A series of teach-in style sessions inspired by the Occupy protests are being held on the Stanford campus tomorrow in an effort to increase awareness about social inequality, the erosion of American democracy and the link between unrestrained growth and the current environmental crisis.
The half-day forum was developed by a coalition of Stanford faculty, students and staff who united under the name Occupy the Future. During the event, faculty, students and community leaders will facilitate discussions on a range of topics including disparities in education and health care, population growth and environmental sustainability. Organizers' outlined three main reasons for creating the forum in a statement (.pdf). The first is:
... the deep and growing division between the have and have-nots. Across multiple areas of life--health, education, income, housing--we see the greatest inequalities the U.S. has known since at least the Great Depression. "We are the 99 percent" is not a mere rhetorical device. It's consistent with data showing that over the past decade only the top one percent of wage earners have seen their incomes rise. The next two to five percent has experienced flat wages, and everyone else has experienced a drop in earnings. The general trend toward increasing inequality has been going on for 30 years, but has now reached unprecedented levels. The top one percent has claimed nearly all of the growth in personal income over the past 20 years, with most of that accruing to the top .1 percent. Consider this staggering fact: in 2009 the net worth of the 400 wealthiest households in the United States exceeds that of the bottom 50 percent of all American households; 400 families have more than 155 million Americans.
The event includes concurrent teach-in sessions from noon-1:15 pm; a public rally from 1:30-3 pm at White Plaza; and an open forum at 3:30 pm in the Oak Room, Tresidder Union. Three of the sessions have a health-care focus. These talks include: Mark Cullen, MD, professor of general medical disciplines on health equity and inequity; Donald Barr, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, on the impact of economic inequality on health care and health status; and Michele Barry, MD, Stanford's director of global health initiatives.