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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

May 2, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Reflections on May Day: What is to be done

As far as I can observe, the minority of violent “black bloc” thugs who marred the May Day protest in downtown Seattle were white kids who, based on demographic trends, grew up in suburbia. They chose to vandalize and attempt real bodily harm in our downtown. As I wrote yesterday, downtowns are the physical manifestation of the commons, everything that the Occupy folks claim to support. As I Tweeted yesterday, this violence did more to set back the progressive cause than all the Koch brothers money that supports reaction, inequality and crony capitalism.

Our task now is in the coming days to go downtown and buy from the merchants there.

One reader wrote: “How can anyone get justice? We can’t go thousands of miles to protest. [I had suggested occupying Darien, Conn., where the plutocrats live] They have us where they want us. We can’t afford gas or food…. Do you think we have any chance of stopping this country from becoming the United Corporations of America?”

It won’t be easy, especially after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows unlimited political spending by corporations (and they outspend unions heavily) and the well-funded corporate-backed groups such as ALEC that control legislatures. But a few things ring true:

1. Vote. On election day, your vote is as powerful as that of the bankster who got away with it.

2. Get politically involved and encourage those who want a return to the values that built the prosperous and more fair America in which I grew up to develop a serious political program. Persuade your friends who are brainwashed by Fox “News” and talk radio to vote against their interests. The big problem, after all, isn’t the 99 percent but the 50.1 percent on election day.

3. Stop being a consumer and start accepting the responsibilities of being a citizen. You can patronize local businesses and/or businesses that choose to invest in your neighborhood or our downtown. You can move your money to an ethical financial institution. You can invest in companies and mutual funds that share your values.

4. Hold your elected officials accountable. Even Democrats were culpable in the gutting of Glass-Steagall, which led to the financial collapse and Great Recession. Why haven’t they reinstated it? Are they supporting corporate welfare and backing “austerity” that hurts only the middle class and poor? Find out and make your voice and vote heard.

5. Follow Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and Gandhi instead of the thugs of history. Non-violent protest, legal action and boycotts are powerful tools. “The moral arc of the universe if long but it bends toward justice.”

And Don’t Miss: Bethany McLean on Goldman Sachs culture || Vanity Fair

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Past the budding trees

The earth trembles, climate warms

Spring fracking, drill on

Comments | More in Occupy, Occupy Seattle, Occupy Wall Street

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