Occupy Wall Streeters

Discussion in 'World affairs' started by Huttman, Nov 18, 2011.

  1.  
    Huttman

    Huttman only differs in your mind

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    Did I miss it or has this not been discussed yet? I was reading people's comments elsewhere and they had nothing but disdain for the people who are gathering across the country now for two months. They rip on them like they are completely sense-less. I agree it has caused problems in and around their encampments for sanitation and it might affect business in the areas, but I have to say, the principle that they are there for, whether they represent it well or not, is completely sound. There is such an income diversity between the management/CEO's and it's workers of all corporations that is just sickening. Outsourcing so many jobs to make them more rich and lobbyists who make sure the government does not change a thing are just the tip of the iceberg. Nickel and diming us to death for things that used to be an included service, financially punishing people who get behind and locking them into a lifetime of debt. The system is broken and the anguish of the nation not knowing the way out is bewildering. Lose the greed. It's as simple as that. Right?
  2.  
    jojajihisc

    jojajihisc vast and cool

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    I sympathize with them although I'm not sure the movement is as focused as it needs to be to get anything done. The interesting thing to me about these protesters is they seem to be a truly populist movement, as opposed to the Tea Party which tried to perpetrate the same.
  3.  
    Starbeast

    Starbeast Benevolent Galaxy Being

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    Right.

    But these big-shots sold their souls for money, simple as that.
  4.  
    Dr.Jackson

    Dr.Jackson Certified Space Monkey

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    This is very true. I've been following this from both sides and it seems that even people within the movement aren't entirely sure what it's about.
    Although it has garnered support from a number of celebrities, I have yet to see one of them at an actual gathering.

    It strikes me as odd that it is an 'anti-capitalist' movement, and yet these protesters are buying coffees from Starbucks and burgers from McDonalds and the like - very much symbolic of the capitalist system they claim to despise. As long as the system provides people with what they want, they won't complain about it.

    The protests have brought the discontent of the populous to the attention of those in power, but the obstinate refusal to negotiate through proper channels, in one case electing a dog as a representative for talks, just hurts the movement making it seem like a joke, and, given the escalating rap sheet, I think it has lost it's way from the peaceful protest it set out to be.

    I admire the tenacity of the main proponents, but as has been mentioned, the lack of focus, of clear policy over the long term, will ultimately, in my view, be the downfall of the movement.

    I should also point out that 'We are the 99%' and always will be. The only system where that balance would shift would be outright Communism, which doesn't even work as Capitalism is the natural order and is inherent in every system as long as human beings have egos and wish to better themselves.
  5.  
    Quokka

    Quokka wandering

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    With so many protests getting hijacked by people wanting to create violence and damage I think it's been a big plus how peaceful and organised they've kept such a big and extended gathering of people, which isn't to say there hasn't been problems. It's also interesting to see the social media/technology impact on organising protests etc, something we're likely to see more and more of and maybe gives a bit of power back to people.

    I agree with the anger and frustration that we're in a system that's so loaded to a tiny minority but if most of the protesters are part of the 99% locally they're also the 1% (or at least top couple) as far as global inequalities of wealth, resources and opportunities.
  6.  
    Peter Graham

    Peter Graham New Member

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    I don't see this as being a problem. If one lives in 21st century Britain, it is virtually impossible to avoid taking some sort of part in the capitalist system. We can't all live in self sufficient colonies on places like St Kilda, even if the landowners would give us the land for free (because, of course, paying for it just supports a corrupt money system).

    My issue with it is that many of those participating don't seem to understand what they are on about. They know that everyone hates greedy bankers and that they are supposed to believe that all politicians are self-centred crooks. They may have a vague idea about the iniquities of commodity trading, short selling or corporate fraud, but I fear that if they were put up in a proper debate against someone who did know their stuff, they'd end up looking like ill-informed chumps. They have bags of enthusiasm, but don't appear to really understand what their grievances actually are.

    That said, peaceful social disorder is pretty much the only way for the average Joe to make his or her voice heard (even if they are talking 90% cobblers), so good luck to them.

    Regards,

    Peter
  7.  
    soulsinging

    soulsinging the dude abides

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    This is why I stayed out of it. I helped with Nader's campaign in 2000 and moveon.org in 2004 and have decided the left in the US is utterly inept and will not achieve anything until the Boomers finally die off. The fact is, the US is dominated by grumpy, rich, old white men. The children of the greatest generation let their parents' achievements go to their heads and they've spent their lives thinking their **** don't stink while they invented wars against terror and communism to line their wallets or argue about how gays and minorities are ruining their memories of 50s suburban life.

    So until we finally clear out these holdovers from a time that is no longer relevant, we're stuck with gay marriage bans, the drug war, and the attitude that anyone without a job is just lazy. And if you think Boomer policies like free trade, union-busting, and increasing wealth gaps are part of the problem, they'll call you an un-american socalist. :rolleyes:

    Nothing is going to change until things get French Revolution bad enough... not until people are ready to start shooting some of these bankers in the streets will we have any say in our government. Short of that, they truly have nothing to fear from the American people because they know we are powerless against them.
  8.  
    soulsinging

    soulsinging the dude abides

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    This attitude is exactly the problem. 1) it is not anti-capitalist, it is anti-favoritism and abuse. It's not capitalism when wealthy people have the whole deck stacked in their favor. It's practically feudalism. We want them to play by the same rules we do. For instance, how come I lost my job for no reason other than lack of work while these guys brought the world economy to the brink of destruction with their greed and fraud, but not one of them has gone to jail or even been fired? In fact, they all got bonuses. Why is that? Because their number one goal is to protect the good old boys network. The WASPs are never incompetent like lazy welfare/OWS people that should just get jobs, they're always just poor victims of world circumstance that shouldn't have to sell their boat just because they destroyed the retirement funds of every American!

    2) So there's absolutely nothing in between unchecked capitalism where the 1% owns everything and pure communism where everyone is precisely equal? That's an outright falsehood given the bulk of world governments are socialist, which is NOT the same as communism and IS a middle ground between the extremes and excesses of the other two. It wouldn't take that much to slow or reverse the wage gap without giving everyone the same paycheck.

    Sorry if that seems combative but I am so completely sick of people not understanding the distinction between socialism and communism and acting like anything short of a Darwinian survival of the fittest system makes you a commie with no grasp of reality. Or acting like if you're not growing your own veggie garden amidst the protest you're somehow a hypocrite becos your need to eat compelled you to buy a meal at McD's. THAT is what's not taking things seriously.

    As to protesters not knowing exactly what they want, so what? Do you have to have a PhD in global economics to have a valid knowledge that you're being screwed? The fact is, it's a complex system and I'd rather see that acknowledged than the usual one-size-fits-all talking point approach to the problem. The right excels at finding a broad brush approach that riles its supporters' emotions, but the left tries so hard to avoid offending anyone so they can't advance any ideas because anything they do propose gets torn apart from within (you can't advocate that tax! it will support war or bunny slaughter!).

    This is why I skipped these protests. I've learned it doesn't matter how committed you are or how just the cause, those of you that are comfortable will always find enough yahoos in the group to justify ignoring the message.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011
  9.  
    soulsinging

    soulsinging the dude abides

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    5 Things OWS could support to make a significant change in the economy:

    1. OVERTURN Citizens United.
    Money/lobbying/fund-raising talks in politics, and people cannot compete with the money these interests have. It's a sick joke and US citizens should be outraged that corporations = humans in the eyes of Supreme Cour. Get money out of politics… only personal donations, unlimited but public. Make it clear when bribery is involved.

    2. AUDIT the fed.
    If the IRS asks to see any citizen's books, we have to open them or go to jail. Why is it the people don't have the same right to see its own government's books? It's a secret body with secret books funding the entire country. Time to find out where are tax money is really going.

    3. PASS Obama's debt reduction package without the tax increase.
    Across the board cuts to entitlements are necessary. The military must feel the ax too, so pass every cut that general asked for a few years back and cancel fat contracts going nowhere.

    4. LEVEL the playing field and tax capital gains as normal income.
    No more expertise is involved in playing the stock market than is in betting on sports, so why is one taxed at a normal rate as income and the other given breaks? It's simply gambling for those that can afford the large buy-in and a paid middleman to bet for them. There is already sufficient incentive to invest through write-offs for investment losses. The lower tax rate on the gains amounts to an unfair system of privatized gains and socialized losses. In addition, the disproportionate gains from dividends encourage a system that pressures businesses into slash and burn economics… constant, short term stock boosts at the expense of US jobs and sound long-term business policy. It's the biggest driving force of the wealth gap and it's a clear-cut windfall from which only the wealthy benefit.

    5. REPEAL Glass-Steagal by passing the Volcker rule.
    It was Clinton allowing banks to take big gambles with the people's money that began the bubble in the first place. Separate these industries… it was done after the Great Depression for a reason. Also, nobody expects a citizen to diagnose his or herself like a doctor or represent oneself in court like a lawyer, yet we expect everyone to be their own financial advisor. It's time bankers and the like are subject to a duty to their clients similar to that of other professions, so that "innovations" like subprime mortgages are never sold to consumers again.
  10.  
    soulsinging

    soulsinging the dude abides

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    Do you know how to run a hospital or perform surgery? Does that mean you're not allowed an opinion on the health care system that directly impacts your health? Can you try a case in court on your own? Does that mean you're not allowed to discuss the death penalty or tort reform?

    I don't think there's any rational way to argue against the main point... that over the last 20-30 years, a small number of very wealthy in the US have done very well at the expense of the rest of us. The fact that not everyone in the movement is 100% clear on how that happened or how best to fix it doesn't change that. That's why you protest... show you demand a change and then hope those with the ability to produce it hear you.

    I'd even say the problem is the opposite. The OWS people know what they're talking about, it's the critics talking about iphones or telling them to get jobs that don't know what they're on about. The reason this protest is happening is becos we had jobs or we've been looking for jobs and there are none. And maybe not all of us have an econ phd, but you don't need one to lose your job to outsourcing for a stock bump and then see a bank CEO that almost detroyed world finance not only keep his, but get a govt loan to stay open and get a taxpayer financed bonus bigger than any salary you'll never make in your life. I think it's totally disingenuous and unfair to act like that guy doesn't know what he's talking about just becos he can't argue the finer points of globalization's role in it. THEY don't know what they're talking about becos they never have to worry about looking for a job or making money. They never get fired and if they do it's with a golden parachute.

    They have no idea what it's like out there. We're not refusing to get jobs. We've been trying but there aren't any becos they're spending it all on lobbying congress for favorable tax breaks to allow them to hoard more of it.
  11.  
    jojajihisc

    jojajihisc vast and cool

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    This is how I've felt for awhile too. Still pissed off that at the outcomes of the War in Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement, and now trying in their waning years of power to get in their last shots of reactionary social and economic reform.
  12.  
    Dr.Jackson

    Dr.Jackson Certified Space Monkey

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    Unfortunately the banners with slogans such as 'Capitalism is Crisis' sported in a number of Occupy groups and the description by a number of Occupy protesters of the movement as being anti-Capitalist swayed me into thinking it was an anti-Capitalist protest. Perhaps this is a minority within the movement as there seem to be radically different views within the camps themselves.

    I actually live in the UK where our entire system is based on Socialism. We have almost as bad a problem as the US in terms of the gap between rich and poor. It is a middle ground, but it's nowhere near perfect. I'm a semi-Socialist, but I understand that some will always be more equal than others. The problem is that Socialism requires you to use other peoples resources, and I'm not sure that will ever work in the US where 'every man for himself' is a very popular philosophy.

    I wouldn't say combative, but debate such as this is how we get to bipartisan understanding. Where both parties can have an exchange of views in an open forum leads to a better understanding.
    My comment on coffee and such should have included the fact that they did set up one bicycle-powered coffee machine in Zuccotti Park, but only a select group were allowed to use it. They actually formed a 1%-eque clique in the park itself, completely ridiculing the purpose of the movement.

    Within the Occupy London group there was a woman interviewed who was so poor she was having to go through the bins for food. Not one of the other protesters offered to help her or have a collection to give her some money for a meal. The inequality that is being protested against is even apparent in the movement itself. It seems a little hypocritical, which is why I have a hard time taking it totally seriously.

    It's not that protesters don't have PhD's, although some in who were in Zuccotti Park were Ivy League educated, it's more about a lack of clear direction. You don't need a degree to know that the system has been abused by those with power. As the old adage goes 'Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely', which is exactly what has happened. It needs to be addressed with proper discussion, which the protesters seem to be unwilling to commit to unless everyone can be involved directly.
    Having spoken to a couple of protesters myself, it seems that there is a lack of understanding about how complex the system is. A lot of people seem to be looking for a fix in the next few years, whereas it will take several years and strict regulation to start a balance of equality.

    I wouldn't say I'm comfortable, in fact, I lost my job and had to take a part-time job just so I can support myself. It's not been easy, I've had to make sacrifices just like everyone near in the bottom of the 99%. The message is important, but it's the yahoos who catch the attention of the media who are starting to sway public support away from the movement. Well, that and the obstinacy of the movement itself, despite the message having been received by the politicians, preferring to have a legal battle to have their encampments removed than to use a different tactic to continue the message.
  13.  
    the smiling weirwood

    the smiling weirwood Axes and Saws Prohibited

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    The problem is that this public momentum is great, but it needs to translate into political action. Protesting is not going to change the minds of corrupt and apathetic and stupid politicians who were elected to do exactly the opposite of what OWS wants them to do. We need to elect representatives who will agree with us. People like Barney Frank and Elizabeth Warren. We need a House and a Senate full of them.
  14.  
    soulsinging

    soulsinging the dude abides

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    Such as? What better tactic is there? It's working. Every week there are more protests in more cities with more people and now you can see the cops are getting spooked and they're starting to crack a few skulls. That's the only way for movements like this to work. The civil rights marches or sit-ins got firehosed, occupying classrooms during vietnam resulted in kids dying at kent state, man vs tank in tianmen square... this is sadly what it takes to shake some people out of complacency. They need something shocking enough to make them feel like they could be next, otherwise most will sit on the sidelines hoping not to be noticed. So why give up on this approach now that it seems to be working?

    Until cops start beating people down, most folks that are keeping their heads above water just want to keep that going and ignore that little voice that points out they could be in the same position at any moment. We all want to feel safe and secure, so we dismiss them as lazy and disorganized and uninformed and say they should just go get jobs because that 1) reassures us that we have our job due to merit and we're not at risk of unexpectedly losing it and/or 2) if something happened we'd have little trouble finding other work.
  15.  
    soulsinging

    soulsinging the dude abides

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    I feel the exact opposite. The entire point of the protests is that there is no political avenue open anymore. There is no competing with the money these special interests can bring to bear and that something more drastic is needed than another underwhelming "vote them out" campaign like the failed moveon.org nonsense or the tea party's effect on our current congress. Voting out one politician for another does nothing to address the root cause which is money buying influence. They're legislators, not saints. Yes, ideally everyone in congress would be a moral pillar, but I can see how after nightmarish campaigns and jam-packed schedules it would be easy to tell yourself that simply LISTENING to the lobbyist can't do any harm because YOU're above such influence...

    The system is broken. It doesn't matter who you put in it at this point. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
  16.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    What I find disturbing about all the reactions I'm seeing is how close the rhetoric is to what I heard growing up during the Viet Nam era about those protesting that little fracas. I mean, I am hearing (and seeing) exactly the same arguments (if one can call them that), the same sentiments, the same bloody phrases!!! I heard back then, instead of any kind of "you know, there might just be a point to all this... how about we think about it and see?" This has brought me a major case of déjà vu and it ain't a happy feeling!

    My feeling about the movement itself is that they are not quite organized enough to be able to accomplish things efficiently, but a neighbor of mine, who has had conversations with some of the organizers around here, mentioned that, thanks to the Homeland Security Act, even making written "demands" on the government by the part of such an organization will get them automatically labeled as a "terrorist organization"... so they have to tread carefully and avoid doing things which were, even a very few years ago, perfectly legal and normal political procedures....

    Unfortunately, while I very much hope to be proven wrong, I'm afraid I agree with SS on this: We've let things go much too far, and it may well take violence, and even perhaps (oh, how I hope I'm wrong!) lives lost on both sides, before things begin to be rectified.

    When will we learn you can't just "keep afloat", but you have to be both educated and involved, if you want such a system as we have to work? This isn't a spectator sport, people... it never really was.....
  17.  
    soulsinging

    soulsinging the dude abides

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    Whoa, I never heard anything about this. It's likely unconstitutional, but how do you ever get them to admit they were watching you and why? Does this mean I need to qualify/clarify that the 5 points I posted above were just legislative suggestions and not a list of demands?

    Interesting self-contradiction that just made me realize... here we all are, guilty as our accused. I did put up 5 concrete policy ideas for this movement towards achieve its aims and it went ignored (and totally forgotten by me until I read your post) while we all continued arguing about whether or not their tactics are making good PR and scolding them for not discussing concrete positions. If that isn't a pretty solid indictment of US politics as being almost entirely style and strategy over substance, I don't know what is. We criticize them for seeming vague on details and then refuse to engage in discussing any details ourselves. The political climate here is so poisonous we inevitably gravitate to finding differences and reasons to distance ourselves from involvements like this rather than looking for areas of agreement to engage and be productive.

    Also, a small I told everyone so, since the 5-point post I'm talking included a rant about capital gains being the real inequity problem rather than income tax levels... Forbes agreed with me 10 hours ago:

    http://news.yahoo.com/top-0-1-nation-earn-half-capital-gains-172647859.html

    The top 0.1%... yes 000.1%, not 1%... earns HALF of all capital gains. That's 315,000 people out of a 315,000,000 population that take home half of all our stock market "wealth." Fluctuations in capital gains rates also mirror almost exactly trends in the wealth gap. The entire country creates all that market gain, and half of it is taken by approximately the same amount of people as live in Pittsburgh, PA.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
  18.  
    J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    Looks like my roomie has been incarcerated at the occupy show here. He vanished a week ago and his cheque is sitting here so it's serious, wherever he is. I wouldn't dare look for him
    Nobody has weapons in this country anymore so the authorities just wait 'em out. They like filming everyone then showing up later in force and bursting through the door. I am moving out anyway, to a safe basement suite in an obscure neighborhood.
    I bet things get worse instead of better, they have massive firepower and shields and dogs and tear gas all ready to go, and swarms of beefy lads ready to club down the population at a moment's notice.
    Interesting to watch the communists, the huge asian poulation here, they are just watching, maybe one in a hundred protesters.... weird. On the west coast its game over long ago but there still seems to be life, of a sort, here in the East.
    I have issues, major ones, and plenty of them, with the 'government' here, and personally things are getting worse steadily, so Im willing to bet they ride it out and nothing changes for anyone else nuther.
    On a positive note.... uh, er, uhmmm... .. .. . .. *
  19.  
    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    Two semi related thoughts:

    One: I'm convinced that part of the problem with our inequity of wealth in the West is that we overvalue management. Some very well run companies have made a rule that the top executive could only make x times more than the lowest paid top laborer. I know that this was true for "Herman Miller" some years back, now, I don't know. I also believe that Ben and Jerry's have some sort of rule like this. If x=20 and the lowest full time employee made $20,000 a year that would come out to $400,000 which should set anyone on easy street economically. The conservative in me hates to even contemplate making this a law, but the Christian in me would see this as a kind of moral obligation to our brothers and sisters.

    Two: To a certain extent this upheaval in the West is almost to be expected. We are rapidly moving to a world economy. You will note that the standards of living in many places is in the rise because the price of their labor is on the rise, because the West's jobs are being outsourced. I look for a couple of decades of real wages declining in the West while they grow in most of the rest of the world.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
  20.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    This morning was the first I had heard of it, and I've not had a chance to get more details (it was a very brief conversation); but whether or not it is unconstitutional... well, the Homeland Securities aspect seems to have awful broad powers of discretion, and I'm not at all too sure of the Supreme Court's stance on such things for the foreseeable future.

    As to them watching you... I assume, from what was said, that what makes the difference is when some form of written "demand" (which, in such a context, is a rather vague term) is submitted to any legislator or legislative body for consideration. Until that point, they can debate and draw up plans and suggestions for what they want changed until they are old and gray; but once that is done, they've pretty much cooked their goose.

    And let's not forget that, according to reports I've seen, with some of these raids, reporters covering the events have been arrested from 2-3 blocks away; they've had their recorders and cameras confiscated or destroyed, and on occasion have been roughed up a bit as well. I don't wish to malign honest police officers, but I've seen the level of professionalism and courtesy in that department drop dramatically over the years, at least around here, and the number of those who behave like thugs or worse rise accordingly; and that, too, doesn't make me any too sanguine about how things would be handled with such confrontations here or elsewhere.

    Perhaps I am succumbing to an alarmist trend... but I'm seeing things which really are recalling some of the worst attitudes I saw during the protests of the 1960s on the part of those opposed to this movement, and I had hoped to never see that sort of nonsense again. Once in a lifetime is quite enough, I assure you!

    Parson: Yes, I think the period of disequilibrium we are facing due to becoming a global economy (eventually, I think, an inevitable step, and a needed one) is a part of this, and even without the other factors, that would make things extremely rough. With all the ultra-conservative politics and the horrific imbalance in wealth -- I recall seeing, a few weeks ago, a report noting that, while the rate of income for the 99% had gradually declined over the past two decades or so, that for the 1% had actually increased at a rate exceeding 200%. Now, that sort of imbalance is inevitably going to cause social unrest; and for the sake of the society on which they depend, it would behoove that top echelon to make sensible cutbacks and restraints to help alleviate these pressures... but I don't foresee that happening, any more than it did in the Great Depression.

    For the past three decades at least, we have made a laudable goal not out of making a profit so much as greed itself; I hate to use the old-fashioned phraseology, but it fits: worshipping the acquisition of wealth at the expense of any genuine civic or social commitment or the welfare of the society as a whole. We are all, or nearly all, guilty of this to one degree o another; but as I said, we let it go too long, and too far, and now we have the very devil to pay as a result.

    I want so badly to be proven wrong; to see that a sensible, sane, nonviolent, humane approach or series of approaches can be formulated for this situation which will pull us out of this mess... but when it comes to this, I really do fear for our future. That we will survive as a society and come out the other side, I don't have much doubt; but the cost... that scares the hell out of me.

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