California Federation of Teachers Endorses the Occupy Wall Street Movement

by on October 16, 2011 · 7 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Education

Statement of Support

by Josh Pechthalt, the president of California, AFT

The California Federation of Teachers endorses the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. Occupy Wall Street, and its local variations, represent the legitimate response of the 99% of us adversely affected by growing wealth and income inequality in America. The richest one percent of the population has doubled its share of the nation’s income over the past twenty years. Yet during this time the wealthy received massive tax cuts, a major cause of public budget shortfalls that hurt students, make our streets less safe, and harm the health of children and seniors.

Instead of investing its new found wealth in productive enterprises in the United States, the top 1% moved it offshore or into financial speculation, which ultimately crashed the economy. The 1% also took large amounts of this money and poured it into a public relations effort to blame teachers and other public servants for the economic problems the 1% created.

Occupy Wall Street redirects the attention of the public to the actual causes and parties responsible for the economic crash and recession. The California Federation of Teachers embraces the call of Occupy Wall Street to restore higher taxes on the rich, to re-regulate the banks, and to enact a financial speculation tax. We encourage our members to participate in the OWS actions in their cities. These actions will help restore public budgets for schools and other vital services, and set our state and our country back on the right path.

“The women and men who are participating in Occupy Wall Street have given voice to the suffering and economic uncertainty felt by millions of Americans. One of the main messages of Occupy Wall Street is the need to restore tax levels on the rich and corporations to support public education at all levels. Another is to redirect investment to benefit the 99% of us who aren’t the 1% wealthiest Americans. Educators are proud to stand in solidarity with these principles and this important movement.”

-Josh Pechthalt, CFT President




{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar annagrace October 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I hope to see more statements of support. Not everyone who identifies with the 99% will be camped out with the Occupiers. But we can support them and each other both formally and informally– and should.


avatar Nephi January 5, 2012 at 7:55 pm

That really captures the siript of it. Thanks for posting.


avatar Bill October 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm

We have been mislead by Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama, and nearly every other public figure. Economic growth, job creation, and actual prosperity are not necessarily a package deal. In fact, the first two are horribly misunderstood.

Economic growth/loss (GDP) is little more than a measure of wealth changing hands. A transfer of currency from one party to another. The rate at which it is traded. This was up until mid ’07’ however, has never been a measure of actual prosperity. Neither has job creation. The phrase itself has been thrown around so often, and in such a generic political manner, that it has come to mean nothing.

Of course, we need to have certain things done for the benefit of society as a whole. We need farmers, builders, manufacturers, transporters, teachers, cops, firefighters, soldiers, mechanics, sanitation workers, doctors, managers, and visionaries. Their work is vital.

I’ll even go out on a limb and say that we need politicians, attorneys, bankers, investors, and entertainers. In order to keep them productive, we must provide reasonable incentives. We need to compensate each by a fair measure for their actual contributions to society. We need to provide a reasonable scale of income opportunity for every independent adult, every provider, and share responsibility for those who have a legitimate need for aid.

In order to achieve and sustain this, we must also address the cost of living and the distribution of wealth. Here, we have failed miserably. The majority have already lost their home equity, their financial security, and their relative buying power. The middle class have actually lost much of their ability to make ends meet, re-pay loans, pay taxes, and support their own economy. The lower class have gone nearly bankrupt.

In all, its a multi-trillion dollar loss taken over about 30 years. Millions are under the impression that we need to create more jobs simply to provide more opportunity. as if that would solve the problem. It won’t. Not by a longshot. Jobs don’t necessarily create wealth. In fact, they almost never do. For the mostpart, they only transfer wealth from one party to another. A gain here. A loss there. Appreciation in one community. Depreciation in another. In order to create net wealth, you must harvest a new resource or make more efficient use of one. Either way you must have a reliable and ethical system in place to distribute that newly created wealth in order to benefit society as a whole and prevent a lagging downside. The ‘free market’ just doesn’t cut it. Its a farce.

Many of the jobs created are nothing but filler. The promises empty. Sure, unemployment reached an all-time low under Bush. GDP reached an all-time high. But those are both shallow and misleading indicators. In order to gauge actual prosperity, you must consider the economy in human terms. As of ’08’ the average American was working more hours than the previous generation with far less equity to show for it. Consumer debt, forclosure, and bankruptcy were also at all-time highs. As of ’08’, every major American city was riddled with depressed communities, neglected neighborhoods, failing infrastructures, lost revenue, and gang activity. All of this has coincided with massive economic growth and job production.

Meanwhile, the rich have been getting richer and richer and richer even after taxes. Our nation’s wealth has been concentrated. Again, this represents a multi-trillion dollar loss taken by the majority. Its an absolute deal breaker. Bottom line: With or without economic growth or job production, you must have a system in place to prevent too much wealth from being concentrated at the top. Unfortunately, we don’t. Our economy has become nothing but a giant game of Monopoly. The richest one percent already own nearly 1/2 of all United States wealth. More than double their share before Reagan took office. Still, they want more. They absolutely will not stop. Now, our society as a whole is in serious jeapordy. Greed kills.


avatar annagrace October 16, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I’m with you Bill. There is neither a sustainable economy nor economic justice without systemic changes to the current concentration of wealth. A number of economists have opined that because that concentrated capital is unfettered in a global sense, any attempts to correct the inequity of distribution in this country will be deeply limited. The fact that Occupy Wall street has now been embraced and taken hold in so many countries- Japan, UK, Philippines, Spain, Italy, Germany, etc– makes me hopeful that the necessary global restraints may now be possible. But I am also with you when you said the richest 1% are not about to give up anything. …


avatar Bill October 16, 2011 at 8:59 pm

It’s nice to know that a few of us agree on some big issues but I don’t see much possibility for true reform. Greed is so incredibly intoxicating. It’s gone so far already. Its still spreading like wildfire. Pick up any magazine. Turn on any TV channel. Buy any new product. Greed is everywhere you look. Often disguised as ‘good will’. Meanwhile the entire foundation of our economy is crumbling. I’m afraid that this is the beginning of the end for modern society.


avatar annagrace October 17, 2011 at 9:03 am

Bill- Occupy Wall Street is also spreading like wildfire…


avatar Modest Capitalist October 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Is greed really good? 

Doctor discovers cure and prevention of AIDS. Sells discovery for $5,000,000,000,000. Same doctor discovers cure and prevention of heart disease. Sells discovery for $5,000,000,000,000. Same doctor discovers cure and prevention of Alzheimer. Sells discovery for $1,000,000,000,000. Breast cancer. Brain cancer. Skin cancer. Bone cancer. Colon cancer. Pancreatic cancer. Cervical cancer. Ovarian cancer. Testicular cancer. Banks cover all related investments by the health care industry. Nobody stops to consider that the lower 99 percent combined could never afford such expensive cures. The richest one percent agree to purchase the bulk of material assets along with millions of unsold homes for ten percent of market value. After a two year spike in revenue, the health care industry tanks. The vast majority have gone bankrupt in a desperate attempt to cover those incredibly expensive cures. The profits made in the first two years were nowhere near enough to cover the $20,000,000,000,000 doctor payoff. The largest debts in world history go unpaid. All major banks fail miserably. Followed by every major industry. Unemployment spikes to 90 percent in all of the G20. The global economy tanks. Chaos breaks out worldwide. Meanwhile, the richest man in the world by far, buys an island and hires a small army to protect his $20,000,000,000,000 fortune. 5000 jobs are created. More as the richest one percent worldwide hire additional security. Unemployment drops to 80 percent across the developed world. Widespread chaos remains. Entire cities burn to the ground. The masses finally converge on the richest one percent in every corner of the world. As the bodies pile up, disease breaks out worldwide. When the dust settles, and the bodies rot away, only a few hundred million remain worldwide. Those few hundred million survivors must find a way to get along and rebuild. Hopefully, with a more reliable and ethical system of economics.       

The answer is hell no. Greed kills..


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