Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation
No matter how the media folks seem befuddled by what they claim is a lack of clarity from those at the Occupy Wall Street and its solidarity events throughout the nation, I hear one clear and concise message from them all. I am not speaking for them, but I live where they live in life and in spirit. And there are millions more like me out here. Enough is enough.
Working people in this nation have always given themselves to a hard day’s work for honest pay at a living wage and decent benefits and modest time off for a brief annual vacation or to stay home sick when needed. But as the decades of assault on the working class have continued from the 1980s forward, workers have had to do more with less both at work and at home and have been expected to be cheerful, even grateful, while doing so. Enough is enough.
Working class young people and college students who used to have choices about their futures based on their own desires about what they wanted to do as adults and as a their vocations and avocations have now been forced to take on massive debt to attend college or to begin their adult work lives searching for jobs that tens of thousands of unemployed older adults need too. Enough is enough.
Meanwhile, CEO salaries escalated. Corporate profits skyrocketed. Enough is enough.
In Washington, D.C., and in the individual states too, politicians of every stripe sought big money donors and promised they’d deliver for those donors – even played the working class voters for fools as they promised them they cared about issues like education and healthcare and housing and clean air and water, public safety and poverty. They didn’t really care about anything except what the big money donors paid them to care about. Enough is enough.
You took working class sons and daughters to war – sometimes for reasons clearly in your own self interests – and taught them to crave your world view and to see their own families as failures even as you paid them terrible wages and slashed their benefits. You didn’t really care about honor and country. You spoke of love of America and love of soldiers but really loved only one thing over all else: profit, power and privilege and using all means to achieve those things you valued. Enough is enough.
Meanwhile, the bankers and Wall Street traders speculated and bought and sold everything that could be bought or sold. Richer and richer, more brazen and more broad, the power and control Wall Street interests held over everything and everyone grew exponentially. Real estate loans were made and inflated then dumped. Corporations became people, said the highest court in the land. People became fodder for profit, Wall Street positioned. Most of the politicians nodded in ready appreciation of the power you held over the land – the world. Enough is enough.
“What are the occupiers’ demands?” ask many in the media and those otherwise paid to be confused by the clarity? The demand is for an end to the near domination of every human endeavor in this nation by the forces on Wall Street and their loyalists in government and elsewhere. Enough is enough.
Gordon Gecko (and his writers) said it clearly for the Wall Street crowd years ago, “Greed is good.” Even if it was a line in a movie, it was a classic and a rallying cry and solemn prayer for a generation of greedy profiteers. Enough is enough.
The occupiers on Wall Street and those occupiers in solidarity all over America (and the world) are finally answering, “Greed is not so good. Greed kills. Greed steals homes. Greed steals health. Greed steals future dreams. Greed steals study time. Greed steals time away from building a life, getting married, having babies and someday retiring in dignity. Greed is not good. And the changes of policy and in practice need to occur to reverse the advancement of unbridled greed must be done and done as forcefully and clearly as is possible. Just as you all knew how best to protect and advance the systems for your friends in the greedy 1 percent, you know those policies and practices which would benefit those in the 99 percent. Enough is enough.
We’ve told you over and over again. We want an equal shot at decent lives -- not a handout or free rides. The working class has never asked for that – but Wall Street lovers sure have. What you’ve given us is no choice but to take to the streets as you’ve closed the hearing rooms and the board rooms and even the break rooms (no worker deserves any breaks do they?). Enough is enough.
We’ve had to act grateful for crumbs but then you even scooped those crumbs up for yourselves and your Wall Street cronies. We’ve had to act cheerful though every policy decision in favor of the wealthy and powerful few felt like another beating and yet another tamping down of our ability to ever get out of our economic slumps. “Be grateful you even have a job. If you don’t want it, someone else will.” Isn’t that your mantra to us? Pit worker against worker, neighbor against neighbor. Enough is enough.
Having your crumbs is not enough. Working class people in increasing numbers have absolutely no reserves left upon which to draw. Our wealth was funneled to all of you on Wall Street and your friends. We do not wish to be you. We wish to be fully human and free of your greedy domination. Enough is enough.
We do not look at you with the wide-eyed stares of those who admire your accomplishments. You squashed people. You stepped on whoever and whatever was in your way to get your wealth and position. We abhor what you represent about the human condition and your desire to prove your superiority. We can see it when you look at us like you might be ill if you have to suffer being in our presence. Enough is enough.
The demand? Our human dignity back. Our chances to work decent jobs for a living wage with decent benefits in safe workplaces. Our chances to look forward to growing old in a dignified retirement with those we love. Decent homes in safe communities with clean air and water and good schools for our kids. Access to a single standard of high quality healthcare should we get sick or hurt without being forced into bankruptcy. In short, we demand those decencies and common goods a civilized society affords itself through shared effort and funding. Taxing the rich isn’t unfair class warfare, but taxing the working class at a much higher rate to keep the rich happy sure is. Enough is enough.
For you enough was never and will never be enough. For us, your unwashed masses and the fodder for your profits and continued greed, enough has become enough. Finally.
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