Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is an ongoing series of demonstrations in New York City based in Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street financial district, and were initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters. Participants are mainly protesting against social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the excessive power and influence of corporations, particularly from the financial services sector, and of lobbyists, over the White House. The participants’ slogan “We are the 99%” refers to the difference in wealth between the top 1% and the rest of the US citizens.
The Adbusters Media Foundation is a Canadian-based not-for-profit, anti-consumerist, pro-environment organisation founded in 1989 by Kalle Lasn and Bill Schmalz, a duo of award-winning documentary filmmakers living in Vancouver, British Columbia. The foundation describes itself as “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.
OWS?s desire to end the corporate state: mend it, don?t end it. Corporations provide many benefits to society as they use people, capital, and technology to create value for consumers, employees, shareholders, and communities. Through competition, companies strive to gain market share by giving consumers good products at an ever-lower price or great products at a higher price.
And in so doing, companies create jobs that provide money, health care, and a sense of purpose. If companies can do all this while earning better than expected profits, they reward shareholders. And by paying taxes and giving to communities, they are decent citizens.
Regrettably, not all companies follow this value-creating script. That?s why society needs to regulate companies. And due to the symbiosis between politicians who need cash to finance their quest for power and companies that are eager to supply that cash in exchange for profit-boosting government policies, government does not represent the interests of non-corporate people as well as it does those of corporate ones.
This is where the need to mend what OWS calls the corporate state. That?s because as long as they use money to pay lobbyists, make campaign contributions, and dangle the lure of higher paying private sector jobs in front of those in government tasked with regulating business, society runs the risk of corporations engaging in some questionable conduct.
For example, the practice of blowing up rock to release natural gas would be permitted near residential areas if energy companies made hefty campaign contributions. Ameriquest?s $7.8 million in 2004 campaign contributions to George W. Bush?s re-election campaign ensured they secured drilling rights for their natural gas explorations.
The main message of the protesters is: “We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%”. More specifically, it is a protest against the speculative and corrupt financial practices that caused the global recession and the disturbed the control corporations and the rich have over politics, leading to the degradation of American democracy into a corporatocracy.
LIST OF PROPOSED DEMANDS
CONGRESS PASS HR 1489 REINSTATING GLASS-STEAGALL ACT. Provisions of the Glass?Steagall Act of 1933 by the Gramm?Leach?Bliley Act in 1999 effectively removed the separation that previously existed between investment banking which issued securities and commercial banks which accepted deposits. The deregulation also removed conflict of interest prohibitions between investment bankers serving as officers of commercial banks.
To have a big impact, the OWS protesters have only one slogan that they paint on signs and chant during marches within earshot of press, which is “RE-IN-STATE the ACT GLASS-STEAGALL. IT MAKES THE WALL STREET GAMES ILLEGAL!”
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 in the following notable cases. There is a pretty broad consensus that a certain group of people got away with billions of dollars illegally and haven’t been brought to justice yet.
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. The result is that corporations can pretty much buy elections. Corporations should be highly limited in their ability to contribute to political campaigns no matter what the election and no matter what the form of media.
CONGRESS PASS THE BUFFET 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.
CONGRESS COMPLETELY REVAMP THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION and staff it at all levels with professionals with proven track record who get their job done by protecting the integrity of the marketplace while enabling citizens and investors protect their investment.
CONGRESS PASS SPECIFIC AND EFFECTIVE LAWS LIMITING THE INFLUENCE OF LOBBYISTS AND ELIMINATING THE PRACTICE OF LOBBYISTS WRITING LEGISLATION THAT ENDS UP ON THE FLOOR OF THE CONGRESS.
CONGRESS PASSING “Revolving Door Legislation” LEGISLATION ELIMINATING THE ABILITY OF FORMER GOVERNMENT REGULATORS GOING TO WORK FOR CORPORATIONS THAT THEY ONCE REGULATED.
RE-ESTABLISH THE PUBLIC AIRWAVES IN THE US SO THAT POLITICAL CANDIDATES ARE GIVEN EQUAL TIME FOR FREE AT REASONABLE INTERVALS IN DAILY PROGRAMMING DURING CAMPAIGN SEASON. The same should extend to other media.
MIXED REACTIONS OVER OWS
People are gathering, discussing, blogging and supporting the cause from all over the world.
Here are a few excerpts from online comments over OWS:
It’s not a cohesive political protest with a specific set of changes to accomplish but it’s ridiculous to say they don’t stand for anything. I guess there was a lot more activity the first couple of days, and from every interview I get the impression they all opposed the unchecked power of corporations and finance, and wanted more democracy. They were/are being mostly ignored because that is the opposite of what our media conglomerates want.
Sources: Forbes, Occupy Wall Street, Wikipedia, Reddit