Today, a Day of Action, called by popular vote at the General Assembly the night of November 9, was held. An “Open University”
Please forgive the advert that precedes this 17 minute clip from Robert Reich’s historic–yes, it’s not even a day old yet, and it’s clear it will be looked back upon as historic–speech to 10,000 gathered at Occupy Cal tonight (Tuesday night, Nov 15). It was the 15th Annual Mario Savio Memorial Lecture, long scheduled for this night, though previously located indoors at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union, which faces the administration building at the other side of Upper Sproul Plaza.
Lest this movement be misunderstood as rudderless or aimless, note that 10,000 were more or less rapt with attention, laughing at side jokes about the Koch brothers.
Here’s the link to the KGO of most of the whole speech on their own page.
Highlights of Reich’s speech:
- “The sentiments and words Mario Savio expressed 47 years ago (on these steps) are as relevant today, if not more relevant today, than they were then.”
- “There are a few (recent) Supreme Court decisions [Citizens United] that said that money is speech, and corporations are people. When you think that money is speech, and corporations are people, then it becomes extraordinarily important to protect the First Amendment rights of ordinary Americans of regular citizens of students and of everyone else that doesn’t have the money, that is not a corporation.”
- “I will believe that corporations are people when Georgia and Texas execute them.”
- “The First Amendment –the right to speak–that is not always convenient; it is not always inexpensive; it is sometimes messy. And because it’s sometimes inconvenient and sometimes expensive and sometimes messy–just like democracy–there is a temptation sometimes to want to contain it; to limit it. But it is more important than it has ever been that we all go out of our way–every one of us: leaders, politicians, those of us who have authority, and those of us who do not have authority–it becomes doubly important that we honor the First Amendment and that we are willing and make ourselves willing to pay the price of freedom of speech…”
- “I don’t want to be presumptuous. You have different issues… Some of you are concerned also about the increasing concentration and income in our society. An increasing concentration, for example, that has meant that the top 400–the 400 richest Americans–now own more of America than the bottom 150 million Americans.”
- “Fundamentally, the problem with concentrated income and wealth… the problem of an educational system that is no longer available to so many young people… is that we are losing equal opportunity in America. We are losing the moral foundation stone on which this country and our democracy are built.”
- “Let me connect the dots. Over the last three decades, this economy has doubled in size. But most Americans have not seen much gain… Where did all the money and resources go? They went to the top.”
- “Let’s be clear about this. We are not vilifying people because they are rich. The problem here is that when so much income and wealth go to the top, political power also goes to the top.”
- “It is not wealth, per se, it is irresponsible use of wealth to undermine our democratic system.”
- “Unlike the time when Mario Savio spoke here, the average CEO was earning 30 times what the average worker was earning. Today, the typical CEO in America is earning more than 300 times what the average worker is earning.”
- “You must feel in your gut that the Occupy movement… are ways in which people are beginning to respond to the crisis in our democracy.”
- “I urge you to be patient with yourselves. Because with regard to every major social movement of the last half-century or more, it started with a sense of moral outrage. Things were wrong. And the actual coalescence of that moral outrage into specific demands or for specific changes came later. The moral outrage was the beginning.”
“The days of apathy are over, folks. Once this has begun, it cannot be stopped; it will not be stopped.”
A great live blog covering the day’s events, and including full audio of the speech, is at The Daily Cal here: “Nov. 15 Day of Action” (Jamie Applegate, Alisha Azevedo, Weiru Fang, Chloe Hunt, Sara Khan, Curan Mehra, Victoria Pardini, Aaida Samad, Anjuli Sastry, Amruta Trivedi, Oksana Yurovsky and Mihir Zaveri of The Daily Californian reporting from the field.)