Occupy Wall Street is finishing up its fourth week in Zucotti Park (if they weren’t evicted yesterday), near Wall Street in Manhattan. The massive protest against Wall Street excess has spun off Occupy movements across the United States, including our very own Occupy San Jose movement on the steps of City Hall.
And that in turn spread to, I kid you not, Occupy Palo Alto. The very definition of the one percent has supporters of the other 99, or at least the 99 found the right location, location, location for the one.
Photos by Kirstina Sangsahachart/ Daily News
Some 150 people gathered Wednesday evening in front of a Palo Alto bank to lend their support to the growing Occupy Wall Street movement that has zeroed in on corporate greed and rampant unemployment.
Organized by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, the rally in front of the Bank of America on El Camino Real was one of several that took place across the Bay Area on Wednesday.
"This is an upwelling of frustration, a deep-seated desire for substantive change and a keen awareness of just how unfair and unequal our country has become," said the center’s director, Paul George, as protesters sang and waved signs at passing cars. "I expect to see these kinds of demonstrations happening weekly, daily."
As with the demonstrations in San Francisco and San Jose, the Palo Alto rally was held in front of a bank that received a federal bailout but foreclosed on jobless homeowners. "They got $45 billion in bailout money," George said, motioning to the Bank of America behind him, "and they continue to evict people from their homes."
One reason the movement has caught on has been the 99 percent message. Signs from the Occupy groups tell their stories, and the Tumblr blog We Are the 99 Percent allows anyone to send in a photo with their tale of financial fallout. (Click the image at left for a larger view.) And there are so many of these stories. The enormity of misery and how so many people ended up near-destitute in these tales is what sustains both the demonstrations and those who add in their stories to the blog.
Even in the Real Bay Area, where It’s Special Here, people are living paycheck to paycheck. We’ve discussed some of these ideas on Burbed before, such as the banks’ failure to foreclose on expensive homes, the huge amount of shadow inventory keeping home prices high, and the requirement for two incomes in order to buy even adequate housing. Now rents are shooting up in both San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
For the most part, people who follow a real estate blog do so because they plan to buy or sell property at some point. They are most likely in a better financial position than the typical resident. So given that most of us are doing better than average (We Are the Top 50%), and that with incomes and home prices near the top of the entire country (We are the 1%), how are you feeling about your own financial prospects?
What do you think about them now that a number of economists are admitting that yes indeed, we are in a full-blown Depression? The drop in homeownership rates suggests a Depression as well. Do you feel you’re the “rich” “they” want to tax, or do you consider yourself “middle class”? Does “middle class” even make sense in an economy as atypical as ours, where a sixty year old tract house on 6000 square feet can sell for over $800,000? Or a two-income family taking home more than $200K a year has little disposable income after paying for living expenses? Or as someone recently asked on patrick.net, if you lost your job today, in how many months would you be homeless?