Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We The 99%

For the first time I passed the Occupy Eugene encampment yesterday and noticed a banner facing 6th street that read:

Never doubt that a small group
of thoughtful committed citizens
Can change the world.
Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.

I proudly own a tee shirt with the saying from Margaret Mead and have always believed it to be true.  If not us, than whom?  Ever stop to wonder why we allow 1% to rule the rest of us?  Don't we all have a vested interest in changing “business as usual?”

As I drove past the camp, I looked around the site to see how it could grow.  The highway overpass intersects 6th street which is one of the main streets going through town.  Maybe a better name for the movement would be “taking it to the streets” since Wall Street isn’t the only street to occupy these days.  Every Main Street throughout the country should be occupied as more and more everyday people begin to scrutinize the actions of corporate America and the unethical behaviors we’ve allowed to go unnoticed.  Maybe we can borrow the loudspeakers that have been used for torture and play the Doobies over and over again while we take back the streets that are ours.

What angered me to write this is the fact that some of the 99% are driving around thinking it's not about them.  Guess what, you’re wrong!  It’s already affecting all of us, if not in the price we pay for food, it’s in the costs of healthcare.

This past week 37,000 retiree’s of Century Link, formerly Qwest Communications received our health care packages.  What is commonly referred to as “ Open Enrollment” has become more like open season for hunting and all is game, especially retiree’s whose only option is to decline the coverage.

Some of us have observed the changes that have taken place over the last several years such as pension plans being replaced by 401k plans, union employees being replaced by non union contractors and a lot less strikes as corporatism wins in the battlefields of the poor.  I heard from workers during the last contract dispute, “we can’t afford to strike”, while I stood firm to the fact that we can’t afford not to.

As I flipped through the pages of my health coverage, the high deductible was not the only thing that went up in costs.  Our monthly premium for my husband and I went from $64.77 to $345.70 in one year.  This is more than our monthly bills combined.  Never have we witnessed such an exorbitant increase in a monthly bill before.  What many of us have been saying for several years is starting to raise the eyebrows of some but not near enough.

Crossing age barriers as well as political boundaries the 99% had better wake to the fact that the American Dream has ended abruptly with a nightmare vision of what’s to come brought to you by the other 1% who control things.

When the local farmer answers to the high cost of feed by raising the costs that’s passed on to you, than it’s time for us all to examine the way we live and how we can help each other instead of making the rich richer.  Recognizing that we’re all in the same boat drowning in the torrential downpour from the upper echelons is probably a good thing and perhaps we’ll all be occupying the streets that we own before long under one big umbrella.

I’ve received emails from union officials telling me to hold on tight while they check into things as well as other retiree’s who tell me they’re not so concerned as they have Medicare to stop them from drowning, and lets not forget to “thank Gawd for Social Security”.

Many of these retiree’s are Telephone Pioneers who depend on antiquated systems that may no longer be safe.  This doesn’t have to mean that our pioneering days are over and as for some of us they’re just beginning.  Maybe we all need to be reminded of what a pioneer is.  I tried to put all the definitions together and this is what I came up with this:

Person or group that creates or develops a new way of doing something for the first time.  Someone who like a foot soldier goes ahead to explore uncharted and unclaimed territory so they can begin to live in what once was unoccupied space.

Metaphorically speaking this may mean that we pioneers should be looking for territory yet to be discovered, living like we’ve never lived before--- simply, forgoing a life that promises riches when the only one that's getting rich is the 1%.

We watch as public servants go through revolving doors of the public sector to the private sector and back again while rewriting laws to their advantage and watching their paychecks increase astronomically.  Haven't we had enough?

Good morning America, can you smell the coffee?  It’s been brewing for some time and it may be a little burnt tasting for some.  Soon we’ll all be without our daily fix of entitlements and maybe then we the 99% can begin to let go of what we think is ours and help by voicing our concerns to those who may be listening.  The platform is there for all of us to tell our stories and share our experiences.  It’s not just about Joe the plumber, it never has been, it’s about all of us, we the 99%.

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