Much has been said about Occupy Wall Street's lack of particular demands. However, their inchoate demands are numerous and plentiful, and what they amount to when totaled up is a complete repudiation of the organization of business and government and the way they are now constituted which isn't the way the Founding Fathers envisioned them at all. The way business is being conducted in the US amounts to a transmogrification of American values under the guise of an evolution of those values. America has morphed into a pseudo republic based on lies and hypocrisy, on militarism in the name of rationality, on the worship of money and the legitmation of any means to obtain it. Without getting specific the Occupy movement represents a repudiation of these abhorrent values which represent the corruption of everything Americans used to hold dear in the service of unmitigated greed and a glorification of unlimited wealth regardless of the plight of the vast majority of the people.
What the Occupy movement really wants in a vague indefinite way among other things is
(1) Getting money out of politics. That encompasses two ideas: that political campaigns should be publicly funded instead of funded by Wall Street and other wealthy interests and that lobbyists should be gotten out of Washington. Right now 40,000 lobbyists swarm Capitol Hill writing legislation in favor of the corporations that pay them an average of $300,000. starting salary to obtain legislation that stacks the cards in the corporations' favor. Is it any wonder tax policy favors the rich and exploits the poor? Does anyone truly think that getting money out of politics can be accomplished without a revolution? No way. The wealthy and the powerful will never back off. They have morphed American democracy into a plutocracy, and Democrats, who by and large have been bought off by the same wealthy interests, are not a true opposition party. They talk out of one side of their mouth while fund raising out of the other. True democracy cannot exist again until politics becomes something other than the tool of monied interests.
(2) The rich must pay their fair share of taxes. Tax policy as a result of frenetic lobbying has favored the rich while exploiting the poor. That's the whole purpose of lobbying: to seek tax advantages for the rich at the expense of the poor. That's the whole raison d'etre for lobbyists getting paid their obscene salaries. Reagan and Greenspan were experts at raising taxes on the poor while lowering them on the rich and at the same time obfuscating what they were doing and convincing the middle class that taxes were being fairly raised or lowered on everyone. Not true. Implicit in the tax code is favorable treatment for the upper 1% and an albatross around the neck of the poor and middle class - the 99%. Wealthy Wall Streeters pay only a 15% capital gains tax and benefit from "carried interest" which gives them the same tax rate no matter how many billions they make. And Republicans fight like hell to preserve these tax advantages for the rich, every last penny of them. They will never agree to tax capital gains as ordinary income, a millionaires's tax or a financial transactions tax. Does anyone think that any of these things can be accomplished without a revolution?
(3) The filibuster rule. The most antidemocratic tool of the Republican dominated Senate. A return to democracy would require the abolition of the filibuster rule. Does anyone think this can be accomplished without a revolution? The filibuster rule means that the majority does not rule and never will again as long as the present regime holds sway.
(4) Health care as a right. Medicare for all. Medicare's overhead is 3%. Private health insurance's overhead is 30%. Health insurance corporation CEOs made an average of $11 million last year while the highest salary paid to anyone in Medicare administration was less than $200,000. That's the reason why health care is becoming so expensive with paltry outcomes. Private health insurance corporations are under Wall Street's thumb. Wall Street demands higher and higher profits and increasing returns for investors. The result comes about from reducing the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) which is the percentage paid out for actual medical care compared to the percentage paid out to investors and CEOs. I'ts a classic case of profit over people and again Wall Street is the culprit. Is there a theme developing here? Wall Street has its finger in every pie of the economy demanding that profits be placed over people. The Occupy Wall Street movement has pointed its finger at the exact culprit in every facet of American life that needs changing and Wall Street is at the heart of it. Does anyone think the US will join the rest of the world in providing a universal, cost contained health care system without a revolution? There is no way that "reform" will accomplish this. Obamacare was a valiant effort, but, ultimately, it is no complete solution, and its provisions are subject to being rolled back at the first opportunity by Republicans who want to eliminate not only Obamacare but also social security, Medicare, Medicaid and any other social program benefitting the poor and middle class.
(5) The student loan crisis. The heart of the student loan crisis is the privatization of the student loan industry. Instead of assisting or subsidizing students to get a college education, privatization has led to the exploiting of students in order to maximize profits. Again Wall Street is at the heart of the problem demanding higher and higher returns for investors. Instead of assisting students, the private student loan industry exploits them burdening them for life with debt which cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. Republicans and Wall Street worked together to change the law in 2006 which now requires students to pay for life to discharge their debt even going so far as to allow garnishing of their social security benefits. Democratic legislation under Obama has rolled back some of these draconian measures but has done nothing to reverse the bankruptcy law of 2006. Again Wall Street has been catered to and profits have been placed above people. Does anyone think students will ever be able to dischartge student loan debt in bankruptcy without a revolution?
(6) The foreclosure crisis. Wall Street was allowed to get completely off the hook with regard to mortgage loan modification. The performance of Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has been underwhelming at best. Housing experts say the $1,000 payments mortgage servicers get for successful modifications, and the lack of consequences for disobeying program guidelines, don't provide enough incentive to modify many mortgages. The well intentioned Obama administration made mortgage modification voluntary on the part of the banks. Guess what? Wall Street has decided it would not "volunteer" to reduce its profits by giving underwater home owners a break. Again the middle class gets screwed in order to maximize Wall Street profits. What was Obama thinking? Does anyone think Wall Street will write down mortgages giving themselves a voluntary haircut without a revolution? Does anyone think Republicans will have a change of heart and suddenly decide to do the right thing with respect to the middle class against the wishes of Wall Street as long as they control at least one branch of Congress or even if Democrats control both branches of Congress and the Presidency as long as the filibuster rule is in effect? Does anyone think mortgages will ever be modified favoring the middle class without a revolution?
(7) Jobs. Does anyone think the government will ever create jobs directly by reinstating an FDR style Works Progress Administration (WPA) or Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) or even an infrastructure bill without a revolution? Will it ever be the policy of the US to be the employer of last resort without a revolution? It'll never happen. Instead, homelessness on an ever increasing scale will become a "normal" part of American life because this is perfectly consistent with capitalism. The impoverishment of millions will become normalized. As Herman Cain says, "If you don't have a job, blame yourself." THe US will join the rest of the underdeveloped world in a world class regression to a society composed of the very rich and an extremely impoverished class of everyone else.
(8) Corporations are people; money is speech. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision verified that corporations are people and money is speech. In particular corporations can spend as much money as they want on political advertising. They have an unlimited right to spend as much as they want to get the candidates elected who will do their bidding. They can propagandize to their heart's content, and the easily led lemmings will buy it and follow them off a cliff. There is no other consideration in electoral politics than money. Democracy is irrelevant; plutocracy shall rule the day. Does anyone think that anything short of a revolution will change this state of affairs?
(9) The war in Afghanistan should be ended, and the $2 billion per week that the US is spending there should be spent on improving the lives of American citizens. The military-industrial complex budget should be cut in half. The US spends more on its military than all the rest of the world combined. It has over 1000 military bases located in just about every country in the world. This money is being wasted because defense contractors have some of the strongest and most prolific lobbyists on Capitol Hill. According to Prophets of War, Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex by William D Hartung: Lockheed Martin "spent $15 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in 2009 alone. Add to that its 140,000 employees and its claim to have a prescence in forty-six states, and the scale of its potential influence starts to become clear. And while its current political activities are perfectly legal, the company has also been known to break the rules: It ranks number one on the database on contractor misconduct maintained by the Washington-based watchdog group Project on Government Oversight (POGO); according to POGO, Lockheed Martin has '50 instances of criminal, civil or administrative misconduct since 1995.'" So the military-industrial complex of which Lockheed Martin is the leading exponent uses its poltical influence in Washington to make sure it keeps its profits high as Wall Street demands. Again Wall Street is implicated as it demands the highest possible profits for its investors in the military-industrial complex.
Instead of overspending on the military-industrial complex, the US should adopt the model that was successfully used recently in Libya. Military goals were accomplished by joining with NATO partners to spread the cost, and not one American life was lost. Does anyone think the powerful defense contractor lobby will back down, and American taxpayer money will be spent primarily on benefitting the American people instead of trying to control and dominate the world without a revolution?
The social contract which implied that, if you studied hard, obtained a college degree and tended to your knitting, you would be rewarded with a good job has completely broken down. Corporations have no responsibility to provide anyone with a job. Instead their only allegiance at the behest of Wall Street is to their bottom line. Wall Street demands that they increase profits. They do so not by providing American jobs but by outsourcing jobs to wherever in the world labor is cheapest. Then they turn around and demand that their taxes be lowered and regulations be gutted, and say disingenuously that that is the only way they will hire more people. But they continue to outsource jobs even though their taxes are the lowest of any historical period since the Great Depression and they are sitting on $2 trillion in cash that they prefer not to use employing people. Instead they buy back their own stock and gamble on Wall Street.
So what is a college education worth these days? Not much. It does not represent the promise of a happy future but instead a burden of debt which may last a life time. The education industry goes on an advertising binge to convince potential students that the only way they will have a promising future is to matriculate and borrow money. Hopefully, students are waking up to this sham. A college diploma used to be a ticket of admission to employment with a corporation. Certainly most college diplomas do not prepare one to become self-employed, only employed by others. If a person seeks to be self-employed, they do not need a college diploma in most cases. They don't need a ticket of admission to the corporate world in order to start their own business. Steve Jobs had no college diploma. Bill Gates has no college diploma. Larry Ellison has no college diploma. These are billionaires in the world of high tech. They do, however, want their employees to have college diplomas, and it matters little to them whether these employees come from the US, India, China, Korea or someplace else. In fact they prefer overseas college graduates because they will work cheaper. Most contractors and tradesmen do not need college diplomas, and the work they do for the most part is localized and can't be exported. A word to the wise ...
Each and every public space and institution is under attack by Republicans. Public schools, public parks, public libraries are being defunded as are public teachers, park rangers, librarians, police and firemen. Republican goals are to diminish public spaces and the jobs supporting them so that they can "drown them all in the bathtub" as Grover Norquist wants. Public spaces are being impoverished at the same time private wealth is being enhanced by every means available. Public America is being turned into poverty while private America gains. And when public spaces and public jobs are diminished, the poor and middle class suffer because the rich only use private spaces - private resorts, private universities, private security companies, private libraries, private schools. A country can be rich in private wealth but poor and in debt with respect to public wealth. Such is the fate of the US under Republican rule.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is joining with movements all over the world in waking up to the fact that Wall Street is at the heart of the world's problems. They are wise not to particularize their demands because then they would be offered some sham, watered down solution which would do nothing to curtail Wall Street's power and its dominance over not only America's but Europe's political systems. Neither the US nor the euro zone has the guts to stand up to Wall Street and its extensions in Europe because this might lead to another recession. Instead, they put bandaids on the present system in the hopes that they will be able to normalize things even though "normal" means the impoverishment and the indenturization of the majority of the people.