It amazes me how quick some people are to keep homing in on the ‘soap’ issue as that this is sidetracking from the point of the protest. If one loses their soap, do they lose the right to protest? Secondly, people from all walks of life are protesting under the #occupy banner. I the UK we protest against David Cameron and his Conservative party’s agenda of making cuts to the public sector and shutting down hospitals and police forces to push through “austerity” measures to save money without taxing the very banks that got us into the mess in the 1st place. When our corporations use tax avoidance to get out of paying £6 billion in corporation tax, then we protest against that.
Secondly, one is incredibly naive to suggest that the powerful and the people responsible for this mess are in Washington DC. The Corporations in American bought and own the legislative branch a long time ago. As Professor Lawrence Lessig suggests, “the republic is lost” and we need another constitutional convention to get it back.
Thirdly, I don’t think with all due respect, people understand what socialism is. I live in the UK – a socialist country. Germany, France, Canada, New Zealand, Australia – all socialist. The anecdote about Tom Morello and him selling cartoon comic strips makes me think you don’t understand exactly what socialism is. The UK, Germany, France, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, all have businesses that try and make a profit!
I don’t think there is any doubt capitalism won in the US. Labour lost the battle a long time ago. So the anger toward the US economic policies are rooted in the fact that Europe all invested in the US guaranteed sub-prime market based on your own AAA rating. Capitalism and the Bush policies of deregulation meant that we all have to now pay the price regardless of who we voted for.
In the UK’s Companies Act, ss172-178 on Directors Duties, directors of all companies are meant to “give regard to’ the wider communities of “stakeholders” like the communities, workers and environment when making decisions on behalf of the company. The premise is that in the long-run everything will work out as there will be less lawsuits, less disgruntled employees, and better relationships within the communities in which they operate.
British banks, however, failed in anyway to be “enlightened’ or provide “stakeholder” value. They received a bailout from the government not once, but twice. In the US there was no penalty from the government, and the bailout that George W authorized was for $1.00 on the dollar. But in turn, have responded by making bad debts into redundancies, charging for cash withdrawals, etc. So let me get this straight. US corporations cause the problem. Get bailed out from the government, take no penalty for the error of their ways, and then get to charge us and fire us as thanks? I am surprised there is not more than 300 core supporters. In fact, I am disappointed that Manhattan island is not at a standstill!
I am aware of lots of good hard-working Americans who have gone down to Wall Street with food and to offer support – whether it is in the form of video taping the NYPD’s finest in action and posting it online, or to give them support in other ways. What is wrong with that? It is naive to take an image from the news and assign it to everyone who is in the movement? Is mainstream media corrupted the minds so much that we all need a bath if we support the #occupy movement? (I do, but because I am just off of a bike, but am going for a shower now with some soap!)
Ben & Jerry’s used to have a policy that no employee’s rate of pay shall exceed seven times that of entry-level employees. In 1995, entry-level employees were paid $8 hourly, and the highest paid employee was President and Chief Operating Officer Chuck Lacey, who earned $150,000 annually. While this policy is not in place anymore because of the Unilever buyout, the US leads the world in CEO pay – In 2007, CEOs in the S&P 500, averaged $10.5 million annually, 344 times the pay of typical American workers. This was a drop in ratio from 2000, when they averaged 525 times the average pay.
So the Ben and Jerry’s story is actually quite apt – manage your company effectively while considering the welfare of the greater good including the communities and the employees and the environment and good things will come to you. This is not biting off the system that feeds you, it is good and sound management.
So please don’t think the #occupy movement is anti-capitalist or anti corporation – despite some people holding up banners that say so. It is about placing the bill at the footsteps of those who can most afford to get out of the mess, not the people who have the least to do with it. So when GE $150 billion of revenue and $12 billion of profit last year and pays less than $13000 in taxes, there is something fundamentally broken in the system.
So I’ll end with a comment about the mainstream media coverage of the events. I know of a few hundred University students that went down to the #occupy camp and offered support. Some rich, some poor, all scared about the future. So when I asked how it was down there – they responded with a word – “packed”. It is not a group of 300 looking for handouts and told to “get over it” – the movement is large.
Check out the picture that sums it up.
“Nothing to see here, move along now. Only a small group of 300 here…”. I dont think so. In a recent poll, some 37% supported the #occupywallstreet movement – which is proportionally over 100 million Americans. The movement will have its distracters like Fox News and the WSJ and those who live comfortably within their own existences thinking if it works for me, then it must work for everyone else.
There is another way that allows for Americans to keep on to their values and their capitalism. But right now the movement wants those who made the mess to pay to clean it up.