John Cavanagh, director of the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies spoke to Press TV's U.S. Desk on Wednesday about the impact of the Occupy movement and its future as well as the recent pepper spraying of protesters by the police at UC Davis.
Cavanagh said that in order to understand the current situation, one has to look back to the late 1970s or 1980s where "what you realize is that a lot of the framework for the national conversation in the United States over the past thirty years, was set by the election of Ronald Reagan back in 1980" and the message that the economy was broken due to too much government and that "we need to free corporations and the free market in order to create prosperity. Get government out of the way, get rid of regulations and let the free market reign and this was the dominant philosophy for thirty years and they also argued that, they acknowledged that inequality would probably rise."
"A lot of what the Occupy movement did was it said; partly it was the embodiment of the antithesis of that overall frame. It was filled with young people who were smart, who'd studied hard, who'd gone to college ... who were saddled with large debts that they couldn't get out of, and so the myth that we are an opportunity society and that anyone can rise has really been destroyed by Occupy … once you break that myth that anyone can rise, then the fact that we are so grotesquely unequal and our society has become, over these thirty years, one of the most unequal in the world, but once it's now clear to most people that you can't rise, then that inequality becomes something that's really a problem, that it's bad. And so I think the main thing the Occupy movement has done is it has raised the issue of inequality, of the 99% versus the 1%, and it has helped people understand why this is bad for most people and why it's corrosive of our democracy and so that's a huge impact," Cavanagh added.
With regards to the UC Davis police officers pepper spraying students who were sitting calmly on the ground, Cavanagh said the impact on the public was more of a moral response and that "the majority of people who know about this think it's outrageous that the police would do this. It was clearly an excessive use of force and it has drawn more sympathy to the protesters."
Cavanagh continued that the Occupy movement was going to be very important, not just in the weeks to come, but in the months to years to come. "It really has changed the framework of debate here. It has introduced inequality and the casino nature of Wall Street into the center of the conversation, so that will continue … but there is no question now that it will have a very big impact on public debate and on the future of this country."