Eugene Paslov: Should we be concerned about the demonstrations?
For the Nevada Appeal
The New York Times’ Nicholas Kulish on Sept. 27 reported on demonstrations in India, Spain, Israel, and other major democracies. The protests were based on economics and a growing income inequality.
In a others words, income is being redistributed to the wealthiest segments of societies, at the expense of the middle and working classes. People are angry. They don’t feel in control of their destinies and worry about their children’s future. There’s a new political class emerging. It’s allegiance is to money, markets, and greed.
Great Britain had riots. The country’s leadership (conservative) explained the riots as caused by teen criminal elements and exacerbated by irresponsible parents. Perhaps. But if one peels back the “onion skin of reality” the groups that were rioting were poor, unemployed, minority and young people who had little access to skilled jobs or higher education. Another dangerous trend. If left unchecked it will infect the entire country.
The Kulish article also described huge demonstrations in Israel, some of the largest ever. Regardless of party, Israeli citizens are deeply angry about lack of concern for the middle class. An Israeli, Mr. Levi, (born on Degania, Israel’s first kibbutz) said the protests in Israel were not: “acts of anger but of reclamation, of a society hijacked by a class known in Hebrew as hon veshilton, meaning a nexus of money and power. It sounds like anger. The rise of market forces produced a sense of public disengagement.”
Mr. Levi suggested the feeling that the job of a citizen was limited to occasional trips to polling places to vote. He concluded, “We have lost a sense of responsibility for one another.” If we have not yet done that in the U.S., we are on our way. A dangerous trend.
A group of protesters demonstrated on Wall Street (now spreading around the country). These peaceful citizens are angry because the Wall Street power brokers almost drove our country to the financial abyss, never accepted responsibility, taxpayers bailed them out and the brokers are now wallowing in billions/trillions. No reinvestment in the U.S. (making more money overseas.) None went to jail. The middle and working classes, however, lost their jobs, their homes, and their futures. When the protesters demonstrated, they were attacked by the police. They didn’t walk on the proper path. Where is thejustice?
We have an opportunity to make our Republic responsive to the middle class and the needs of all. But people must act. Ben Franklin, allegedly, when asked after signing the Declaration of Independence what he had done, responded: “I have created a Republic, if you can keep it.”
We are in danger of losing it. Let’s keep it.
• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.