After reading the dizzying back-and-forth of comments – more than 120 of them in just two days – on a story Patch ran about Occupy Milwaukee’s planned protest for Saturday, I needed clarity.
At the very least, I needed some explanations.
So I asked Robert Hansen for some answers.
Hansen is a 34-year-old Greenfield resident. He works in a body shop in Milwaukee and is a songwriter for the band The Maze.
A self-described news junkie with an obvious point of view, Hansen is a student of history and politics and has been supporting the Occupy Movement from its conception because he is “concerned with the direction this country has been moving for the last 30 or so years.”
I emailed Hansen a few questions in advance of Saturday’s event. He pointed out his responses were his and his alone, and that other people involved in the Occupy Movement are so for other reasons. He also said the movement is not a fight to end capitalism or anti-American ideology, but simply an attempt to “restore the American Dream for all the citizens of this great nation.”
Whether you agree with Hansen or not, here’s hoping his answers shed light on Saturday’s event.
Greenfield Patch: There seems to be confusion as to what Occupy Milwaukee is all about. As someone who is involved and plans to participate, can you try and explain it. I've read "protests against the financial elite," but what does that really mean?
RH: I don't see how anybody can be confused. The message is clear that there is far too much corporate influence in our politics. People coming out on Saturday have a wide variety of concerns: 30 years of stagnant wages; unfair lending practices leading to home foreclosure by convincing people they could get loans they didn't need at low interest that then ratcheted up to levels they couldn't afford (up 14% in the last quarter); excessive student loan debt with little hope of paying it back in the current economic climate; 22% loss in pensions as a result of the 2008 crash; high unemployment; wealth inequality between men and women and from race to race; illegal wars; outsourcing of jobs; tax cuts in income and capitol gains that unfairly favored the rich; manipulation of financial markets by traders at Wall Street; lack of environmental regulations leading to health risks among the populous; lack of transparency at the Federal Reserve; unfair tax breaks to large corporations instead of small businesses; politicians ignoring the will of their constituents – Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Ron Johnson are good examples here, though Democrats are not immune; the Citizens United ruling, the influence of American Legislative Exchange Council; in our state legislatures, etc.
It all this comes down to one simple and clear thing: corporations are not people and money does not equal speech. We need to have separation of corporation and state. Thomas Jefferson once said, "I hope [that] we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength and [to] bid defiance to the laws of our country." A true visionary in so many ways. This is about economic and social justice.
Greenfield Patch: What do the protesters involved with Occupy Milwaukee hope to achieve? What is the ultimate goal?
RH: The ultimate goal is to bring fairness to the system for all citizens. If you are a politician and you do not do right by the people by continuing to let corporate money influence the way you vote, we the citizens of this great country will vote you out. We are in the streets to educate the 99 percent, to support the 99 percent, because we are the 99 percent.