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Pragmatic Perspective: The "Occupy" movement cannot be ignored

To be completely honest, I had given little to no attention to the “Occupy” movement that has swept through several major cities and thousands of smaller communities across the globe. The movement, to the unobservant, myself included, could appear to be nothing more than a bunch of lazy, unemployed underachievers yelling at those whom they blame for their lot in life.

While I don’t think these types of people are completely absent from these protests, the generalized notion that all of the “Occupy” protestors are like this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I’ve been hearing about this movement since September, but it took a bit of local news to catch my attention. The Signpost recently reported that a dismal 50 protestors showed up for “Occupy Ogden,” but it was enough for me to delve a bit deeper into what these protests are all about. Now, there have been some, to say the least, interesting comparisons between these protests and other mass movements — some “Occupiers” even comparing themselves to the likes of Dr. King and those who marched with him. I’ll say it loud and clear that this is nothing compared to Dr. King and the many who worked valiantly during the Civil Rights movement, but I must still admit that the “Occupy” movement has drawn some attention.

As I mentioned before, many of these people who are out protesting probably are just lazy freeloaders, but I would say the majority are hardworking Americans who are tired of unfair tax breaks for the rich, a soaring unemployment rate and corporate greed that would make Ayn Rand proud.

I obviously understood their main complaints of our near-oligarchic-type government, but what I hadn’t realized is that there is a composed document known as “The 99 Percent Declaration.” This document is surprisingly thoughtful and simple in its scope, but powerful in that most Americans would likely agree with the document’s demands. Now, there are many demands made by the document that seem not only improbable, but incorrect in their aim, but there are many other points with which I completely agree.

First is a demand for tax reform and a clean sweep of all unfair loopholes that are typically utilized by the wealthier among us to avoid paying their fair share. The demand is not to simply steal from the rich to give to the poor, but simply for the tax code to be fair for all income levels and not unequally favorable toward the more financially fortunate.

Another interesting point from the declaration is the need of a serious crackdown on unethical campaign financing. Corporations shouldn’t be allowed to “purchase” political power, nor can they be allowed to “own” a candidate to further their economic interests through favorable legislation. Ethical campaign finance laws are a must, no matter how lucrative unethical laws may be.

“The 99 Percent Declaration” also addresses the dire need for debt reduction and thoughtful government spending. You would think that the current economic situation in Europe would be eye-opening enough for our legislators to take notice.

The “Occupy” movement doesn’t hold a candle to the importance of the Arab Spring or the Civil Rights movement, nor will its success measure up to that of previous mass movements. But its voice cannot be ignored, nor can the import of its message be simply swept under the rug. These are real Americans with real concerns, and I would say that the vast majority of us share the same concerns and worries about the direction of our nation and, more specifically, the ascending power of money. You may not agree with their methods, and you may not agree with their message, but we all have to admit the “Occupy” movement has caught our attention.

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