Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites (# of views)   1 comment

OpEdNews Op Eds

The First Amendment Upside Down. Why We Must Occupy Democracy

By       Message Robert B. Reich     Permalink
      (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 1   Supported 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 11/22/11

Author 47089
Become a Fan
  (116 fans)
- Advertisement -


You've been seeing this across the country " Americans assaulted, clubbed, dragged, pepper-sprayed " Why? For exercising their right to free speech and assembly -- protesting the increasing concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the top.

And what's Washington's response? Nothing. In fact, Congress' so-called "supercommittee" just disbanded because Republicans refuse to raise a penny of taxes on the rich.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court says money is speech and corporations are people. The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision last year ended all limits on political spending. Millions of dollars are being funneled to politicians without a trace.

And a revolving door has developed between official Washington and Wall Street -- with bank executives becoming public officials who make rules that benefit the banks before heading back to the Street to make money off the rules they created.

Other top officials, including an increasing proportion of former members of congress, are cashing in by joining lobbying power houses and pressuring their former colleagues to do whatever their clients want.

Millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street and in executive suites aren't contributing all this money out of sheer love of country. Their political spending is analogous to their other investments. Mostly they want low tax rates and friendly regulations.

Why else do you suppose tax rates on the super rich are now lower than they've been in three decades, and why -- even though the long-term budget deficit is horrendous -- those rates aren't rising? Why else do the 400 richest Americans (whose wealth is larger than the combined wealth of the bottom 150 million Americans) now pay an average tax rate of only 17 percent?

- Advertisement -

Why do you think Wall Street got bailed without a single string attached -- not even being required to help homeowners to whom they sold mortgages, who are now so far under water they're drowning? And why does the financial reform legislation have loopholes big enough for bankers to drive their Ferrari's through?

And why else are oil companies, big agribusinesses, military contractors, and the pharmaceutical industry reaping billions of dollars of government subsidies and special tax breaks?

Experts say the 2012 presidential race is likely to be the priciest ever, costing an estimated $6 billion. "It is far worse than it has ever been," says Republican Senator John McCain.

If there's a single core message to the Occupier movement it's that the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top endangers our democracy. With money comes political power.

Yet when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with all this, they're told the First Amendment doesn't apply. Instead, they're treated as public nuisances -- clubbed, pepper-sprayed, thrown out of public parks and evicted from public spaces.

- Advertisement -

Across America, public officials are saying Occupiers have to go. Even in universities -- where free speech is supposed to be sacrosanct -- peaceful assembly is being met with clubs and pepper spray.  

The First Amendment is being stood on its head. Money speaks, and an unlimited amount of it can now be spent bribing and cajoling politicians. Yet peaceful assembly is viewed as a public nuisance and removed by force.

This is especially worrisome now that so many Americans are in economic trouble. The jobs recession grinds on, seemingly without end. Homes are being foreclosed upon. Qualified students cannot afford college. Or they're forced to take on huge debt loads they can't repay in a jobless economy. Schools are firing teachers. Vital social services are being axed.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

Well Said 1   Supported 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

http://robertreich.org/

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Republican's Big Lies About Jobs (And Why Obama Must Repudiate Them)

Paul Ryan Still Doesn't Get It

What Mitt Romney Really Represents

What to Do About Disloyal Corporations

The Gas Wars

The Minimum Wage, Guns, Healthcare, and the Meaning of a Decent Society