From Wall Street to Main Street: Occupy Iowa wants a level playing field
Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/6203278373_c6defac78a_t-e1317843387666.jpgIt’s the 99 percent. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? They are the folks who did as they were asked, who followed the rules, who believed this really was a country where any Average Joe or Jane could make good. But as they peer over stacks of unpaid bills, commute to their second or third job and watch the influence of the most wealthy Americans grow and of everyday Americans diminish, they have gained a new perspective and can no longer sit silently.
Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/occupy_iowa_350.jpg“I am involved and this is personally important to me because I would like nothing more than to see a brighter future for my 8-year-old daughter. It’s not about me,” Eric Enders of Des Moines told The Iowa Independent.
“I think this nation has taken a serious turn for the worse. It is owned and controlled by the upper 1 to 2 percent of the corporate elite and Wall Street, if you will, who control much of the power you see in corporations themselves and the power elite.”
Enders said that when he is using the term “elite,” an example of what he is referring to is the current political will in Congress for corporate welfare to be paid for on the backs of the poor and middle-class, who make up the rest of the 98 to 99 percent of America.
He is one of thousands of Iowans expected to “occupy” the state at various sites over the next week. Thus far, events have been slated in the communities of Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Dubuque, Mason City, Cedar Falls and Fairfield, and attempts are underway to organize additional locations. (As we learn of new events, they are added to our Factbook calendar, which is also featured on our Facebook page.) Because the demonstrations aren’t sponsored by any existing organization or group, there is no one official office or voice speaking for the movement.
Participants of the events, which are patterned loosely after the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations in New York City, are broadly disenchanted and frustrated about economic inequality and corporate political influence and greed. A general statement considered a motto by most individuals who are involved is:
“The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%”
But, beyond that statement, specific views of the participants span the political spectrum, with some advocating generally for workers, some insistent on protections of Social Security and Medicare and others advocating for the elimination of the Federal Reserve.
“I do not align myself with any political party, [and feel] both are at fault and to blame for most of the serious problems we face, including the disappointments of President Obama,” Enders said. “No single person in office today can fix what is wrong.”
It is also a movement that is drawing interest from communities of faith. Kim Bobo, executive director of Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice, explains, “People of faith may not all agree with or even understand everything the Wall Street protestors are saying. But those protests are a teachable moment. They are giving congregations an opportunity to talk together about how we can help families hurt by this economy.”
All faith traditions, she said, affirm the value of a just economy that services all, not just the top one percent. The IWJ has developed a discussion guide appropriate for use in Christian congregations in relation to the Occupy movement, and is planning to release additional guides for use in congregations of other faiths.
Hugh Espey, executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, said he hopes this is a movement that continues “to spread like wildfire across the country.”
“Let’s hope it does. Let’s hope it’s history in the making. A mass movement of everyday people standing up and speaking out against the corrosive influence of big money in politics is exactly what needs to happen,” he wrote in an email to Iowa CCI members.