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Why I’m here – Member X

(“Why I’m here” is a series of essays, written by different members of Occupy Binghamton, to explain two simple things: Why they are a part of the movement, and what end results they wish to see.  This is done in the hope of greater understanding of one another, and so we may find what common ground we have, being such a diverse group, and moving forward with that.)

By: Member X

Why am I here?

I grew up with the notion that if you worked hard you could get somewhere — or at least feed your family. My father worked as manufacturer at a local company. He started as a young adult in the 70’s. He wasn’t ambitious, he just wanted to provide for his family and keep and maintain social relationships through church and sport activities. He worked hard, eagerly gulping up any overtime and when none was available he often found part time work to supplement his income. Though he was able to avoid many of the perilous layoffs of the nineties his pay stopped rising with the cost of living and our family went into significant debt. He eventually fell victim to a layoff several years after his function had been sold. It didn’t matter how many decades he put into the business, the timing was just off when the function had transitioned. He has no pension. My parents are in debt, the house that they built their dreams on they could no longer maintain and is going through foreclosure. They believe in hard work so much that they blame themselves. They are humiliated.

I myself took a job through a temp agency when I was 19 and was “contracted” out to a company who, only a few years prior, had told their temps that going from “temp” status as a direct employee to working through a temp agency as a contracted employee was a good move for their employment. I stayed with it for many years until I found work at a local manufacturing plant. Starting from the bottom I had no choice but to go in on 3rd shift. My body just couldn’t take it. I left after 6 months, the headaches had become unbearable. This was a good thing in the long run, as this company ended up closing. I was eagerly picked up by my old employer, without losing anything but that 2nd week of vacation that I could never recover due to policy changes. Getting loans is difficult when you work for a temp agency, even when you have open-ended contracts. The health coverage that was extended was a joke. The maximum benefit allowance wasn’t much more than what you had to pay into it to begin with. After 10 years (cumulative) with this company, I was hired by our client. There are two of us that have been hired out of the hundreds (thousands?) that have come through here, some having been here nearly 15 years. People would sometimes ask why I stayed. Most people that I knew that had left for greener pastures ended up layed off mere months after leaving.

Now I make decent enough pay. I have a 401(k) (have you ever looked to see what companies are bundled into your mutual funds? Ask yourself, “do i really want a stake in THIS company thriving?”) and I have benefits. And everyday I see people walk through these doors that make barely more than minimum wage, no benefits to speak of and a variety of 4 yr. degrees. When it floods and they can’t make it into work – they don’t get paid and I do. Have I worked hard? I’d like to think so, but I can acknowledge that the difference between me and them is due to a variety of factors, many of which I have no control over.

I’m here because my avgeragish income shouldn’t be a “success story” among my peers. I’m here because I have relatively low debt that I can barely keep up with, I can’t imagine the folks who stayed in school thinking it was the right thing and now cannot find employment. I’m here for all those who utter “I just want to feed my family” or “I just want to know what it feels like to have a future.” I’m here because I see a chance to demonstrate the effectiveness of direct democracy. I’m here because I want my daughter to grow up in a society that values equity. I’m here because I’m sick of the Wall St. Casino determining when we thrive and when we starve. I’m here because the corporate/government empire has no clothes and regardless of whether or not it “changes” anything we need to at least stand up and say it.

I’m here because though I’m pegged as a progressive liberal and identify myself as an anarchist, I have more in common with the right wing libertarian than either of us has with our counterparts on the hill/in the white house and those whose money comes from hard speculation, not hard work.

The motto appeals to the 99%, but I do not begrudge many of those in that 1% who have worked hard to get there (though I do find it difficult to comprehend how one person’s time can be valued at several times more than another person’s).

We have all heard that power corrupts. For too long we have allowed corruption to empower. We keep playing the same game hoping for a different outcome. We have left our rage to the devices of the voting booth and allowed the pulling of a lever to release our steam. Our anger can be put to better use. I hope to see more people deciding to get involved in their own destinies rather awaiting the marching orders of the latest corporate propaganda. My desire is that Americans become comfortable in being a part of the solution instead of hoping that government will stop servicing the larger corp. interests over the interests of the people. I hope that we learn that we do not need to fear the collapse of the mighty because we can take care of each other. That’s what is going on right now on Wall st. A group of people democratically deciding how to take care of one another in direct defiance to those who normally use that street to play their power games.

What is my one demand? I only demand things from those whose power I acknowledge. Therefore I demand one thing – I ask of myself to root out the ways my dollar supports the tyranny of corporate interests. It’s a hard demand. I hope I’m up for the challenge.

What do I desire? I desire that the federal government and large corporations choose to clean up their acts and put employees before stock holders, that wall street stops playing games, that our gov. stop warring against the world in the name of “democracy” — while folks are still content on showing their anger in mostly legal, peaceful ways. I’m not holding my breath.

What do I hope? That more and more of us decide to work together in networks of solidarity, choosing to acknowledge our common needs over the claims of those who have so effortlessly divided us.

Why I’m here – Nico

(“Why I’m here” is a series of essays, written by different members of Occupy Binghamton, to explain two simple things: Why they are a part of the movement, and what end results they wish to see.  This is done in the hope of greater understanding of one another, and so we may find what common ground we have, being such a diverse group, and moving forward with that.)

By: Nico Meyering

My name is Nico. I’m part of the Occupy Binghamton movement because I see the exact same faces at nearly all of my area-based volunteer efforts. The men and women who come to my weekly soup kitchen are the same men and women I see in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, and these are also the same men and women who are suffering most from the region’s recent flood.

I come from an upper-middle class family, and I was raised to believe that I had a duty to help the less fortunate. Sadly, this belief isn’t shared by the vast majority of the American uber-rich. We’re not just living in a “me first” world. We’re living in a “me first, you last” world. I’m here because honesty is an incredibly important trait for me, and if I look at my life honestly, I have to reconcile myself with the fact that there are things I will never be able to do.

America’s society and sociopolitical environment is rapidly growing into one where we’d sooner slash Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and other government assistance programs than narrow the gap between the Rich and the Rest Of Us. We have a new American dream these days: it used to be something like, “If you work hard, you will succeed.” Now, it’s “If you have a lot of money, you can do anything!”

I rely on Social Security. I rely on Medicaid. I have relied on college loans and on public transit. I am unspectacular in this regard; remember, if the Rich win, I will suffer. We will all suffer.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied to the American public and were indirectly responsible for the murder of many US servicepeople and Iraqi civilians. They got away with it. With few exceptions, big honchos on Wall Street fleeced investors and the American public out of millions of dollars. They got away with it. I am a firm believer in punishing those who do wrong things, and it grates on me to know that these bastards got away with murder, sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively.

We must not fracture, we must get angry. We must not lay down, we must speak out. We must not be easily placated, we must demand our share. My sense of social justice is tied heavily into my sense of social retribution.

My goals for the movement are these:

  • Increased outrage over the aforementioned income gap.
  • An increased call for more entry-level jobs.
  • Reduced college costs.
  • An increase in the number of white-collar criminals tried and convicted for various money-based crimes.”

What this is about

For those of you who read this blog, I would like to announce we will soon have a series of posts, from different members, as to why we are in this movement and what we want the end result to be.  The reason for this is threefold:

1) The movement is very diverse politically. It will help to know where we each stand, so we can establish what *common* goals we have – so we can move forward toward those common goals.

2) Unless we start recognizing what we have in common and what to do with that, all we’re doing is saying we don’t like something – which isn’t proactive.

3) This could help inspire other Occupy groups, and could really push bringing out what the movement as a whole has in common, so we can start moving in that direction.


Organizational Meeting
September 26, 2011
(12 in attendance)

Meeting assembled at 7:02pm

Opened the meeting with introductions and a reading of Occupy Wall street’s General Assembly Points of Solidarity.
We then held a brainstorm session regarding visions individuals had for action.
Ideas were proposed for
some going down to the main Occupation on Wall street.
engage in providing resources for those already in NYC
be a visible presence in Binghamton some messages could include:
support local economy, buy local
work for local economy
better to focus on helping, not getting attention.
press campaign?
distribute information
civil disobedience/shut down traffic? (discussion of direct impact)The concern was raised about negatively impacting the very people the movement is trying to help.
Ethan L. proposal: The park on corner of state and court, have a community barbeque. Due a supply drive there. Two or three events to gain popularity.

Ethan L. volunteered to head up coordinating the supplies for the care packages. (Post on facebook group the list of things)

Randy volunteered to make up some fliers, several offers were made to distribute.

Nico volunteered to coordinate the food.

Ethan R(?) volunteered to record sessions synched with notes.

Some misc. ideas-

request songs (ex. RAtM) on radio in solidarity and to raise awareness.

flyer local businesses/schools/parking lots.

contact citizen action about bus to use down to NYC?

use Binghamton office to offer free legal aid?

Next meeting September 29 @ Rec Park, 5:30pm, main item on agenda will be the free meals in downtown.

Adjourned @ 8:10

The time has come for fighting in the street

Greetings!  This is the official blog of Occupy Binghamton (Binghamton, NY), or that is to say, the voice of Binghamton’s 99%.  We are here to stand, allied with our brothers and sisters down on Wall St who have begun the revolution against consolidated economic power, and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters here in America and across the world who suffer due to these conditions.  We occupy together – not just in New York, but in America.  Time to take back what is ours.

Our organization is democratic – horizontal, not hierarchical.  We are structured to cooperate in the best way possible to be as effective as possible in achieving our end goals and fulfilling the promise of the Occupy Movement.

This blog will be used to keep track, for you the reader, of our goings on, of opinions of different members, and of the minutes of what goes on at our open meetings.  You can subscribe by e-mail at the bottom.  We fight for you, will you follow us?