Sunday, September 25, 2011

Occupy This!

By Kelly Jean Cogswell

I would really like to support the Occupy Wall Street folks. The economy is crap. Poor people are suffering. Young people can’t get work. And god help you if you’re a female. At first men were just hogging ninety percent of newly created jobs. (Yeah, men were losing their jobs at higher rates, but nothing like 90 percent more.)

Now, women are not only getting screwed on the new job front, they’re also getting fired more because the sectors they mostly work in, service and government, are downsizing as fast as they can. And if anybody gets hired back, it’s almost always a man. Which means dykes are awfully near the bottom of the heap. They have no man in the house to pick up the slack if they get canned, no new opportunities waiting in the wings, plus dyke couples often have kids to support.

This is my question: Is Occupy Wall Street the best we can do? I appreciate the energy, even “shared” a couple of photos on FB, but that loose collection of people barely know how to organize a demo, much less a movement. When a rare TV camera was actually shoved in their faces, all they did was complain about the cops, which were horrible. But maybe it would have been more useful to take the occasion to deliver their message to Wall Street.

The problem was that there was no real message. Plenty of the demonstrators weren’t even out there for the economy, but the environment or whatever the hell their pet project is. And while a few had the boring and useful suggestion to “End corporate welfare,” or “Kill zombie banks” far too many seemed to be parroting that homophobic idiot Ron Paul and calling for the end of the Federal Reserve. Or a thousand percent tax on imports to force us to buy American crap. Or the end of capitalism altogether.

Yeah, and I want a pony for Christmas, and a villa in France. Never going to happen. Eliminate the Federal Reserve? Seriously? It’s such a good idea we’d be pretty much the only country without one. As for putting huge taxes on imports, if all of your iPhone’s component parts were made in this grand ole U.S. of A., it would cost as much as a condo in Hoboken. Where you could park a pony if you had one.

That crap just isn’t serious. And we need serious with twenty percent of New Yorkers under the poverty line. And a lot of people hungry. I passed a food bank yesterday on Second Avenue that had posted a sign declaring it was “closed until further notice due to state and local budget cuts.”

There are more people panhandling on the subway, and if last weekend was anything to go by, they’re getting more angry and aggressive. They’re no longer your “buddy can you spare a dime?” sort of characters. But “C’mon! Gimmee a buck. I know you have it.” I watched a Hispanic guy with a speech impediment wait frothing and growling in front of a black guy who flipped over the page of his newspaper and pretended the other one didn’t exist. Other passengers in the car were appalled at them both.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that pretty soon, people that only a few months before may have dropped a couple of quarters or a buck into somebody’s sticky paper coffee cup, will get pissed at being taken for granted, harassed. “I got bills, too, you know.” And after that, it’ll pop out naturally, “Why don’t you get a job? Fuck you.” These same people that were tossing in a bit of change the year before.

And the nuts seem nuttier. Like they pick up all the misery and frustration in the air. And the preachers that climb on the subway and preach are more attracted to fire and brimstone rants, than Jesus is your friend. I even got yelled at as a honkey the other day, just like old times. And why not? The economic divide is not only gender, but race- and ethnicity-based. Though you wouldn’t have known it from the mostly white faces at the demos.

Which is too bad, we need change. But I’ll say it one more time, you don’t change anything just by feeling outraged and waving a sign. Or just by getting arrested. You have to have viable, concrete ideas. And if you’re going to protest, you really should narrow things down and chose a simple message, and a target that can actually help you get something done. Unless of course you can mobilize several hundred thousand people in Times Square. Then forget my advice and enjoy your very own New York Spring. But I wouldn’t bank on that happening, not any time soon.

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