I’ve been following the Occupy Wall Street (#OWS) news for quite some time now – and am fascinated by it. I also followed the news on the bailout and so on. I have felt entirely incapable of commenting on it for lack of knowledge – even though I have followed it much more closely than many others. I’m trying to rectify that a bit. Here I’ve attempted to outline some of the major points of the current unrest and provide links to various resources on the topic that were helpful to me.
I found most of these articles relating to #OWS via StumbleUpon. Interestingly, the articles that have floated to the top of StumbleUpon appear to be overwhelmingly pro-#OWS. It’d be cool if StumbleUpon released some statistics on how folks are rating #OWS related sites in aggregate, and based upon perspective. I’m wondering if the StumbleUpon user base is more pro-OWS than the general population?
The Apparent Issues:
- Income for the majority of individuals has plateaued or is declining, while income is significantly increasing for the wealthy.
- Attempts to lessen the deficit are being proposed or made in what many consider core services – e.g. education, research, infrastructure, and social services.
- The financial rewards from focusing in non-innovative sectors (such as finance) are significantly greater than those in “more beneficial” sectors such as technology, science, and education.
- The financial industry’s reception of a tremendous sum in financial bailouts at almost-no-interest, with very little oversight and in which the “trickle-down” effect to the middle class was insignificant.
- Income inequality encourages those outside of the wealthy to expend finances beyond their financial abilities.
The Apparent Contributors:
- Technology has reduced the needs for unskilled and skilled labor in many areas.
- Globalization has provided access to low-cost workers around the world to corporations.
- Provision of rights to corporations to supply unlimited support to politicians in campaign funds while minimal abilities to legally hold culpable organizations and individuals culpable for unethical actions.
The Apparent Excuses:
- Those who have wealth are those who have worked hardest – the wealth is the reward of their endeavors.
- Those who desire change are attempting to undermine capitalism and move us to a socialistic or communistic government.
- Stiglitz, Joseph E. “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%.” Vanity Fair, May 2011.
- Batra, Ravi. “The Occupy Wall Street Movement and the Coming Demise of Crony Capitalism.” Truthout, Oct. 11, 2011.
- Fullerton, John. “Listening to Occupy Wall Street.” Capital Institute, Oct. 17, 2011.
- Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio. “The Fight for ‘Real Democracy’ at the Heart of Occupy Wall Street.” Foreign Affairs, Oct. 11, 2011.
- Gautney, Heather. “Why Occupy Wall Street wants nothing to do with our politicians.” Washington Post, Oct., 21, 2011.
- Captain, Sean. “The Demographics of Occupy Wall Street.” Fast Company, Oct. 19, 2011.
- Horgan, John. “Dear Occupy Wall Street: Read Jeffrey Sachs!” Scientific American, Oct. 11, 2011.
- Ramsey, Dave. “Dear Occupy Wall Street.” Oct. 19, 2011.
- Luhby, Tami. “Who is the top 1% for income?” CNNMoney, Oct. 20, 2011.
- Udargo, Max. “Open Letter to that 53% Guy.” Daily Kos. Oct. 12, 2011. (HT: Juli Hamilton)
- Bessey, Sarah. “Occupy Wall Street: A Greater Purpose.” Relevant Magazine, Oct. 25, 2011.
- McCracken, Brett. “Occupy Wall Street: A Deeper Problem.” Relevant Magazine, Oct. 25, 2011.
- Baldwin, Alec. “What Occupy Wall Street Has Taught Me.” Huffington Post, Nov. 16, 2011.
- “The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.” – Joseph E. Stiglitz, Vanity Fair.
- “According to the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget office, the bailout created nearly 1.5 million jobs. Even if we accept the administration’s claim of four million, the bailout was extremely wasteful and enormously enriched the rich. Dividing 800 billion by four million yields 200,000. In other words, the government spent $200,000 to create one job. When the average wage is less than $50,000 per year, where did the other $150,000 go? This suggests that companies that hired those four million people received $150,000 for each job they created…It is clear that the bailouts, Bush’s and Obama’s, were extremely wasteful and hugely enriched the opulent.” – Ravi Batra, Truthout.
- “When the government bails out mega banks and Wall Street firms, it amounts to shooting the economy in the foot. Our president seeks to bring about change, which was his campaign slogan. But once elected, he got sidetracked by thinking that change is possible through compromise. This has never happened before. Never in history have the exploited prospered by cooperating with the exploiter.” – Ravi Batra, Truthout.
- “During my trip to Zuccotti Park last week, I learned that OWS is first and foremost about restoring democracy in America. That’s a bipartisan ideal I can get behind…OWS as I understand it today, is building a civil disobedience movement of everyday people who are fed up with Wall Street’s corrupting influence on our Democracy.” – John Fullerton, Capital Institute.
- “I support the non-violent movement “OWS” to restore true democracy in America. While we must speak truth to power on Wall Street (more on this to come, and change is coming), this is not, in my judgment, first about the bankers—there are many good and hard-working people on Wall Street. Nor, I hope, is this about the divisive message “We are the 99 percent.” It’s about the idea of what Wall Street has become, and the corrosive effect it has had on the Republic.” – John Fullerton, Capital Institute.
- ” One obvious and clear message of the protests, of course, is that the bankers and finance industries in no way represent us: What is good for Wall Street is certainly not good for the country (or the world). A more significant failure of representation, though, must be attributed to the politicians and political parties charged with representing the people’s interests but in fact more clearly represent the banks and the creditors.” – Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Foreign Affairs.
- “If together these different protest encampments — from Cairo and Tel Aviv to Athens, Madison, Madrid, and now New York — express a dissatisfaction with the existing structures of political representation, then what do they offer as an alternative? What is the “real democracy” they propose?…The clearest clues lie in the internal organization of the movements themselves — specifically, the way the encampments experiment with new democratic practices. These movements have all developed according to what we call a “multitude form” and are characterized by frequent assemblies and participatory decision-making structures. (And it is worth recognizing in this regard that Occupy Wall Street and many of these other demonstrations also have deep roots in the globalization protest movements that stretched at least from Seattle in 1999 to Genoa in 2001.)” – Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Foreign Affairs.
- “Do not wait for the encampments, then, to develop leaders or political representatives. No Martin Luther King, Jr. will emerge from the occupations of Wall Street and beyond. For better or worse — and we are certainly among those who find this a promising development — this emerging cycle of movements will express itself through horizontal participatory structures, without representatives.” – Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Foreign Affairs.
- “Occupy does not speak the language of party or ideology, and this has not boded well for a system that relies on polls, predictability and reductive thought. Social movements are, by their very nature, complex, organic and indeterminate. They operate at the deepest levels of how we view each other and the world we live in.” – Heather Gautney, Washington Post.
- “But at the end of the day, Romney, Obama and Cain are only symptoms of a much deeper problem. Corporate-sector experience has become a golden gateway to political power, and this inner circle is essentially closed to average citizens, regardless of their knowledge and experience.” – Heather Gautney, Washington Post.
- “Occupy Wall Street is an otherwise unaffiliated group of concerned citizens who have come together with the general purpose of holding Wall Street (as the drivers of an increasingly undemocratic power structure) accountable for their fiscal recklessness and criminal perversion of the democratic process. We are a bunch of people like you and me who came together and said ‘enough’! We will not remain passive as formerly democratic institutions become the means of enforcing the will of only 1-2% of the population who control the magnitude of American wealth.” – Flyer quoted by John Horgan, Scientific American.
- “Compensation for CEOs, which in 1970 was 40 times the average pay of workers, was 1,000 times greater by 2000. The gap between rich and poor is greater than at any time since the late 1920s, just before the Depression. Meanwhile, the IRS allows powerful corporations to “hide their profits in offshore tax havens.” Even Google, which is supposedly so hip and progressive, engages in a “tax dodge.” According to Sachs, Google funnels billions in profits into off-shore subsidiaries, which pay lower tax rates than the U.S. corporation does. Sachs points out that Sergey Brin’s “ingenious work in creating Google’s search engine” was supported by the National Science Foundation, which means that our tax dollars helped Brin get his start.” – John Horgan, Scientific American, quoting Jeffrey D. Sachs.
Unfortunately this article was getting far too lengthy…so I’m keeping this for a separate (soon-to-come) article.
- Lucke, Rick. “Citigroup Escapes Responsibility; Support Occupy Wall Street.” Salon, Oct. 21, 2011.