Friday, October 7, 2011

Houston, occupied

Protesters took to the streets of downtown Houston this morning as they marched from Market Square Park to a rally at the Chase Tower and then on to the steps of City Hall.

The march was part of a national day of action in support of the Occupy Wall Street campaign in New York. Political activists of various stripes, shades and hues gathered and expressed their dissatisfaction at the way the government has been running the economy.

I spent a bit of time talking with a veteran political activist who took me around and showed me the different signs on the grass by the reflecting pond, the chalked messages on the steps of City Hall and some of the folks in the crowd.

Where this movement may go in Houston is anyone's guess. But for a few hours at least there were folks standing on the street corners with signs and drivers honking their horns in approval as they passed by.

The message is one that needs to be heard. Our tax dollars have been handed out to corporate beggars at the same time the government has cut programs geared to the poor. We've bailed out the banks who ran their own ships ashore with their questionable lending practices. We've bailed out the automakers who mismanaged themselves into the ground. But what has Washington done for the millions of homeowners facing foreclosure? What has Washington done for the millions who are without work?

Those on the right are calling this movement class warfare. Yes, it's a nice little soundbite that trivializes the problems millions of Americans are facing - but it is, at its core, a lie. The poor have been the targets of class warfare on the part of the wealthy for years. Ronald Reagan was at the vanguard of the latest class war as he and his minions led an assault on the working poor that was staggering in scale. The purveyors of this war have attacked public education, organized labor and the poor mercilessly. At the same time they have lavished gifts on the corporate profiteers.

There is a class war being waged in this country -- and we're just the collateral damage.

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