Stand up for what you believe in

Alena Harold

Ellen Lichius, Asst. Opinion Editor

As the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement continues to heats up, one can only wonder when the madness will stop. Just last week, police fired tear gas and various projectiles into the crowd at Occupy Oakland in order to stifle riots that closed the city’s port. The OWS protests, which began on Sept. 17 in the Wall Street financial district of New York City, have now spread to over 700 cities and communities.

The OWS protests began as protests against social and economic injustices and inequalities, including corporate greed and corporate influence over the federal government. The slogan of protestors is “We are the 99 percent.” The remaining one percent refers to the wealthy in the U.S. economy, typically those making over $200,000 per year. The country-wide protests take stances against corporations who abuse their funds and the money granted to them by the government. As someone who is disgusted with the thought of a CEO using my tax money to fund extended vacations, private jets, and large social soirees, initially I believed the movement may be something that is in sync with my political and economic ideologies. However, upon further investigations into the fundamental beliefs of OWS and its similar demonstrations, I was quite shocked to see how extremely anti-corporate these protesters truly are.

The mission statement of the OWS has been adopted by many of its offshoots. It acknowledges that they have been brought together to fight for common interest. These interests include rights, corruption, democracy, and the fact that our government is now being run by corporate leaders that cannot look out for the interest of the common man. Upon further reading, the statement goes on to make claims that corporations have taken their property through illegal foreclosure processes, have sold privacy, “have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press”, “have participated in torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas,” and “continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.”

The mission statement is accompanied by a statement of nonviolence that defines its philosophy of “Tactical Violence.” Tactical Violence is defined as: “not to initiate physical violence with members of the police or public; if attacked by either, to respond in ways that seek to minimize harm to persons; and to abstain from provocative destruction of property.” However, by merely looking at headlines of articles from major cities and communities alike, it is easy to see that these protestors are not afraid to use violence when they do not get their way.

While OWS and similar movements may look tempting to join, at the end of the day, they are against free enterprise and the free market economy on which our country was founded. While many CEOs have taken their rights and benefits to an extreme, will fighting back with extreme protests and ideologies really help to combat corruption? That 1 percent has also done a lot of good for the economy. They have reinvested in the market and have aided smaller companies in surviving the recession. Also, they are in charge of corporations that create jobs. Many “OWSers” would like to see money invested into energy efficient companies and agriculture; the fact of the matter is, we cannot regress to the times in which our country was sustained by agriculture alone.

Fighting extreme actions of greedy businessmen with extreme actions by those uneducated in economics or those who are angry will not bring the changes needed to rejuvenate our economy. Our country was founded on an economy that has allowed people rise to the top and to become highly successful by promoting free enterprise. By taking out these top leaders and corporations, we would be limiting their rights. Isn’t restriction of rights something that “OWSers” are fighting? The Occupy Pittsburgh movement is gaining momentum. Will you be joining? I know I won’t be.