I remember Howard Jarvis and the tax revolt he led in California. It
all but destroyed our public schools, which had been the envy of the
Now there is a new tax revolt that holds the promise of restoring
public education. It's led by an unlikely radical--a billionaire from
Omaha, Nebraska, named Warren Buffett. He and his wealthy
friends have formed a group called Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal
Strength and have sent a letter to President Obama and the Congress
asking them to raise their taxes and the taxes of the 370,000 other
Americans who earn more than $1 million a year.
"We shouldn't be wallowing in our riches while everybody else is
suffering," one member said. "My country--our country--means more
than my money," another pointed out.
But the wealthy aren't the only ones who recognize inequality when
they see it. Another group, Occupy Wall Street, claims to represent
the disenfranchized 99% of Americans against the wealthy and
powerful 1%. And they aren't afraid of being accused of fomenting
Inspired by the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street has spread from
New York to Kona, Hawaii, driven by social media. Now they have
gone international, impacting the U.K., the European Union and Japan.
Here in Los Angeles, Occupy LA held a massive solidarity march
with unions, camped outside City Hall, disrupted a bankers'
conference at a Newport Beach yacht club and demonstrated outside
a financial executive's Bel Air home.
They also marched with teachers and camped outside the
headquarters of Los Angeles Unified School District.
The movement draws from many segments of society, from college
students to ordinary Americans who are concerned about the
economy. They have no single organizer, but are made up of
individual groups focused on the banking industry's role in the growing
divide between America's rich and poor.
"On some level, I can't blame them," said Ben Bernanke, the chairman
of the Federal Reserve.
"The banks engineered the country's collapse and then is profiting
from it," according to Joe Briones, a film major at L.A. City College
who is helping run the media feed from the City Hall protests here in
Los Angeles. "They did the same thing in the Depression."
Protestors in Newport Beach accused bankers of causing the
economic meltdown by peddling bad loans, accepting govenment
bailouts and then doing little to compensate the country for the
damage they'd caused.
Protests have taken place in several other cities, including Boston,
Chicago and Washington. Participation in the dialogue has come from
Texas, Florida, Oregon and Tennessee. "The conversation has a
strong and steady heartbeat that is spreading. We're seeing national
dialogue morph into pockets of local and topic-based conversation."
"I don't want to be rich. I don't want to live a lavish lifestyle," wrote a
woman on Tumblr. "I'm worried. I'm scared, thinking about the future
shakes me. I hope this works. I really hope this works."
A lot of other people do, too.
and the New