Before I go into the substance of my blog post, I’d like to note that I am new to blogging. My comments are mine alone, not those of OWS, Alternative Banking or anyone else. For various reasons, I prefer to be anonymous so I am writing under a pen name.
My pen name is derived from two that Samuel Clemens used before he, wisely, switched to Mark Twain. So, it seems appropriate to start with a reference to one of his famous quotes. Reports of Occupy’s death were exaggerations.
Around the September 17th anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, Andrew Ross Sorkin told New York Times readers that Occupy was “a fad”. He was hardly alone in talking about OWS in the past tense. For this, among many other reasons, it is gratifying to see the movement get so much good publicity in so many places for so many good acts.
Most notably, Occupy Sandy is a clear example of the best aspects of OWS. It makes me proud to be even remotely associated with those efforts to help people in severe distress. Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee is another great example of occupiers doing selfless good deeds.
Our compatriots at Occupy London have held public debates on why and how government has come to adopt the agenda of the banks, not the people. Their “Occupy Economics” offshoot hosted a speech by the Bank of England’s Executive Director for Financial Stability, Andrew Haldane.
Closer to home, Alternative Banking has been busy too. With the help of some great artists, we created the “52 Shades of Greed” playing cards. If you missed the RocketHub fundraiser and didn’t get your free deck on S17, fear not. Decks will soon be on sale, again. We also collaborated with Occupy the SEC on a letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and the Financial Stability Oversight Council calling for greater transparency and reform of money market funds.
All of this has led many to realize that OWS is not dead or even fading away. It has grown, evolved and expanding into many groups engaged in different communities in different ways.
The recent activities have gotten attention from unlikely spots. Occupy Sandy has prompted The New York Times to reconsider. Even more surprising Forbes Magazine, which used to call itself a “Capitalist Tool” has at least one blogger who thinks OWS will bring about “the changes we need to see happen”.
Unfortunately, these changes will not be easy. The political system makes fundamental change very hard.
Neil Barofsky has called out to us, not directly, but in spirit. As he said:
The missteps by Treasury have produced a valuable byproduct: the widespread anger that may contain the only hope for meaningful reform. Americans should lose faith in their government. They should deplore the captured politicians and regulators who distributed tax dollars to the banks without insisting that they be accountable. The American people should be revolted by a financial system that rewards failure and protects those who drove it to the point of collapse and will undoubtedly do so again.
Only with this appropriate and justified rage can we hope for the type of reform that will one day break our system free from the corrupting grasp of the megabanks.
We need to channel the justified rage we feel in constructive ways. Occupy is doing this extremely well. But we need you. Get involved.
If you have any interest in understanding or reforming the financial system, we would love to see you join Alternative Banking. I’m proud to say we have met every single Sunday for more than a year. Even Hurricane Sandy didn’t disrupt our schedule. Please join us or the larger movement.
If Alternative Banking does not excite you, there an many others to join. The important thing is to find some way to engage.
Each of us needs to do our part.
Josh O. Snodgrass