November 5, 2011

Occupy Oakland

Today I went to Oakland to visit the site of the Occupy protests.  I went there, in part, to disprove with my own eyes Sean Hannity’s assertions that there was public defecation and sexual assaults occurring there.  Rest assured that Hannity, and not Frank Ogawa Plaza, is full of crap.

The square has been covered with straw and a tent city has been established.  Some of the more noticeable aspects of the gathering include a small library containing a hundred or more books, an area where donated food is cached and prepared for anyone who needs it, and a tent where medical services are provided.  Hand-written placards encourage people to clean up after themselves.  The demonstrators are mostly young, but they fit every demographic imaginable and their reasons for dissatisfaction are also varied. 

Cardboard signs are posted throughout the square.  Yes, they speak of the lack of economic opportunities for mainstream Americans, but they also remind us of the destruction of our environment, the prohibitive cost of education, the war in the Middle East.  Along the perimeter of the square the people have demonstrated their desire for peace in a powerful way: They’ve planted flowers. 

I caught myself hoping that the flowers, like the movement, will be allowed to grow.

One of the protest signs, in particular, caught my eye.  It simply said: Join a credit union.  In recent months the large banks have lost deposits that are now going to credit unions.  I believe this to be a positive development.  When we put cash in a credit union, we're not cutomers.  We're members and part owners of the institution.  As I've said elsewhere in this blog, giving people ownership is an important part of the solution to our economic malaise. 

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