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Wednesday April 16th 2014

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Outtakes 12/01/11

WHY OCCUPY Sean works retail. The 20-something is college educated, another one of Pensacola’s educated and underemployed workforce. He describes himself as an Occupy Pensacola sympathizer.

Sean is a lucky one. He has a job, but he admires his friends that camped at City Hall in November. He brought them food and water and stood with them when he could.

Sean isn’t an anarchist. He’s not a socialist or communist, but he knows things have to change. The divisions–economic, political and philosophical–in this country are tearing it apart.

All the elected officials from the White House to Pensacola City Hall profess that they want to create jobs. Republicans tell us that we have to cut corporate taxes and maintain tax breaks for the wealthy to do it. Democrats say that rebuilding the economy on the backs of the middle class won’t do it.

Sean doesn’t know which side is right, but he can look around Pensacola and see that things are not working.

“People tell me that Occupy should do what they’re doing through the system,” Sean told me as he checked me out. “But what do you do when the system is broken?”

State and national politics are controlled by those with money. Heck, Rick Scott purchased the governorship with his fortune. Sen. Marco Rubio’s income quadrupled during his ten years in the Florida Legislature.

Dummy think tanks and foundations are created almost daily to produce reports and “studies” to validate political agendas. The line between real news and fake news has become blurred.

Meanwhile the rich get richer by cutting worker benefits, downsizing and taking advantage of incentives offered by the federal, state and local governments. Banks are bailed out, while they continue to foreclose on homes, charge insanely high credit card fees and create new bank fees.

“This isn’t about a political change,” said Sean. “We’re looking for a cultural change and that isn’t going to happen overnight.”

Sean makes a good point. We’ve strayed away from the values that built this country. Profits have been placed before people. We offer corporate tax breaks and incentives and finance them by cutting funds for education, the elderly and those most vulnerable.

We fight for military funding, but cut back on care for the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. We build jails and prisons, instead of community centers and libraries.

Sean and his friends in the Occupy Pensacola movement have made us look in the mirror. It’s time we change.