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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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IPS Blog

Entries tagged "occupy"

The Nonsense Zone

May 22, 2012 ·

The Institute for Policy Studies is honored to join the long list of respected individuals and organizations that Bill O’Reilly has attacked on his Fox News show. During the opening segment of his May 22 tirade, O’Reilly attacked us for serving as the Occupy movement's "headquarters." He even implied that some central figure is making decisions about what color Occupy "agitators" should wear. These are hilarious claims about a movement that defiantly makes decisions through the direct participation of all of its members, rather than in a top-down process. And that would include fashion choices.

We don't know how O'Reilly and his colleagues cooked up their theories. They didn't bother to contact us before staging this attack. But IPS is nevertheless grateful for this opportunity to showcase our proud history of public scholarship on inequality, peace, justice, and the environment.

We have worked on the issue of inequality for two decades. We host one of the leading web sites for facts, figures and analysis, www.inequality.org. Our annual Executive Excess report, now in its 18th year, garners major mainstream media coverage on the growing gap between CEO and worker pay. Recently, IPS was invited to give testimony on this research to the Senate Budget Committee. IPS is also doing a great deal of research on the transition away from a speculative Wall Street economy to a green and demilitarized Main Street economy.

IPS researchers were very pleased when the Occupy encampments raised awareness of the growing problems with extreme inequality and how war spending fuels the economic crisis. During his broadcast, O’Reilly claimed that the Occupy movement is no longer about inequality. He's wrong. This movement continues to highlight the great divide between the 1 percent and the 99 percent, and it continues to draw attention to how a casino Wall Street has crashed our economy and corrupted our politics. The Occupy movement has brought these vital issues into dinner conversations across this country.

Starting last fall, IPS conducted workshops on inequality, environmental justice, and ending wars, with Occupy DC. We offered to let them use our space for meetings when the weather was bad or on weekends. Two weeks ago, IPS offered them space in our offices where they are producing an online newspaper called DC Mic Check. SEIU, the dynamic union of janitors and other service workers, has made a contribution to help us cover the costs.

IPS is an independent, nonpartisan, and non-profit organization. For nearly half a century, we have worked with and provided research and analysis to a diverse set of social movements, unions, and others for peace, justice, and the environment. Thank you, Bill O’Reilly, for putting us in the spotlight.

John Cavanagh is the director of the Institute for Policy Studies. www.ips-dc.org

Police Can't Raid Our Dreams

February 6, 2012 ·

McPherson Square after the raid. Photo by Rick Reinhard.This past weekend, I stood in the rain at Occupy DC as police in riot gear trampled through the camp at McPherson Square. I ran as they charged the crowd with police horses. I watched as they grabbed clothing, books, tents, shoes, and other personal property, and tossed it all into dumpsters.

Some are asking how the Occupy movement will accomplish anything now. I say, it already has. It has already changed our world.

I marched through New York in September of last year on the first day of Occupy Wall Street. I laid down my sleeping bag in the open air in Zuccotti Park on the first intense nights of the occupation. Then, I brought my sleeping bag back to Washington DC, where I live. With some hopeful companions, I began occupying McPherson Square on K Street, home to some of the most corrupt lobbyists in the world. We held meetings in the cool October air, not yet the biting chill of winter. And we went to work building a library, a clinic, a kitchen, a media center — a small village. A second camp quickly emerged in another part of town, within sight of Congress.

I occupied because the rich are too rich, because Wall Street and the corporations control too much, and because all of our governments won’t even begin to seriously address some of the biggest challenges of our time, like climate change. I occupied because, like so many in the 99 percent, I am fed up with the status quo. I occupied because people are suffering all over the country and all over the world, while the power to build a better future is in our hands.

Now, most of Occupy DC has been emptied. Many occupiers were made homeless. Miraculously, the cops spared my humble little tent, with a newly broken pole, but sleeping in the park would now likely get me arrested. (I hadn’t slept at the park recently anyway. Another occupier was staying in my tent.)

Was it all worth it? Yes, and I’ll do it again.

This week, the Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing about inequality and social mobility, hearing from experts like Sarah Anderson at the Institute for Policy Studies, who has published studies on the CEO-worker pay gap for 18 years. Would the Senate be doing this before Occupy? Probably not.

Mitt Romney is struggling to shed the stigma of being a “one percent candidate,” because his Richie Rich image continues to harm his campaign. Even Newt “Huge Tiffany’s Tab” Gingrich is making jabs at Romney’s wealth. Would this have happened before Occupy? Probably not.

One of President Barack Obama’s favorite stump speeches these days is on making the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share, which would reduce inequality in this country. Would this have become a favorite presidential refrain before Occupy? Probably not.

A thousand plans are afoot to “re-occupy” this spring. But even if the camps were to end now, the Occupy movement has made millions of Americans think harder about our economic, environmental, and political realities, and that has the potential to change everything. It has created spaces for us to bring a bold new world to life. It has sparked conversations and ideas that no police barricade can hold back. And it has opened dreams that we are all still dreaming — whether we campers are allowed to sleep or not.

Lacy MacAuley wears two hats, which isn’t always easy. She is the media relations manager at the Institute for Policy Studies and a participant in the Occupy movement. www.ips-dc.org