Thoughts on #occupywallst

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When i was in college and the banking crisis was at its peak, I remember reading a comment on Digg that explained that my generation was going to upend this status quo of how our economy works because we saw this disaster firsthand and we are about to take the world into our hands and stop the bullshit.  It was an empowering thing to read, and I hope that my peers take this sentiment to heart as the world grows to become increasingly in our control.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is perhaps the first manifestation of this that I have seen. In a world where the Tea party is considered a mainstream force (despite being nothing more than rebranded Republicans, not even running with the new name), I’m disheartened to see that there is a strong implicit bias in the media and with the police against Occupy Wall Street.  Peaceful protesters are being abused and arrested for breaking now laws, and the media working hard to subliminally make people feel biased against the movement, the most recent one I saw being an article trying to paint the movement as inconsistent since some members were mourning Steve Jobs.

I don’t know how I feel about the movement. There’s an inherent watering down of the issues that necessarily happens when you take your cause to the streets. Any arguments longer than a pithy sign or T-shirt slogan simply won’t do. Such comments make for great grandstanding but I don’t feel like they effect change.  Keeping that in mind, I think the Tea Party has just as little focus and I can’t think of many movements that got taken to the streets with so many people that had any degree of focus. And I don’t want to delegitimize the movement, which is what the media are trying to do by mentioning its lack of focus, so I’m going to accept it as a natural result of what happens when you grow.

I generally am in support of all of the things the movement seems to be for.  Wealth inequality in the US is causing most of the country to suffer. The ratio of CEO pay (and executive pay in general) to the median pay at a given company in the US is the highest in the world by a long shot. Artificially cheap labor abroad is exploiting people in third world countries and is keeping our domestic economy anemic (we’ve been doing it for a long time, but I think we’re really starting to see it catch up with us now). And Wall Street has gotten away with reckless behavior that has caused great unrest in our economy, and the people suffering for it aren’t the same ones . Some of the symptoms of these issues have been decreased government revenue (in part because the wealthiest are earning a disproportionately large part of the income in the country relative to the percentage of the taxes they pay in) and as a result of that, a huge increase in national debt and personal debt. Though we value our freedom even in cases where it leaves us free to do the wrong thing, we need to revisit our values and ask ourselves whether the situation we have right now is what we want.

But instead of demanding that the government step in and bring new regulation (which isn’t necessarily what OWS is calling for; it’s more calling for an end to the greed), I think this is a great opportunity for the 99% (the portion of the 99% that aren’t Tea Partiers, that is) to start trying to make their own wealth and essentially subvert Wall Street’s incredible influence.

Though it is true that a large part of the country’s wealth is held by a minority of powerful people, if you have, say, 10 million people who are against excessive corporate rights, then you have a sizable amount of spending power here, and you also have a potentially large pool of labor available. It’d be cool to see new businesses creating jobs where the money stays in the US and with the people who did the hard work, and it would be really cool to see such businesses grow. It can start with something as small as a lemonade stand, really.

On the policy side, I’m not happy with the lack of warmth I’m seeing from Democrats on this. Though the Tea Party isn’t ballsy enough to break off into its own political party, I think there should be an Occupy Wall Street party on the ballot. Being relatively left wing in nature, an OWS party is more of a threat to Democrats and I more than anything want to see them grow a pair and actually support OWS more and more importantly, get some policies on the books that can help Americans start doing better.

 

 

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