Occupy Wall St. inspires new book

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Phil Mennitti never thought he’d write a book, but all it took was a bit of inspiration.

Motivated by the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, Mennitti, who works for the Punxsutawney Area School District, wrote “A Commoner’s Guide to Defeating the Aristocracy,” a book about Wall Street’s influence on the government and how its influence has destroyed the highest standard of living in the world.

“I was kind of inspired (by the OWS Movement) because I saw that everybody else felt the way I did,” he said. “And it didn’t die off. It kept growing — day after day.”

According to occupywallst.org, OWS is a people-powered movement that began Sept. 17 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to more than 100 cities in the United States and actions in more than 1,500 cities globally.

OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.

Furthermore, the movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and aims to fight back against the richest one percent of people who are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on the future.

According to Mennitti, the first half of the book is dedicated to explaining the current problems facing the country in easy-to-understand terms. The second half of the book is dedicated to the solutions that will fix the problems.

Problem No. 1 is money in politics, he said.

“In my opinion, the biggest thing we need to pursue is removing money from politics,” he said. “Politicians are constantly campaigning, constantly accepting contributions from lobbyists and large corporations. And all those contributions come with an ‘IOU’ attached. So when they get elected into office, they have to repay the favor.”
Mennitti said the solution to this core problem is to reform campaign financing.

“Once we eliminate that and have the politicians focused on doing their jobs in office, then I believe the rest kind of takes care of itself,” he said.

Corporate personhood, which classifies corporations as people too, is also part of the problem, he said.

“So basically, you can give an unlimited amount of money to whoever you want to run for Congress, and they can bombard the airwaves with commercial after commercial after commercial,” he said. “Until it’s Election Day, and you walk into the voting booth because you’re so familiar with their ads and names.”

If this doesn’t change, Mennitti is scared of what will happen to the United States.

“We’re no longer going to be a superpower,” he said. “I’m not going to say that we’re going to fall to a dictatorship, but we’re certainly not going to be in the position that we are in today. We need to legislate to benefit the masses, not continue this legislation that only benefits the elite.”

Mennitti’s 162-page book will be available in 2,500 stores across the county, and in about three weeks, it will be available in all digital formats, including the Apple iPad, the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

Mennitti, an honors graduate from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, earned two degrees in education and has been a substitute school teacher in the Punxsutawney district since 2007.

“I never anticipated writing a book, or had that as a goal — it just kind of happened,” he said. “I’m very pleased with it. I’m hoping it’s going to motivate someone smarter than me to stand up and take action.”