The 99%: Occupy Everywhere

The 99%: Occupy Everywhere

Directed by Michael Perlman (2013)

Film Review

This is a legacy documentary about the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York city. It includes commentary from several Occupy protestors, from a 90-year old woman who made a daily appearance in Zucuotti Park to support the occupiers, and, most baffling of all, Wall Street economist Jeffrey Sachs. Sachs first came to prominence following the fall of the Soviet Union, when he lead the CIA/Wall Street delegation that administered “shock therapy” to Russia. The “shock therapy” consisted of stripping the country of its financial wealth and handing it over to Wall Street and Russian oligarchs. The process resulted in nearly a decade of misery, as well as a steep reduction in Russian life expectancy.

The film includes some good footage of the mini city that formed in Zuccotti Park to provide occupiers sleeping bags, food, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and even a library. It also captures dramatic footage of the police beating occupiers bloody, long before the final eviction the FBI coordinated with police in cities across the country. The routine brutality was missing as police were shy about assaulting protestors on camera and asked journalists to leave.

Unsurprisingly I disagreed with nearly all the points Sachs made, except for his call to end wasteful foreign wars, his call to reinstate Glass Steagall and his observation that Obama should have appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the banking-led 2008 financial collapse.

His other comments are either factually inaccurate or merely insipid. Some examples:

  • “I believe in the power of representation because this is what our founding fathers voted for.”

Wrong. The US founding fathers only extended representation to a small minority of the population – white male landowners.

  • “What we need to do is lobby for campaign finance reform.”

Americans tried that, but the Supreme Court overturned campaign finance reform laws in 2010 with Citizens United.

  • “We need to close the deficit.”

We don’t need to close the deficit. Deficit spending is the fastest way to put money in the pockets and bank accounts of working Americans during a recession. What needs to change is we need to stop creating debt by borrowing that money from private banks. The Federal Reserve has the power to issue money directly into the economy to cover deficits, just like central banks do in Canada, Japan and China.

  • “We just need to elect politicians who really represent us?”

Americans tried that in 2016 and 2020 (ie Bernie Sanders), and the Wall Street elite wouldn’t Sanders to run as the Democratic Party candidate.

People who belong to a public library can view the film free on Kanopy. Type Kanopy and the name of your library into a search engine.

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