Elaine Hirsch, Kmareka’s West Coast correspondent, sends a post about some of the professionals who volunteer their skills at Occupy Wall Street. Here in Providence the need is clear, and Occupiers with first aid skills have responded and in cooperation with Public Safety have helped people in need get to the Emergency Room. Health security for the 99% would free our workers from scrambling for a job with benefits or being one health emergency away from financial disaster. Small businesses would be the first to benefit, and I know some doctors who would welcome an integrated system that let them do what they went to school for– and I don’t mean billing.
Occupy Wall Street’s Healthcare
A number of sympathetic doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and other healthcare professionals have banded together to volunteer their time, seeking to provide free medical care for the Occupy Wall Street protesters. A number of the healthcare professionals involved in the endeavor identify with an informal group calling itself Doctors for the 99%. These caretakers’ assistance goes beyond merely supporting the Occupy protests, but in its way constitutes its own protest, adding dissatisfaction with the American healthcare system to college and master’s degree debt, bank bailouts, joblessness, and other woes.
Some of the doctors have occupied an abandoned hospital, while elsewhere round-the-clock care is available in a surplus medical tent reminiscent of an old M.A.S.H. Set. Most of the care being offered is relatively rudimentary. There have been reports of nurses stitching wounds and doctors providing over-the-counter medication, but most of the care seems to be basic first aid and preventive treatment.
A major goal seems to have been to limit the spread of contagious disease in the cramped conditions common in the protest camps. To that end, a number of doctors from Columbia Health Center and Doctors for a National Health program recently arrived to offer free flu shots. As winter approaches, another major focus of the medical team has been educating the protesters about warning signs that indicate the beginning stages of hypothermia.
According to Pauly Kostora, a licensed practical nurse from New Mexico, protesters will also be able to find free mental health treatment.
The healthcare system in place among the protesters is limited, and the professionals volunteering their time rely considerably on actual hospitals. No doctors have come forward to acknowledge providing prescriptions, and when protesters arrive with serious injuries, nurses are instructed to call emergency services.
The volunteers are either sympathetic to the movement or have joined its ranks outright. The doctors and nurses report anger over the state of healthcare in the United States, and view the assistance they’re offering to the protesters as a contribution to the fight for universal health care. The doctors and nurses appear to be working day jobs, and finding time to offer aid to the protesters during their off-hours.
Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead.
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
At our darkest hour we gave these banks every single thing they asked for. We allowed investment banks to borrow money at zero percent interest rate, directly from the Fed. We gave them taxpayer cash right onto their balance sheets. We allowed them to suspend account rules and pretend that the toxic sludge they were carrying was worth 100 cents on the dollar. Anything to stave off insolvency. We left thousands of executives in place at these firms. Nobody went to jail, not a single perp walk. I can’t even think of a single example of someone being fired. People resigned with full benefits and pensions, as though it were a job well done.
The American taxpayer kicked in over a trillion dollars to help make all of this happen. But the banks didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. The banks didn’t seize this opportunity, this second chance to re-enter society as a constructive agent of commerce. Instead, they went back to business as usual. With $20 billion in bonuses paid during 2009. Another $20 billion in bonuses paid in 2010. And they did this with the profits they earned from zero percent interest rates that actually acted as a tax on the rest of the economy.
Instead of coming back and working with this economy to get back on its feet, they hired lobbyists by the dozen to fight tooth and nail against any efforts whatsoever to bring common sense regulation to the financial industry. Instead of coming back and working with the people, they hired an army of robo-signers to process millions of foreclosures. In many cases, without even having the proper paperwork to evict the homeowners. Instead, the banks announced layoffs in the tens of thousands, so that executives at the top of the pile could maintain their outrageous levels of compensation.
We bailed out Wall Street to avoid Depression, but three years later, millions of Americans are in a living hell. This is why they’re enraged, this why they’re assembling, this is why they hate you. Why for the first time in 50 years, the people are coming out in the streets and they’re saying, “Enough.”
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