Monday, October 31, 2011

OWS for Radicals with Mortgages

An essay I wrote on Occupy Wall Street/Occupy New Orleans in this week's Gambit:

After showing up for work at a Garden District coffee shop at 6 a.m. to work the morning shift a couple of Saturdays ago, my friend Sam shook off his midday fatigue and rode his bike to City Hall to march in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement. As the march proceded through the French Quarter, some visitors to our city were displeased with this particular attraction, yelling "Get a job," to Sam, who, among the hundreds of others in attendance, was holding a "We Deserve Better" sign and chanting "We are the 99%."

The implication of the heckling — that people only complain about the system because they are too lazy to make it work for them — has been proved false in the past two months of Occupy protests. Here in New Orleans and at "occupations" around the country, all kinds of hard-working people have shown up to air their discontent with the current state of affairs. The past few years of un-natural disasters and economic collapse have made it plain that millions of people who play by the rules, go to school, work hard, buy a home and try to grab on to their small piece of the America Dream, have lost to powers and circumstances far beyond their control despite their efforts. Go ask shrimpers and oystermen along the Gulf Coast (how their livelihoods fared) after the BP spill, anyone who bought a house in 2007 before the market crash, a recent college graduate searching for a first real job, or someone who has tried to get health insurance after surviving cancer.

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