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OK Occupy Wall Street, Here's What You Need To Do

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November 21, 2011 – Comments (22)

Last week I wrote about why I think Occupy Wall Street is finished. Lack of any kind of clear message and no understandable goals or takeaways has left them in the cold. Other than demonstrations, blocking traffic and beating drums outside of Bloomberg’s house, it’s been a relatively muted movement. But that can all change.

More than two parts

OWS’s main problem is that the 99% is not really 99%. I can’t break it down specifically; nobody can. We can say that the top 1% of the wealth controls everything and if you aren’t part of that 1% then logic would dictate that you are part of the 99%. But a lot of people aren’t. I’m not. There are all sorts of in-betweens. Some are part of the 53%. Heard of them? It’s actually pretty interesting. Take a gander here:

http://the53.tumblr.com/

OK, so am I part of the 53%? Meh, I’m not really sure that I want to place myself in any of those camps. But this was inevitable thanks to OWS pigeonholing themselves in the first place. That they can’t even get a political party to side with the movement speaks volumes. Usually one or the other is scrambling to take advantage. But in this case they’re trying to distance themselves with a pivotal election coming up in less than a year.

The problem is beyond the street

So what’s Occupy Wall Street to do? Well let’s think about it for a minute. Is the problem solely Wall Street? Is that even where the problem starts? We could most certainly go back to the days when our government was squeezing lenders to relax standards in order to help create "a nation of homeowners." And don't get all partisan on me here either, they're all to blame. It’s certainly very easy to argue that Wall Street played their part in the turmoil we’re witnessing today, but hey, Wall Street is greedy. That ain’t news folks; and greed is pretty normal. Sure, some are greedier than others. But the bottom line is human beings are flawed at best and greed is there, like it or not. So then it becomes something more than Wall Street doesn’t it? Who let’s Wall Street get away with this stuff anyway?

It’s amazing to think about this statistic, but Congress has about the lowest approval rating of anything going these days. Don’t believe me? I’m sure you do, but it gives me a chance to link in this humorous chart:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/congress-approval-problem-in-one-chart/2011/11/15/gIQAkHmtON_blog.html

Paris Hilton? Are you kidding me? With a 9% approval rating, I think it’s safe to say that Congress sucks and we all think it. And I bet that 9% is padded too. Truthfully I'd be floored to hear anyone say they approve of Congress today. It begs the question of why, and I want specifics.

Making laws and money

Maybe you’ve seen the report titled “Abnormal Returns From the Common Stock Investments of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives” linked here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/56564266/Abnormal-Returns#archive

It seems cliché to say it’s not surprising, but still it kinda is. Politicians have an “in.” They know things we don’t and they profit from it. That sounds pretty shady doesn't it? As elected lawmakers they are making laws that will favor and dictate certain outcomes; not terribly reassuring. Especially in times like these where we can’t even get these people to hammer out a negotiation on behalf of us, the citizens who elected them.

There is nothing super about this

Right about now congress is getting ready to admit defeat in the “supercommittee’s” efforts to come up with a deficit reduction plan. Extremists on both sides of the aisle cannot figure out a way to meet halfway on anything. And don’t give me the “If only the democrats would…” or the “If only the republicans would…” They’re all there and they’re all guilty. They are taking the responsibility we have given them as voters and stepping all over it in the hopes of pandering to a particular base for the 2012 election. The worst part about this is that their failure was more or less expected. We didn’t think they would be able to get it done. Are our expectations that low? Apparently they are. We are more or less conceding the country to a bunch of inept politicians who can’t get it together. But has it come to this? If there’s something you should be marching on, it should be this.

So Occupy Wall Street, instead of chanting “We are the 99%” and shutting down traffic in Chicago, you need to change your tactic. The 99% is more or less meaningless; that much has been established. But what you could do is change it to “We are the 91%” and gear your movement straight at Washington DC. Instead of calling it “Occupy Wall Street” call it “Occupy Washington DC” or something like that. Because at the end of the day, your gripes with Wall Street are falling on a lot of deaf ears. And hey, at least you've got the data to back you up in this case. 

Teamwork

Wall Street and DC are in cahoots; they work together. But remember, Wall Street isn’t elected. Your protests are nothing more than a nuisance to them. Congress on the other hand, well you know that they’re elected. So why not bring it on back to the home of protest? There’s plenty of room and you’re guaranteed to get great coverage on every news network. You can hang out at the National Mall, see the Smithsonian and soak up our wonderful country’s rich history, all the while bringing your message straight to the heart of the matter.

But what do I know? 

So OWS, DC should be your beef, not Wall Street. Change your name and start referring to yourselves as the 91%. That will make you much more relatable and I bet you’d attract more support from rational folks all over the country who don’t want to have anything to do with you right now. And remember, the First Amendment states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The operative word here is “peaceably” folks, so stay classy.

22 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On November 21, 2011 at 11:38 AM, NerfBall (< 20) wrote:

Awesome post. +1,000,000

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#2) On November 21, 2011 at 12:28 PM, TMFJMo (69.02) wrote:

Thanks NerfBall, I appreciate the kind words. I enjoyed writing it.

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#3) On November 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM, BillyTG (29.21) wrote:

Wall Street and DC are in cahoots

Exactly. There is a corruption there that has created a ridiculous amount of special treatment and moral hazard, at the expense of everyone not connected to Wall Street and DC. There is nothing the politicians like more than misdirection. They want the spotlight of blame off them and on Wall Street or the rich or evil banks. Class warfare is a politician's dream because it ignores the politician.

 

 With a 9% approval rating, I think it’s safe to say that Congress sucks and we all think it.

In a conversation yesterday, a colleague brought up an interesting point. He said that Congress has this super low approval rating, but that if you ask people about THEIR district's or state's Congressmen and Senators, the ratings are MUCH, MUCH higher, often over 50%. There is a striking disconnect! Americans have no confidence in Congress, yet they like and approve of their own representatives!  Re-election rates are 80-90%! How can this be? My own take is that people find it easy to hate and despise a generalized, gray, impersonal institution (Congress, Wall Street) that they can blame all their problems on...but on a personal level, people are easily manipulated by smooth talking psycopathic bankers and politicians. "Our guy is one of the good ones...all the rest are crooks!" is what they think.

 Here is my blog on OWS. I wrote it in a mad rage, which means its some of my best stuff! haha It's funny how some of the commentors (I'm pointing at you devoish and lasano) kind of dismissed my suggestion of "make insider trading illegal for politicians," as some figment of my imagination, and then here we are 6 weeks later and it's mainstream news and getting traction. Also,ignore the comments suggesting some of my suggestions matched the "official OWS list of demands."

There never really has been an official list. And that's part of their problem. It is a headless, goalless movement in need of serious direction. 

 

 The operative word here is “peaceably” folks, so stay classy.

Every time I see video of cops tazing or mace spraying people sitting down, people standing and chanting, young girls, or other people who pose absolutely no threat whatsoever to the police, I get very angry at our police state. That police action is unacceptable. I honestly believe that these protestors are seen by those in power as a real threat that could blossom into something more to challenge their power. By breaking up OWS or fragmenting any protests through arrests and other police action, they minimize the protests' influence and momentum.  It's seeing things like aggressive police action that make me want to run for mayor, just to tell the police to back off, take the day off. If the protestors aren't breaking property, then leave them alone. So what if they camp out in a park and make signs. 

+1

Yes, we need to get the money out politics. 545 vs 300,000,000

 

 

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#4) On November 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM, Teacherman1 (57.57) wrote:

Agree with you 100%. Great post.

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#5) On November 21, 2011 at 1:09 PM, WikiCPA (53.21) wrote:

BillyTG,

I agree with the OP's position, probably more strongly than he does himself. But you can't say that the police action is unacceptable when you haven't been to these protests yourself. The media right now is portraying the police around the nation as some bad guy working for the 1%. This is not the case at all. What the media doesn't show is how most camps have to set up a safe zone because too many sexual assault have been happening. Too many feces and trash all about the place, on privately owned property. Do you honestly believe officers would not taze and pepper spray unless they felt it was necessary? Officers don't wake up every morning planning out an enraged rampage of their power. I think its hilarious how everyone believes that somehow politicians pay off every police officer to do their bidding. There are two sides to every story and it wouldn't hurt to find out what both are.

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#6) On November 21, 2011 at 1:25 PM, outoffocus (22.80) wrote:

I'm sharing this post.

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#7) On November 21, 2011 at 1:27 PM, outoffocus (22.80) wrote:

Ironically I doubt any of the OWS people read TMF but if they did it would be great.  Plus blocking traffic in DC would have a much bigger impact. =D

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#8) On November 21, 2011 at 1:40 PM, BillyTG (29.21) wrote:

WikiCPA,

I have been to a non-NYC "OWS" protest. I wasn't impressed with the protestors, their socialism push, their level of intelligence, their attire, their smell. Basically, they were everything that turns me off. The police, on the other hand, were talkative, engaging, and friendly. I got along much better than the police. So, I didn't like the OWS protestors where I was, so what? They still have every Constitutional right to be there with their stupid signs and stupid chants, without police in their faces. Rape and feces? Treat as crimes . What should never happen, yet is happening in major cities across America, is strong harmful police action where protestors are not violent.You don't need swat teams with tazers, batons, and mace cannisters to "fight" a bunch of wimpy, unarmed protestors.

 Do you honestly believe officers would not taze and pepper spray unless they felt it was necessary?

Yes, I honestly believe that. You must be naive to NOT believe that is possible.  The proof is everywhere. Do you honestly believe that people do what is right? Hitler's Germany is used time and again as an example of how people can get sucked into a behavior and tell them themselves it's okay, because authority figures are directing it. Never dismiss the power of authority.  I am an authority on authority because I am an authority and work in a series of authorities. People will kill other human beings, without reason, if told to by an authority. Now, in this example, we have police who feel they are righteously doing their duty, maintaining order, serving a higher cause...getting them to mace a bunch of sitting, nonviolent students who don't respond to police orders? NO PROBLEMO.

Reproduced Milgram Experiment

 

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#9) On November 21, 2011 at 1:43 PM, BillyTG (29.21) wrote:

I got along much better than the police.

I meant to write I got along much better WITH the police! I didn't see any police brutality where I was, and in fact saw them discussing politics peacefully with peaceful protestors.

Here's the original Milgram Experiment:

 

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#10) On November 21, 2011 at 1:46 PM, TMFJMo (69.02) wrote:

Thanks everyone, I appreciate your comments. I like that we've a civilized place where we can share ideas and learn from each other.

I think a lot of times when you ask someone individually about their own representatives, they're more likely to say they approve because they voted for him or her and have that ownership bias.

"Our guy is one of the good ones...all the rest are crooks!" is what they think."

I think there's a lot to this.

It's extremely unfortunate to see some of the police responses. I understand some of the situations are very volatile. The only thing I don't like to see is when the protesters push their First Amendment right past the limits of common sense. Don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning anything. But I do know that when you are young (early 20s) you have more of a tendency to push those limits and join the crowd, there's just no question about it. But I know that if I go to one of those protests to demonstrate (let's be clear, that ain't gonna happen), I am not going to thumb my nose at the police and yell at them, call them names, push the envelope etc. That's beyond the bounds of civility and common sense. But it's clear that many do. I hate to say they're asking for it, but there is a line for sure. Of course if you've just witnessed an episode of police brutality then it's easier said than done. It's a bad situation.

I agree with WikiCPA that there are two sides and each situation is unique. I don't depend on the press to give me "their" account of things because it's always skewed in one direction or the other.

I'm sharing this post.

Please do outoffocus and everyone. Share it, Tweet it, link it to your FB pages, get it out there! You can follow me on Twitter @TMFJMo

Thanks!

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#11) On November 21, 2011 at 2:04 PM, TMFJMo (69.02) wrote:

Ironically I doubt any of the OWS people read TMF but if they did it would be great.  Plus blocking traffic in DC would have a much bigger impact. =D

No doubt! Spread the word :)

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#12) On November 21, 2011 at 2:15 PM, BillyTG (29.21) wrote:

 there are two sides and each situation is unique.

Absolutely. No one should be painting this thing with a broad stroke: "All police are brutal," or "all protestors are rapist shatters." I'm just trying to make the point that the USis a police state that for some reason finds the macing of sitting students acceptable, Constitution be damned.

 

The only thing I don't like to see is when the protesters push their First Amendment right past the limits of common sense.

Okay, who defines that? Too long a topic for this blog. My question to anyone trying to excuse, as reasonable, brutal police action against  unarmed protestors: WHY IS POLICE VIOLENCE EVEN NECESSARY, OTHER THAN IN SELF DEFENSE? WHY DO POLICE EVEN HAVE TO BE PRESENT? WHO ARE THE POLICE PROTECTING WHEN THEY MACE OR TAZE A PROTESTOR? IS IT IN SELF DEFENSE? WHAT IS GAINED BY TAZING A PROTESTOR? IS THAT GAIN (CLEARING A PARK, CLEARING A STREET, etc.) WORTH HARMING AN UNARMED PERSON?

Violent police action against unarmed individuals who pose no risk to the police is unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE.

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#13) On November 21, 2011 at 2:30 PM, TMFJMo (69.02) wrote:

Okay, who defines that?

That's tough to say. Everyone has their own threat level I guess. Regardless of the protestors' rights though, they need to remember that police exist to protect the general population's safety. No, they aren't all clean and void of corruption. But by the same token let's not take the OWS movement and suddenly change it to an anti-police state movement. That's not why it started (at least I don't think that's why it started. Again their message is lacking from every angle).

I'm not trying to excuse anyone from anything. But remember too that these police are up against something pretty big. And it's not like there are metal detectors and the like to search these people, so you really have no idea who is armed and who is not. I mean here is at least an example:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/police-officer-slashed-during-occupy-san-francisco-march/

"Police spokesman Carlos Manfredi said officers were attempting to hold the line and keep protesters out of an intersection when a woman came from the crowd and slashed an officer’s hand with a pen knife or razor blade, disappearing before he realized he’d been cut."

Again, not trying to excuse anything. But as we've acknowledged already there are two sides. Sounds like the police were trying to protect the public quite reasonably. No, I wasn't there and am only going by what I am reading. But it's not the viewpoint of the press. It's the viewpoint of the police.

Violent police action against unarmed individuals who pose no risk to the police is unacceptable.

I agree 100% with you here, no questions asked. But it's the posing no threat problem. That's not always so cut and dry until after the fact. That's all I'm saying.

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#14) On November 21, 2011 at 9:47 PM, devoish (98.66) wrote:

BillyTG,

I think insider trading by members of congress is illegal, as i told you in the linked post.

http://www.sec.gov/answers/insider.htm 

Best wishes,

Steven

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#15) On November 21, 2011 at 9:57 PM, devoish (98.66) wrote:

TMFJMo,

I think they're doing just fine. There is no reason to work within a corrupt system. There is no reason to kick the dogs in Congress while Wall Street holds the leash. Hundreds of thousands in Wisconsin say the movement started there, it just wasn't named yet. They have support around the world.

They're doing just fine.

Best wishes,

Steven

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#16) On November 22, 2011 at 12:11 AM, BillyTG (29.21) wrote:

devoish, maybe we're talking around each other, but I still am not convinced, even based on your latest comment, that you understand this problem. Yes, insider trading is wrong, and illegal, but there is one exception that possibly makes it legal: Being a congressman. That's the problem! If devoish inside trades, you can go to prison. If your Senator inside trades, it is perfectly LEGAL!  Please acknowledge that you understand the situation. Do you recognize that this is a problem that needs to be FIXED? Or are you going to continue, seemingly to me, to write this problem off as not a problem because "insider trading is illegal"?

Are you suggesting that the whole "congressmen can legally insider trade" is a false rumor?  If so, please say that. Because your position is unclear if you keep repeating "insider trading is illegal." Well, no duh. Rape is illegal, too.  That's the issue---if Congress is an exception and allowed to profit off something that is a crime for others, people have a right to be pissed off.

 http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2011/11/18/insider-trading-congress/

 

Why isn't this sort of insider trading illegal? The complicated answer begins with the fact that there isn't really any "insider trading" statute to begin with. Rather, prohibitions against what we call insider trading have evolved through interpretation, by courts and the Securities and Exchange Commission, of the general main federal statute forbidding securities fraud. Those interpretations have hinged on finding that the insider trader is breaching some sort of duty to either the source of his information or to the person on the other side of his trade. For arcane reasons, it is not clear at the moment that Congressmen are breaching a sufficiently powerful or explicit duty of exactly the right kind when they engage in insider trading, even though there is no question that, for instance, their own staffers would be committing a crime if they traded on the very same information. Staffers owe a fiduciary duty to their employers, the Congressmen, not to misappropriate that information and use it for personal gain; it's not clear that Congressmen themselves have a comparable duty to anyone.

There is actually a debate within legal academia about whether Congressmen could be held liable for insider trading even as the law stands—law professor Donna Nagy of the University of Indiana has argued that they could be, while Stephen Bainbridge, a law professor at U.C.L.A., has argued that they can't—but the very fact that there is such a debate deters prosecutors from pursuing cases. Why mount an inherently shaky case against such a high-profile target? As for the SEC, wrote Bainbridge in 2009, "Any government agency is likely to be reluctant to bite the budgetary hand that feeds it."

While Congress never consciously created the cracks in the insider trading laws that its members now enjoy slipping through, they have consciously refused to seal them.

 

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#17) On November 22, 2011 at 12:27 AM, BillyTG (29.21) wrote:

For others needing a primer on the legality of congress to insider trade, check out 60 Minutes recent expose`:

 

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#18) On November 22, 2011 at 1:45 AM, awallejr (85.50) wrote:

Billy I think most peope agree with you.  It is wrong that public officials can trade on public (yet insider) information. It should end in an automatic impeachment and dispelling from office.

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#19) On November 22, 2011 at 8:57 AM, TMFJMo (69.02) wrote:

Billy I think most peope agree with you.  It is wrong that public officials can trade on public (yet insider) information. It should end in an automatic impeachment and dispelling from office.

And I think you're right. In fact I'd have to believe that anyone with an informed opinion of this would agree with us here. And here is a GREAT platform for something like OWS.

Politicians should not be allowed to do this. We here at The Motley Fool hold ourselves to a higher standard. I demand our politicians do the same.

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#20) On November 22, 2011 at 9:54 AM, PeteysTired (< 20) wrote:

TMFJMo

Just remember Congress can also "give" this insider information to friends and relatives for free :)

I am not a fan of 60 minutes especially their puff piece on the IMF, but the story on Insider Trading was quite amazing.  I thought it was interesting how "people" are hired to walk the halls and listen for information to be traded on....good Lord I am so naive.

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#21) On November 27, 2011 at 11:09 PM, Melaschasm (57.81) wrote:

The reason the OWS is so vague about policies is because they are the liberal version of the tea parties.

Both groups are unhappy about high unemployment, a bad economy and corruption in government and corporations.

The difference is that liberals are in power in DC and their policies are being impliment.  It is easy for tea partiers to demand spending cuts, repealing Obamacare, reducing the debt, and reducing marginal tax rates.  It is much more difficult for OWS to demand higher taxes, more debt, and more spending, because those policies are currently being implimented.

If conservative republicans win big in 2012, it is likely that OWS will become much more popular and organized (unless the economy turns around first).  

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#22) On November 28, 2011 at 7:42 AM, OneLegged (< 20) wrote:

There is constant harping about how OWS is just a bunch of Marxist wackos who refuse to get a job and are just out for "free stuff".  Critics point out that "they don't have a list of demands".  So, since the OWS movement doesn't fit into the mold of what constitutes a political faction in the U.S.A. that makes the Occupiers illegitimate at best.  I say its good that they don't fit the mold of the status quo.  Look where the same ol' same ol' has gotten this country. 

 

Stop the looting.  Strart the prosecuting.

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