Occupy Wall Street rightly calls for social improvements

Now into its third week, the Occupy Wall Street movement is still attacked by critics and dismissed by many, despite its important message and growing support. People, particularly those in the top 1 percent of the tax bracket, have been critical of the movement’s apparent lack of organization and failure to create a concrete list of demands. But these criticisms are ignorant and presumptuous.

The movement isn’t going for simple solutions because the country is facing a complex problem. They are trying to draw attention and increase political discussion regarding the plight of the 99 percent.

The protesters are well organized, considering the campaign is international in scope. In the New York City protests, for example, activists have set up multiple committees to spread the message and address key goals.

Every day there is a general assembly, where protestors plan their next move and help focus the groups’ ideas. To organize the different groups around the country, an active social networking group is hard at work, using Twitter hashtags, sharing videos and setting up websites to explain what the movement is about.

And it is about something. The protesters have embraced the motto: “We are the 99 percent,” a unifying call to attention that aside from the top 1 percent of the population, the entire country was hurt by and still suffers from the recession.

Occupy Wall Street and its associated movements are protesting against the low taxes on the rich compared to the rest of the population and cuts to public education. There isn’t a list of people to elect, or a list of anti- or pro-government demands and there doesn’t need to be one.

The protests ask: How can those who are deeply involved in Wall Street and who pump large amounts of money into Washington, D.C., be allowed to dictate the action while jobs and important social programs suffer?

That’s what is most important to college students. Continued education cuts forced many public universities to raise tuition. The student protests in 2009 regarding rising costs were an early sign of discontent.

Many of the stories on the “We are the 99 percent” Occupy Wall Street website deal with students struggling to afford college or who are in heavy debt with no job opportunities upon graduation.

What’s more, the movement, unlike many of its contemporary protests, is organized in a way that gives it a strong chance to get its message out to voters and lawmakers.

The methods, borrowed from the revolutionaries in Tunisia and Egypt in the spring, are forms of non-violent protest. Activists in New York, Los Angeles and other cities actively make sure others do not grow aggressive toward the police, so as to not face any police force or arrests, though that tactic hasn’t exactly worked.

The framing message — an all-inclusive, nonpartisan movement for the people against corporate influence in politics — allows for the Occupy Wall Street movement to draw in people of any age and political affiliation.

Students are playing a major role in the protests, but everyone from World War II veterans to former Wall Street workers have joined. It’s this kind of strategy of gathering the masses that helped past protesters, from Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr., succeed.

And maybe this is what the country needs. Not a violent revolution, not a regime change, but a social justice campaign that can get people involved with American politics again.

This year people, especially those our own age, are showing they can make a difference by voicing their opinions.

At this point, it’s not clear whether the Occupy Wall Street movement will bring about monumental change, but it needs time. What is clear is the movement is growing, and its message is universal.

Occupy Wall Street begat Occupy Los Angeles and other solidarity movements, all with the same goal of an honest democratic process and a focus on things that matter, such as education. Is there really anything bad about that?

It’s time to occupy.


Nicholas Slayton is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism.

12 replies
  1. Chris
    Chris says:

    I won’t be surprised if the author pens another marxist missive about how USC should’ve allowed Kal to score a few more points in Thursday nights’ game “out of fairness.” I mean, the state of CA pays the Bears’ tuition, and they practice so hard; don’t they deserve a few automatic touchdowns?

  2. Astute Observer
    Astute Observer says:

    I’m a finance major, hence I know everything there is to about Wall Street. Here, let me impress you with my finance jargon: IPO, splits, roadshows, options, buyback, NPV, P/E ratio, yield, etc. All you hippies who worship Steve Jobs are idiots. You have no idea how avaricious Apple Corp. really is, and how it is the postercompany for capitalism–the thing you vilify–stop buying Macbooks if you tools hate those “greedy fatcats” on WS.

  3. Liberty Minded
    Liberty Minded says:

    We are the 99 percent – people that do not protest.
    25% of the population votes in elections.

    Corporations supply nearly everything that is consumed or produced. Every non-profit is a corporation and nearly every church is a corporation. Corporations are so fully ingrained into our society that to outlaw corporations or corporate profit is to end the United States of America. No thank you.

    Our president has made it clear that he thinks there is a certain amount of income that is enough. So when the millionaires and billionaires decide they have enough and their incomes drop to $30,000 a year, who will pay the taxes for all the programs and the salaries of the White House Czars?

    47% of the population already get some sort of government assistance. Tuition, food stamps, Social Security, research grants, tax credits, rent assistance, WIC, job training, … We are the government; we are the welfare recipients; we pay the taxes. It would be cheaper and more efficient for each person to be responsible and self-welfare.

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    The ignorance of the OWS protesters can be summed up in their overwhelmingly supportive comments regarding Steve Jobs after his death. These people profess deep admiration and love for the late Mr. Jobs and his company Apple Corp., despite their protests being centered around four key complaints:

    1) Corporations are too big (Apple is the world’s LARGEST corporation, with a market cap of $337 billion).
    2) Corporations are hoarding money (Apple currently has $76 billion of un-invested cash reserves on its balance sheet)
    3) Corporate executives are too wealthy (Steve Jobs’ personal fortune was over $7 billion at the time of his death)
    4) Corporations spend too much money influencing elections with no transparency (Apple has spent millions of dollars on political contributions over the last 20 years, but does not disclose the recipients or line-item amounts on its company 10K).

    Not to mention the fact that their entire protest movement has been organized with corporate-made mobile devices using corporate-invented technology transmitted over corporate-run data networks.

    Until the OWS people develop a consistent and informed platform, and understand the necessary and beneficial role that corporations play in their lives, they are just a bunch of clueless soapbox-yellers and cannot be taken seriously. The OWS protesters are no different than the thousands of Tea Party idiots who screamed about socialism and government spending while living off Social Security and Medicare checks. Like them, the OWS crowd have no understanding of what they personally stand to lose if their demands are actually met.

  5. H1B
    H1B says:

    Dear author,

    Please do not use names like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi unless you understand what was their “strategy” and how its not being used in this case.

    Sad to see young people being mislead into believing there’s a substitute to hard work. The environment for jobs and education is bad, and rightly so because of wrong decisions by a few, but if you can’t make lemon juice out of lemons then you will always keep calling yourself “the other 99%”. Not to offend anyone who works their heart out just to live by paycheck to paycheck, but people do have wrong inclinations and understanding of what is “bare minimum” in this country.

    m d, I feel sad for you and pray you have more resilience and patience.

    Workerbee, Rich, Chris, happy for all of you, you do have your mind at the right place.

  6. Bryan
    Bryan says:

    Is this the Daily Trojan or The Daily Californian (Kal’s student paper)?

    MD, where can I get what you’re smoking? I need to take a break from reality and engage in some relavativistic thought.

    I would add more to this discussion but Chris and Worker Bee have already summarized my thoughts.

    Fight on and beat the commies!

  7. Worker Bee
    Worker Bee says:

    Ah, the age-old plight of the haves vs the haves-not. It is really catchy to pit 1% vs 99%, but the fact of the matter is the vast majority of Americans are gainfully employed. One can slice and dice statistics any which way he wants in order to make a point, but it doesn’t mean much in the end. America is still a democracy and will continue to promote capitalism since it works for 99% of the hard working, freedom loving people who value such ideals. The remaining 1% can march all day long in the hopes of getting more free handouts while the rest of us work to pay for them.

    • m d wills
      m d wills says:

      Would you please not share you ignorance of facts so blatantly! 1 in 4 American receive ‘entitlements’ that works out to 77+ MILLION american’s BELOW THE POVERTY LINE!!!! Where are those 99% of workers AGAIN (since you are math illiterate that works out to 308,359,292 people with nearly 68 MILLION of them less than 18 so you think 68 MILLION children working is legitimate?) Please pull your proverbial head out of your…. 3.1 MILLION people own more wealth than 146 MILLION People. I just got my paperwork from the Social Security Benefits Administration. I have paid over $253,000.00 into Social Security in my lifetime. I WILL NEVER SEE A DIME of it!!!!! Every Man, Woman and Child (including the 1%) legally in the United States owe $44,600 in debt service. So please pay your share of that $44,600.00 since you are one of the 99% [sic]. I WANT MY SOCIAL SECURITY IN 10 years!!!!

      • Worker Bee
        Worker Bee says:

        I used the 1% – 99% analogy to make a point, not to show how many people are living in poverty. Anybody can google the figures.

        I, too, am paying into Ponzi schemes, er, entitlement programs, from which I will probably not receive anything close to what I paid over a lifetime. Social Security and Medicare will surely implode as more and more baby boomers retire. But they were never designed to be bank accounts.

        You say you have three adult “kids” living with you because they can’t find work. Huh? Did they go to college? Did you help them select majors that lead to gainful employment? Did you encourage them to take internships to gain experience and build a network? This kind of reminds me of the ant and grasshopper fable. You failed them as a parent and now they are marching with hippies, communists, and ignorant people who believe they are “entitled” to the same things that hard-working Americans have EARNED. I can see why you are bitter.

  8. Rich
    Rich says:

    I love reading fantasy writings from students who have never had a real job or raised a family. The issue on jobs is directly related to raising taxes and increasing regulations on small business. 99.99999 % of the ignorant jobless people occupying wall street will never work for wall street, they will work for small business. The current president has small business so scared of what expenses he will stick them with, they will not hire, and they will not expand. Another note, small business depends on wall street for its money to start. That top 1% keeps our jobs and money coming in. Still not sure what those unwashed dirty unemployed people really want wall street to do….start handing out free cash? Also love all the pro socialistic and communism signs…pretty sure we can guess what they want.

    • m d wills
      m d wills says:

      I have had a real job for more than 30 years and have 3 kids which I am still raising because they can’t get jobs. The ‘Occupiers’ have got my family’s own interests at heart! The reporter of this article is simply reciting what is already known. Anyone who makes more than $349,000.00/yr (according to the 2010 census) is in the 1%. The 1% own more than 48.9% of all the wealth in the United States (according to the 2010 census). That IS AN UNHEALTHY STATISTIC!!! When I graduated USC I had close to $30,000.00 in student loans which I was able to pay off in 6 years. I was able to pay them off because of the high quality job in computer programming when I graduated. Today, those jobs are now in India/China and don’t exist here (Apple DOES NOT BUILD a single iMac/iPod/iPhone/iPad or anything else in the USA and the majority of their INCOME IS IN BANKS OVERSEAS!!!!!!!). Businesses convinced Congress to increase the H1B visa limits to bring in cheap workers, who incidentally, took those jobs with them when they left. I will agree with you that the regulations of ALL BUSINESSES are hurting everyone however, those regulations were unnecessary when businesses were driven by common sense and fair play rather than greed (e.g. Enron, Worldcom, State of California, State of Illinois, Lehman Brothers). The people on Wall-Street are the same sort of people that rioted for Civil-Rights and ending the war in Vietnam. The only difference is they haven’t been pushed into violence yet. When the violence starts; the 1% and their backers (indirectly meaning you Rich) better watch yourselves. The states are so broke right now they can’t afford to hire or pay overtime for those police you will be calling to come and protect you. That is the real worry, the lack of law enforcement when all the states and governments finally go broke. I would recommend that all people who read this and similar articles visit the website ‘getmoneyout’ dot ‘com’. This would begin the steps (it isn’t the solution!) to get this US of A on the right path again.

      • Chris
        Chris says:

        m d,

        That’s a nice sentiment; i particularly enjoyed the part where you threaten “rich” people with violence. The good news is, that since the people who support this are a teeny tiny minority of the far left, we (the responsible productive members of society) have nothing to fear since we happen to actively support the 2nd Amendment while they do not.

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