Published: November 23, 2011
MICA’s Shadra Strickland did the right thing to turn her students loose on McKeldin Square (“Drawing a Line,” Feature, Nov. 16). The Occupy Baltimore protest is visual candy for any cartoonist, but I wish the MICA students had done more old-fashioned, print-style reporting. The drawings were fine and they did reflect the hodgepodge atmosphere, but the Occupy effort deserves much, much more.
I’ve spent some time at McKeldin Fountain trying to figure out the meanings behind the jumble of messages, only to be annoyed by a lack of organization. The slovenly, ill-kempt tent city was worrisome as was the free food handed out with no respect for Health Department regulations. I noticed a pile of donated clothes that were soaking wet after they’d been left out in the rain, and when I asked for a position paper from several placard-bearing individuals, they didn’t know what I was talking about. However, I did pick up Atlas Shrugged at the book-swap table, which I thought ironic, as Ayn Rand’s massive tome stridently praises capitalism and the rights of the wealthy.
The Occupy effort should understand that anger without purpose becomes anarchy—and it looks like that’s going to be its next act. Now that Mayor Bloomberg of New York has forcibly evicted Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park, the organizers plan to strike out at the subway system and march across Brooklyn Bridge. This is not a good thing. This is meaningless!
Nevertheless, the rag-tag army has me thinking. Suddenly, I’m becoming aware of today’s dangerous income discrepancies and America’s ill-planned, unending wars that drain our treasury. Add to the mix the impact of new communication methods and you have something resembling prerevolutionary Russia. Back in the early 20th century, Russia had an enormous lifestyle chasm, a frivolous and clueless upper class along with the unwinnable Russo-Japanese war—couple that with a population just learning to read and communicate and you will notice a paradigm.
Today, the first thing we all should be fighting for is reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. Back in the Depression this was the ruling that set up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and brought about some banking reforms to control speculation. But then in 1999 Glass-Steagall was repealed. Once freed from federal constraints, the “masters of the universe” could turn our financial system into a game of Monopoly and managed to wreck the global economy in less than a decade. As a result, American taxpayers have been asked to bail out the banks that were “too big to fail,” and then watched as the guilty parties rewarded themselves lavishly at our expense. I’m glad I’ve spent time at Occupy Baltimore, but I wish the MICA students had looked below the surface. It’s their generation that will have to deal with a wrecked economy, America’s unending wars, and a clueless, self-absorbed upper class!
Rosalind Ellis Heid
Editor’s note: Due to an early deadline for our Holiday Guide issue, this week’s Murder Ink will appear online only; visit citypaper.com/murderink.
In other news, we announce the winners of our annual Fiction and Poetry Contest in next week’s issue.
Oh, and happy Thanksgiving.