Dylan Ratigan Goes to Occupy Wall Street in NYCOctober 3, 2011
Dylan went to Occupy Wall Street this weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and is returning tonight to talk more to the people who are there. Here’s what he had to say about it on the show today.
In this city, New York, right now, there are demonstrations about 70 blocks south of us on Wall Street and they, like you and me, are “mad as hell,” whether you believe it or not. In fact, those demonstrations spontaneously swept dozens of cities this weekend and resulted in 700 arrests here in new york on Saturday.
When I saw all this going on Friday, I went to their website to see what these people were all about. Their mission statement simply said, “the only thing we all have in common is that we are the 99% who will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.”
That’s how they presented themselves. I read it, I thought, yeah, I agree with that. So since I live about five blocks away from Zuccotti Park, I went down there Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to talk, debate and hopefully find common ground with folks who I thought shared my frustration. Here’s part of what I told them — you can watch the entire video of my exchange with them — fast forward to 6:00 in to see what I discussed with folks at the park.
I told them:
“I love what you’re doing. I believe that this can be turned into an action item for next year. Right now what’s being communicated is,”we’re not going to take it anymore.” Because this is very Pink Floyd, right? No mas. So now you’ve got these energy balls in New York, in Boston, in Philadelphia, et cetera. They feel the same way, which is that this country has become a bought government, an auction-based government that is unfair. Even if it’s unfair and you’re winning, you’re like, this is the most screwed up thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And you know for a fact that even if you’re winning in a rigged system, you will be losing soon. But what I’m trying to start as a debate around the unholy alliance between business and state, and I’m trying to make a point, which is that we must harness this energy to affect positive change in 2012. And so my argument to you guys is that we have an opportunity to convert the energy that you have already harnessed into a channel, a flow of energy into next year, where we can push collectively for a constitutional amendment to get the money out. And the reason that Wall Street gets the appropriate villainy that it does, because Wall Street is the best vehicle to approach the government. So I’m offering this as a solution I found myself and offering it to you as a — as something — as a concept for you to consider and debate, as the action item coming off of this energy. And the action item is a single principle, separate business and state. We have a chance. And if we have a chance, we have something to do for the next year.”
And I found people from all walks of life, who agreed completely with that. And the more I spoke to them, I found that a single sentence, from tea partiers, old ladies, young radicals got lawyers from around the corner. Every conversation, there was a shared belief. A singular belief that wealth should only be a by-product of working together to solve problems with aligned interests for all and that a bought government is the barrier to doing that.
Now, bear in mind, it is very natural for the mainstream media and the finance industry to bet against these people, to write them off as crazies, to suggest to them that they are on a one-way ticket to nowhere. History in many ways is on their side.
But I have never personally seen such universal agreement around such a singular set of principles, among such a different set of people as the single understanding that the banks and other special interests have turned our democracy into an auction, and action must be taken in 2012 to stop it. In fact, I took to the soap box at their General Assembly, hours after 700 of them had been arrested.
Calvin made a video and put it on YouTube explaining why, as a Tea Partier, he was at Zuccotti Park. Here’s his video, and what he had to say:
As Calvin pointed out in his YouTube video, “The Tea Party believes it’s the government. And that’s not true. It’s the banks. Standing behind me is Wall Street. And that’s the people who have stolen our country away. Who bought it up and they’re selling it off to the highest bidder.”
My point is simple. This movement can be marginalized, it can be misconstrued, it can be written off. But as a reporter, I’m here to tell you that I agree with the people in that square and that the people in that square have very little in common with each other, other than their agreement with me on the single principle and the rising wave that a bought government is something that we will confront in the next year.
We are witnessing those waves, whether it’s our own campaign that began last Tuesday, which now has 82,000 petitioners after less than a week. We’ll be in Washington later this week, I imagine, whether it’s Occupy Wall Street, whether it’s the Tea Party, whether it’s the Rootstrikers, I don’t care how you identify yourself, this is a movement that needs to come together to affect positive change in 2012.
We have a chance. We will not let this moment pass us by. If we can seize the moment and build towards making a cohesive push — collectively — for a constitutional amendment to get the money out, we have something to do for the next year.
Click “Show Transcript” for text of Dylan’s conversations at Saturday’s General Assembly and in conversation with occupiers at Zuccotti Park.
DYLAN'S SOAPBOX SPEECH:
“My name is Dylan. I live five blocks from here. I think you people are crazy. I love the way you communicate. The world has noticed your voice. You have been here for three weeks, and you should be very proud of what you have accomplished. For fifteen years I worked as a financial services professional. Have you guys said that yet? I can't believe I'm here talking to you. I'm here because I agree with you. I made the decision three years ago to leave the financial services industry. I did that because it was clear that the financial services industry was purchasing both political parties. I believe that the fundamental problem with our collective desire to demand the debate America deserves is that both of our political parties are funded by well-heeled individuals, because they are bought. So I have been asking myself what the hell I'm going to do about this. I have decided that I am going to devote all of my resources, whatever those resources may be, with the knowledge that the decision to devote resources is much more important than what your resources are. I believe that you and every other group of people who know for a fact that the government is bought and are making the decisions to make 2012 the year our voice will be heard. I ask myself -- what do I do with my voice? I look at myself like an angry villager. I am irate. I know that if I cannot harness my personal rage for positive change I will harm myself and not help anybody else. My question to myself has been how do I harness fire in myself? You can either burn yourself in the town square or you can deliver a single a message to your government. My message is that the government is bought. If we do not separate business and state, and harness this energy to make that the central mission of this years' election we cannot begin to do the work we have to do. Thank you for giving me some of your time and congratulations on your success.
DYLAN IN DISCUSSION AT ZUCCOTTI PARK:
DYLAN: I love what you're doing. I believe this could be turned into an action item for next year. Right now what's being communicated is we're not gonna take it any more. This is very Pink Floyd. "No mas." Which is the first declaration, and it's important. But the difference between the "no mas," which is the originator, we're going because -- no. So now you've got these energy balls, in Boston, in Philly, in New York, etcetera. And it's not just you guys. There are old people, black people, rich people, poor people, and they're not here. But they feel the same way which is that the country is becoming a bought government and an auction-based government that is unfair.
[7:00]Even if it's bought and you're winning, you're like, "this is the most screwed up thing I've ever seen in my entire life." And you know for a fact that even if you're winning in a rigged system, you will be losing soon.
WE ARE CHANGE: Do you think it might actually benefit us that we are being so generic giving time for people who maybe disagree?
DYLAN: Absolutely. I think the only thing we have to call for is this. Making a debate next year about the role, the relationship between business and state the same way that the people did between church and state 1,000 years ago. The reason we can't even have the debate is because a wall of money surrounds our government that prevents us from having the debate. And what I'm saying to you is that we have a draft of a constitutional amendment that is up for debate by everybody through the end of the year. We're going to have Lawrence Lessig come on, Ron Paul come on, we're going to change that amendment in the context of a public debate that will be held between now and the end of the year. I don't know! But I have an opportunity to start it because of the nature of the platform that I have.
But what I'm trying to start is a debate around the unholy alliance between business and state, and I'm trying to make a point, which is that we must harness this energy to affect positive change in 2012. Get money out of politics. And you can vote for whoever you want, and you can give money to whoever you want, because that's the nature -- you can't deny what already exists. But you can acknowledge what already exists while simultaneously articulating the problem. And we can push towards the conventions next summer and the elections next year, such that we can then force the presidential candidates to confront our request to separate business and state in a public forum that is unavoidable. And what we're looking at right now -- what is it, September. And look at all the energy. Look at all the energy outside of this place.
If the energy is a single goal -- separate business and state -- a room for every possible -- every mechanic and idea in the world. I'm not a man of mechanics and ideas -- I defer to the crowd. But I know that our principles and our goals can be aligned on the simple assertion of separating money and politics. And so my argument to you guys is that we have an opportunity to convert the energy that you have already harnessed into a channel, and flow of energy into next year, where we can push collectively for a constitutional amendment to get the money out. People will get all crazy with that, and then I'm like, well, you know -- the same technology that gave us the credit default swap, the same technology that gave us deep water oil drilling, is just a manifestation of order of magnitude of what is possible. That same energy wave that gives you swaps, that gives you deep water oil drilling, can and will be harnessed to communicate a singular message to the government to the people to get the money out.
Because everybody knows -- here's all you need to know, then I'll shut up. But here's all you need to know. I put out a spreadsheet of every politician that's running for office. I don't have to see their face, I don't have to read anything that they say, I don't have to hear what anybody thinks about them, I don't have to watch a commercial, I don't have to do anything. I can lay out a spreadsheet and I can look at the spreadsheet to see who raised the most money. And if I pick my horses based on who raised the most money, I will be right 94% of the time. Makes Moneyball look like it doesn't work. This is the best Moneyball in town. And once you realize that 94% of the time the person who wins is the one who raises the most money, you realize you are living in an auction-based government. You are not living in a democracy.
And the reason Wall Street gets the appropriate villainy that it does is because Wall Street is the best vehicle to purchase the government. At the end of the day though, the issue is not Wall Street in the sense that you need to have some sort of capital -- you need to have some investment structure for the country to function. But at the end of the day you cannot have any economic structure -- imagine if all the whale blubber guys that made all the lights in New York could buy the government to prevent electricity. That's what we're talking about. The world's changed. Health care is different. Education is different. Energy is different. We're all stuck in the 1950's from when Dwight Eisenhower came back after the war and made this country. Well it's going to be 2020 and we're going to blink our eyes and we're stuck in 1950! We have a problem solving mechanism from the 1700's! When there's 1000 solutions to a problem and you're stuck with two bogus parties. You got a crappy solution from the Democrats and a solution from the Republicans that makes you afraid you're going to die.
And you're like -- well, I got crap or death, what am I going to go with this year. I guess I'll go with crap. That's no way to live. And your point is "we're not going to live that way." Because you guys know that the problem solving mechanisms that exist now exist! And so do a lot of other people. But the question for us tonight is not any of that. The question is are we going to have the awareness as a group to observe the ball of energy that is here. Honor it. And respect it. And then figure out how we're going to convert that energy into action for 2012 that will advance our agenda. And we cannot advance our agenda, whatever our agenda may be, and everybody's agenda is probably different. But whatever you agenda is it does not stand a chance as long as you live in an auction based government which is why we gotta get the goddamn money out.
And so people think I'm crazy but the fact of the matter is we amended the constitution to outlaw beer, we amended it again to make beer legal again, that's two amendments! And you're telling me we can't amend the constitution to separate business and state, amid pervasive evidence of an auction-based government that's being bought? I think not! The fact of the matter is just because the politicians are bought does not mean that because uniquely, for the first time in the history of the world, the Pharoes screwed over all the poor people in Egypt, the samurai screwed over the people in Asia, they were screwing everybody over in London in the 1850's. The rich people and the government have been screwing everybody over for as long as there have been rich people, government and people. So the only thing that is novel here is that we suddenly have the ability to share information.
And the question is will we be able to exploit our ability to share information such that we can effect positive change or will we get so toxified by the information that we destroy ourselves. And the only way to avoid that -- because I've done a number on myself the past few years, my own frustration is the feeling of an inability to do anything. You don't even want to know. I'm finally at a point where I realize if I don't harness the energy I will destroy myself. I feel that that though is true for everybody else. So I'm offering this as a solution that I found myself and I am offering it to you as a something -- as a concept for you to consider and debate as the action item coming off of this energy. And the action item is a single principle. Separate business and state. We have a chance and if we have a chance, we have something to do for the next year.