I am watching the events of the Occupy movement -- by now, you know that I am watching with a certain amount of skepticism, and hope for its success. It's important. It has great potential. I hope to attend a General Assembly here in DC to further understand the inner workings on a personal level. A friend of mine (Shoq) wrote of them here
. It includes a video of how they work, but more importantly, he wrote this:
Those familiar with democracy will recognize the problems of holding such assemblies on a city, state, or national level. You'd need "representatives" to attend them. And dang it all, those are so hard to appoint by consensus in some accountable way. It's been tried. Many times.
Thus, GAs, as they are known, useful on small scales for some kinds of actions or ordinances (like that one above), are lovely exercises in what we might call, a pre-representative democracy.
In practical usage, those often lead to the need for some form of representative democracy, often called a republic. You remember those, right? They're kinda like the United States of America before someone broke it.
I am also watching what is happening with the American Jobs Act which I find equally important. Yesterday, during the President's weekly address
, he said this:
Right now, hundreds of thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers have been laid off because of state budget cuts. This jobs bill will put a lot of these men and women back to work. Right now, there are millions of laid-off construction workers who could be repairing our bridges and roads and modernizing our schools. Why wouldn’t we want to put these men and women to work rebuilding America?
Among the many things the Occupy movement is concerned with, issues like the ones the President spoke of are a large part of of the discussion. They should be. America must start investing not just in it's infrastructure, but also in people to carry out these jobs. We must invest in the services our public sector provides. We must invest in ourselves.
With that said, I heard a disturbing story from the state of Georgia
this morning, one that should give pause to everyone on the Occupy movement:
Ga. county considers using inmates to staff firehouses; firefighters would guard the prisoners .... The inmates would have no guard, but would be monitored by a surveillance system and by the traditional firefighters, who would undergo training to guard the inmates. Authorities say one traditional firefighter with correctional training can supervise up to three inmates.
Authorities say the inmate firefighter program could save the county more than $500,000 a year by some estimates. Inmates charged with crimes such as drug offenses and thefts would be eligible.
We must start electing officials not just on the Federal levels. It must change in towns, counties and state levels. The American Jobs Act will help people get back to work, but until people realize that we must regain control of our republic again, we will all be inmates to a broken system. Protesting is critical, but organizing and voting is even more important.
Someone in a Georgia county thinks saving money is more important than its citizens' safety. They believe that firefighters should also serve as corrections officers just to save a few dollars. I've nothing against inmate rehabilitation, nor do I not believe in redemption for those that have served time. All across the nation, elected officials are asking teachers and public sector workers to take pay cuts. In the meantime, our President is pushing for a real jobs act that will help these very people, and instead, in every level of government occupid by the GOP, they are asking the poorer among us, the unemployed, the middle class to shoulder the sacrifice that the top 1% can easily make.
If they believed in a true democratic republic, the top 1% would help to shoulder the burden the 99% is currently being crushed under. Our nation's history has proved time and time again, when the richest among us have given just a little bit more for the greater good of our democracy, the country thrived. In order for the Occupy movement to work, Americans must deliver elected officials all over the nation that will enact the policies they want changed. Easy it will not be, not with the likes of the Koch brothers and the Art Pope
's of this world; Not with Citizens United; Not with REDMAP
-- these people and strategies and real, and exist solely for the top 1%. They will fight every step of the way on every level of government. It's not hopeless; if we can get people back to work, see the Occupy movement organize beyond, as Shoq put it, 'pre-democracy
' we still have a fighting chance to see the country improve. This will take working together in many arenas.
Otherwise, we'll all end up like those inmates. In my opinion, that just a step above slavery. Anger and frustration are good and righteous, but it will take more than that to change this nation. It takes organization, focus and willingness. This is why I will go to see a general assembly this week.
We must make sure Congress (and any legislative body across nation) is occupied with people that truly care about the 99% of America who I suspect, the founding fathers were most concerned with. If Americans can occupy streets all across the country, they can occupy the vote come election day.