Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Extending thanks

By Reginald Johnson

I got a note in my email box this week from the fine group “Strengthen Social Security” enititled ‘Something to be thankful for.’

In it they extend their thanks to the many people who worked hard to send letters, made phone calls, held rallies and signed petitions when the call went out to tell Congress not to make cuts to the bedrock safety net programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Everytime Congress threatened these programs, the letter said, “you were there, pushing back. And you were successful.”

While noting that the battle to save the “Big Three” programs isn’t over, there was a major victory this week, with the announcement by the so-called congressional super committee it couldn’t reach agreement on the drive to cut the U.S. debt. The committee at one point had been considering major cuts in the social programs.

“Many people will call this a failure,” the letter said. “But make no mistake, this is a victory for the 99 percent and democracy, and it’s due to your hard work.”

I’d like to second their thoughts. But I also want to say another group should be thanked for thwarting the drive to undermine public assistance programs: all those who are participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Thousands of people, many young, are encamping around the country and rallying everyday to demand accountability from the banks and the financial elite while insisting on a fairer shake for working people. They deserve so much credit. Their persistence has forced a change in the national discussion, from talking about the so-called problems of the budget deficit and the need to cut programs, to talking about income inequality and the needs of “the 99 percent.”

What Occupy Wall Street has already accomplished is amazing --- in just two months. Despite the vicious actions of city leaders like New York’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg to break up the movement by destroying encampments, I think this drive for national economic justice is only going to get stronger. It has the makings of the strongest social change movement in generations.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I tip my hat to all the participants in Occupy Wall Street. Thank you.

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