Derivatives at Root of Banking Problem
The very existence of $600 trillion-plus in derivatives, most of them held by “about six banks,” represents a grave threat to the global financial system, said Karanja Gacuca, a member of the People of Color Working Group of the Occupy Wall Street movement, in New York City. Banks are hoarding money, refusing to make job-producing investments, because “if any of these six banks defaulted, the effects to the economy would be catastrophic,” said Gacuca, whose background is in finance. The entire world’s gross annual product is only about $64 trillion. “Some of those banks have to fail. I really don’t see how we get out of this.”
Occupy Movement is Making Clear Demands
“I’ve been to 16 occupations and at every one I’ve heard the same thing: get money out of politics,” said Arun Gupta, who helped found The Occupy Wall Street Journal and is covering the national occupation story for Salon and Alternet. “It is a message about extreme concentration of wealth and power, and that wealth is used to dominate the political system. There is a very clear demand of what people do want.” Gupta concedes that many Occupiers still think in “moralistic terms, like greed,” despite the fact that “the laws of capitalism impel the corporations towards buying the system…. It’s probably the greatest return on investment you can get.”
Wealth, Not Deficit, is the Problem
“The truth is, we don’t have a deficit problem,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, an organizer with Occupy DC, encamped at Washington’s Freedom Plaza. “We have the wealth in this country to meet our needs, but our government is not willing to take that revenue from the rich and major corporations.” Occupy DC held hearings on the so-called congressional SuperCommittee’s mandate to make vast cuts in federal spending. Of the ten biggest contributors to the 12 senators and representatives on the panel, six are mega-banks, one is Microsoft, and the other is the huge corporate law firm Skadden, Arps.
Black Chicago Gears Up for Housing Push and NATO/G-8 Meetings
Under the umbrella of Occupy the Hood, Chicago Black activists are “focusing on tasks in our communities that have been neglected for so long,” said veteran organizer Pat Hill. She acknowledged that, these days, corporate media tend to pay more attention to Black activism when the “Occupy” label is attached. The next community offensive is called “Homes for the Holidays,” to tackle the housing crisis in Black neighborhoods. Then, in the spring, local activists will join with national organizations to confront simultaneous Chicago meetings of NATO and G-8, the organization of the world’s wealthiest nations. “We are actively involved in that, and intend to exercise our First Amendment rights” in the face of heavy security measures.
The Hood and Occupy Boston Didn’t Mix Well
Some Black activists who attempted to collaborate with Boston’s OWS outfit came away less than satisfied. Jamal Crawford, of the city’s Occupy The Hood umbrella, cited the Boston OWS’s “leaderless structure,” “lack of foundational principles,” and “lack of organization” – as well as “abundant” white privilege and instances of racism – for failure to forge a working relationship. “The question has never been, Can Black people navigate in a white world, because that’s something we’ve been doing,” said Crawford. “The real question has been, Can white people navigate in a Black world – and that remains to be seen.” Crawford, however, credits OWS headquarters in New York with having been “very supportive of Occupy The Hood.”
Occupation Has Energized Oakland Black and Brown Movement
“This current moment has opened up a lot of opportunities for us to get more resources, in terms of new people who are really motivated,” said Robbie Clark, a housing activist with the Oakland-based non-profit Just Cause. “A lot of organizations are willing to come together about how to win some concrete demands, especially around bank accountability, workers rights and immigrant rights.” Clark said “people are learning from how the Occupiers have been able to engage masses of people” – even if those masses are not necessarily Black and brown. The Occupiers have also learned from local activists of color, said Clark. “This movement around economic equality can be traced back to Reconstruction: 40 acres and a mule.”
Under Obama, Rule of Law Crumbles
“The president can commit murder whenever he wants,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, citing the string of U.S. and allied assassinations that have marked the past year of Barack Obama’s presidency. “This is the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize, and now he believes he can launch drones all over the world,” said Ratner. “This [Libya] is about the sixth war that Obama is involved in, and it looks like he is more of a warlike president than almost anybody we’ve ever had.” In the current era, all U.S. ware are waged in pursuit of global hegemony – and, specifically, to corner oil supplies. “We have to end our support for militarism, just as Dr. (Martin Luther] King said.”
BAR’s Dr. Jared Ball explores the cooptation of Hip Hop, not just by media moguls and commercial marketers, but by the U.S. State Department – “a situation where hip-hop is turned against itself and, indeed, the world.”