Celebrating the Occupy Movement in My Hometown

So I finally got off of my lazy, support-from-a-distance tush and joined my local Occupy group here in Denton, Texas yesterday.  There was a national effort to have all Occupy movements stage protests marches and meetings celebrating the 2nd full month of this movement initiated in New York’s Zucotti Park back in September.  With a crowd of about 60 people I thought the Denton Occupy group represented itself well as we all gathered at the steps of the County Courthouse on the town square.

A group of about 15 young men and women marched from their Occupy base at the University of North Texas, about a mile away, and joined the crowd I was with on the square, with chants of “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation”.

 

All of the young speakers were enthusiastic and determined in their efforts to see the movement sustain itself here in Denton and supporting the larger movements across the country in cities like New York, Oakland and Dallas.  Much of what they spoke to addressed the need to hold both political Parties accountable to see that a level playing field between the have and have-nots in this country is not destroyed any further than it already has been.

Voices were raised about the attacks of many who support the 1% who seek to eliminate public sector and union jobs like teachers, fire fighters, police officers and sanitation workers while pointing out the serious discrepancies in pay and the social contributions between them and those of corporate CEOs.  One young man spoke to the concern that the Occupy movement is not a place but a list of ideas and grievances that impact the 99%.

It has been my understanding that the movement does not represent an attack on capitalism itself but an attack on those who abuse it as they get richer and richer while the standards of the once vibrant middle class erode more and more each month with jobs shifting to cheaper labor markets abroad and benefits being significantly reduced or eliminated with those jobs that most still hang onto here in this country.

The school district employees here in Denton face such a standards reduction as the budget restraints from a GOP state legislature kicks in at the new year.  Their health insurance will change from one that has a 80-20 payout on it as you worked to fulfill your deductible.  That means they could expect the insurer to pay 80% of doctors visits, prescription drugs and other out patient services before the deductible was met.

The new insurance package they’re being handed now still expects a healthy premium payment but pays nothing until the deductible is met.  Looking at what best serves our needs we thought the package with the $3000 deductible would work best as far as premium payments were concerned.  But the notion that either of us will have a total of $3000 dollars in doctors’ bill is absurd which means we have to pay for everything out of pocket with no help from the insurance company who expects to be paid over $700 a month in premiums just for the privilege of being there in case their are catastrophic conditions that do exceed $3000.

 

Think about that for a second.  We would put out over $8000 dollars in premiums each year and never receive any benefits from our insurer for doctor visits and medicine.  This is but one indication where the disparity between the wealthiest 1% and everyone else stretches the ability to sustain a normal life.  To avoid this cost without benefits I have decided to allow my wife to drop me from coverage because I will be eligible for Medicare coverage in a little over two years.  We will take the difference it costs me to be on the policy and stick in our tax-deferred IRA, having it build up equity as it sits there for us if we do need it in an emergency.   I can only hope that such a catastrophic situation does not arise before I reach age 65.

Though not publicly aired at this gathering, many of these young men and women have to be concerned that there high dollar education they are working on may not pay off in this down job market, leaving them with high student loans to pay off.  There was dismay expressed by one young woman however that the so-called American dream is no longer a reality for their generation.

I was inspired by the energy of these young men and women.  They remind me so much of the generation of my youth as we too fought the status quo that suppressed minorities and women’s rights and allowed a war in Vietnam to go unchecked for too long.  It took years for our movement to accomplish what we did but change did come.  I am hopeful that the same can be achieved through the efforts of this generation who seek to keep alive the aspirations that my generation sought to establish.

They are firmly and properly planted in the belief that there is power in the actions of individuals coming together and pushing aside what seem like immovable obstacles.  I am encouraged by their vitality that they will succeed and am also more resolute now to be there to support their efforts in deeds as well as thoughts.

A member of my generation expresses encouragement at Denton’s Occupy rally on the square

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12 responses to “Celebrating the Occupy Movement in My Hometown

  1. I’m hopeful, too lb, and I support the Occupy folks throughout this country. They are making a difference and people are waking up to frustration with the status quo. This Occupy movement didn’t go away as many thought it would. It’s gaining energy and people everyday. Perhaps we will have the paradigm shift that we badly need in this country.

    • “Perhaps we will have the paradigm shift that we badly need in this country.”

      I think we will too Jean but it will be a slow, arduous one that has to be sustained once it starts to kick in. That will be the test for this newer generation to see if they can endure and keep up the pressure.

  2. I took a photo of your courthouse while staying over night a year ago in Denton. Here in Kansas City, protesters marched over an interstate bridge for visibility. All was peaceful. Demonstrators have been camping in a park near a WWI memorial but it is not visible to by passers. The media here keep saying that no one seems to know why the protestors are here. I see so many young people in jobs below their skills and educations but they just feel lucky to have a job. This, I think, is just what the 1% want.

    On the health care issue. My husband retired at 65 and within weeks had an emergency quadruple bypass. I retired from teaching junior high at 65, hobbled by severe knee issues. 6 days before a scheduled knee replacement, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our last three years have been ruled by health issues. My 62 year old friend had 2 strokes in July and may not walk again. Another friend has a 62 year old husband, still working, whose left arm is no longer usable – no diagnoses after all sorts of test. Too young for Medicare. Retirement is not for sissies. Wishing you good health.

    • Thanks for that “uplifting” scenario Mary. 🙂

      I worry more about an accident causing physical injury than my general health being a problem anytime soon. My last check up was very good and the results of a recent colonoscopy was also very good.

  3. I am so proud of Americans for taking on this movement….after the 60’s I was so afraid that Americans would just roll over……gives me faith in the sensibilities of the people again….

    • It is good to see that these young people are more interested about critical issues that face us as a society than they are their status on social media networks. These were a great bunch of people who I spent time with at the courthouse yesterday evening.

  4. Good for you, for literally taking a stand with the Occupy movement. I’m very sorry to hear about the health insurance ridiculousness.

    • Thanks Joan. But if my wife and I stay healthy for about 2 years when I’ll be eligible for Medicare we will have saved money. It also forces to eat better, exercise and take better care of myself in every possible way.

  5. Larry,

    It must have been about a month ago now that I joined the Occupy Saginaw protest outside of the courthouse. There were probably close to 60 or 70 people and, because this is Saginaw, MI, one of the three areas in Michigan with a sizable number of autoworkers, most of the speakers were from the United Auto Workers. There were some young speakers, including myself, but most of them were middle aged, and some were elderly. One guy, I remember, was in a wheelchair. None of us, in my view, were malcontents looking to deracinate American society, like the Right seems to believe.

    • Good for you Terrance.

      Some of the movements do have more older people in them though the youth tend to dominate. It’s important that all age groups participate. There were perhaps about 12 of us “elders” on hand at the Denton event and the young speakers who came to the mic stated how pleased they were to see “so many of us” at this rally.

      • There were perhaps about 12 of us “elders” on hand at the Denton event and the young speakers who came to the mic stated how pleased they were to see “so many of us” at this rally.

        LMAO. I didn’t mean to suggest you were elderly or old or anything like that. I was just saying that if the people who criticize the movement could see the majority of the people who attend the smaller town rallies – at least in my area – they’d stop referring to them as malcontents, etc. LOL.

        Anyway. Could you read my most recent post and give me some advice? You’ll understand when you read it.

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