The Occupy Movement from New York City has spread across the globe and popped up in Lewisburg, PA on Saturday, October 15th. Venturing down to the Lewisburg Post Office, I was not sure what I would find, but was definitely surprised to see the crowd that was swarming the front of the building. While looking for a parking spot, I thought that I was doing something wrong because everyone kept honking, but I soon realized that there was a man on the edge of the crowd (which pushed into the street) with a sign that read “Honk if you are fed up!”
I first stood on the outside and observed as various leaders, students, and children spoke, but then worked up the courage to make my way in. I wanted to see if the citizens of Lewisburg had the same reasons for protesting as the citizens of New York. I was wondering if the reasons I found in my last blog of corporate greed, economic inequality, and function of banks were relevant to the citizens of Lewisburg.
The first lady I spoke to was a middle-aged woman who has Type One Diabetes and has been unable to get medication. She believes that health insurance is tied directly to employment and that people that are unemployed do not have the opportunities for proper healthcare. If the 1% was taxed more heavily, it could be used to create better healthcare programs for everyone. She then told me about a documentary called, “Apology of and Economic Hit Man,” which showed how Americans would go into Latin America and demand them to follow certain rules. She related this to the current ties between politics and Wall Street, saying that Obama is just a puppet of Wall Street.
I was next drawn to a family with captivating signs and they expressed their concern of the Marcellus Shale debate. Owning property in the region for over 300 years, they were concerned for the effects on the environment. According to the family, drilling in this region would lead to exploitation of the land. The elderly man of the group even joked about Pennsylvania becoming “Pennsyl-tucky” or “Pennsyl-ginia.” The family has put their land into conservation for these reasons. (If you are interested in taking a field trip to his beautiful property, let me know because he gave me his number!)
The last people I spoke to were two students from Susquehanna University. Their biggest concern is that Americans in power don’t care and that our entire system is based on elitism. The male student explained his concern with the cost of higher education (which seems to be mandatory for a good job) and how difficult this made it for families with lower incomes to get the same opportunities as those with higher incomes. This perpetual cycle beats down the poor and further elevates the rich. The students compared America to other countries, such as Austria and Denmark, where healthcare and college education are free. Their solution is to tax the corporations and the rich. I was still curious about their thoughts on economic inequality and the students’ response was that “people on Wall Street think that nobody is working as hard as they are, so they deserve such high pay.” Instead, they believed that employees of Wall Street had connections, which led them to these jobs, not because of a superior work ethic. Most interestingly, the female student concluded by saying everyone should think twice about taking these opportunities to use connections because it is not fair to those people who don’t have those opportunities. Although this would make sense in a morally equal world, I am not sure if it could ever actually be implemented in today’s world.
The people who I spoke with today all had completely different concerns and reasons for occupying Lewisburg, but still came together under the common belief for a need for change in America (Della Port et al’s framing idea).
Occupy Lewisburg? (spillingink.net)
Occupy Wall Street begins in Canada (windsorstar.com)
Why I Will Occupy Wall Street (stealthmode.com)