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Occupying Main Street

The most recent Occupy Bergen County protest proves that the Occupy movement is alive and well on Main Street in towns throughout Bergen County.

Occupy Bergen County has been busy since it launched late last year. Like many Occupy groups around the country, it has lately focused on educating its members and the community at large about local and national injustices.

Educating people, helping them to become more aware is not necessarily a process that makes a big splash in the news, but it is impacting communities nonetheless.

In July, Occupy Bergen County staged a protest in Fairlawn. This past weekend, Occupy Bergen County staged a protest in front of Bank of America in Westwood. Members from vigil groups throughout the county, even a member of MoveOn.org, a national democratic anti-war movement, attended, marching with signs and handing out fliers in the sweltering noon heat.

As people know by now, big banks precipitated America’s current financial crisis. Yet these banks and the big executives that run them have yet to be made accountable for the harm they have done. For years, big banks have paid little or no Federal taxes while ordinary American citizens have paid through the teeth. Big top bank executives have gotten rich off the backs of hard-working Americans and have cost the public billions. Specifically, Bank of America continues to kick poor families out of their foreclosed homes; it also finances the ecologically-damaging extraction of coal from mountaintops, a practice that often takes its toll on poor rural families and has been known to poison water resources in Appalachia, forcing people to abandon their domiciles.

What does Occupy Bergen County want people to do about the injustices perpetrated by the big banks? Tell Congress to impose strict regulations to keep big banks from gambling and tell Congress to hold big bank executives accountable. Individuals can also move their checking and savings accounts and investments out of big banks and into local savings and loan institutions and credit unions. They can put their credit cards away instead of using them.

Very few Americans have not felt a pinch in the economic crisis. Most Americans have a depressing story to tell: a loan that can’t be paid; an impending foreclosure; unemployment or the loss of savings. But while Americans may be suffering losses, most don’t want to feel victimized or live in fear.

The Occupy Movement has empowered individuals to take a stand for their rights, to help one another, to return to important values and negate the trends of selfishness, greed and fear that have dominated too long and threaten to break America. Those protesting on Wall Street and making a mark on Main Street know it’s time for a change and are prepared to take over where politicians have failed.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

john ready August 05, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Nice job gang!
William Mays August 06, 2012 at 01:28 AM
These people again. I'm one of those big executives you are so against. Do you ever think that Wall Street funds many of the tools that you now use to complain that people took out loans that they can't repay? Facebook, Apple, countless other tech companies would be nothing without rich investors. Maybe those people should have thought about what could happen if they lost their jobs before they bought a house they couldn't afford. I work from 9-5, and some days from 7-9, much harder than some DeVry University graduate that now sits around in a park moaning and bitching about how they can't find a job.
Sally J. Gellert August 06, 2012 at 05:33 AM
Mr. Mays, Anyone making a generalization must realize that exceptions exist. Yet stereotypes & clichés are often true for many, though can be exaggerated for effect. In reality, CEOs of the largest multinational corporations take home millions of dollars, have benefits and retirement packages far beyond the possibilities of the middle class. Meanwhile, some of those corporations have been “offshoring” jobs & income, lobbying against regulation of their industries, supporting programs such as NAFTA & CAFTA, & the new TPP, which have caused havoc on economies both here & in Central America. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, income tax rates were higher at for the wealthy, yet the economy was healthier & unemployment/poverty rates were lower. This country needs a long, serious discussion of the problems that have surfaced in the last few decades, especially since the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the great expansion of hte financial sector, globalization, etc. Yes, some people bought houses that they could not afford—yet inappropriate, predatory mortgages were sold by many and deeds not properly recorded by the largest banks; job security is hardly extant—the days of retiring from a lifelong job are long gone—and some 60% of personal bankruptcies have their roots in a medical disaster—& most of those individuals had insurance (or thought they did) when they became ill. So yes, “these people”—your neighbors—are back “again”. We are back because we care.
William Mays August 06, 2012 at 05:53 AM
Sally, I don't mind paying higher taxes, but I'm not going to sit here and listen to this Occupy Wall Street BS. I work near Zuccotti Park. You should have seen the people that congregated there. I wouldn't have hired any of them from the way they looked, no surprise they didn't have jobs. The loans may have been predatory, but someone who paid attention would have noticed that. You can't fault the banks for wanting to make money off of idiots who bought into their giant, completely legal scam.
Dianne Douthat August 06, 2012 at 02:35 PM
This is exactly the attitude that allows people like Mitt Romney to pay the same tax rate as his secretary, and feel hs is completely justified in doing so, because it's all "legal." Just because something is legal doesn't mean it is moral. This, also, is why we need more, not less, regulation. It was proven in 1929-- that's why Glass-Steagall and the Banking Reform laws were enacted. (It's interesting to note that crises like this did not exist while these laws were in place.) Then, little by little, these laws were dismantled. The result? 1988-- Silverado Savings and Loan, when our tax dollars bailed out the wealthy. This was just the first of many such incidents. In 1999, Glass-Steagall was completely dismantled. Just a few years later, the Great Depression of 2008 ensued. My kids, who are old enough to read the newpaper, are constantly asking me what's the difference between what's happenning on Wall St and robbing a bank. Our children are watching-- sad to say, they are learning that, in corporate America, it's OK to do somerthing, as long it's legal, or as long as you can get away with it. Human beings are weak-- we need regulations to keep our greed in check. Reinstitute Glass-Steagall. Reform the tax code, so that the wealthy pay a fair share. It is the only way to save our great democracy. It is the first step in teaching our children that, here in America, we correct our mistakes, take responsibility, and do the right thing.
Art Elmers August 06, 2012 at 03:35 PM
What is a Fair Share? I think that one of the core issues debated today is exactly what is a "Fair Share"? If two people drive across a toll bridge at the same time in exactly the same model car should they pay the same toll? Or should one pay more because he or she has an income twice that of the other? One could argue that they both use exactly the same service at equal cost and should therefore pay the same toll. After all American is the land where everyone is treated equally. The other side could argue the person with the higher income has benefited from what America has to offer and should pay more because they can afford to. I think that both views have some validity. The problem is that we have become polarized with one group believing that we should all pay the same and others believing that those making more should pay more. I just saw a political ad on TV this morning pointing out that Romney pays a lower percentage of his income in taxes than others (I won't say most because almost 50% of Americans don't pay any federal income tax). What the ad fails to acknowledge is that while Romney pays millions of dollars in income taxes, the average middle class taxpayer does not even come close to 1% of what Romney paid. Other ads have pointed out that the incomes of the top 1% in this Country have increased at a much faster rate than those making much less. That is not a healthy course for America. The answer has to be found. What do you think?
Arya F. Jenkins August 06, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Thank you to the thoughtful replies posted here in response to my post about protesting the continuing injustices perpetrated by big banks like Bank of America. Art, again, I appreciate your thoughtful question. It's something to think about: how the rich are getting richer, and the poor and middle class are getting poorer in America. Poverty means disempowerment. A healthy nation is not a poor nation, and we have to find ways of evening out the portions of the pie. I am not sure we can get to the question of what is a fair share of taxes to pay, until there has been accountability on the part of those who have robbed the public, and justice.
William Mays August 06, 2012 at 07:20 PM
As I've said, I feel differently on taxes, than others, and I would be ok with a tax raise. However, Republicans have allowed many of these things to be legal. You think Wall Street is going to not do things because they are immoral? As long as this stuff is league, I'll be using it, and so will everyone else. Wall Street is there to make money, not to appease the American public.
Peggy Crisalli August 06, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Everyone should recognize that they are a mere pink slip away from being out of work. I lasted 20 years at JPMorgan Chase, through several huge mergers, major reorganizations, downsizings, "re-engineering" etc. and finally my turn came. We must all recognize that we can be the person without the job and without the home and maybe then can we sympathize with those without. How could any activity that is reffered to as "predatory" and a "giant, completely legal scam" be acceptable in our society? Our corporations should be bound by the same good citizenship as our people. We must be able to rely on our corporations and in fact all institutions to be reputable, honest, ethical and fair, regardless of the intelligence level of the consumer they are dealing with. How dare we sit back and accept that it's okay as long as it's legal. We would not accept this from a small ma and pa shop, nor should we accept it from a corporation. Great write-up Arya. Keep up the good work!
William Mays August 07, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Well sorry, Peggy, but if someone bought into a adjustable rate mortgage thinking the interest wouldn't go up, they weren't that bright.
Legal Notice August 10, 2012 at 09:02 PM
The entire Occupy movement has been a criminal enterprise co opted by the Obama Campaign. So far they have been involved with Murder, Rape, Theft, Filth and destruction of private property. The Billy Mays with his pious indignation about paying taxes is a joke while he has a well paying Government job to go to is a joke
William Mays August 10, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Umm, I don't have a government job, you moron.
Jack B Goode August 11, 2012 at 02:27 AM
If the occupy movement was legitimate,they would work to remove the biggest threat to the American economy, Barack "bailout the banks" Obama. But they're not so they won't
William Mays August 11, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Hey Jack, who signed off on the bailout?
Suzanne Troya August 11, 2012 at 11:40 PM
With all do respect, Mr. Mays, I am an experienced Executive Assistant with a degree in Finance, and I graduated from a university in 2005 at age 40. I worked for 4 Financial Advisors, took a beating in trying to keep a 9-5 job. I was laid off 3 months ago, sent out over 200 resumes, visited 7 agencies. I have two beautiful kids, and I am scared. No one will hire me for more than 40K. So as far as I'm concerned, I count my pennies, don't own a house, and played by the rules. So why don't you do me a favor, get in touch with me, and give me a blow by blow discription on how I need to live like you. Please, because as you, I'm willing to work 12 hours a day if that is what it would take to survive. But 40K can't cut it. Not in Fort Lee. So tell me, am I being lazy?!
Suzanne Troya August 11, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Dianne, Morality in Washington? We've been sold. The problem is, I can't determine exactly when it happened. Was it when Greenspan (whome I once respected) sold us out via REITs, was there a grand agreement created with China when we agreed to be a number two nation? The reality is, yes, to some extent Americans got too comfortable in the work standards, living standards. I wasn't dumb enough to get into a mortgage I couldn't afford - I knew the housing market was too good to be true. But we have become another Europe. And unfortunately Americans are too passive to cause mass demonstration. Because I think that is what it will take before Washington really pays attention. I am teaching my children that we can't come back from this. To trust their guts, study medicine, and start learning to read Washington with great suspician.
Jack B Goode August 15, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Obama and his Goldman-Sachs tax cheat cabinet and financial advisors

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