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Can Occupiers be more than a grumpy group of squatters?

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Posted: Saturday, November 19, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:06 am, Sat Nov 19, 2011.

So far, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have only managed to sound sorry for themselves.

Their cry that the rich are too rich resonates with some Americans, but without a proposal to correct the "problem," the protesters are just a grumpy group of squatters.

Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland, Occupy Stockton and hundreds of Occupy Someplace demonstrations are a big yawn compared the Hoovervilles of the '30s and anti-war protests in the '60s.

There's been some violence surrounding a few of them, but given the long history of violent crime in places like Manhattan and Oakland, it's probably not fair to blame the protesters.

The difference between earlier protests and the Occupy movement is that today's demonstrations don't seem to stand for much. The Depression protesters created political support for Social Security and welfare programs. The Vietnam protesters shortened the war and set up a Communist takeover in South Vietnam.

It's hard to know what the Occupiers want to change. Here are a few ideas today's demonstrators might get behind:

  • Better financial regulation could prevent another destructive orgy of mortgage lending.
  • Aggressive anti-trust enforcement that might shrink some big banks that are "too big too fail." This could save taxpayers bailout money.
  • A shout-out, defending the progressive income tax (whereby people with higher incomes pay a higher percentage tax), would be a demand to keep upper income people paying a the biggest share of welfare, the large military, farm subsidies, etc. That might, or might not, take the wind out of the sails of candidates like Herman Cain, who wants a flat 9 percent income tax and a 9 percent federal sales tax on top of the state sales tax.
  • A greater voice for pension funds and small stockholders in setting salaries might reduce the stupendous compensation of corporate CEOs. (It would probably do little for increasing workers' wages and health benefits, however).

Some of these ideas are pretty liberal. Some might earn wide support.

Would any of these overcome the devilish details of adoption or the opposition of conservative voters and corporate lobbyists?

Would any of these reforms make a better America?

Unless the protesters give us something to think about, most Americans won't even hear what they have to say.

And unless the Occupiers come up with a message, they will just be squatters in urban parks wallowing in self-pity, and history's footnotes.

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Welcome to the discussion.

2 comments:

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:04 am on Sat, Nov 19, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    This letter was well written but makes points that is depressing to me.

    1.So far, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have only managed to sound sorry for themselves.

    Response. That is misleading. The demonstrators and managed to reveal that they are anti capitalists and demand society give to them what they want under threat of violence and destruction. To say they only project feeling sorry for themselves is a dramatic understatement.

    2. Their cry that the rich are too rich resonates with some Americans, but without a proposal to correct the "problem," the protesters are just a grumpy group of squatters

    . “Response”... The writer is stating that being too rich is a problem...What? Why? So Oprah and Bill Gates are a problem. They are too rich. Even though they are very benevolent and give billions to charities and good causes, they are a problem because they are too rich. Being rich is not a problem
    .
    3. The writer suggests...A shout-out, defending the progressive income tax (whereby people with higher incomes pay a higher percentage tax), would be a demand to keep upper income people paying a the biggest share of welfare …

    RESPONSE... So these people should be out doing what they do with this in mind? Most the people protesting likely pay ZERO in Federal Income tax... ZERO... and the writer suggests that the protesters have a beef with who should be paying their fair share? Incredible! Everyone knows that the poor and unemployed will be paying next to nothing in Federal income taxes no matter what system is in place. Everyone knows that the upper middle class and wealthy will be paying the lions share on Federal Income tax no matter which system is in place. This should not be a part of any protest. If any protest should be taking place, it is the middle class people who pay much income tax, protesting people with money who pay no income tax.

    4.A greater voice for pension funds and small stockholders in setting salaries might reduce the stupendous compensation of corporate CEOs.

    RESPONSE... Why focus on corporate CEO”S... why the selective outrage. If we are going to restrict incomes of the rich , why discriminate? Why should some billionaires have unlimited incomes and some restricted just because they happen to be a CEO... I find it scary to go down this path as when government decides how much is enough to earn, we take another step toward socialism.

    These people who are protesting should be putting their energies into doing something that will develop their job skills, doing something constructive and positive that will energize and uplift people who associate with them. Our country has problems. These people should be part of the solution.. not contributing to destructive negative activities that detract from a positive resolution.

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 9:00 am on Sat, Nov 19, 2011.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2978

    One would need to visit a granola factory to find more fruitcakes and nuts.

     

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