I have lived in this curious city across from San Francisco for most of my thirty-one years here in the East Bay. Unlike that City across the Bay, which is more of a dreamland where one goes when one is young, Oakland is a gutsy –mainly Black and now Hispanic – working class city. It is, also, the third largest port on the West Coast.
What created Oakland in the Nineteenth Century was the fact that the trans-Continental railway ended here and its passengers would get off, and be put on ferries to the City on the Golden Gate.
Curiously, in the recent “Occupy Wall Street” Movement, more than New York or even the Western financial hub across San Francisco Bay, the seemingly provincial and small (400,000) peripheral urban space of Oakland has become a center for the battle against the financial collapse of “free” enterprise that the George W. Bush Administration accelerated through his Colonial Wars. As evil as that was, the administration of those Wars, were managed so incompetently that they failed to finance their martial adventures – contrary to the history of Foreign adventurism which usually leads to a stimulation of a national economy temporarily – in that the Bush Regime gave financially unsound tax-breaks to the upper 1% of the population – the economy shrank instead—as the national debt plummeted. (Now, let it be noted, that I do not advocate preventative War in any way!)
Many in the immigrant farm worker community here have suffered even more than the general citizenry. Homes have been foreclosed, jobs have been lost and not regained, lifetime savings have slithered away, and, yes, despite residency in this land of plenty, there is even hunger.
Notwithstanding, President Barrack Obama’s attempt to prod a budget through Congress earlier earlier this year, that would begin to alleviate the suffering of the grand majority of Americans, was obfuscated largely by the “Tea Party.” The latter have hindered relief to suffering American citizens / residents— especially those who tend the fields.
Under Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was largely instituted as one of the Reconstruction Amendments, to prevent any future attempts to reverse the Thirteenth Amendment passed during the U.S. Civil War (1860s) to eradicate the deplorable institution of slavery, also, raises the question of what monetary powers. Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment gives to the President. “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law…shall not be questioned…” Therefore, it is argued that Section 4 gives the President unilateral authority to raise or ignore the national debt ceiling (like in a national crisis such as World War II, the Great Depression or even the current financial crisis).
President Obama made a grave error in not invoking Section 4, and regulating by decree, and, hopefully, when the budget comes up again, and (economic) Keynesian solutions are called for, the Administration will block the reactionaries of the Lower house, for, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, an upcoming worldwide economic collapse is brewing due to the Euro-zone National Debt Crisis and the “Tea Party” fiscal interference in the States. Therefore, to avoid this, drastic measures are indicated.
To counter this, a populist movement has arisen in America in protest against the corruption of the American system deregulated over the past several decades by interspersed right-wing governments. In a letter, Keith Ellison of Minnesota sarcastically writes, “…if you exercise your right to free speech against the excessive power and greed of Wall Street…they say you’re ‘dangerous’ and engaging in ‘class warfare.’”
The disproportionate importance of the Oakland demonstrations to the national movement is the reaction by the incompetent elite who essentially stole an election by a conspiratorial manipulation of rank-choice voting. (This minor city’s last two mayors had remarkable resumes – one a former Governor and the last a leading former Congressman. It was expected that the last President Pro Temp of the California [State] Senate in Sacramento, who represented Alameda County of which Oakland is the seat, won a plurality of the first round vote, was assumed to be be the next Mayor, but lost because of “rank-choice” voting. Three of the other candidates campaigned to have their supporters list two of the others as their second and third choices; thus, thwarting democracy with incompetency.. The result of which is that the current Mayor represents only one small ethnic element of the city; therefore, the ethnic pluralities—including Hispanics—are denied political recognition here.
Be that as it may, this Op-Ed is to state that the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement is related to the oppression and prejudice against immigrants in the States that gives reign to the greed in America’s financial structure.
Some commentators have equated the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement to America’s version of the Arab “Spring.” It is true that democratic workers’ Movements can be compatible, but—like the case with Soviet Socialism – may not be able to co-exist with American Capitalism as “written.” Workers Movements such as the Farm Workers Union have much to teach America ways to reform its financial institutions and dealings by becoming more people-centered and lifting the poorest up through their honest labor to their fullest potential.