Friday, October 14, 2011

If I ran Occupy Wall Street

Ok, instead of being hand wavey, what would I do?

There have to be a short list of demands that are something that can be done by someone in power.  They should be very simple to get a yes or no on it happening.  For example:

I think that Occupy Wall Street should put forward a petition.  President Obama should use the right of eminent domain to take ownership of all the empty "ghost" houses that are sitting empty all over the country.  That housing should all move from being the property of the various banks and become Section 8 housing.  If not Section 8, then those houses should be auctioned off immediately and the bank doesn't get to quibble about price.

I think that every person who is in the top 1% should have to be publicly audited by more than one firm.  If they have so much as not paid a parking ticket, throw the fuckers in jail.  We are done catering to the rich.

I believe that there should be a one time only chance for people who are under water to refinance their home to something reasonable.

That's three concrete demands.  Obama and Congress could do any of those.  It wouldn't be popular.  But if I were the charismatic leader in charge of this movement I would put forth those three demands.  I would give a time limit in which to get them done.  And then I would start large scale destruction of property.  Because if this was my revolution, I wouldn't sit on a side walk.  I'm kind of violent like that.

Do you know why this isn't my revolution?  Because I see the direction we are going as being historically precedented.  I don't think there are enough people who are serious about the same goals.  People aren't pissed about fucked up housing prices, they are pissed that they don't have the social mobility they want.

Right now our country is doing pretty shitty compared to the rest of the world, earlier in history we did a lot better.  I think these things are fairly cyclical and there's not much that can be changed about the downfall of an economic system.  All the money being in the hands of a ridiculously small group of people while the vast swarms worked themselves to death is pretty much the historical norm in every place everywhere.  Ok, not hunter gatherer tribes.  Is it right?  I'm still not sure I understand what that is even asking.  Is it right that feudalism existed?  Is it right that China had an absolute Emperor?  I'm not sure "right" is the thing to worry about.  I'm not sure what is.

Let me put this another way.  It's not about thinking that people deserve anything.  It's about the fact that I think the 99% has forgotten that they fucking outnumber the 1% and they are being stupid.  No one is going to ensure that other people get what they deserve.  People have to learn how to get it for themselves.

But I don't really mean that we are all wild animals fending for ourselves.  I take care of my kids.  Not because they deserve it, but because I want to.  I give them the things I want them to have.  I want them to have a stable home.  I want them to have good food.  I want them to be happy and have fun things to play with.  I get to give my kids the things I give them because of a ridiculous amount of privilege.  I don't think that my kids deserve any better than one else's kids.  But I can give them different things.

Do I think it should be equal across the board?  No.  I actually don't.  Do I think there should be a minimum standard for everyone?  Yes and no.  The realist in me believes that it will never happen.  Because there is no should and there is no deserve.  The idealist in me wants to try hard to build a world where some day everyone will have enough.

I don't know if Occupy Wall Street is going to make the world better.  It depends on a lot of factors.  I think if anyone is smart the Mayor and the NYPD will STFU, try to facilitate this happening peacefully for as long as dumbasses want to live in tents.  It's going to snow soon.  If the government just waits it will win.  I think that things will only come to a head if the Mayor or some other high official get stupid and pull the trigger.

I think that the reality is that people don't have a cohesive message.  They don't know what they are fighting for.  If you aren't fighting for something you don't stand a chance.  Down with tyranny means shit.  You don't fight to defeat the tyrant.  You fight to god damn win your freedom.  It's about what you want.  And you have to be willing to be very angry and make a lot of noise.  Because change only happens when you make enough people uncomfortable.

I don't see anyone (who is wealthy and currently in power) but Fox News feeling uncomfortable.  And that means this is going to fail as a revolution.


  1. I don't think there are enough people who are serious about the same goals. People aren't pissed about fucked up housing prices, they are pissed that they don't have the social mobility they want.

    Man, I feel that a LOT sometimes. People at large act really stupid about money. At the very least, I have different values about money than most Americans displayed in the public media, and it galls me when I see choices being made that I find irresponsible or sometimes morally indefensible. (Yeah, I feel like that a lot.)

    I read a lot of personal finance blogs, pretty much because I covet money and I want to do good things (like pay my bills, buy a house, donate to causes I believe in, afford kids, retire from the 40 hr/wk workforce at some point and still pay my bills) with it. There are a lot of snippy bloggers who are frugaller-than-thou about their choices, but there are also people who have admirable goals to get out of debt. They talk about how they got there in the first place; they examine their attitudes toward income, spending, entitlement, planning, social mobility. Even their "reformed" attitudes are sometimes ones that make me twitch a little. I am a privileged person, and I acknowledge that and examine it. I feel ENTITLED to a lot less than lots of people, though, when it comes to material goods. In the area of services like education, health care, adequate food, clean water, and so forth... I'm definitely closer to your stated idealism. The "shoulds" in this case are like guiding values and vision statements: IF we as a country (or other group, or as individuals) believe that there SHOULD be a minimum standard of care for each citizen, what choices do we make to further that goal? Yeah, it may never be fully realized, but improvement would be welcome.

  2. Here are some interesting people talking about this stuff, too:

  3. I am intrigued and excited about the movement.

    I've been involved with a lot of anarchist protests, and most of them involve breaking a lot of stuff. That's kind of how that works.

    The thing that's really interesting about what's happening now is the broad base. It's not just anarchists, or "professional" activists. That's one reason it's so relatively non-violent. Some anarchists are pretty unexcited about it, but those who are involved are trying not to alienate the popular support of the movement, which I think is more important. James was involved in writing the nonviolence statement for the pittsburgh group, and it was a very, very grueling process getting everyone to agree on where they stood with this so that there could be a feeling of solidarity.

    About the demands, I'm curious what will happen. I agree with people who don't feel so entitled. I mean, I have a college degree, two kids, very little money and no job, and I feel a) kind of ok about that and b) like it actually is my fault. But then I read some of the stories and some of the people I really do feel for... the ones who have done everything "right" all their lives and then got their savings and job wiped out by a catastrophic illness or something. So, yeah...

    I agree about having a not exactly moral feeling about all of this. I just feel excited about the mass of people learning something about the power they actually have, and I'm curious to see what will happen.

    (and in terms of leadership and demands, I don't know how much you've read about it, but it is actually being organized and run in a completely anarchist fashion... every single decision by concensus. that is hard to do at all, and, I would think, nearly impossible to use to create very unified demands - although one thing I did hear again and again today, more than anything else, was to tax the rich)

    so many thoughts, so hard to organize. wish we could have tea together and talk about this.

  4. Randomly, I can't remember if you've seen this yet: ""

    Not suggesting that the USA is Equalland... Just... Things are slightly more complex, mathematically, than they appear :-)