A Proposed List of Demands
Special to Knowmore.org
Forgive this brief editorial moment, but for a number of reasons I feel compelled to speak on the recent #OCCUPYWALLSTREET movement in regard to it's aim.
As for its methods, they're obviously sound. The movement is spreading like wildfire, and has gained a momentum that is truly exciting and heartening. The massive amount of people in the streets is only matched--I believe--by the massive amount of people who would be in the streets if the movement's goals were clearly stated and hammered home in the media by its participants.
A proposed list of demands an #OCCUPYWALLSTREET user uploaded was recently latched onto and hyped by FOX News, and not only was it dangerously misrepresentative, it was practically absurd. If the best people can come up with is a list of utopian liberal ideals that can't practically be acted on in the near future or within any political reality, this movement will go nowhere. Likewise, I believe the way this 'list of demands' was spread virally and warped by the media is indicative of how important it is to arrive at a real list of demands, and soon.
In the interest of that, and as part of a community that's been researching and sounding the alarm about Wall Street via this website and countless other means since 2005, here are the points we believe should be at the very top of any list of demands. In some ways they're just as ambitious as the previous list, but if we're firing all guns at once let's aim for the right target.
REMEMBER: We are Occupying WALL STREET. The symbolism of the movement is already aimed CORPORATIONS, as is an unprecedented amount of public distrust and anger. In our opinion, the way to actualize all these things is to focus the demands on CORPORATE CONTROL.
Point 1. All Corporate Money Out of Politics, Heavy Restrictions on Lobbying
If this was the only thing the #OCCUPYWALLSTREET movement accomplished, it would be a completely revolutionary change. We need to understand that the fundamental reason our democracy is broken has to due with Corporation's ability to buy politicians.
Instead of demanding Universal Health Care as if someone could wave a magic wand and make that so, think about why Universal Healthcare wasn't even allowed to be a part of the public debate in a serious way. It's the same reason it took decades to even BRING UP the subject; because the Healthcare industry OWNS so many politicians.
Apply this same idea to any number of debates; imagine the US foreign policy conversation without military-industrial money in the mix. Imagine the conversation about green technology and the environment without oil companies' ability to buy votes, etc.
Get the Corporate money out of politics first; then we can have a real national debate on any number of issues without our voice being suppressed and drowned out.
Point 2. Closing of Tax Loopholes and Fair Taxation of the Richest Americans
This is perhaps the most immediately accomplishable of these goals, as it's an aim President Obama has shown a recent willingness to address and deal with. With the knowledge that there is a populist movement in the streets supporting his agenda, the President might be enticed to expand and strengthen his aim in standing up to the richest 1%. Conservatives have been quick to label this Class Warfare, but poor people know that the war's been on for years.
Point 3. Sincere Efforts Toward Anti-Trust Breakups of Every 'Too Big To Fail' Entity in the Nation
The emergence of these entities has created powerful market advantages, but their inability to sufficiently insulate themselves from risk has made their existence catastrophic for the larger economy. We don't need to wait for proof of this; we've seen it and are actively living in the aftermath.
Point 4. Expanded Criminalization and Punishment of White Collar Crimes
It's time to arrest the people responsible for the global financial crisis, and give the judicial system some teeth in regard to White Collar Crime.
For starters, we should accept no nationwide settlement with the banks over the mortgage fraud debacle, particularly not one that's a slap on the wrist. Wall Street is negotiating these settlements to let itself off the hook for crimes it already committed.
Point 5. That Our State and Local Governments Restore Local Authority Over Our Food, Water, and Resources, and that the U.S. Withdraw From Any Trade Agreement that Pre-Empts Control of These Resources.
Federal and state governments, pressed by the agribusiness industry and bound by free trade agreements like NAFTA and the WTO, are actively removing local authority over resources like our local food and water.
This means that even if you don't have clean water to drink, you can't stop a multinational corporation from mining your local drinking water to sell elsewhere. It also means you can't prevent business from genetically modifying your food, or stop Wal-Mart from coming to your town and burying locally owned business.
Under these agreements and pre-emptions, businesses have the ability to take precedence over local, and even national, control of food, agriculture, and other areas of the economy. This situation must be addressed if we're to effectively control corporations.
Point 6. That New Laws Be Enacted to Challenge and Curtail Corporate Personhood and Access to the Bill of Rights
This is a huge issue that is now built into the legal precedent of the United States. It will be incredibly difficult to disentangle from the judicial system, but that doesn't make it any less important.
More people need to understand Corporate Personhood, and how it lies at the heart of so many of the problems we face.
It's the reason Corporations can give unlimited amounts to candidates.
It's the reason Corporations can lie in their advertising and claim 'freedom of speech' protection.
It's the reason Corporations have claimed a 'right to privacy' while defrauding and injuring their victims.
It's something #OCCUPYWALLSTREET should try to name and raise awareness about, as well as strategizing on how to overcome it via legal challenges.
The above list of six represents an attempt to strike at the root of Wall Street's power over our lives and Democracy. It also attempts to cover a broad number of issues with a small number of points, so that protesters in the street can easily get a handle on talking points and aims. The media strategy that wins in our modern age involves targeted repetition.
We encourage folks to discuss amendments or changes to this list via the 'discussion' tab on this page, but also hope people who will share this message via Social Networks and expand/refine it within their organizations. We look forward with hope to future debate within and progress of the movement.
Stay on the battlefield,