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December 12, 2011     The Florala News
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December 12, 2011

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PAGE 4 THE FLORALA NEWS- WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2011 Comments Letter to the Editor The Florala News' editorial section is intended to provide our readers and citizens as complete an opportunity to express themselves with as few re- strictions as possible. Profanity, direct or implied, and attacks on one's per- son rather than on actions or deeds are not acceptable. Publication on this page in NO WAY REFLECTS AGREEMENT OR ENDORSEMENT B,Y THIS NEWSPAPER. Found this on dated October 8, 2011. This was not written by me, but rather Justin Elliot, a re- porter for Salon. Occupy Wall Street: A historical perspective - How do the protests measure up to past movements in American his- tory? Is Occupy Wall Street, with its decentralized structure, lack of strong leaders and no concrete demands, a fundd- mentally new form of protest? Or does the current movement have antecedents or analogues in American history? If so, what does the past tell us about where this might be head- ed? For a dose of historical context on Occupy Wall Street, I spoke with Gary Gerstle, professor of American history at Vanderbilt and a scholar of social movements. . You've spent a lot of time studying social movements in America. What are your first impressions about what's go- ing on here? I think what's going on is very interesting precisely be- cause this kind of protest has been so absent for the last 25 or 30 years. We are well advanced in what ought to be called the second Gilded Age, resembling the first Gilded Age of the late 19th century when capitalism developed very quickly and powerfully and the extremes between rich and poor be- came very great. There was a lot of downward pressure on wages anda lot of hardship; we have seen something similar in the past few decades when it comes to growing inequality. The major difference between this Gilded Age and the last one is the relative absence of protest. In the first Gilded Age, the streets were flooded with protest movements; questions regarding economic inequality and the very viability of capi- talism were the defining issues bf American politics. CROSSWORD What sort of mass movements occurred in that era? All sorts. It's when the modern' labor movement began. But it didn't begin in offices in Washington or New York; it began at sites of work. There was a national railways strike of 1877. There were confrontations in many cities. There was 'a populist campaign for mayor of New York by Henry George in 1886 that focused on ending poverty. He did not win, but he did much better than anyone thought he would, and convulsed New York City politics in the process. In 1894 there was another national railroad strike, known as the ucing Pullman strike. Troops were called out and confrontations were intense. And this was the same moment theft the farm- ers were mobilizing in the l~armers Alliadce and the People's Party, the original populist movements. The ground shook in America in the 1880s and 1890s over these very issues. What's been so significant about the last 25years has been the absence of this kind of action. The question now, with Occupy Wall Street and the labor protests in Wisconsin this year, is Whether the United States is beginning to emerge from that quiet period and whether there will be protests on the left that in some ways match what occurred 125 years ago. There's been a lot made about the leaderless structure of Occupy Wall Street. Are there analogues in American histo- ry for this sort vf radically decentralized movement, or does this seem new? one can find precedents for decentralized movements in the New Left of the 1960s, which promoted participatory democracy and critiqued bureaucracy and centralization. But in developing a historical perspective, it may be use- ful to alter tt e frame we use to analyze the present moment by asking these questions: Did past insurgent movements happen in unexpected ways and at unexpected moments? Did they take established structures by surprise? And were those established structures slow to adapt, resist or incorpo- rate these insurgent movements? I think the answer to those questions is yes. For example? If We think about the major labor insurgency of the 1930s, there are a couple things that are interesting in terms of to- day's events. First, the Great Depression began in 1929, and it was not until 1933 that serious labor protest began. That four-year interval tracks the interval between the crash of 2008 and today. This moment, like the previous moment, was characterized by a kind of quiescence on the left. And then worker protests began in ways that took people by sur- prise. The government passed a modest law giving workers an nominally enhanced right to form unions. Workers began forming unions and employers resisted. The workers began to think that the employers were flouting the law and they began to go on strike, hold marches, and ultimately gener- al strikes were called in a variety of cities. It was locally based and locally focused. It was unexpected as much by Id b b Kimble Forrister "Anytime we create more jobs, we get more people off the unemployment rolls and out of poverty," Sen. Del Marsh said in a recent Birmingham News profile of Alabama Arise. We agree. That's why many items on Arise's agenda this year (and every year) are designed to achieve both goals. Alabama does not have to choose between improving the economy and making life better for its most vulnerable resi- dents. It can do both. Many of Arise's ideas to help low-- and middle, income Alabamians would create hundreds of jobs" in the near term. They also would strengthen the state's foundation for future growth and make Alabama a better place to live and do business for decades to come. Our members' proposal to create a state Affordable Housing Trust Fund is one example of how low-income as- sistance and job creation can work hand in hand. The state needs more than 90,000 affordable homes to house people with extremely low incomes, according to the Low Income Housing Coalition of Alabama. The April 2011 tornadoes added to the shortfall of safe, decent and affordable' hous- ing, leaving 13,000 homes uninhabitable and damaging an- other 15,000. etter to Editor, We would like to take this time to say thank you to the Kiwanis Club for their generous donation of 460 pounds of food to the Christian Service Center's food bank. They heard of the need and came by the store to find out exactly what specific kind of food the food bankneeded. The Kiwanis Club will also be in charge of Fun in the Park, where, in order to enter the park you must bring a canned good item. This is always a big success for the food bank. "The Christian Service Oenter serves the needs of the community not only in food but in clothing and other needs to families that have fallen on hard times or have lost ev- erything due to house fire. The Service Center distributes food monthly to those families that meet the guidelines for the distribution. This is based on a monthly income per household. The Center distributes anywhere from 800-1200 pounds of food a month to 44-55 households. These fami- lies count on this monthly distribqtion so it is important that we keep the food bank supplied. Anyone can contribute to the food bank just by dropping off non-perishable items to the Service Center Wednesday, Thursday or Friday be- tween the hours of 10' a.m. and 4 p.m. Florala News econom An Affordable Housing Trust Fund could help provide safe, decent and affordable housing for thousands of these families by creating and maintaining homes for low-income Alabamians. These efforts would promote growth by help- ing to reduce community blight and by providing stability for people working to build better lives for themselves and their children. The trust fund also would help preserve or create jobs in the state's home construction and repair in- dustries, which are struggling amid a slumping real estate market. Public transportation is another Arise issue where help for low-income people overlaps with economic growth. Many Alabamians Who are unable to drive or can't afford a car are largely cut off from a number of oppo unities: jobs, health care, even visits to friends and family. Despite those unmet needs, Alabama is one of only four states in the country that provide no state money for public transit. With even a small state investmen in public transpor- tation, Alabama could receive tens of millions of dollars of see POVERTY page 5 Thank you again to the Kiwanis Club and their dedica- tion to the people of this community. They have shown un- selfish and caring support for this worthy need in our area. Special thanks also to an anonymous donor who contrib- uted $400 to the food bank. The Volunteers Florala Christian Service Center Editor, After turning on the T.V. over the past few days and watching our young people up North mostly college ages, take to thestreets in riots,s it-downs,and flash mobs I feel I must tell those of you who will listen what I know so we may try to help our young people understand that this is wrong. They hold signs saying things against the government corporations, capitalism and the establishment.When they were asked by a newscaster why they were there I heard answers like "I don't know really know why I'm here I just know I need to be here" or "I am unhappy and I came here to help me be happy" or "I am tired of a few in this'country see LETTER page 5 the existing labor movement as by anyone else. This became the spark that created the enormous labor insurgency of the mid- 1930s What were the,achievements of that insurgency? The turbulence that this movement created in 1933 and 1934 led to a landslide election for left-leaning congressmen in 1934. It created an opportunity for the left that resembles the opportunity generated by the Tea Party for the right in 2010. Suddenly Franklin Roosevelt had a much more mili- tant Congress to deal with, and, for the sake of his reelec- tion, he moved left. Out of that move came a reorientation of American politics: major national legislation giving work- ers the right to organize, generating jobs programs that put millions of Americans to work, establishing Social Security and the welfare state, and raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. If Obama is going to be the president to ieave a similarly lasting mark, he 's going to need a popular movement that im- pels him to pivot more to the left. We don't know yet whether Occupy Wall Street -- in conjunction with what happened in .Wisconsin and drawing energy from events abroad and from a deepening capitalist crisis -- will be that movement. But we do know that past insurgencies that became very im- portant and transformative began in very fragmented, unex- pected and surprising ways. ISTA ] mm 12 13 16 ' nm 19 25 26 == = = ~. 35 mm 4O i 48-==~- 58 72~-- m 3 27 m 59 m m m 7 24 m m 5O B7 m PRESENTED BY 10 11 12 I 32 52 Volunteer M atch .org Where volunteering begins. 33 34 62 63 64 StatcPoint Media THEME: "IV Families 4. Less wild 5. *Lynette and Tom plus 6 kids ACROSS 6. America's choice 1 Divisions of a family or clan 7. Thanksgiving time 6. Threat to illegal aliens, 8. Medieval oboe 9. Greek goddess of youth, wife 9. Beefcake of Hercules 10. Fourth largest Great Lake 13. Whitman's famous flower 11. Uncouth person 14. *Homer Simpson's exclama- 12. European sea eagles tion 15. Bowed out, as in cards 15. Craze 20. 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