What is Occupy Wall Street?

 

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Objective

Objective of this blog post is to understand in simple terms the Occupy Wall Street protests taking place in the United States.

Background

The genesis of this protest lies in the 2008 meltdown following the mortgage crisis and failure of big banks and financial institutions. There is a general feeling among the masses that big businesses connive with politicians through lobbyists to secure self-interest (profit maximization) while the hoi polloi is left to fend for itself. This video (link courtesy @robert3242) sums up the mood among the masses succinctly.

Demands of the Protesters

  • Separate Investment Banking from Commercial Banks : Since there is little separation between the two today, investment banking firms are able to gamble with their depositors’ money held in commercial banks owned/created by investment firms. This resulted in the severity of the 2008 meltdown.
  • Use Congressional authority and oversight to prosecute the Wall Street criminals responsible for 2008 crisis
  • Cap the ability of corporations to contribute to political campaigns. At present, unlimited corporate contributions are permissible. Corporations can therefore virtually ‘buy’ elections!
  • Congress pass the Buffett Rule that envisages fair taxation of the rich and corporations and prohibits hiding funds off-shore
  • Revamping Securities and Exchange Commission by adequately staffing it with professionals and providing funds
  • Pass effective law to limit the influence of lobbyists in governance and law-making
  • Pass law prohibiting former regulators go and join corporations later. Employability of regulators with corporations has conflict of interest implications.

Modus Operandi

  • Non violent direct action and civil disobedience
  • Demand a written commitment to pass these bills by the end of the year. Written commitment should carry signatures of at least 60% of members of house and 60% of members of Senate.

Criticisms of the movement

  • Inciting a revolutionary movement
  • Inciting class warfare
  • That the protesters do not understand the complexities of business and policy and are naïve in their demands
  • That the protesters are against corporations
  • Supported by professional and established agitators rather than the masses
  • Protesters are pushing for higher taxes for those who have jobs. This would only further harm the middle class whom the protesters claim to represent/support.

Conclusion

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Occupy Wall Street is the manifestation of anger of the common man most effected by unemployment and slowdown following the excesses of the Wall Street resulting in the 2008 meltdown. It is about wresting back control of governance from the corporate-politico nexus to the people. It is about having legislations that benefit the common man more than they do corporations. It is important for Obama to address this anger adequately and well in time in view of his re-election campaign. That a movement with no visible leadership has sustained for over a fortnight and is spreading across the country is a fact that cannot be ignored.

What are your views on these protests? Are the protesters justified in their demands? Are they being practical, or naive? Is there a possibility of these protests taking the shape of a full blown movement? Do you see any justification in the criticisms of the protests? Will this impact Obama’s re-election bid? In view of the impending default among the EU nations, do these protests have the potential of igniting similar protests elsewhere? Do you see a common thread running across the various movements the world over, including the anti-corruption movement in India? Do comment. I will try to incorporate your comments in a future blog post on the subject.

References

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About Aman Sharma

Management Professional.
This entry was posted in America, Business, Economy, Politics, USA and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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