Regarding Occupy SLO, “... they have no mission statement ...” (Nov. 6, Page A11): That is the point, and one which most observers can’t get their minds around.
Occupy Wall Street and its societal siblings have no “mission statement” because they have seen that mission statements are meaningless. They have no spokesperson” because they have heard mouthpieces utter falsehoods, unchallenged except by another mouthpiece also uttering lies. They have no “leader” because they have been “led” to disappointment and near-disaster.
Observers who don’t understand Occupy, etc. look for historical parallels — the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, the Civil Rights marchers, the 1930 World War I veterans’ bonus encampment. But those had a specific goal: end the war, equality for African-Americans, the payment of a promised award. Once the goal was achieved, the protest ended.
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Occupy, etc. is not that singular nor simple. Its attack is across-the-board, against the cowardice of those who govern, against the callow trading of power for profit, against the merchandising of ideals and morality in our society.
What do they want? Not only a job, not easier ways to pay off a debt, not a handout. Those are too easy. What they want is what has been traded, stolen, mortgaged, perverted and taken from them:
They want opportunity.
Wall St. mobsters
According to reports in The Tribune and The New York Times, authorities in New York, Oakland and elsewhere have used “almost military-style” force to expel Occupy Wall Street protesters from “Liberty Square” and other sites. We have seen it on TV, even though Mayor Bloomberg prohibited journalists from observing the latest early-morning assault because he wanted “to protect members of the press.”
American media have valorized the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Syria, but they seem much less enthusiastic about defending ordinary Americans’ freedom of speech and freedom to assemble than they are in supporting corporate “personhood” and the corporate freedom of “speech” that now buys our elections.
Bloomberg rushed to protect New Yorkers from the imagined harm they would suffer in having to see and hear the impassioned protesters, but he has done nothing to protect ordinary citizens from the actual horrific losses many have suffered at the hands of the Wall Street mobsters. If the Occupy rallies grow as large and unruly as those we all applauded in Cairo and Tripoli, we might have to try the Libyan solution and call for NATO flyovers to defend our freedoms.
A sandlot nine
Q: Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, the guy who isn’t Mitt Romney and “Buddy,” who is either a presidential candidate or former President Clinton’s Labrador retriever.
A: What is the political equivalent of the 1962 Mets?
Habits can harm
In the early 1970s, the U.S. consumed 60 percent of the world’s goods with 6 percent of the world’s population. Today we consume 30 percent of the world’s goods with about the same percentage of the world’s population. This translates to a reduction in the relative U.S. standard of living. During this same period, median household income has remained static adjusted for inflation.
First, we tried having two-income families to keep up our standard of living, but that just resulted in historically high inflation in the ’70s. In the ’80s, we used credit cards and borrowed from future incomes. In the ’90s and early 21st century, we maxed out the credit cards and refinanced our houses to extend the credit cycle and keep up our consumption.
So today, we have an angry tea party and Wall Street occupiers longing for the promise of the ’70s. Personal and government debt is so pervasive and massive that either default or excessive belt tightening is inevitable. It will take at least a generation to realign expectations and consumption habits with our true financial means.
Life in the U.S. is still great, just not as good as we wanted it to be or thought it would remain.
Close nuclear plants
I’m not a scientist like Edward Quinn about the safety, reliability and cost of nuclear power generation (“Nuclear power safe and reliable,” Nov. 10), but it doesn’t take a scientist to discover that nuclear generation is not safe, clean or cheap.
We have to look at the whole picture from uranium mining and processing, transporting the highly radioactive fuel to the country’s 104 reactors, building the reactors, cooling pools, security and operation of nuclear power plants and, lastly, centuries of waste storage. Are we to have repositories in every state that produces nuclear waste?
Many of the plants seeking renewal of their operating licenses are more than 40 years old. It is not cheap to retrofit, maintain, update and repair major faults and malfunctions. If there is an accident, it can be catastrophic and the aftermath long-lived. It is too soon to tell how many cancers and defective births and miscarriages will be suffered by the people of Japan. Comprehensive studies have been done on low-level radioactivity proving conclusively that even low-level doses cause cancer. Unfortunately, many people of Japan were exposed to high levels of radiation and radioactive particles.
It is necessary and responsible for us to begin taking strong steps to shut down nuclear plants and take the billions of dollars saved and support renewable clean energy.
In need of new course
Regarding the Nov. 6 article “Cuesta College board explores idea for bond”: Cuesta is kicking off a round of fundraising on the heels of the selection of Gil Stork as Cuesta president. Additionally, it was reported that Shannon Hill has been picked as chief fundraiser for Cuesta. The stated rationale for pursuing additional funding for Cuesta is the need for new facilities and infrastructure. Cuesta also cites issues with state funding to justify pursuing a bond measure, parcel tax or some equivalent revenue stream.
It appears Cuesta understands the impact of the economy on state resources but is blinded to the impact on San Luis Obispo citizens of a bond issue or assessment in that very same economy. Facilities, in and of themselves, have not instructed, mentored or advanced the future of one student, while teachers have.
I believe the direction Cuesta should be taking is a review of staffing, existing policy and administrative procedures to assure available resources reach those in the classroom.
Kudos to professor
I congratulate Thomas Fowler IV, Cal Poly professor of architecture, for his cogent advocacy of this precedent-setting Garden Street Terraces development (Nov. 1, Opinion). In his essay, he explained in refreshingly clear terms how a historically sensitive city can integrate current architectural practice, achieving a balance with the existing streetscape while adding a much-needed complex that is in tune with our times.
In a larger context, Professor Fowler’s essay also humanely charts a direction for engaging with contemporary architecture and art in our county, a dialogue still awaiting fruition. While regions and cities to the north and south have embraced California’s innovative contributions to the architecture and art of our era, SLO County too often has been content with the local, familiar and reassuring. This is the hallmark of provincialism, and in practice it means the recycling of a “small pond” of the same ideas and artists year in and year out. The result is community complacency and a stunted conception of the purposes of art.
I am grateful to Professor Fowler for showing Tribune readers how to think about the renewal of the architecture of San Luis Obispo and environs, and larger artistic issues implied in his essay.
Gordon L. Fuglie
Director, Central California Museum of Art
Give a cheer for pizza
All hail the new ideology (“This is a vegetable?” Nov. 16)! Pizza is a vegetable and elephants have wings!