridding our society of corruption and fraudulent practices that have stalled our economy and job-creation.
I've asked some Occupiers "have you contacted your congressman to voice your concerns or provide solutions?" 4 out of 5 have said "They won't listen." Notice how they didn't answer the question. My theory: if every Occupier sent emails to their local, state & US policy-makers on a daily basis, our congressmen WOULD LISTEN! If Occupiers did this from their homes versus dirtying our streets, providing congressmen ideas on bills and ways to rid our society of corruption, corporate and government (where the real corruption exists), corruption would END or at least reduce.
I believe in what most Occupy groups allege: Reducing corruption and fraud is a good thing. Reducing fraud in government entitlement programs would help pay down our US budget deficit by cutting out government waste (e.g. US Agriculture farm subsidies given to non-farmers as seen on John Stossel's TV program). Reducing corruption in government and corporations by catching tax evasion would help pay down our US debt. The real question remains: How to do it? Are the Occupy protesters developing solutions?
Many Occupy protesters are upset about losing their homes or being laid off. With no jobs on the horizon, they are running out of their 90-plus-week unemployment checks. According to the New York Post last week, over 100,000 job openings existed New York City. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data, approximately 52% of American companies have open job positions.
Citizens of the United States already have the ability to affect change. We simply forgot, chose not to pay attention, or use our Rights. With rights come responsibility. We chose to let our government run on auto-pilot. We've all woken up now. It's time to use the system, not abuse it. Hold people & politicians accountable for abuses. With internet resources and quick speeds, it takes little time to find out what got us in the mess (Congress), where corruption really exists, and taking steps to clean it up as cheaply as possible.
The United States of America was built on Free Will, Personal Responsibility and Citizen Action. Let's get this party started without creating more of a mess, costing us all. One for all, all for one.
--Robin Amanda Kelley