Standing up in Friday Harbor for the '99 %' | Guest Column

Clare DeLong - Cali Bagby
Clare DeLong
— image credit: Cali Bagby

By Clare DeLong

Who is “The 99%”?

Many of you have heard of the “Occupy” movement which began in New York City as “Occupy Wall Street” in mid-September, and has since spread across America and the globe, from Los Angeles to New York and Asia to Europe. But did you know it is here in Friday Harbor as well?

As of Saturday Oct. 15 the movement has come to the islands and piqued the interest of many around the county. Perhaps you have noticed groups gathered in town, holding signs and chatting to people who walk, bike or drive by. It is likely you will see them every Friday at lunchtime in front of the courthouse. The question is, who are they and what is it?

To adopt the mantra of the day, “We Are the 99%”. One of the chief unifying factors of the Occupy Movement is this very concept.

It is easiest to define the 99 percent by first establishing who is the 1percent. The 1 percent is the “top” who own more wealth than the “bottom” 90 percent combined. They are the super wealthy. The remaining 99 percent is nearly all of this nation. It includes a wide range of incomes, from those below the poverty line on through the middle and upper middle classes. In essence, the 99 percent is The People.

And The People have spoken: enough is enough.

Corporate money has overreaching influence in the government and has conducted too much business behind closed doors on behalf of only themselves. America has increasingly become a nation considered to be comprised of consumers rather than citizens, and the time is now to stop that trend.

The only way to temper greed is by uniting against it in thought, word and action. That is what I believe the Occupy Movement is attempting to do, and it is what I know we are trying to do here in our facet of the movement in Friday Harbor.

We are opening up honest discussions between neighbors, partners and friends, and acknowledging that, although we have many severe problems, we are actively invested in finding solutions that benefit everyone.

The demands of the Occupy Movement have been relatively amorphous so far, which elicits reasonable uncertainty as to the movement’s sustainability. Yet there are many prevailing issues including outrage at the Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. It was a decision which extends First Amendment freedoms to corporations or unions, allowing these conglomerates the same rights as an individual citizen.

For more information, you may visit a number of websites including: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf  You may also sign a petition to amend the Constitution which would overrule this decision by going to www.movetoamend.org.

Whether you are struggling, passionate, curious, doubtful, outraged or apathetic, the issues of this movement and changes which must be addressed effect 100 percent of us. With the strength of Citizens United vs. FEC behind it, the 1percent has a loud voice. But the amazing thing about democracy is that you can be in the 99 percent and, if you choose it, still be heard.

So, who is the 99 percent? In short, it’s you.

— A writer who recently moved back to Friday Harbor, Clare DeLong is currently working on a book about freedom in America today.


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