Sunday, October 16, 2011

What I'd Like to See

Occupy Wall Street keeps its "demands" vague for a reason, to guard against being appropriated, and to give all kinds of people a forum for venting their frustrations without having to take some ideological blood test. Also, true to their anarchist and egalitarian principles, the organization remains leaderless, though not structureless. Meetings can be spontaneous, but remain orderly.

Speaking for myself, I have some specific demands.

*Bring back the Glass Steagall Act separating banking from speculation. It worked for 60 years to prevent the very economic collapse that we are living through now. Make the financial industry do what it is supposed to do, capitalizing the productive part of the economy. End the whole shareholder casino it has become. End that casino's dominance over the rest of the economy and over our political system.

*Medicare for everybody, end that huge drain on the economy and on everyone's future that is the healthcare and health insurance industries, an industry of middlemen and skimmers who don't really produce anything. Restore Medicare's negotiating power with Big Pharma. End the terrible insecurity that most people now live in, fear of financial ruin on top of a major medical catastrophe.

*I never thought I'd say this, but I think it's time for Congressional term limits. Public office is not a sinecure. New York City now has term limits (despite the Mayor). Everyone complained and panicked when the city charter was amended to limit terms of public office, but the result has been far from the catastrophe so widely predicted. If anything, it has brought a lot fresh new faces into city government, opened up public participation, and given broader representation to communities long under-represented such as the city's growing Asian population.

*There are petitions going around for Constitutional amendments to reverse the Citizens United ruling, for publicly financed campaigns, and to limit all campaign donations to $100. For a long time, I was deeply reluctant to mess with the Constitution, mostly because the people most eager to amend it for so long had less than benevolent intentions for the rest of us. But Congress is so broken that something has to be done, and there is a provision in the Constitution for the amendment process to be initiated by the states (this Congress will never fix itself).

*There are other petitions going around to end Congress' ability to vote itself pay raises, that pay increases would be pegged to the rate of inflation. Also their special medical and retirement insurance privileges would end. Congress would live under the same benefits available to all the rest of us. I support that.

*Expand Congressional representation. About 600 people now represent 300 million plus people. The whole English House of Commons is now about 600 people representing a smaller population. We could easily expand the House to a thousand or more. In addition, I'd take redistricting out of the hands of state legislatures and make some kind of independent commission responsible for that task.

*Repeal the Reagan era laws that drastically limit the rights of labor to organize and to act. Collective bargaining is a human right recognized by no less a capitalist than Adam Smith himself.

*End the Electoral College. No more 2000 elections. No more clouds of doubt hanging over the legitimacy of Presidential elections.

*End taxpayer subsidies to corporations. No more travesties like government handouts to the petroleum industry while it reports the largest profits of any industry in all of history.

*Restore progressive taxation rates. Warren Buffet should pay a higher tax rate than his secretary.

*End corporate tax breaks. General Electric and the banks should pay taxes like all the rest of us.

We are sovereign citizens of this country, and we should remain such regardless of our incomes. We are citizens at work as well as at home. We are not the hired help and we are not tenants. We are citizens.

The press wants demands, well these are some of mine.


Tracie H said...

This is great. I can't argue with a single point here. Very well done Doug.

Tristan Alexander said...

These all sound good to me too!

JCF said...

Still don't like term limits, but yes (many, "YES!!!!!") to everything else...

Erika Baker said...

What gives me food for thought is that most of the demands you make are already a reality in most of Europe, yet our situation is also getting worse, corporate greed and irresponsibility are not restricted, disproportionate penalities are born by lower income people and the Occupy Movement is spreading here too.

Counterlight said...

A very good point Erika. What you already have seems almost unattainable here in the present political climate. Perhaps the problem is in the very nature of capitalism itself.