Warning: This article will offend all readers.
I try to avoid politics on this site, but I must weigh in on the occupy wall street movement, because the story is too big to ignore. The Occupy Wall Street (ows) people claim they are the 99% and are protesting against the 1% ultra wealthy. That is also the way most of the media has portrayed it.
The right wing media has shown videos of radicalism, anti-semitism etc., however, it is easy for the media to pick out the radicals to paint a picture which fits their agenda. So Lets focus on facts.
First some of my opinions: Occcupy Wall Street movement is a populist movement, which is the left wing version of the populist right wing tea party movement. The tea party are upset at the Government, while the OWS people are upset at the banks (very simple way of putting it, but both movements see things very simplistically). However one big difference is that the OWS movement has resorted to violence, there have been hundreds of arrests, they have broken laws, like setting up tents in Zuccotti Park. To my knowledge there was never any violence or arrests at tea party rallies.
The OWS crowd has also protested outside private homes, including ones belonging to John Paulson, Rupert Murdoch, David Koch among others. Koch has nothing to do with TARP neither does Murdoch..Why not march on George Soros’ house, likely because their agenda matches his.
What is “Wall Street”? Are they protesting against the prop desks, wealth management, asset management, sell-side analysts, commercial banking, private banking, investment banking, insurance? The mega banks are made up of numerous divisions. I asked one OWS protester and he said “we are not against the people but the institution”. That is a nice little cliche, but doesn’t stand the test of a coherent argument, which is backed up by facts.
There might be people who attend the ows rallies because they are out of a job and rightfully frustrated, however, based on the objective facts below the movement is a far left wing populist movement. While they claim to be protesting the bank bailouts they actually are doing something completely different.
This is straight from the OWS OFFICIAL website (http://occupywallst.org/):
They start out with the following disclaimer:
Admin note: This is not an official list of demands. This is a forum post submitted by a single user and hyped by irresponsible news/commentary agencies like Fox News and Mises.org. This content was not published by the OccupyWallSt.org collective, nor was it ever proposed or agreed to on a consensus basis with the NYC General Assembly. There is NO official list of demands.
They follow this with 13 demands, most of which have nothing to do with TARP or Wall Street. Now you dont post your demands/proposals and then say we reject this. If a politician puts his/her platform on his website, he/she cant say this is not an official list. Therefore one must assume that they endorse their demands or else assume that they are a bunch of crazies who are having a little Woodstock in lower Manhattan. I will give the benefit of the doubt and assume the former. Below are their 13 demands in bold with some of my comments in regular text:
Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending “Freetrade” by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr. This has nothing to do with Wall Street. They are entitled to believe tariffs would be a good economic policy, and the minimum wage should be raised but this has nothing to do with “Wall Street”. I think Mitt Romney made pretty strong remarks against China, and he is the founder of one of the largest private equity firms in the country. A little confused, but this is just the beginning…
Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors. They try to tie health insurers to “Wall Street”, I see no connection. Many of the doctors they mention are the 1% that they claim to protest. Ask some anesthesiologists who work in Manhattan how much they make.
Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment. Not sure if this means higher minimum wage like they advocated below? Perhaps they mean that people who are not working should be paid $20 an hour? Again this has nothing to do with “Wall Street.”
Demand four: Free college education. Nice idea, no talk of how to finance it. Also if education is free, it shouldn’t cost more to go to Harvard than some for profit scam college? Assuming not, still this has nothing to do with “Wall Street”. Perhaps they are referring to student loans, I will give them the benefit of the doubt.
Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand. I would also like America to switch from oil to alternate energy. Again this is populism, it is a quick liner that does not explain how America can miraculously switch from 50% coal and heavy oil usage, to Green energy overnight. Not sure what this has to do with “Wall Street” either.
Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now. I agree America needs a lot more infrastructure spending. I wish Obama’s stimulus plan consisted solely of infrastructure spending and conditional aid to the states. Again this has nothing to do with “Wall Street”.
Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America’s nuclear power plants. This is also a great goal, again where would the money come from. This is unrealistic, we are going to decommission all Nuclear plants overnight? Nuclear Power makes up 19.6% of the nation’s total electric energy generation, as of 2008.
Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with “Wall Street”.
Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment. Gender equality has existed for a while; although women do get paid less, so do short people. Maybe that is what they are referring to?
By gender rights, I assume they are refering to same sex marriage. This is an issue which deeply divides many people. To claim 99% of of people support this defies every single poll, which I have ever seen in my life.
This has absolutely nothing to do with “Wall Street”.
Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live. I agree our immigration policies are absurd. I think we should have a lot more legal immigration. I joke to professionals working overseas that the only way to get in this country is illegally. I