Author: Lake Toba

Evening Focus: Stories of American Heartache (Quick Take)

In recent weeks, I’ve become engaged with the Occupation here in Bunkerstan. I thought I’d share some of the stories I’ve heard from other Occupiers. (More) On our first organized protest in October, we had a lot of people who stopped by and shared stories about where they had come from, and why they were here. Many were frustrated with the banks, or with other issues we’ve all discussed here previously at BPI. It was a beautiful day, though very windy. We weren’t sure what to expect. Many of us had never been to a protest. Some had longed to attend one for a long time. The venue was chosen because as a public park we were sure we could be there without violating any ordinances. We chatted amongst ourselves for a long while. The woman I had worked with the day before making signs had brought many more than the few we had made while I was at her art studio. She explained that she had been up all night making them. I noticed this gentleman standing by himself near where we had congregated, carrying his own sign. I walked over to speak with him and asked him about his experiences. He introduced me to his young adult children and then explained that he was a truck driver, and had worked 12-14 hour days for many years until the company...

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Evening Focus: Conversation with Regions Bank (Quick Take)

I spoke with an agent of Regions Bank on Friday, November 04, 2011. (More) It was an interesting conversation. I called to express my irritation with their monthly ATM fee, although they announced they had cancelled it. I was also frustrated by the fact that their account services – non-existent interest rates for example – are inferior to a smaller bank, like the one I opened an account at a few weeks ago after finding out about the monthly ATM fee. What I found very interesting was how frank the conversation was. The highlight was this exchange: ME – I don’t understand why you can’t pay interest like my small bank does. They pay me 1%. [Okay, that is really bad compared to how things used to be, but still.] Car loans are amazingly cheap as well. How come you don’t do that?” BANK – What people don’t understand is that we are not really a bank. We’re a financial services company. In order to make a profit, we have to take fees on financial transactions. Swipe fees for example. And when Congress required us to cut those in half, we had to make up the difference. Hence the monthly transaction fee. ME – Don’t blame us, the American people for that. The lobbyists for the retail industry lobbied to have your fees cut. So you came after the...

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Evening Focus: Hey One Percenters … Stop Taking Our Stuff

The Occupy movement is “class warfare.” The 99% are finally fighting back. (More) We have heard for many months now about how ordinary Americans are waging “class warfare”, instigated by Democrats, against a group of Americans who are somehow better than the rest of us because they have more stuff. We have been told that the top One Percent have more stuff because they work harder. We have been told that we should idolize the One Percenters as examples of what we could be if only we toiled longer, and planned better. As if each of us is endowed at birth with equality of ability, as if none of us would make mistakes if we were only better examples of humanity, instead of being losers, hangers on, paupers by desire rather than circumstance. It’s our fault if we are struggling in this economy. It’s our fault that the American economy is in the tank, and we should suck it up and stop whining.  We’ve been told we are greedy, selfish, lazy, worthless scum. We’ve been called “socialists”, “communists”, “proletarians”, “unionists” and every bad word you might conceive. And all of that is distraction, a cunning framing of the current crisis in America so that the vast majority of Americans will feel shamed at their own outrage, and remain silent in the face of gross injustice. I thought I’d clarify...

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Midday Matinee – My First Meeting with Our Local Occupation #OWS

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. On Wednesday, I attended my first OccupyWallStreet meeting for my community here in Bunkerstan. I found them on the OccupyTogether.org website where perhaps 6 people had RSVP’d to this meeting. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a bit awed that in a small city like mine, over thirty showed up after only one week of someone here trying to get the thing started. We met in a small car repair shop in downtown. The gentleman who owned the garage had initiated the effort to organize our city. On a work bench in his repair bay, he had literature from the OWS folks in New York, Occupy Together, and Anonymous. The excitement of the people there was palpable. We experienced a truly democratic meeting: many voices spoke out, and with only a few exceptions, there was no antagonism. The gentleman leading the effort was clear that we are all the 99 percent, whether Tea Party, or Progressive, and that we all have that one thing in common. There was a lot of grey hair at the meeting. In fact, I think there were only a handful of people younger than me, and I’m thirty-nine. This photo captures perhaps a third of the attendees who were present. It...

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Furthermore! – Where is the “American Spring”?

Where is the American Spring? I am watching “Occupy Wall Street Live Stream” (Blog Here) And following news about “Occupy Chicago” There is a central site that coordinates “Occupy” events: Occupy Together. I’m thrilled to see people coming together to do what many of us have wanted since at least 2008: protest forcibly and unflaggingly for change in how things are done in this country in the heart of the financial capital. We’ve watched uprisings and peaceful demonstrations throughout the middle east this summer. We’ve seen how people can finally get fed up with the status quo and take forceful and peaceful action to effect change. Yes, some have been violent, but as Egypt demonstrated, it is possible to overturn tyranny through peaceful means. We have also seen that action can happen, and that widespread support for peaceful protests as in Wisconsin can work. Amy Goodman at the Guardian UK wrote on September 21: Outside in the cold Tuesday morning, the demonstrators continued their fourth day of the protest with a march amidst a heavy police presence and the ringing of an opening bell at 9.30am for a “people’s exchange,” just as the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange is rung. While the bankers remained secure in their bailed-out banks, outside, the police began arresting protesters. In a just world, with a just economy, we have to...

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