Occupy Wall Street: Ghosts of Seattle '99 and Nader 2000?
A quick scan of the interwebs shows most people describing Occupy Wall Street as more of a catch-all set of grievances rather than a specific program of demands. There is, however, a document claiming to be a working General Assemblies statement, written in familiar Declaration of Independence style. Here's how that document begins:
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one's skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
While we wait for official demands (if they come at all), there have been plenty of suggestions, including by the protesters themselves. A quick survey of the proposals suggests that, as the above excerpt hinted at, the Ralph Nader 2000 campaign and the late-'90s Seattle-style anti-globalization movement are alive and well. First up, at the OccupyWallSt.org website, here's the first six of Lloyd J. Hart's proposed 13 demands:
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.
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.
Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.
Demand four: Free college education.
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.
Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.
Here's the first four of a more recent OccupyWallSt.org list of eight proposed congressional demands, by GandhiKingMindset:
1. CONGRESS PASS HR 1489 ("RETURN TO PRUDENT BANKING ACT" http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-1489 ). THIS REINSTATES MANY PROVISIONS OF THE GLASS-STEAGALL ACT. […]
2. USE CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY AND OVERSIGHT TO ENSURE APPROPRIATE FEDERAL AGENCIES FULLY INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE THE WALL STREET CRIMINALS who clearly broke the law and helped cause the 2008 financial crisis […]
3. CONGRESS ENACT LEGISLATION TO PROTECT OUR DEMOCRACY BY REVERSING THE EFFECTS OF THE CITIZENS UNITED SUPREME COURT DECISION which essentially said corporations can spend as much as they want on elections. […]
4. CONGRESS PASS THE BUFFETT RULE ON FAIR TAXATION SO THE RICH AND CORPORATIONS PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE & CLOSE CORPORATE TAX LOOP HOLES AND ENACT A PROHIBITION ON HIDING FUNDS OFF SHORE. No more GE paying zero or negative taxes. Pass the Buffet Rule on fair taxation so the rich pay their fair share. (If we have a really had a good negotiating position and have the place surrounded, we could actually dial up taxes on millionaires, billionaires and corporations even higher…back to what they once were in the 50's and 60's.
More discussion about demands & such here.
Is this an accurate snapshot of what these protests are all about? Don't know, haven't been there. And no piece of writing can ever convey the spirit of dadaist hijinx that always animates such exercises. But the notions above are certainly familiar, mostly in a not-very-inspiring kinda way.