On Occupying Wall Street and Taxing the Rich

Two images have come to my attention connected with the current “Occupy Wall Street” movement and everything that connects and intersects with it. One is cynical, one is pointed, and both seem worth sharing.

On the one hand, it could be easy to point to the hypocrisy of not merely those taking to the streets (Wall St. and others), but all of us in the United States and other wealthy countries claiming to want things to change, yet not seeming to realize how so much of what we do is entangled with and dependent on corporations.

Then I saw this photo:

I think that this is the heart of the matter. It is not that most of us want to give up the lifestyle, the relative convenience and comfort, that technology and the corporations that produce and provide it offer to us. It is that many of us who are concerned with justice believe that only systemic solutions to issues like poverty, health care and employment are going to be effective, and do not consider it unfair when someone is “left with” and “has to make do with” an income after taxes that is still at least ten times more than the vast majority of people make even before taxes. Many of us believe that it is possible to keep the incentive of wealth as a stimulus to creativity and productivity, and yet ensure that more people irrespective of wealth or poverty have access to basic necessities and health care.

What are your feelings about the “Occupy Wall Streetmovement and the issues connected to it?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    It is illustrative of the problems with fundamentalist Christian stances on matters such as these that Michelle Bachmann suggested that the 9-9-9 tax plan might be the Devil’s work, since upside down that would be 6-6-6.

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/12/bachmann-implies-cain-plan-could-be-devils-work/

    Why not treat the need for inversion as indicating that opposing it would be the Devil’s work?

  • Anonymous

    You could do a nice analog of the first image for slavery. 

    Watch us organize against slavery wearing clothes our slaveholders gave to us, in a language our slaveholders taught us, on streets our slaveholders built, with food in our stomachs that slaveholders provided for us. Etc.

    I’m not suggesting that corporations are akin to slaveholders, just that that line of arguing is specious.

    One of the most common political arguing tactics is to push your opponent’s political position as far as possible from yours and portray them as extremists. Attacking a position that few, if any, hold is easier than facing up to actual arguments. 

    All this talk of ‘hypocritical’ protesters using things corporations have produced is just childish attempt to do politics by PR rather than substantive engagement with the issues.

    There is a real issue here: that representative democracy for human persons has been diminished by corporate financing of elective officials and the legal protection under the constitution of the corporation as a person (e.g. under the 14th ammendment). There is a non-trivial claim: that the US is a country run largely by and for corporate persons rather than human persons. And that as a consequence human persons have less democratic rights and access to government support than the corporations who share their citizen rights.

    Whether you agree or not, it grieves me to see the issue being used as yet another excuse to pound real political debate into a fine powder of empty PR gestures. But, you know, what do we expect? How long did it take the left to reduce tea-party political claims to either ridicule or Bachmanian caricature?

    • Anonymous

      I would have modified my closing line if I’d have known this comment would cross in the ether with a Bachmanian caricature, James ;)

  • http://twitter.com/lstcntphd Adam

    The colonized always use the tools of the colonizers to resist.

  • http://www.mccaughan.org.uk/g/ gjm

    The first one seems particularly unreasonable to me since surely OWS is much closer to “Down with evil financial institutions!” than “Down with evil corporations!”. I betcha whoever made it is recycling some earlier critique of a different protest.

    • Anonymous

      Yes.  And notice the absence of any products of financial institutions identified in that picture.

  • Gary

    I love it. Reminds me of the Vietnam protests, only non-violent. I hope it has the same result.

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  • Anonymous

    Though I haven’t followed closely the Wall Street protestors, just yesterday, on the news, it was reported that many were not “sophisticated”. When asked their political people, such as Nancy Pelosi or why they were protesting, they couldn’t seen to answer! That seems a little curious to me, as wouldn’t one want to know why they are associating with a “collective effort”? Otherwise, aren’t they just hippies that are disgruntled dead beats?. Are the protestors really protesting something or just resisting our society because they are angry about their lives?

  • Eric Thurman
  • Gary

    “aren’t they just hippies that are disgruntled dead beats…Are the protestors really protesting something or just resisting our society because they are angry about their lives?”..I don’t know about now, but in the 60′s, most protesting the war were students, that were going to be exposed to the draft, and as a result, were going to be exposed to a 1 year window of killing people, and a 2 year window of being absent from the rest of their lives, for no other reason than old men politicians, and the same wall street greed (protecting corporate interests around the world and pumping up the defense department cronies and their companies). Domino theory, my ass. Anyway, there may have been some hippies and drugs floating around, I wouldn’t know about that…no one I knew inhaled :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1428470021 Jonathan Hendry

    I think a lot of the complaints could be satisfied, or at least mollified, if companies simply paid the workers a little more, and didn’t sit on their money (here or overseas) or pay it out to executives. The idea being to see real wages increase, maybe slowly, but increase, so that workers wouldn’t see themselves as being inexorably crushed by static wages and increasing costs.

    Unfortunately, part of the reason wages are stalled is that money that *could* pay for raises is instead going to pay for ever-rising healthcare premiums. 

    Too bad there wasn’t a similar movement in favor of single-payer or fixing the US healthcare system in a more meaningful way.

    • Gary

      Amen.

    • Gary

      Amen.

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  • Athenenike

    We spoke with a number of people on Saturday, all of whom were interested in making the country better for everyone.  There wasn’t a single person I spoke with who said the rich shouldn’t have money. 


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