The headline in The Cambrian on Nov. 17 was “Occupy Cambria: Marchers air grievances.” What grievances?
Of course, I can’t speak for anyone else in the Occupy movement, but I sure know what my grievances are. And there is one I believe exemplifies them all.
People receiving either unemployment benefits or food stamps now receive those benefits via something that looks like a debit card but is called a prepaid debit card. Particularly for food stamp recipients, this looks really good. The government does not have to print the food stamps, the recipient is not embarrassed using them, and the store doesn’t have to deal with the stamps.
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But not for the recipient. The government does not administer this program; the banks do. And banks charge fees. Janell Ross of the Huffington Post reported that in just three months from July to September this year, U.S. Bancorp, which provides unemployment benefit debit cards, made $357 million in revenue in the division that handles the cards. Another report said that JPMorgan made $547 billion in net revenue last year in the division that handles food stamp cards.
To charge people who are already hurting part of their benefits in order to eat is wicked. This is what comes of privatizing government. Business is in the business of making money. Government provides necessary services. Let each do its own job.
A tide to ride
Winter descends on comrades not in arms but in tents and sleeping bags. I like to camp but shiver for those acting on my behalf as I crawl into bed. I do little but send money for hot food and occupy our Happy Town’s courthouse sidewalk for an afternoon, in one of 1,500 cities in a global revolution that won’t go away.
Candidates for 2012 can get it or not, ride or buck the tide. Or pass the buck and drown under broken promises.
Candidates can laud Arab uprisings against inequalities yet condone our police beating protesters of dirty tar sands, home foreclosures, bank bailouts, school, health and job cuts, war machines ...
Some candidates would solve the problems by cutting government, eliminating regulations. One says he would start with three agencies: the Education, the Commerce and uh — let’s see — I can’t. The third one, uh ... I can’t. Sorry. Oops. The oil-regulating DOE gives him the slip.
Another Texan has advised, Fool me once, shame on, uh ... shame on you. Fool me ... uh ... you can’t get fooled again.
We won’t. To candidates who would finally get it straight, to win and lead in these times, read our lips and our signs.
Accept the momentum of the 99 percent. And let the peaceful revolution remain peaceful — it’s about peace, the peace of equality, of a livable life on a livable planet.
San Luis Obispo
What would FDR do?
In 1940, in a radio speech to the nation, President Franklin D. Roosevelt noted that opposition to his programs was negligible when he was busy cleaning up the wreckage from years of unregulated speculation.
Republican opposition came later.
That opposition, he noted, came from resistance to measures which disturbed the position of privilege.
Roosevelt stressed the need for government agencies sympathetic to labor and mindful of the responsibilities of industry, and ready to curb the predatory activities of high finance and monopolistic practices.
High finance and monopolies did not like this program. But the vast majority of Americans, he averred, want freedom from economic imperialism. He had faith that when Americans cross a certain income dividing line, they do not lose their devotion to social and economic justice and do not suddenly become greedy and selfish. But, he added, “It is an unfortunate human failing that a full pocketbook often groans louder than an empty stomach.”
He challenged Republican leaders to deny that their stance reflects an unpatriotic appeal to class contempt.
He promised to fight against a government of the lobbyists, for the lobbyists, and by lobbyists, and to fight for those who are helpless, not just those who can easily help themselves.
How do you think he would feel about the Occupy Wall Street movement?
San Luis Obispo
SLO city managers and other city leaders are now well qualified to unfold a tent and join an Occupy Anything movement.
Were it not for a dismal boom-then-bust-now economy prompted by crashed real estate and high unemployment, these folks and the rank-and-file city workers would be thinking Santa this holiday season, not Scrooge.
Seriously: Is it the American way that hardworking, dedicated public servants should take 8 percent pay cuts while the nation’s top 1 percent still makes huge bucks from the gift that keeps on giving: the Bush-era tax cuts?
San Luis Obispo
My congratulations to Deb Linden and her department, and the Occupy SLO participants. The situation at the courthouse has been challenging for the occupiers and city and county officials. Somehow we have avoided horrible headlines for inappropriate behavior on either side, and a temporary resolution has been achieved. There will continue to be challenges about the changed occupation, but the work on both sides up to now gives me hope for the future. Perhaps removal of the tents will encourage increased participation.
SLO may or may not be the happiest, but is perhaps the most responsible city in the United States.
San Luis Obispo