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Is this the beginning of an American Spring?  We are inured to seeing protest turn to violence and then turn to bloodshed.  OWS has yet to reach a body count.  But that day is now inevitable.  Officer Pike at UC Davis has just moved us closer to that day. In the same way that the bloody images of Neda in Tehran began an inevitable Arab Spring, the mindless insanity of Officer Pike's actions will galvanize an already polarized populace into more and more deadly face-offs.  His defenders will feel justified and somehow rationalize using military-grade pepper spray on your kids in college.  The same pepper spray that is illegal to use on prisoners in penitentiaries. If high school kids decide to join in on the Occupy movement, will it be legal to use pepper spray on them? Will the question of legality even matter at that point?

If ours is a nation of laws, it has become very apparent that those laws are made to protect power and wealth above any individual rights or freedoms. The laws of free speech and lawful assembly fall by the wayside if the laws are interpreted only by the rich and powerful.  When suddenly the amorphous "people" want to express discontent, there is a sudden need to clear parks and public areas for "the common good." The clear and present danger of a tent in a park certainly justifies giving a concerned young adult a concussion or a lung full of blood. 

OWS is ridiculed for being a leader-less mass without a clear message. May I offer two ideas for the movement?  First is to ban all lobbying now and forever. It would be as much a crime to try and influence an elected official with money as it would be to bribe a judge. The idea of all lobbyists losing their jobs would, I believe, have an enormous appeal. It would make for a great reality show and perhaps generate some good jobs. Oddly enough, they are all supposedly registered, so hunting them down would be a relatively simple matter.

The second idea is that all money currently paid to lobbyist and efforts to sway policy via advertisement, PACs, or other paid influence systems must now be paid directly to the nearest county librarian. It will be the job of every librarian with the county registrar of voters to then organize the issues and candidates into intelligible voter pamphlets listing both sides of every issue and all candidates in very dull and unbiased terms. Preferably on recycled paper.  

Every citizen who comes and picks one up from the library or requests one via snail mail is automatically registered to vote.  And if you vote, you are given your share of the money left over after printing the voter pamphlets and paying the librarians. 

The catch in all this will be that the voter pamphlet will list the donors and how much they gave.  So if you want to vote for the highest donor, you are free to do so. If they want to buy your vote, they are doing it directly and not wasting it on political middlemen. So much more efficient. And our brave politicians will always know if they were bought and sold, and so will we. The questions are so much simpler when reduced to just haggling over the price. The added benefit would be that librarians would take their rightful place in society and earn, eventually, a living salary. 

Silly ideas? Well, not really in light of the ideas we are hearing in this election year. Are they any more silly than 9-9-9? Criminalizing miscarriages?  DOMA? It is not a short list. But it is a list of buffoonery in face of the disaster facing those without jobs, without homes, and without hope for the future.

I don't think anyone in the Arab world thinks of the Arab Spring as a transitory thing. But the world did try and marginalize its nascence in the first few months. OWS is two months old. A bloodied kid or two more and we'll see the end of it, I'm sure. 

When I was fifteen I had the backs of my knees bashed in by a police truncheon on the steps of the San Francisco federal building in an anti-war protest. Vietnam.  Did we end war or even that war?  Hardly. But it was time for something completely different.

Thank you, CA Guy, for this fabulous post! He will try to be available to check in to respond to your comments.


 


Comments

Ottoline
11/21/2011 09:26

I love the idea of the library staff playing the intermediary role -- collecting the money and preparing the booklets. Maybe they can follow the example of our betters (like Newt*) and skim off a nice chunk of $ to fund library services! Because the old funding model for libraries (get it from your local government) has not been working well for a long time and esp not recently, esp not in remote and low-resource areas, where libraries are needed the most.

However, the Supremes ruling that political contributions can be unlimited and secret goes a long way toward sabotaging your idea, were it to be implemented. Who needs lobbyists when you can just buy a candidate into office with some hugely funded slick PR campaign?

We are all sickened by the pepper spray videos and all they imply. Thank you for your good post about it. I like your term: military-grade pepper spray. Call it like it is. I am betting that older people and younger people will be joining OWS in droves now.

_______________
*Well worth the time: If you haven't seen the Rachel Maddow re Newt's approach to becoming a multimillionaire:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#45363831

WakeUpAmerica
11/21/2011 09:31

I have said this before, but I will say it again. Put all the lobbyists into an airtight room and slooowwly suck out all the air. Feel free to throw in a few others such as: Koch brothers, Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan. Let Alan Grayson throw the switch on the vacuum. Bastards.

Conscious at last!
11/21/2011 09:48

CA Guy-

I think these are wonderful proposals.
I might add the re-enactment of the Glass-Steagall Act or something like it to re-regulate banking. Furthermore, we need to address the issue of corporate "personhood."


But the larger issue here is how to use the enormously positive and creative energy of the Occupy movement. Remember, the Arab spring had/has both specific and ongoing demands-- the removal of autocratic regimes and the development of Arab democracies.

Our Occupy movement has, until now, been an expression of a profound, general feeling- that the 99% simply will not tolerate huge economic inequality. But if the movement is only this general expression, it will ultimately devolve into cultism, group tantrums, sectarianism and more.

The Occupy Movement has reached the level of maturity such that a program and a strategy are called for.
Blocking bridges at rush hour will take us only so far. We need to use this energy to move in a direction.

CA Guy
11/21/2011 10:10

Curiously enough, I read this early this morning:

http://www.americablog.com/2011/11/florida-democrat-introduces-occupied.html

Deutch, Grayson, Franks and Franken are all small irritants in the starched collars of the controlling interests.

And yes, Otto: I am a major RM fan: she is a guiding light of sanity in an otherwise Mad-Hatter world of politics.

FrostyAK
11/21/2011 13:46

It should be obvious to all by now that we are at least partially under martial law. It is no longer power of the people, it is power of the corporations and their goons.

The demonstrators are courageous, but there are far too few. We need MILLIONS in the streets telling the %$^&(#$%%s in congress to submit their resignations. And then call for new elections. Seems Egypt's ruling council just resigned. Let's see what follows.

Can it all be changed? Or have the people let this tragedy go too far to stop it now?

Old and tired, and wishing things were the way they used to be... "If wishes were horses, then beggers would ride."

Ottoline
11/21/2011 14:35

The martial-law-is-here idea is new to many of us. The existence of blackout topics for the MSM took me a long time to come to (and I did thanks mainly to the SP hoax discussions). Until the financial collapse, no one talked much (or very seriously) about the redistribution of U.S. wealth away from the middle class (although the numbers were all there for years), and the reduced taxes of the rich didn't really dawn on me, nor its connection to the unlimited, untransparent election spending. But now here it all is, the perfect storm for the 99%, the perfect bonanza for the 1%.

I guess this next election will tell us if it's too late or not.

And I am hoping that as the OWS groups gain focus, some leaders will emerge from it who we can believe in. And who would work with folks like Eliz Warren. (By the way, I was looking at her photos and she looks like Annette Bening to me, only even more beautiful, if such a thing is possible. Or maybe it's just that I like her so much.)

Up
11/21/2011 15:42

interesting, all the Teabaggers rallying and brandishing weapons, but the pepper spray is reserved for unarmed people protesting peacefully.

Laura Novak
11/21/2011 15:59

Excellent point, Up. It was okay for them to carry guns when they assembled, and we had to respect that. But college kids sitting on the ground get sprayed menacingly. I'm just glad that Chancellor Ketahi seems to be on the right path for correcting the Davis travesty. Meantime, the school plans to expand by 5,000 students in the next 9 years. They'll have to have their house in order to do that.

And Frosty AK, I agree with you. Congress en masse should lose their jobs and be forced to start all over again. WithOUT health care guaranteed!!!

11/21/2011 17:40

I, too, am disgusted by Congress - the greed and the stupidity: Pizza is a vegetable? Invade Iraq? Tax cuts for wealthy? A resolution passed on "God we trust" instead of working on jobs?

But we elected them, right? And we've been electing these bozos for a while.

I understand where OWS is coming from. My problem is that I don't know where it's going.

Freddy el Desfibradddor
11/21/2011 19:08

"I guess this next election will tell us if it's too late or not."


I don't see how - there's nobody running who isn't fully committed to the status quo.

Sherryn
11/22/2011 21:46

CA Guy, thank you for an excellent post, the librarian/pamphlet and lobbyist bans are brilliant ideas, they cut to the chase, save money and time, while holding politicians feet to the fire.
The OWS movement is in it's infancy and we've already seen institutional violence at it's worst, but it's backfired. The violence has helped galvanize the movement, the world is watching.

Like V ictoria said, "I understand where OWS is coming from. My problem is that I don't know where it's going."

They can't let their movement stay ambiguous for too much longer, they need to manage their "branding" to make it more cohesive across the United States.

I'm on the East Coast, and from what I've seen in California, OWS looks like a totally different movement, their signs are clever and convey the disparity succintly. Here, it's a mish mash of different causes with "OWS" as the main slogan, but the income disparity and it's causes aren't addressed effectively.

Sherryn
11/22/2011 21:48

CA Guy, thank you for an excellent post, the librarian/pamphlet and lobbyist bans are brilliant ideas, they cut to the chase, save money and time, while holding politicians feet to the fire.
The OWS movement is in it's infancy and we've already seen institutional violence at it's worst, but it's backfired. The violence has helped galvanize the movement, the world is watching.

Like V ictoria said, "I understand where OWS is coming from. My problem is that I don't know where it's going."

They can't let their movement stay ambiguous for too much longer, they need to manage their "branding" to make it more cohesive across the United States.

I'm on the East Coast, and from what I've seen in California, OWS looks like a totally different movement, their signs are clever and convey the disparity succintly. Here, it's a mish mash of different causes with "OWS" as the main slogan, but the income disparity and it's causes aren't addressed effectively.

CA Guy
11/23/2011 14:31

Sherryn, the funny thing is I am so far removed from being the hippie-kid protester I was some 45 years ago, but my heart shivers in the cold with the OWS protester everywhere. BTW, the librarian thing is a sneeky ode to HP Lovecraft, who colored my world view those many years ago.

I think the problem of focus has been that the internets have allowed us to become over-informed. over-saturated and overwhelmed by the world's problems. We can see instantly the images from Syria, UC Davis, Myanmar, all the while trying to deal with climate-change, species extinction, government corruption, corporate malfeasance to just name a few... How will this affect us, our children and our legacy as humans with a brain and consciousness, and what can we do as individuals? OWS is trying to collectivize these cries for coherence.

Much of the inchoate message stems from this tortured heart of caring. The right-wing's disregard for the well-being of the planet or the less fortunate leave most of us speechless and in amazement. And yet it is real and it controls enormous power. It is the core and blackened heart of all the Enrons, BPs, Koch Bros. and Arthur Andersons and Palins and Inhofes and McConnells.

The message that is now a cry for help, is turning rapidly into the wry smiling V for Vendetta mind-set. Officer Pike and Mayors Quan, Bloomberg, et al are the "force motrice" behind this devolution. They have no idea how much easier it would be to deal with a Mahatma instead of a Zapata.

Richard Levine
11/23/2011 15:29

CalGuy: I'd sure vote for you. That's one well-done diatribe. I'll add to your platform, for your consideration:
1) It's not about "big" government vs "small" government. It's about good vs bad government. (A tiny government run by deniers of evolution, climate change, and science is less desirable than a large government run by leaders possessed of wisdom and compassion.
2) Yes, Obama is at the helm. He controls the ignition, the steering wheel, and the gas pedal. But his adversaries control the brakes.

Laura Novak
11/24/2011 09:24

Richard, you are so right: bad government is the key. Likewise, a school can be huge or tiny, but if it's not run by the right people with the right intentions, the children and their education suffer. And I appreciate your analogy to our government and what Obama faces in terms of who is really in charge. Thank you for commenting.

Jo
11/25/2011 17:08

Very interesting post CA Guy. Thank you. I like that you are thinking outside the box! Richard--excellent points.

05/30/2012 03:37

Ok, but I am searching for the information on springs and its different categories.

06/27/2013 04:33

I totally agree with CA Guy's article about this subject. In addition, I want to support the two ideas, which have been proposed by the author here. This lobbying should be banned forever and please pay all the money which is paying now the lobbyist and PACs to the nearest county librarian.


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