Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Demands for Occupy Wall Street

(Originally published October 15, 2011)

"Where are your demands?  Where are your demands?" the mainstream media brays at Occupy Wall Street.  It is an open question if it would be necessary or wise for OWS to even issue demands (and if telling them what to do is an exercise in arrogance and pomposity), but in the event that they decide to, here are some suggestions:
Noam Chomsky, from Failed States, p.262: 
One commonly hears that carping critics complain about what is wrong, but do not present solutions.  There is an accurate translation for that charge: "They present solutions, but I don't like them."  In addition to the proposals that should be familiar about dealing with the crises that reach to the level of survival, a few simple suggestions for the United States have already been mentioned: (1) accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court; (2) sign and carry forward the Kyoto protocols; (3) let the UN take the lead in international crises; (4) rely on diplomatic and economic measures rather than military ones in confronting terror; (5) keep to the traditional interpretation of the UN Charter; (6) give up the Security Council veto and have "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind," as the Declaration of Independence advises, even if power centers disagree; (7) cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase social spending.  For people who believe in democracy, these are very conservative suggestions: they appear to be the opinions of the majority of the US population, in most cases the overwhelming majority.  They are in radical opposition to public policy.
David Graeber, from Fragments of An Anarchist Anthropology, p.78:
Once during the protests before the World Economic Forum, a kind of junket of tycoons, corporate flacks and politicians, networking and sharing cocktails at the Waldorf Astoria, pretended to be discussing ways to alleviate global poverty.  I was invited to engage in a radio debate with one of their representatives.  As it happened the task went to another activist but I did get far enough to prepare a three-point program that I think would have taken care of the problem rather nicely:
  • an immediate amnesty on international debt (An amnesty on personal debt might not be a bad idea either but it's a different issue.)
  • an immediate cancellation of all patents and other intellectual property rights related to technology more than one year old
  • the elimination of all restrictions on global freedom of travel or residence 
The rest would pretty much take care of itself.  The moment the average resident of Tanzania, or Laos, was no longer forbidden to relocate to Minneapolis or Rotterdam, the government of every rich and powerful country in the world would certainly decide nothing was more important than finding a way to make sure people in Tanzania and Laos preferred to stay there.  Do you really think they couldn't come up with something?
1) If a financial institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.
2) Put a cap on credit card interest rates to end usury.
3) The Federal Reserve needs to provide small businesses in America with the same low-interest loans it gave to foreign banks.
4) Stop Wall Street oil speculators from artificially increasing gasoline and heating oil prices.
5) Demand that Wall Street invest in the job-creating productive economy, instead of gambling on worthless derivatives.
6) Establish a Wall Street speculation fee on credit default swaps, derivatives, stock options and futures.
1) Break up the monopolies.
2) Pay for your own bailouts.
3) No public money for private lobbying.
4) Tax hedge-fund gamblers.
5) Change the way bankers get paid.
  • Impose a financial transactions tax.
  • Close the “carried interest” and “founders’ stock” loopholes
  • Protect big banks from themselves.
Karl Marx and Frederick Engles, The Communist Manifesto:
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.

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