Sunday, October 16, 2011







Not Sitting Still


It's not only in New York City anymore. Nor is it in merely Prescott (Arizona), Pocatello (Idaho), Portag (Indiana), Kearney (N.J)., Boone (N.C.) Roseburg (Oregon), Denton (Texas), Coleville (Washington), or Appleton (Wisconsin). It is also throughout the country in dozens of municipalities which people actually have heard of. And now worldwide, where on Saturday, Occupy Wall Street inspired protests throughout most of Europe (and in Canada), in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, England, France, Greece, Austria, Belgium, and Finland.

But the biggest, and most important, action is in Manhattan. And there hope is arriving. TheNew York Daily News reports

Solidarity hero Lech Walesa is flying to New York to show his support for the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

"How could I not respond," Walesa told a Polish newspaper Wednesday. "The thousands of people gathered near Wall Street are worried about the fate of their future, the fate of their country. This is something I understand."

A former shipyard worker who led Poland's successful revolt against Soviet communism, Walesa said "capitalism is in crisis" and not just in America.

"This is a worldwide problem," he told the Lubin-based Dziennik Wschodni newspaper. "The Wall Street protesters have focused a magnifying glass on the problem."

Protests organizers said they will welcome Walesa with open arms.

Not a bad response, that hearty welcome. "When America sneezes, the world catches cold" runs the old axiom and "the staunch anti-communist (and) working-class hero, " is in a unique position to understand the international implications of the crisis in capitalism he identifies in the U.S.A. Walesa's movement was not only the biggest factor in overturning Soviet rule in Poland but played a major role in the eventual dissolution of the Iron Curtain, symbolized by the destruction of the Berlin Wall.


And in the U.S.A., it's not only the growing inequality of income reflected in the following graph(from Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley):









Nor is it only the warped distribution of wealth, wherein the top 1% possess more wealth than the bottom 90% of Americans. In their recent work, Andrew C. Berg and Jonathan D. Ostrydiscovered

equality appears to be an important ingredient in promoting and sustaining growth. The difference between countries that can sustain rapid growth for many years or even decades and the many others that see growth spurts fade quickly may be the level of inequality.

They recall

the developing country debt crises of the 1980s and the resulting "lost decade" of slow growth and painful adjustment. That experience brought home the fact that sustainable economic reform is possible only when its benefits are widely shared. In the face of the current global economic turmoil and the need for difficult economic adjustment and reform in many countries, it would be better if these lessons were remembered rather than relearned.

Narrowing the gap between the wealthy and the other 90-95% of the population is not sufficient to bring about economic growth. But it is necessary. The last time the gap between the top 1% and the bottom 90% was this wide? 1928.



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