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Occupy Wall Street should move to D.C.

Posted: October 31, 2011 - 9:16am

The Occupy Wall Street protests are rather peculiar. One the one hand we see the trash and the noise from thousands of people who just seem to want to vent and on the other hand we see people exercising their right to assemble and protest. But the movement lacks something very important. They protest against what they feel is unfair but they don't offer solutions. They seem to be quite unhappy about the way things are going, but are not sure how to fix it. They'll gripe and complain, but nothing will be done. I think they all want jobs. If you have a job you have a chance at prosperity and you don't care who hires you, even if it is a big corporation. Ironic, isn't it?
Read their complaints at: http://www.nycga.net/resources/declaration/. As you read, remember that the messenger, the message, and how the message is sent are different. While I don't agree with their obvious goal, which is Marxism, and I think they should bring their own porta-potties, I do agree that they have the right to assemble; and yes, they do have a purpose. The OWS movement is a measuring device that shows America's growing displeasure with its federal government.

My grandfather told me that the government didn't owe me a living...that success was entirely up to me, the individual. What government does owe us is a level playing field. It owes us honesty, integrity, morality and an unwavering duty to the Constitution and to WE THE PEOPLE.

In reality the OWS is letting everyone know that something should be done, but the people who can, and should, do something are not the corporations but rather the Congress. I'd suggest the OWS needs to relocate to Washington, D.C.  In the end, nothing at all will come from all this. The protestors will be tolerated only until they become violent, then they'll be fire-hosed or shot down like dogs, and who do you suppose will create the violence? But for now anyway, ya sure gotta admire them for their grit! We'll check again when the snow comes.

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the_postman
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the_postman 10/31/11 - 10:34 am
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Democracy is a messy business!

Hi Norm,

I share your frustration with the OWS's lack of focus and leadership -- it's the by-product of the horizontal leadership, consensus-building model. It's a tough slog to get things done this way but what you do manage to accomplish enjoys 100% buy-in among the participants and the movement can't be knee-capped by the elimination of any single person. Another big advantage to this way of self-governance is that it insures that everyone has a voice and the very best ideas rise to the surface and they are acted on.

There is a movement within OWS to begin to appoint local representatives who will meet with representatives from other groups and together, we will work on issues on a larger scale. I have a feeling that some of the murkiness of the movement will soon be dispelled and some finite objectives will surface.

An interesting fact about Occupiers; 50.4% are employed full time and 20.4% are employed part-time. Around 26% are enrolled in school. 2% are retired folks like me -- I'm a life-long oilfield worker.

I would like to point out that I have never heard any Occupiers express a desire for us to work toward communism; like you, all we want is a level playing field. We want opportunities, not hand-outs, and we no longer want to simply live under the illusion of democracy. We want a government where the strength of a candidate's ideas -- not their bank balance -- will determine whether or not they will win an election.

Be patient with us -- we're trying to get this right, for the sake of everyone all along the political spectrum. And even though the changes have to occur in Washington, about all we can currently do now is to stand on the street corner, heighten awareness that something is terribly wrong and encourage people to turn off the TV and do something to fix it.

Best wishes, Norm. I know you have a heart for this country and it's people. Each and every one of us holds a necessary part of this big, crazy puzzle we're trying to piece together.

Eric Treider

normolson
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normolson 10/31/11 - 03:58 pm
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I can't filter the noise from OWS

I hope you sense my frustration. All my life I've heard people complain, theorize and postulate, yet there seems to be a lack of actually doing anything about it.
I'm an old logistics man from 20+ years in the militiary. Planning and programming was my speciality. Whenever someone came up with an objective, it was the logistics dinks that got the job of making it happen. When I read the declaration published by the OWS, I naturally wonder, "how are they gonna get this job done?"
In my letter, I pointed out three things. First, that I support the right of the OWS to exercise their 1st Amendment right to assembly, speech, and protest. Second, that I do not agree with WHAT LOOKS TO BE a direction toward Marxism (since the only imaginable way to address the issues is to employ Marxist methods), and, third, that the only ones who can bring the corporations to task is the Congress.
If the OWS is bent on creating a corporate conscience, it will fail. Pure free market capitalism has no conscience--it is driven by greed, avarice, lust, and pure self-interest.
The only way to control corporate abuse is to regulate it, providing that "level playing field." Ah, but that creates government control over business, which smacks of totalitarianism.
The solution? I'm waiting to hear

the_postman
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the_postman 10/31/11 - 10:52 pm
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Some possible solutions

Norm,

I'm just about as stumped as you are but I do think a combination of three things might tamp down the corporate/union/special interest influence over our lawmakers:

*Term limits
*Public financing of elections (and I haven't quite figured out how this would work but Common Cause has been espousing this idea for decades)
*A constitutional amendment to define a person as a person, not a corporation -- kind of a no-brainer, eh? but apparently it went over the heads of some of the best legal minds in the land ;-)

Norm, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss these issues with you like this. I have been talking with Ray on another thread and he's mentioned some topics I'd like to learn more about. I have been trying real hard to tone down the rhetoric lately and listen more and I'm finding that I don't know as much as I thought I did. Thanks for the great letter you sent in and your kind response to my response! Eric

the_postman
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the_postman 10/31/11 - 11:06 pm
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The Declaration

Norm,

I just re-read your first response and regarding the declaration made by the NYC General Assembly, personally, I strongly agree with about 85% of those issues. During our discussions with other local Occupiers at our weekly meetings, there was general agreement with a strong majority of the points but there were some that were a bit "out there" as far as we are concerned -- they were issues that we sort of favored but they weren't the kinds of things we'd lay down our lives for our stand out in a snow-storm to advocate for. I cannot speak for the group but my sense of the matter is that our main concerns are the absolute necessity of getting the money out of politics and making our federal lawmakers just as eager to meet with you and me as they are to meet with a corporate lobbyist or a union leader. I suspect that we've got a ways to go.... Eric

spwright
1376
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spwright 11/01/11 - 07:17 am
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Oklahoma City ?

Norm, Tue 11/1/11
Just gotta know, What is your stand about Oklahoma City & Timothy McVeigh ?

Oh to answer Ray's earlier Question :
YES the Occupy Wall Street Protesters have every Constitutional Right to Peacefully Protest.

SPW "Airborne"

bob99507
361
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bob99507 11/02/11 - 08:02 pm
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SPW

And the Tea Party has the same rights

jlmh
352
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jlmh 11/03/11 - 01:38 am
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I think that opinion piece

I think that opinion piece was fairly well-written. I too find it frustrating that so many people act like they are assembling for some cause, when in reality it is just one big whinefest where everyone gets together to complain about something different - with a vague theme of "it's corporations' fault." And they expect the Great Wizard of Oz (federal government) to devise one sweeping solution for everyone, which they themselves cannot articulate. All righty then.

But I think we could go a long way toward solving many of our economic problems by trust-busting, eliminating corporate personhood as the_postman suggests, and developing our natural resources. Trust-busting would prevent corporations from getting "too big to fail" (and thus putting us in the position of losing everything or bailing them out with tax dollars); the market can handle smaller, scattered failures. Corporate personhood was rejected by many courts before it finally found one that favored it and thus changed the nature of corporate America forever - a step worth backtracking. And while many of the unemployed - particularly students - think they are entitled to their dream job, the fact is that you have to look at where there is market entry in order to find work. For the U.S., it's our natural resources. Developing them responsibly is the most effective way to create jobs - even though it may not be the kind of work or national future that many envision.

Sack_013
0
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Sack_013 11/03/11 - 09:08 pm
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A Few Points

I like the piece that you wrote, but I just wanted to take the time to address some of the points that you brought up.

First of all, the Marxist elephant that keeps showing itself. I know from sitting in on some of these live feeds in New York and Oakland, that there are a plethora of individuals involved. Some of them are communists. Quite a few are socialists. An overwhelming majority are capitalists. There are many supporters of Ron Paul there. There are many different political, ethnic and religious backgrounds. The point that I am trying to make is this - it is hard to make such an all-encompassing group without including everyone, even those on the fringe that you do not agree with.

Which leads to my second point. That page that you linked showed a list of grievances. There were no solutions, or proposed solutions. There are no demands. There are no leaders. This too, is a frequent point that is made. It is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, without a demand or list of demands and without a leader, the movement itself is protected from being co-opted by the any of the diverse group of folks that I mentioned above. It is free of division. On the other hand, it is not being taken seriously, and the media is blatantly attempting to either adopt this movement or subvert it.

There have been meetings at several general assemblies, and several documents and propositions have been made, but nothing that has been a unanimous agreement - sticking with the representative of the 99% philosophy, and they are still working on this. Have you any suggestions?

(Aside from the move the protests to D.C. suggestion - firstly, I think we have D.C.'s attention at this point, and secondly, the movement started at the place that many Americans believe power to be concentrated at - Wall Street.)

spwright
1376
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spwright 11/03/11 - 10:03 pm
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Democracy Birth of a Nation 11/3/11

Just my 2 cents worth:
Yes the Occupy Wall Street Protesters seem to have
One HellofaMESS happening BUT
Our Very Own Nation & the beginnings of Our Democracy was a Ugly Heated MESS also. Some angry upset Protesters
with no real Leadership was the beginning of Our Nation also.

What makes my blood boil is the fact that the $Rich$ are watching at all of this from above in their Ivory Towers & are
LAUGHING & LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK.
as their fellow Americans are beating the crap outta each other & bleeding all the way to the hospital.
"Aint That AMERICA You & Me"

SPW "Airborne"

sterlingmike
0
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sterlingmike 11/04/11 - 09:29 am
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Real Millionaires

Isn't it odd that nobody is upset with the millionaires that have dramatically increased their incomes that play games for the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL? Hundreds of millions in some cases. Tens of millions in most. Just sayin'.......

jlmh
352
Points
jlmh 11/05/11 - 12:53 pm
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Beware of class envy

Why would any be upset that sports stars are rich? It isn't illegal to make money or succeed. The problem arises when you have oligopolies that control the market. If you play the game Monopoly you get a simplified taste of what happens when wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a few. It becomes harder and harder for the other players to get by, and impossible for them to improve their situation in the game. The big investment decisions (where to put houses and how many, and eventually where to put hotels) start to get made by fewer and fewer players, at the expense of the others. I think we can all agree that the game of Monopoly gets harder and more hopeless as the game goes on (except for the ultimate winner). Anti-trust laws are designed to keep capitalism from turning into a game of Monopoly. But too many large buy-outs and mergers were approved - who became "too big to fail" - and failed. The answer isn't really elusive. We just have to follow through with it (trust-busting). It's hard to do when the profit incentive is huge, but it's the only way to keep the economy viable.

Just getting mad at individuals for being rich is class envy. That never accomplished anything good. In the early part of the 20th century, the Jewish Germans controlled the banks and the majority of wealth (a long-term product of historical religious dynamics, because Catholics considered charging interest to be usury, so naturally the business of banking ended up in other hands). Hitler capitalized on this phenomenon, villainizing the "1%" and rallying the "99%" to believe they were entitled to that money. Jews were allowed to leave Germany, but not with their money. So essentially he was able to plunder the wealth of a minority and catalyze a majority into the most brutal act of genocide in history. Similarly, France revolted against the bourgeoisie and imprisoned many families in the Bastille for the crime of being wealthy. One must be careful not to villainize wealth, but to be precise about their economic demands, lest we catalyze a movement based on class envy (and all the atrocities that come with it) instead of sound economic policy.

trevorkauffman
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trevorkauffman 11/12/11 - 06:03 pm
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Class Envy

Jim, you have a pretty good point. Some of the anti-establishment sentiments floating around lately have been reminding me of 1920s/30s Germany as well. One of my history professors, Thomas Childers, called the NSDAP the "catch-all party of protest"... I'm getting ready to start perusing through some old NSDAP manifestos and demands I have stashed in my books. It might be fruitful to draw modern parallels.

However, there are some stark differences between the status of Germany at that time and the status of the USA at this time. Mainly that the USA isn't nearly as deep in economic crisis and turmoil as Germany was in the 1920s. We aren't coming off of a really harsh Armistice (94 years ago from yesterday), which left Germans incredibly bitter and economically desperate. You wouldn't think that there's enough instability at present to lead to anything similarly dramatic.

But it's a similar process in a general sense: step A, economic downturn... step B, reactionary popular protests against those with wealth. Step C... ??? History is still being made.

One might hope that with hindsight, we can learn something from what went down in the Third Reich, Revolutionary France, Bolshevist Russia, even Revolutionary America (good point, SPW). But here we are now, with all kinds of unrest surfacing in the general population (OWS is just the tip of an iceberg, right). Interesting times.

I want to be really clear that I'm not suggesting that OWS closely resembles the NSDAP. But I'm just making some general parallels between protest, ideology, and economy. Here's some food for thought:

"It has often been assumed that the rise of Nazism was inextricably intertwined with unemployment. As unemployment rose dramatically after 1928, peaked in the spring of 1932 and then declined, so did the National Socialist vote. However, Nazi party members were usually in employment..." -D. Geary

(http://www.johndclare.net/Weimar6_Geary.htm) Also, check out "the Nazi Voter" by T. Childers. Tediously detailed, but seriously interesting.

tk

trevorkauffman
0
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trevorkauffman 11/12/11 - 06:01 pm
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Alaskan goes to Occupy

Also, I'm visiting family on the East Coast, so I'm planning on heading over to OWS and seeing what the skinny is. Maybe I'll take a rough poll of the people I meet and ask them what they are hoping for by being there, how effective they think they are, etc. Maybe I'll even find out for Mr. Olson if he's correct about: "their obvious goal, which is Marxism".

So far my strategy is shaping up something like this:

"hello sir (or madam), I'm Trevor, a random guy from Alaska. Just a quick question, but I've heard you are a Marxist. Care to comment?"

.. [Response]...

Anton
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Anton 11/13/11 - 02:32 pm
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What OWS already has done...

* It has named a key driver to a host of our most significant modern problems: "Wall Street" (see synechdoche), the perverse incentives afforded Wall Street, the institutionalized value of greed (profit above all other considerations) embodied by Wall Street in culture as well as corporate by-laws, and the all-out disproportionate influence of Wall Street over any political consideration including peoples' efforts to improve (not emasculate and distort-for-profit, which Wall Street supports) government.

* It implies a vision of a world that works for people -- everyone; not just the wealthiest 1% and the [obviously non-people] corporate vehicles the 1% control.

* It sets a new standard for policy-making. Policy, including subsidies and corporate welfare, should serve the 99%. It rejects "trickle down" policies that the 1% love to support, but that objectively have failed.

* It creates a new narrative: free society and government from corporate dominance in order that our democratic republic can work to serve people, that is, people-people.

* It creates a big tent that helps give immunity to widespread corporate-funded efforts to create a narrative intended to divide and marginalize the movement.

* It is a call for deep change; not more mere window-dressing.

* It creates opportunity for aligned participation locally and globally.

* It offers an ethic and practice of inclusiveness, deep community, and meaningful participation by all.

* It invites distributed leadership and creativity.

* It conspicuously does not begin with the premise that our way through this mess begins with guns, hierarchy, power and control.

* It implicitly rejects the tea-party evidence standard of talk-show-radio-and-tv propaganda of the Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, prosperity theology variety.

* And, Mister Kauffman, it implicitly rejects shallow, right-wing phobias of stereotypes like "socialists," "communists," "Marxists," "liberals," "homosexuals," "women," "Muslims," "homeless people," "the unemployed," "poor people," "atheists," "Hispanics," and "aliens." Seek out someone who actually studied Marx and post-Marxian writers or seek out seek out someone from China, Russia, Cuba, or Vietnam to learn about lived-in "communism," including its atrocities and original motivations. You might enjoy learning (does not mean endorsing) in genuine conversation, which is invited by OWS (contrast the Tea Parties).

[Thanks to truth-out.org for organizing the gist of many of these observations above.]

aksumfun
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aksumfun 11/13/11 - 03:15 pm
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Anton said a whole mouthful of what is wrong with this country;

I would like to go back to the time when I was born, in the bottom of the Great Depression when Nobody had any money; Everybody worked and struggled, even bankers and big business men did not have money. But how did the U.S. become the biggest economy, the wealthiest nation in the world, The protector of the world which I think we should bring all our troops home as the people who we are trying to free, Do not like us and put our troops on our borders and go back to like the time my great grandfather immigrated to the U.S. in 1850, He came in legally but who is at fault for letting people just walk across the border and take my health care away from me and other seniors and get free medical which U.S. citizens don`t get. Now Anton, give me your solution to solve this situation??????? I happen to be a Centrist and can`t understand how you can be such a great judge of the people on the other side of this crazy situation

trevorkauffman
0
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trevorkauffman 11/14/11 - 10:43 pm
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Anton, You have presented an

Anton,
You have presented an interesting reading of OWS..

As for your jab at my understanding of Marx and the emergent schools of thought rooted in he and Engel's social critique... well, obviously you didn't get the joke.

-It wasn't that funny anyway-

But moving ever onward.

This is how the stated "Declaration" of the New York General Assembly begins: "As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice..."

Here's the key word: "feeling". OWS capitalizes on the abstract. Strange though it is, OWS seems intent on defining itself by its lack of definition. Instead, it invites those harboring generalized emotions of discontent and confusion and aspires to replace them with hope and resolve. It's a poetic initiative, and it is certainly rooted in a very optimistic, progressive understanding of humanity. Herein lies its classic similarity to the origins of many protest-parties of yore. I for one, am most curious as to whether there really is enough of a core here to form any kind of viable political movement.

On a lighter note..
The other foundational quality of OWS, when it comes to the publications it has spawned, seems to be the flagrant disregard for the proper use of language. Read the "Declaration" adopted by the "General Assembly". Try not to laugh too hard. To be fair, I am sure it is ridiculously difficult to agree on wording when you are working with so many authors at the same time. After reading this document, I am so very, very relieved that the drafters of our original national Declaration could actually communicate effectively within the bounds of the English language. It'd really be embarrassing if we'd sent King George a string of psycho-babble similar to this one.

HOWEVER, the tendency to convolute ones meaning because of linguistic deficiency does not necessarily negate the value of the attempted opinion. It just makes things really damn confusing for those who are trying to listen.

And it is for this reason that I will be cruising OWS in the flesh in a few days. This phenomenon is way too interesting to interpret it via second-hand information filtered though dozens of different media outlets.

tk

http://www.nycga.net/resources/declaration/

Anton
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Anton 11/15/11 - 02:25 pm
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"Now give me your solution...."

We're looking at a host of intertwined problems deeply inhering to the modern social and political fabric. The problems are difficult to see, and a symptom of the problem is how polarized is our national political community. 

Major (that is big big major major) property-owning forces have learned to stimulate peoples' confusion for their benefit -- even if it means cheating -- and they have honed an industry able quickly to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt regarding virtually any issue of the day. That industry of black arts is far more widespread and sophisticated than what oldsters experienced from the tobacco industry that denied the objective link between smoking and cancer and public health. But, indeed, some of the same people are involved, and it's modeled on the same idea.
 
In addition, the issues are sufficiently complex that people significantly are unable to filter noise from signal, so they rely on initial biases (or tangential biases, for example, as with regard to "what is life?") to filter their sources. And so it goes.

That industry of leveraging fear, uncertainty, and doubt for profit (lots of profit) has metastasized into other venerable US institutions: from national politics to local school boards; into the mainstream media, basically eclipsing the idea of journalism as a public service; into public health; into the idea of a social safety net; into Christianity; into the military industrial complex; into congress and our political parties; into election cheating; and into our courts, including the Supreme Court (e.g., the Citizen's United decision).

The cult of profit above all else has become a cancer, and I think it could be lethal. Already, it's debilitating. Its life blood is money and more profit, which, of course must be accrued as quickly as possible, and which, in the cult of profit, is justification in-and-of-itself for just about anything. 

Any solutions I think necessarily will include increased arousal and awareness of people (the 99%); growing a culture that will not accept cheating in either party; inoculating public officials from money (campaign reform, insider profits reform, media access, revolving door reform, etc.); corporate reform (corporations are not people); tax and regulatory reform (simplify and eliminate the complexity that corporations secretly love because they're so profitable and easy to hate, which can be leveraged further to emasculate constructive government reform); and insider-profits reform for government employees and elected public officials.

That's a big order, and monied interests will do everything they can to make sure it won't happen; including use of violence to provoke violence. It only will happen if enough people insist actively for long enough. It won't happen solely via familiar processes, I'm sure.

Btw, I think establishment was so friendly to tea partiers who brandished guns and threatened revolution was largely because for the most part in actuality tea partiers were in the psychological pockets of the 1%, they were easily manipulated, and were not threatening to the 1%-ers and their corporate profits -- at all.

Trevor, sorry. I should have realized that. I hope you report back with a letter.

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