Wednesday, October 5, 2011
It's scary and inspiring. It's flawed in a whole bunch of ways. It's worth being a part of.
It struck me as a very different kind of protest than any other I've seen. Because it encompasses so many issues--healthcare, education, war, corporate personhood, national debt, jobs--and yet the central one is clear and emotional and obvious: "99% of us are eating the crumbs of 1%, and fuck that shit."
It's a different kind of protest because in many ways, it's less a protest than a forum. There was a lot of talking at the Occupy Boston camp. A lot of disagreement. A lot of different issues being raised. The camp was being run as a mini-democracy, not a party headquarters. This is why the Occupy movements aren't releasing demands--because their goal isn't "enact a solution now" but "we need to start working on solutions." That's a confusing, messy cause to be marching for, and also a tremendously humble and important cause.
The Occupy movement is also a different kind of protest because of the strange way it encompasses both the radical and the eminently reasonable. Or really, how it shows that the reasonable has become radical.
The radical-looking people in the photo--the dirty-hippy types and the scary black-masked folks--most of them weren't screaming for the downfall of the State or the overthrow of capitalism. They were shouting things like "fund healthcare and education" and "reduce the deficit." I live in a country where people are putting on masks and writing a defense attorney's phone number on their arm so they can say things like "rich people should pay more taxes."
Maybe the crystallizing moment came when some doofus yelled "get a job" at us, and the crowd yelled back--not "fuck the system," but "we want jobs."
There was another crystallizing moment, though, of a different sort. We were gathering and preparing to march, and one woman asked timidly, "are we allowed to march here?" The answer: "we're always allowed to march."
Maybe all that we're proving is that protest still exists in this country--that a person with no "power" except the ability to stand in the street and hold up a sign is still a person with a voice. That's pretty fucking important right there.
I don't know, now, if this is the start of a powerful snowball of dissent or if it's a little blip. I don't know if it's going to be co-opted by people with ulterior motives or if it's just going to whither away as people have to go back to school and work. I don't know if it's going to turn scary and violent or if it's going to turn big and important. I don't know if it's going to change the country.
All I can say right now is that I'm glad it wasn't just another day in the Financial District.
P.S. Occupy Boston is ongoing in Dewey Square just outside South Station. If you're going tomorrow, tweet me @pervocracy and I'll say hi!
P.P.S. The people who are saying "this is just a bunch of silly hippies who don't even know what they want" are the same people who said "this is just a bunch of silly girls who want to wear slutty clothing" about the Slutwalks. Pay them no mind.
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Yasher koach, Holly.ReplyDelete
I hope you don't need to use your dealing-with-pepper-spray skills, but if you do, there were some really good articles from the Honduras/Egypt protests about how best to deal with pepper spray, mace, tear gas, etc.
And thanks. We've got a lot of literature on it ourselves, and it's not my first time with pepper spray and tear gas either--I've had to deal with it as an EMT and at the WTO protests in Seattle.
"fund healthcare and education" and "reduce the deficit."ReplyDelete
You don't see the contradiction there?
not if we stop funding our two wars, and/or start taxing people like Romney more heavily.Delete
whoops. redundancy there. my bad.Delete
btw, i just looked at your blog. "hippies delenda est"? you want to destroy hippies? you seem to have some serious problems if you want to destroy a whole group of people in society that you don't even know.Delete
Bob - Nope. You can do both if you increase taxes on the mega-wealthy, help people get employment so they're taxpayers instead of needing assistance, cut defense spending down to "what if we weren't constantly at war with everyone?" levels, and make the healthcare spending more efficient instead of our current "people can't get $150 check-ups, but we'll pay for their $3000 emergency visits" policy.ReplyDelete
None of those things are easy or simple, but it's not like "oh no we can't have healthcare and not be broke."
I know those all sound like super liberal talking points, but honestly, what we've got right now can't fairly be called the free market. What we've got right now is the government favoring large corporations.ReplyDelete
That's not really capitalism. It's massive government interference and spending. The government's simultaneously spending on corporations and supporting all the people left broke as a result.
Not to derail, but one part of the problem with healthcare spending that I'm familiar with is Medicaid's preference for institutions over community services. It's cheaper to provide services in the community, by a clear margin - so why do we do otherwise? Well, there's a bunch of reasons, but one of them is that institutions are profitable, and the people who run them lobby accordingly to protect their investments.ReplyDelete
It's a very clearcut answer to questions like Bob's: we can improve healthcare and education /and/ cut spending. (Raising taxes on the 1% is also something I support, and think is necessary, but it's a separate issue.)
Also, your tags are wrong. Politics and protest are very sexy.ReplyDelete
We had similar protests over here in Israel: not surprising since our PM is a neo-liberal who probably treats Ayn Rand's writing as scripture. Be ready for the media to try and downsize everything you do and/or blame everything on the government saying that the corporations and tycoons should share no blame. That said, may you succeed in that protest.ReplyDelete
Let's eat the rich, by all means.ReplyDelete
no one is saying that. please read what people have written and then formulate a response based on what's actually been said.Delete
Protesting as such is a fairly outdated thing these days, in terms of getting your message out. It feels good to be surrounded by a herd of the like-minded, but that's human psychology at work. What it doesn't do is change the minds of those in power. Look at the protests in Greece, while the government goes ahead and does what it was going to do anyway to stave off bankruptcy.ReplyDelete
Sure in Egypt it worked, but that was because there were enough violently disaffected people to really bring things to a halt (or threaten to), and because the army balked at out-and-out massacres. A lot of people in this country actively disagree even if they don't think the protests consist of patchouli-smelling hippies. That makes it tough to make a compelling pitch.
If you really want to get big changes, see what you can achieve in alliance with right wing populists. Many of the Tea Party, for example, are rabidly anti-corporate, savagely anti-deficit, and actively promote tax structures which are a lot clearer and harder to duck. Lacing in every progressive agendum in the book will simply alienate your potential allies.
Alternatively, find the common ground between the Liberals (as opposed to Progressives, who tend to be big-program heavy but civil-interests light) and the Libertarians. Ignoring one or two wedge issues (usually guns and abortions, depending on the liberal and libertarian under discussion) they're practically identical groups. The libertarians hate the guts of the reactionary social conservatives, and would cheerfully throw them over the moment anyone offered them a real deal towards their goals. For a real case right now, see what the followers of Ron Paul or Gary Johnson have to say every time Rick Perry opens his mouth. If it weren't for the fact that they hate the progressive agenda even more, they'd have joined hands with the liberals long ago.
Here are a few ideas:
The 99% and the Tea Party both hate corporations. One of the biggest give-aways to corporations is the estate tax (because it makes people sell valued assets at fire sale prices which corporations are only too happy to snap up - and the corporations don't die so they don't pay the taxes) and one of their biggest habits is political spending. Trade the Tea Party a removal of the estate tax for a 200% tax on corporate lobbying or political spending.
The libertarians hate the machinery of the police state, and the laws which permit it (of which the patriot act is only the most infamous). Trade them support on that for support in laws which hold police to higher standards than other citizens, rather than lower (as is currently generally the case).
On taxation: either the Tea Party or the libertarians (remember, they're not necessarily the same group) or both should be willing to join in a concerted effort to raise the capital gains tax to the level of the income tax (thus removing the reason Warren Buffett pays a lower net rate of tax than his secretary) if you can offer a compromise on lowering the marginal income tax rate.
Both the above groups would also probably contemplate a reshaping of the corporate tax code so as to tax unrepatriated corporate profits. This is certainly in line with the 99% slogans so far.
I'm sure a few hours of discussion could come up with plenty more ideas. If the politicians can't reach across the aisle, try reaching across the street. An alliance of the furious will get their attention.
first of all, the Tea Party's leaders and idols are funded by Fox and its corporate money, so sorry, but the Tea Party does not have the necessary corporate opposition. And many libertarians do support Occupy already. And libertarian Ron Paul has said some questionable things about Planned Parenthood, women's rights, gays, and people of color, so don't assume we should want to be allied with libertarianism as a whole.Delete
I think protest still has amazing potential. As you said, it may be psychological, but that doesn't mean it's not powerful. And i would argue that the level of negative publicity and the police response to the Occupiers shows that it is effective.
@Antongarou, the idea of no one pointing the finger at the corporations (where a lot of the blame actually lies) reminds me of the furore over the proposed carbon tax here in Australia. Everyone's like 'aaaaaaah the government is wrong to do this because it will increase the cost of living coz big businesses will pass the cost of the tax on!". There's absolutely no talk of trying to make companies absorb the cost (which they would be able to and still make a gigantic profit)by not buying from them or whatever.ReplyDelete
Does that make sense?
Great post! I was at Occupy Chicago (and am going back) and it had a very similar vibe. There's a lot going on, but it wasn't disorganized - people were standing around talking about what committees they might join.ReplyDelete
If people want to help out but can't stand on a street corner all day, the protesters in your city probably need first aid supplies and other easy-to-donate stuff. Their websites will usually have a regularly updated list of things they need.
The top 1% already pay 30% of the income tax collected. How much more do you want out of them? What percentage will be enough?ReplyDelete
I'm not smart enough to propose a great solution (or I'd be doing that instead of working a first aid tent), but I don't think it's all about "take everything away from the rich." I'm more interested in policies that would make it so the middle class doesn't have to live like they're poor and the poor don't have to live like they're animals. And I think a lot of that can be done without ruining anyone's day at the country club.ReplyDelete
Anon - There is a contingent of libertarians involved in Occupy Boston, because of aforementioned "hey, what we've got right now really isn't a free market" issues. They're not real friendly to those tax ideas, though.
"The top 1% already pay 30% of the income tax collected. How much more do you want out of them? "
Don't you see that very fact that only the incomes of such a small percentage of the U.S. population are taxable at the top level is an indication of a severe social problem in and of itself?
Do you imagine that the top 1% earned this money by contributing to society in a vastly more positive way than the other 99%, such that they deserve this ridiculous level of wealth? Do you imagine that somewhat higher taxes have any great impact on their ability to have a more than exemplary standard of living, by any measure?
In any society which wishes to have such luxuries as functioning roads, humane medical care, low levels of poverty, low crime rates... graduated income tax and subsequent organised government investment is necessary.
Many of the most rich understand this in France, in Germany and even in the U.S. .
I assume you're arguing against this because you believe it's unfair? If so it is woth bearing in mind that the inherited advantages of the super-rich are also deeply unfair, and graduated income tax is one way of remedying this situation to some extent and thus creating a 'fairer' society.
Hey, Bob, if you'd be so kind as to provide a video without four jabs at someone's weight within the first two minutes, I'd be happy to hear the argument.ReplyDelete
Taxing the grocer raises the price of groceries,when your landlord pays real estate tax,ReplyDelete
where did the money come from?Tax the rich is a way of hiding how much you(you you you)pay for government.If all personal income tax was zero and
only business paid income tax,gas would cost $10 a gallon.When you buy a apple more than 20% of the price finds it's way to the gov't paying the market's tax and a little bit of the trucker and the farmer's.We all pay for gov't,look for how it's hidden.
Don't you see that very fact that only the incomes of such a small percentage of the U.S. population are taxable at the top level is an indication of a severe social problem in and of itself?ReplyDelete
No, actually, I don't.
Do you imagine that the top 1% earned this money by contributing to society in a vastly more positive way than the other 99%, such that they deserve this ridiculous level of wealth?
Actually, I suspect a great number of them got rich by stealing money from other people in the form of taxes and government granted monopolies. The correct solution to this problem is to stop giving people tax money and government granted monopolies.
But just to make sure we're on the same page, how much do you think it takes to put someone in the top 1% of income earners in the country? I mean, if you're willing to declare it "ridiculous wealth", presumably you have a pretty good idea of what the number there actually is.
I assume you're arguing against this because you believe it's unfair?
Actually, I'm arguing against it because taxation is theft, and I'm opposed to theft. The only thing I think of as "unfair" is interference in free contract between individuals, and violent coercion of resources.
Kermit - I don't think increasing taxes without fixing how we spend would help, yeah.ReplyDelete
But I do think that if we had a government that was smaller, more transparent and accessible, and more focused on providing infrastructure and services rather than being The Authorities, that I'd want the funding for that government to come primarily from the people who could more afford to spare the money.
...And frankly, if they cut my landlord's property tax to zero, I think he'd just keep the difference.
Actually, I'm arguing against it because taxation is theft, and I'm opposed to theft.
I'm assuming you also are opposed to paved roads, police and fire departments, public libraries, public schools, the military, and the FDA. In which case you should probably just go buy an island somewhere you don't have to deal with any of those things.
In which case you should probably just go buy an island somewhere you don't have to deal with any of those things. I think Somalia is a handy example of what is recommendedReplyDelete
The longer I've worked in the ER, the further I've drifted ideologically from libertarianism. I don't think you can support a peaceful and humane society without a little "theft," and I'd rather have orderly and moderate theft from the people who can best afford it than risk total anarchy.ReplyDelete
I think specific tax and spending plans are beside the point of these protests. If the government developed its policies a compromise between different legitimate but competing interests of Americans, I would be happy to allow business interests some concessions.ReplyDelete
What I'm protesting, and I think what other people are too, is that none of the policies that are supposed to end the recession seem to be even trying to ameliorate the economic situation of 99% of actual American people. Once we agree that when the government takes action (and I'm not saying it should manage everything), it should be for the benefit of everyone, not just the super-wealthy, then we can talk implementation.
...And frankly, if they cut my landlord's property tax to zero, I think he'd just keep the difference.ReplyDelete
If another landlord who owned a similar apartment offered to split the difference with you, would you move?
"'Don't you see that very fact that only the incomes of such a small percentage of the U.S. population are taxable at the top level is an indication of a severe social problem in and of itself?'
No, actually, I don't."
OK, well the reason it's a severe social problem is because societies with high levels of income inequality are characterised by high levels of poverty, high crime rate, low levels of social solidarity and trust. They also tend towards political and economic instability.
However, I can see from the rest of your post that you don't really believe in the idea of 'society', so I don't imagine you'll be open to the idea that there are social solutions to social problems.
"But just to make sure we're on the same page, how much do you think it takes to put someone in the top 1% of income earners in the country? I mean, if you're willing to declare it "ridiculous wealth", presumably you have a pretty good idea of what the number there actually is."
$348,000 annually, apparently (that's a bit outdated, it will be a bit higher by now). My currency is not $ so I'll let the U.S. based commenters juge whether this group will really have money to spare a bit to put towards roads, health, education, etc. after buying the essentials.
"Actually, I suspect a great number of them got rich by stealing money from other people in the form of taxes and government granted monopolies. The correct solution to this problem is to stop giving people tax money and government granted monopolies."
And then invest it in making the lives of America's poorest better?!
"Actually, I'm arguing against it because taxation is theft, and I'm opposed to theft. The only thing I think of as "unfair" is interference in free contract between individuals, and violent coercion of resources. "
Oh... I guess not.
I see the (quite sensible) decision of 'individuals' to live in a society with a taxing government as a tacit acceptance of the social contract; of which contributing to the common interest of the society through income graduated tax is a key clause.
If you have a better idea of how to efficiently organise the monetary resources of millions to create and maintain such modern essentials as roads and hospitals I'm curious to hear it.
*Oh, I meant to include a link to these fantastic slides from the Equality Trust on the social effects of income inequality above.ReplyDelete
Look, I freely admit I know very little about political activism, but I don't get how even a really huge rally is going to help the cause(s) when the causes are so wide ranging and non-specific. OK, so you're drawing the attention of the media, the financiers and thte rich - great, but what do you want them to do in response to your message/statement/demands which can best be amalgamated into "What do we want? Widespread social and political change to make things fairer! When do we want it? Soon!"ReplyDelete
Perlhaqr: The top 1% all earn over $1 billion/year. The top 10% all earn over $100 million/year.ReplyDelete
The bottom 50% all earn $29,000/year OR LESS.
What's wrong with this picture?
$348,000 annually, apparently (that's a bit outdated, it will be a bit higher by now). My currency is not $ so I'll let the U.S. based commenters juge whether this group will really have money to spare a bit to put towards roads, health, education, etc. after buying the essentials.ReplyDelete
Well, back when I had a job, I made less than 1/10 of that, and I did fine. I'm lucky not to have student debt, but still, I think $348,000 a year is enough to be able to contribute to the society that helped you earn it in the first place.
Note: that's individual workers, not households or the unemployed. Source: AlterNet, circa last November.ReplyDelete
Aebhel: I'm assuming you also are opposed to paved roads, police and fire departments, public libraries, public schools, the military, and the FDA.ReplyDelete
Well, the FDA, certainly.
So... what you're saying is that you think that no-one would ever organise anything if the government wasn't there to do it for them.
Goth-is-not-emo: Wrong, by a huge factor.
Earning $380k put you in the "top 1%".
$159k put you in the the top 5%.
Source: The IRS, whose numbers on this subject I trust rather more than AlterNet's.
Emma: The people who are earning $348k a year (actually $380k in 2009) are contributing. Roughly 23% of their annual income, in fact. So, to echo my question from above, how much is enough? At what point will "the rich" be paying "enough" taxes to be "fair"?
Soda: I'll have to take more time than I can spare in 45 second chunks while at work to respond to your response. :) Short answer: I'm quite fond of societies, I just dislike governments.
I thought the government *was* how people organised things - isn't that the whole idea of government, to be the tool with which society organises services etc. for itself? Am I being ridiculously idealistic for thinking this?
Im doing Occupy Cincinnati saturday. Anyone else doing it?ReplyDelete
perlhaqr - You're right, wealthy people do already contribute. I think they should pay more, but only because the government and the nation badly need money, and they have it all. Not because it would be always and forever the right tax rate.ReplyDelete
Another issue to remember is that increasing tax rates in higher brackets doesn't increase the tax on a rich person's entire income, only the part over the bracket cutoff. I'd prefer to raise the rate on the top two brackets, but that would leave our $380,000 earner with $174,400 of income that is taxed at the same rate as before (2011 brackets). So it's not as dramatic as "how much of their money do you want?" It's more, "How much of their money after an initial $174,400 do you want?"
What I am actually worked up about is ridiculous is corporate subsidies. A lot of companies pay no federal tax whatsoever - the big example that was in the news is GE.
That's what I find ridiculous. As for the argument that those costs/savings would be passed on to the consumer, remember that these are for profit companies whose mission is not actually to provide you with goods - it's to make money. They won't lower costs (and make less profit) for their goods just because they can. I don't fault them for that, I just don't think we should treat them as if they are more vital and delicate members of society than actual people are.
When the Tea Party started, it looked a lot like the Occupy groups do now -- howling mobs with a few vague talking points. Then it got some leadership and direction. Occupy may well follow that model, but the diversity of issues it's trying to address (economic policy, labor law, education, environmental protection, immigration, healthcare, war, corporate governance, etc.) suggest that it won't be nearly as malleable.ReplyDelete
Emma, GE paid no income tax for one year because it had losses in prior years and Congress, in its infinite wisdom, permitted GE to offset current earnings with them. GE still paid payroll taxes, sales taxes, real estate taxes, use fees, and so on.
book_girl: I thought the government *was* how people organised things[.] [...] Am I being ridiculously idealistic for thinking this?ReplyDelete
I think you are being somewhat narrow in your scope. Ever had a book club? Was the government involved in setting it up? People organize themselves all the time, and most of the time, they don't need the... "help", that government provides.
Emma: I think they should pay more, but only because the government and the nation badly need money, and they have it all.
I suspect that we simply have sufficiently differing starting axioms that even basic communication is going to be difficult, but I'll try from my end. Not trying to be snarky, just, if we both have different definitions of the word "fork", talking about forks is gonna be hard.
What I am actually worked up about is ridiculous is corporate subsidies. A lot of companies pay no federal tax whatsoever - the big example that was in the news is GE.
I agree, corporate subsidies are terrible. Like Solyndra. But calling a tax break a "subsidy" presumes that the money belongs to the government in the first place. You could use the same logic to declare that everything that a burgler leaves behind as he crawls out your window a "subsidy" from the burgler... except for the fact that the stuff was yours to begin with.
Perlhaqr, I have to disagree. As Elizabeth Warren pointed out in her viral rebuttal, taxes and benefits are impossible to separate -- there is no wealth without government to protect it, and government can't exist without taxes. We might agree that a market mechanism is a better way to distribute wealth than a government bureaucracy, however.ReplyDelete
Soda, if you're not a U.S. resident, your opinion on this issue matters to me not at all.ReplyDelete
Interesting, perlhaqr. So you are in favor of privatized police and other emergency services, privatized utilities and infrastructure, and oppose the FDA?ReplyDelete
Yeah, I... think that you should go study a bit on the consequences of each of those, because they're pretty horrific. Profit incentives are a bitch.
Also, I don't actually get why lolbertarians like you oppose the FDA*. The FDA's mandate is essentially to ensure that people who make claims about their products are telling the truth about those claims. A Libertarian should be entirely in favor of a slightly-reshaped and, in fact, radically empowered FDA; one whose mandate is aggressively prosecuting anyone who makes empirically false explicit claims about their products.
*I lie, I do understand; it's because of intellectual dishonesty, with the excuse being torts. And it invariably comes from people who have not actually considered the amount of transactional costs and costs of litigation and barriers of entry and... man, I could just go on and on.
perlhaqr - Also, the numbers you're citing are at best incomplete. Income, including income from realized capital gains, is a small percentage of the actual, usable income and gains for many.ReplyDelete
Just as a trivial example, it's quite possible to take out a loan on equity that you hold, use the money from that loan as though it were gains (though it's not taxed as gains), and then pay the loan back with a further loan on the unrealized gains of other stock and options.
When the company turns around and your stock prices go down, you pay back your loan with stock, and actually get to write off the loss instead of claiming it as earnings.
Things like that are why the IRS numbers for what constitute wealth and income are incomplete, at best. And yes, that's a trivialized and simplified example, but my parents did, in principle, something exactly like that (and it was fully legal).
thanks for your report of Occupy Boston. i spent some time up at Occupy St. Louis day before yesterday, & my blog post about that is here: http://howoddnichole.blogspot.com/2011/10/this-is-what-democracy-looks-like.htmlReplyDelete
Thanks for setting me straight, anon, it was dumb example.ReplyDelete
Perlhaqr - I don't think your analogy is entirely apt, since burglary is entirely illegal, harmful, and unwelcome, whereas government is legal and pretty much necessary for society, including the market, to function. I would love not to have to tax anyone, but shit needs getting done. A lot of that shit really is diffusely beneficial to everyone, like roads, the police, and, I would argue, an educated and productive population.
How much do corporations benefit from the government maintaining the free market? (to the extent that it does - although open trade would definitely collapse without government spending) It's unquantifiable, as far as I can tell. So I don't think it's theft to make them support the programs which make the society around them possible.
As far as appropriate and effective rates, I'm not sure, and obviously they can theoretically be damagingly high. But corporate social responsibility should be the goal.
@ Anon 9.36 pmReplyDelete
"Soda, if you're not a U.S. resident, your opinion on this issue matters to me not at all."
Good on you, wouldn't want any pernicious foreign influences on your thoughts and opinions there. Only awful things can come from dialogue across borders when it comes to dealing with inequalities in an increasingly globalised society.
To the people who think that it's unfair that the top 1% pay so much in taxes:ReplyDelete
"Actually, they are paying almost exactly 'their share.' According to the data, the wealthiest 5 percent of America pays 38.5 percent of the total taxes precisely because they make just about that share — a whopping 36.5 percent! — of total national income."
On a tangent, this seems right up your alley to respond to:ReplyDelete
(kinda funny considering it's Domestic Violence month and all)
*smh. that is so obviously wrong.ReplyDelete
Perlhaqr, do you support a polycentric law system?ReplyDelete
@Anon - That's a deliberately misleading title. What's going on is that the city is refusing to prosecute misdemeanors so as to kick the responsibility over to the county. It's stupid political infighting, nothing more or less.ReplyDelete
Look: none of you have a clue about economics, and neither do I. This 'Occupy' nonsense is just a bunch of sensationalist 'LOL BANKERS SUCK' when in fact it's not the bankers at fault here it's the system itself. Nothing will happen. This 'movement' is not comparable to the Tea Party because it doesn't stand for anything except 'I don't like it!'-ism.ReplyDelete
Let me know when sitting at home saying nothing starts a national discussion and inspires hope for real change.ReplyDelete
"BREAKING NEWS: LOCAL NONACTIVIST AVOIDS SAYING ANYTHING HASTY."
@Anon - This movement isn't comparable to the Tea Party because it's not a Koch mouthpiece that's been astroturfed to the nines. Also, because it's not part of the accepted narrative of movements; the Tea Party is just a bunch of radical Republicans who hate Obama and all the "communist" Democrats.ReplyDelete
@Holly - Perfect title for an Onion article! I love it.
Different anon from above, but I have to say that I'm not too optimistic about the Occupy movement's ability to change anything either. How is it going to get its demands met when no one knows what its demands are?ReplyDelete
I'm not sure you can really compare Occupy to Slutwalks. Slutwalks are all about visibility as a way of starting discussion about an issue no one ever talks about. But most people already aren't happy about the current economic situation and most people are already talking about it. Occupy needs to be more than an attention-grabber, and I don't think it is yet.
(If someone could give me an honest answer, I'd really appreciate it. I'm not trying to be snarky about Occupy. I really want to understand how people think this is going to work.)
The point of the Occupy movement is the same as the point of the Slutwalk movement; to promote awareness and foster discussion, to attempt to crowdsource a movement in a genuine grassroots manner, as opposed to the astroturfing that has been the trend the past few decades.
OWS is trying to *build* a populist movement right now. They're not in the phase of trying to get their demands met; they're in the phase of building a movement based on conceptual grounds.
But if you want specific demands, some of them that have been enumerated by factions, if you will, within the OWS crowd are:
- Repeal or undermine the Citizens United decision
- Find a way to reverse the moral hazard posed by QE* and the federal governments' CDO buyouts
- Some form of financial-sector transactional tax
- Campaign finance reform
- Large-N amount of dollars in infrastructure spending
- Investment in education
- Some form of reshaping or restructuring of the student loans / cost of schools on a fundamental level.
- Actual health insurance reform, or the simple abolishment of private health insurers
- Cutting down on the tax exemptions and deductions
- Increase of capital gains taxes to the level of income taxes, or simply treating capital gains as income
This is just off the top of my head, and it's a subset of the demands. Certainly they are ones which resonate with me personally! But fundamentally, looking for specific demands at this point is missing the point.
The point isn't to make demands, because neither political party is in a position to want to act in a leftist, populist fashion. The point is to form a movement on the left that will:
- Drive the political parties' votes and actions leftwards due to fear of primary challengers
- Drive discourse in the media and suchlike leftwards, or at least prevent the further rightwards movement of such.
That's my take on it. Ask two other Occupiers and they might give you three different takes!
Just wanted to drop by and say thanks for giving me an extra piece of motivation to get out to my local Occupy. I've never been an activist, and I'm generally a bit cynical/lazy, but I'm glad I got involved.
My general impression so far lines up a lot with what Aaron said, although I'd add that at least where I am it's not entirely a left-leaning group. There are quite a few people who wouldn't identify as such at all - I'm thinking about the libertarian-types mostly (also the anarchists? at least based on my relatively hazy understanding about what their deal is? I'm pretty confident about my assertion re:the libertarians I've talked to out there, I apologize if I'm wrong about the anarchists as I haven't talked to them as much about it directly)
Also, the biggest thing I'd add for all the people who are bent on seeing just a crowd of lazy, handout-grubbing hippies: the biggest shock for me was just how much organization goes into something like this. Food, bathrooms, first aid, permits, moving people to the spaces we have permits for at a particular time and back to the overnight spot, moving stuff to and from our storage space, having a storage space, getting showers for occupiers and coordinating cleaning up spaces. And that's just the basic necessities - before we even start talking about coordinating media and internet presence and logistics.
I've seen a couple articles about how horrible and unsanitary the spaces are, but everything I've seen so far is people who are keeping the spaces incredibly clean. I've seen several pictures in the media of "piles of trash" that are clearly piles of sleeping supplies.
Eh, good on you. I sadly don't have the time or resources to join in the protests right now but I hope it goes somewhere. Maybe we can follow Iceland's example in the end.ReplyDelete
I sadly don't have the time or resources to join in the protests right now but I hope it goes somewhere.ReplyDelete
Just because you don't have time to come down or money/resources to donate doesn't mean you can't do anything to help. Some things I can think of:
- use what time you can to educate yourself about the issues and talk to people you know about them
- learn what you can about what's going on from the information coming from the people who are there instead of the media
- if you participate in social media (facebook or your internet crack of choice) then provide signal boost for information coming out of the movement
- if you know people who are there, thank them for being there because you can't be. The support I've received from friends who can't go has been a major source of motivation and it's going to matter even more as this goes on and the weather gets worse.
I can't speak for everyone, but I'm acutely aware that I'm there in large part because lots of people can't be there. Some of the conversations people talk about the most are the ones they have with cops who are sympathetic but can't risk their jobs by joining us.
I just went to my local Seattle version and found what you said Holly to be very true as well. It was more "friendly" to me as a person who often gets anxious and pissy in crowds to be in, because there wasn't an expectation that I engage in any specific behaviors. There were folks drumming and dancing, speeches, sign waving, sign making, sleeping, smoking, hanging out, marching, and talking. It felt less like many of the protests I've been to before where I constantly felt like I was behind on what we were "supposed" to do, and more just like a giant public forum/community get together.ReplyDelete
And yeah, there were a small number of douches but mostly it was awesome.
I keep hearing from people that they want to "sit and wait until it has a message before [they] join" but here's the thing, if you want it to have certain messages, GO THERE YOURSELF and help set the agenda! I mean really! It's super easy and quite enjoyable to go get listened to by other people who are on a similar page as you (if not the same one). The movement won't succeed if lots of people who *might* be interested in it all sit home waiting for it to become big/have the message they want.
"BREAKING NEWS: LOCAL NONACTIVIST AVOIDS SAYING ANYTHING HASTY." indeed.
I fear that unless your prepared to burn the whole thing down no change will be in the offing.ReplyDelete
Predicting that change is impossible seems contrary to all observation of history, ancient and modern. Things *do* change. We can try to change them in one direction or another.ReplyDelete
I marched with University of Washington students to Occupy Seattle yesterday. It struck me as one of the better protests I've seen: well organized (the Seattle police did an exemplary job with the parts I saw) and fairly focused on its message.