By Colin Marston ’13
It has been three years since that period of financial abyss in 2008, and it feels like a blur.
Lehman Brothers was going bankrupt, the Dow Jones plunged 777 points in one day and there was a real possibility of systematic risk in the U.S. financial system and likewise in the world economy.
The economic terror was palpable, even to high school students.
Our hands were rapidly trying to get the rope off our neck, resulting in the bailouts of the major financial corporations.
What followed from the loosened rope was a breath of fresh air, but the chair was still beneath us, and the uncertainty of asphyxiation not gone.
As the threat of economic armageddon subsided, the collective consciousness of the country realized we had just given $700 billion with no strings attached to the very institutions that had caused the crisis.
To this day, no major culprit from Countrywide, Bank of America, the SCC, etc. responsible for the sub-prime mortgage loan crisis has been prosecuted.
The anger has welled up, waiting for catharsis.
The main institutions of power have done nothing to pursue justice.
Congress, and more specifically the Republican Party, have become induced in the insanity of deficit reduction at the time when stimulus is needed the most.
The hysteria of austerity has been in complete ignorance of the need of average Americans, the middle class, the 99 percent.
Those in power are insistent that the middle class and the most disadvantaged will pay for this crisis through spending cuts and lower standards of living.
Once it becomes acceptable in the national discourse for a presidential candidate to call Social Security a “Ponzi scheme,” you know the one percent gives contempt to even the idea of democracy (Social Security being one of the most popular social programs ever legislated).
We have been hijacked by an elite that doesn’t think it’s worthwhile or “financially feasible” to work for job creation, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure or fund our failing education system.
Instead as a society, we prioritize spending billions on wars without end, upkeeping prisons to incarcerate migrants simply looking for a slice of the American Dream, and sustaining a fundamentally unequal and destructive economic system where upward mobility is becoming impossible and where one percent of the country controls 42 percent of its wealth.
What if we had at our grasp $700 billion?
Imagine the possibility of that sum towards healthcare, education, sustainable energy sources.
Just think if we end the wars.
The only thing holding us back is what they tell us is our limit; our collective complacency and powerlessness.
The wealth gap is a power gap, and it’s time we filled it in.
The basic critique of the Occupy Wall Street movement is its amorphous nature.
“What do you want?”
“Just a bunch of hippies aren’t they?”
But in reality it’s nothing but an evolutionary process. We’ve been corralled like cattle for so long, we’ve completely forgotten what it means to actively participate in civic society.
What happens when your vote once every two or four years becomes absolutely useless to the power of corporate control and corruption?