Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Thoughts on the Protests Heard 'Round the World II

One of my online buddies, Brent Stafford (based in Vancouver, BC), has devised an interesting effort that he feels will help the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS).  "5thingsWeWant" suggest five issues that the OWS should present as demands that will provide clarity and greater focus for the movement as a whole.

I like the idea of OWS coalescing around a specific set of demands that can be agreed to across the board.  As you saw in the clip Stafford's group offers five suggestions:  abandon the filibuster in the Senate; reform the corporate tax code; a mortgage bailout; free college for the first two years; a Constitutional amendment defining that corporations are not "people." 

After I heard Stafford's ideas, three thoughts came to my mind.  First, I know that I would want to see a demand for criminal investigations (with real teeth) on what led to the crash of 2008, because that just didn't happen.  Second, I would want to see a full reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act (updated for the 21st century, of course), which would break up "too big to fail" banks, as well as a tax on the transaction fees that investment banks charge.  Finally, I thought that two of the suggested demands would likely go nowhere from the start:  the mortgage bailout and the free college. 

I think it is fair to say that essentially half of the American populace already believes that too many "undeserving" people get too much of a "free ride" for their "poor choices."  So the idea that an already reviled, by many media folk, a third of the public, and a solid half of the political leadership in this country, OWS movement would demand a bailout for actual non-rich people, and another "handout" for the undeserving, is likely a bridge too far.  With that said, I do agree that homeowners certainly need more help than they've received.  I also agree that we need an educated populace, and that perhaps the free college for two years idea could be modified somehow to tie in our existing community college system (and reduce some rates instead). 

Overall, I really like what Stafford and his folks have done.  It is important for any movement to develop, over time, specific demands and spokesmen and women to speak on a movement's behalf.  In that respect, the OWS can learn from the rise of the Tea Party Republicans (though I hope OWS continues to remain politically independent).  Stafford's suggestions, I think, really should be examined by OWS, and even if it doesn't endorse all of the suggestions, it does provide good advice and a real potential road map that could benefit OWS as winter approaches.

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