Occupy Wall Street is an ever-growing movement of protests against corporate America. What originally began as the Twitter hashtag #OccupyWallStreet has now grown into an international phenomenon, with protests now occurring in American cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as in Canadian cities like Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.

 

But what exactly is Occupy Wall Street? How did it come about? And why has it become more than just a simple protest? We attempt to answer these questions, as well as provide further resources for your own investigations.

 

 

What is "Occupy Wall Street"?

 

Occupy Wall Street is a "people-powered movement for democracy" that began in New York City on September 17 with an encampment in the city's financial district.

 

The movement is centred upon this statement: "the one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%", a sentiment that's been echoed in a powerful blog where regular people have photographed themselves with written statements demonstrating why they are the "99%".

 

Their demands are varied, but include some of the following:

  • Engaging in direct and transparent participatory democracy
  • Raising taxes on the rich
  • Raising taxes on corporations
  • Ending corporate welfare
  • Redefining how labour is valued
  • Protecting Medicare and Social Security


An entry from the We are the 99 percent Tumblr.

 

A screengrab from the popular YouTube clip of Wall Street bankers mocking the protestors by drinking champagne.

 

An entry from the We are the 99 percent Tumblr.

 

How did "Occupy Wall Street" happen?

 

The Vancouver-based Adbusters Media Foundation, an anti-consumerist group best known for its award-winning, advertisement-free magazine Adbusters, has been credited for spurning this citizen uprising. The group was growing frustrated by the increasing disparity in wealth and the absence of any legal action against the bankers responsible for our global financial crisis. As a result, they appealed to their readers to take to the street and demand change.

 

"We basically floated the idea in mid July into our [email list] and it was spontaneously taken up by all the people of the world,” said Adbusters senior editor Micah White to the Vancouver Courier. “It just kind of snowballed from there."

 

 

A live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com of the Occupy Wall Street action.

 

Via Guardian.co.uk

 

Why is "Occupy Wall Street" more than just a protest?

 

Because the protest is leaderless and no specific platform has been pushed, there was initial discrediting of the movement by the media. 

 

Media coverage was initially minimal, and what coverage did exist was largely derisive. Mother Jones ran an article entitled “why #occupywallstreet isn’t working,” and Grist’s Dave Roberts said the occupation was “designed to discredit leftie protest.”

 

But images — such as the stories shared on the 99% Tumblr, the video of Wall Street folks drinking champagne having their Marie Antoinette moment, and this weekend's arrest of 700 protestors on New York City's Brooklyn Bridge — has spurned a movement. 

 

The movement has been applauded because it seems to be a legitimate "solidarity" progressive response to the Tea Party movement. "I think that even just organizing and maintaining these protests in worthy of praise," writes Forbes' E.D. Kain. "The manifestation of #OccupyWallStreet as more than just a hashtag is a real achievement. From coherence comes relevancy, however messy or disorganized that process may be."

 

Further resources:

 

 

What do you think? Do you think the lack of a platform will hinder the movement? And does it make sense for these protests to occur in Canada?

 

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Tags: #OccupyWallStreet, American Politics, Occupy Wall Street, United States, global financial crisis, the 99%

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Replies to This Discussion

The folks with the champagne may not be as secure as they look,ironically,they may be the next to belong to this demographic of the unemployed,and may join with the protestors whom they despise. Wall Street empoloyees are swimming with the sharks and when they are not needed they too will get a pink slip.

Actually some of the protesters are former employees of Wall Street who had their careers pulled out from under them in the 2008 meltdown. Nothing like being bounced from the top to bring you down to the ground.

VIRGINIA CAMERON said:

The folks with the champagne may not be as secure as they look,ironically,they may be the next to belong to this demographic of the unemployed,and may join with the protestors whom they despise. Wall Street empoloyees are swimming with the sharks and when they are not needed they too will get a pink slip.

Why is it that you people from socialist countries always think that "wealth should be shared"? Socialism works until you run out of other people's money.

 

 People who earn the money are entitled to keep it. Why on earth should they just give it to others who haven't worked to earn it? This I will  never understand.

 

It's just such a shame that you have been brainwashed into the entitlement mentality.

Because the wealth wealthy people have earned has not been all by themselves.  It takes a community to make wealth possible.  Maybe the wealthy person had the idea, and the entrepreneurial drive, but all along his or her life he has had help.  He had teachers who educated him, professors that supported him, lawmakers who were sensitive to his needs and enabled him to achieve, people who believed in him and invested in him, gave him moral and emotional support, and employees who built the products and business that made the wealth.  No one has achieved any pinnacle in life all on his own.

No one is saying rich people shouldn't be rich.  They are saying that the rich should not be filthy, stinking rich while most of the rest are suffering in poverty and deprivation without the basic needs of survival.  The CEO of Costco capped his salary at $350,000 a year.  He figures that is more than enough to have everything he could want, and it leaves enough room for his employees and shareholders and customers to have a financial break so that their lives can be lived in dignity too.

Paying taxes is like paying membership in a club.  Everyone who belongs to the club contributes to it.  The dues pay the upkeep of the club, the salaries of the employees, the care of the grounds and whatever services the club provides.  If only the lowest dues paying members kept having their dues raised and the highest dues-paying membership got the most breaks, on the hope that they  spend some money on the club, the club would start to go downhill fast.

If you want to know what countries have the most breaks for the wealthiest, while the poor carry the greatest share of the tax load look at Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and a lot of South American and African countries.  The country itself looks like a ravaged basketcase, while the rich live on top, oblivious to the hellhole their countrypeople live in.  If you get the kind of country you want you better start investing that saved money in high fences around your estate, and an army of bodyguards because that's how the rich live with the poor in the countries I mentioned.

Why would you possibly think that just because you have all the money in your bank account, you don't owe something to the country and people who helped you make it?  Or why you think having a country full of suffering, sick poor people would be a pleasant place to live in?

 

Doreen said:

Why is it that you people from socialist countries always think that "wealth should be shared"? Socialism works until you run out of other people's money.

 

 People who earn the money are entitled to keep it. Why on earth should they just give it to others who haven't worked to earn it? This I will  never understand.

 

It's just such a shame that you have been brainwashed into the entitlement mentality.

Don't forget Doreen, it was the Wall Street banks, the automakers and the mortgage, loan and insurance companies that broke the rules of capitalism.  The rules say that if you lose money, you die.  They weren't willing to accept destruction like the market is supposed to function, they became socialist all of a sudden and ran crying to the government to bail them out.  They took money from average taxpayers to pay for their mistakes, and cover their asses.

In the same way that there are no atheists in foxholes, there are socialists on Wall Street when  threatened with bankruptcy and if the same thing happened again, a lot of socialists would start popping out of the capitalist ranks very quickly again.

I agree with you totally Krystyna,who wants to live in a city like Bombay where you have to step over dead bodies or gaze a poor beautiful urchins? I want to see everyone doing reasonably well otherwise it makes me feel sad and worried especially about the children.

Krystyna said:

Don't forget Doreen, it was the Wall Street banks, the automakers and the mortgage, loan and insurance companies that broke the rules of capitalism.  The rules say that if you lose money, you die.  They weren't willing to accept destruction like the market is supposed to function, they became socialist all of a sudden and ran crying to the government to bail them out.  They took money from average taxpayers to pay for their mistakes, and cover their asses.

In the same way that there are no atheists in foxholes, there are socialists on Wall Street when  threatened with bankruptcy and if the same thing happened again, a lot of socialists would start popping out of the capitalist ranks very quickly again.

Those little wet diaper, snot nosed babies don't have a clue as to what they are talking about They bash capitalism, but don't even know how to spell the word.

http://occupywallst.org/

Justine: "I was under the understanding that there is an anti capotalist [sic] --" by the way, capitalist is spelled c-a-p-o-t every time it's written here, capotalist [sic].  "I was under the understanding that there is an anti capotalist [sic] part of this movement and consumptions when we feel emergency need is how we deal with issues in capoticalsm. [sic]  Should we address issues the same way."

"That point's been brought up before.  On the point of consumption, it will be next to impossible for us to operate without buying some of the stuff we need.  We try to balance our principles with our need without making it too difficult.  I've been visiting Salvation Army stores and buying as many sleeping bags as I can so I believe it's possible for us to get our supplies from charity stores and the like." 

 

General Assembly minutes, October 3rd, 7:30 p.m.  "Wanted to make sure that we the people are okay with the people up front running it.  The people up front are facilitators. Anyone can facilitate if they get in touch with the working group.  Bri: Is a co-facilitator. She wants consent on weather [sic] of [sic] not we agree for them to be facilitators. ... Let's move the agenda first.  Passed with no blocks." 

"The first point, comfort budget."  Okay, here's Jeff, he's one of the guys, one of the leaders of the group, they got a budget for comfort.  He says, "I work with comfort. We have some major concerned [sic] about people sleeping here. Mainly we need sleeping bags. Sleeping bags cost money and no one is donating sleeping bags. With that in mind we have a proposal to use some of the donated money to buy sleeping bags. We would like to request about 2000 dollars from the fund for sleeping bags.  We think if we buy 100 $20 sleeping bags, that would be enough for the time being."

"HOW THIS WILL WORK, we will ask for questions then concernes [sic] then blocks, then we will vote.  CHRIS is stack taker:  So I just want to know how many people are sleeping here already and if it’s projected that number will increase. Someone on medical counted around 400 the other night and it HAS been increasing.  Roney: My question is does the budget requested account for taxes on the sleeping bags?"

 

AND

This wall street mess goes way back to the Carter administration and Barney Frank's finger prints are all over it.

 

Read here:

The roots of this crisis go back to the Carter administration. That was when government officials, egged on by left-wing activists, began accusing mortgage lenders of racism and "redlining" because urban blacks were being denied mortgages at a higher rate than suburban whites.

The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to "meet the credit needs" of "low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods." Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans. The two government-chartered mortgage finance firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, encouraged this "subprime" lending by authorizing ever more "flexible" criteria by which high-risk borrowers could be qualified for home loans, and then buying up the questionable mortgages that ensued.

All this was justified as a means of increasing homeownership among minorities and the poor. Affirmative-action policies trumped sound business practices. A manual issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston advised mortgage lenders to disregard financial common sense. "Lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor," the Fed's guidelines instructed. Lenders were directed to accept welfare payments and unemployment benefits as "valid income sources" to qualify for a mortgage. Failure to comply could mean a lawsuit.

As long as housing prices kept rising, the illusion that all this was good public policy could be sustained. But it didn't take a financial whiz to recognize that a day of reckoning would come. "What does it mean when Boston banks start making many more loans to minorities?" I asked in this space in 1995. "Most likely, that they are knowingly approving risky loans in order to get the feds and the activists off their backs . . . When the coming wave of foreclosures rolls through the inner city, which of today's self-congratulating bankers, politicians, and regulators plans to take the credit?"

Frank doesn't. But his fingerprints are all over this fiasco. Time and time again, Frank insisted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in good shape. Five years ago, for example, when the Bush administration proposed much tighter regulation of the two companies, Frank was adamant that "these two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis."

 

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2...

Doreen you seem to see things only in the left and right arguments that have become so firmly entrenched in American society.  I hardly see these people as only the students or young people as you seem to imply they are.  Have you no consideration for your fellow Americans?  Where and when did you lose all sense of compassion?  Are you so caught up in your right wing rhetoric that you cannot see these people as people who have lost their jobs as a result of the lawbreaking of the Wall St. fraudsters.  Wall Street scammed the system, aided and abetted by the US lawmakers who have sold out to Wall St.

 

The  Walll St. bankers did not "earn" the money that they have now.  They broke laws, committed fraud by misrepresenting the products that they were selling.  They have caused the crash in the economy and are the major reason that so many are out of jobs, unable to pay their inflated mortgages and their health insurance.  To make matters worse, Wall St. took taxpayer money and showered themselves with bonuses even though they were the central cause of the crash through their illegal and immoral behaviour. 

 

You only seem to be dead against socialism when it comes to spending tax dollars on the peopel who have truly earned the money, i.e. those that work and produce products that we all can use.  Wall St. produces nothing but gambling debts that when things go wrong they go running to the government for handouts.  That is corporate socialism.  In truly free market capitalism these same banks and Wall St. fraudsters would be out of business, not lining up at the government trough for bailout packages.   

I suggest you take a look at something other than right wing blogs, written by people who are trying to perpetuate a system that is failing and failing badly.  The greed that has been shown by Wall St. and their ilk will bring down the system that allowed them to commit fraud on such a wide scale, but in the process many middle and working class Americans will be hurt.  When people are backed into a corner they are not going to stand by idly and allow the greedy to continue stealing from them.  What will ensue won't be pretty and the whole of American society will suffer.   

There is absolutely no use trying to talk to you left wingers. None what so ever. You just can't see what is really happening and don't want to.

You can't see that Unions are nothing but tax exempt Corporations. They have a president, vice president and board of directors and are NOT PAYING Their "fair share" of taxes. Good greif!! What do you people say to that?
Who is not paying their fair share of taxes?? Who is standing at the trough of government handouts? Try General Electric who earned billions and profits and paid no taxes. Try Exon who earns billions in profits and still gets government subsidies. That is Corporate socialism at its best.

Some of us in this world believe that those things that better all of society better all of us. Some of us believe that working togther towards a society that shares it abundance is far better than those societies in which every one is pitted against the other in a survial of the fittest kind of living.

I worked as a senior executive through my working life and I am appalled at the lack of concern that many, but not all, companies have for their employees. They put the compensation of the senior group above all else and I am not just talking about fair compensation for a job well done, I am talking about the greed that corporate heads and boards shower on themselves. When I ran my company I made sure that the gap between the highest and lowest paid never exceeded 5/1, not the 300X now, I made sure that there was adequate, fair and equal compensation for workers regardless of sex, creed or ethnic origin. It can be done and we don't have to live in a dog eat dog world, the one that is perpetuated by so many companies now.

Are they in the business of generating profits?  If they do generate profits they should pay.  But I think they are tax exempt because they are non-profit organizations.  Incidentally, I think if the various Republican administrations would have been able to tax unions, they would be taxed.  It takes more than executive titles to be a corporation, every organization needs management.  The difference between who pays taxes and who does not depends on how much profit they generate.

The only way a for-profit corporation can avoid being taxed is to be registered in an offshore tax haven.  And many are.

Corporations are considered to be persons under the Constitution, but unlike real persons they do not have to have a moral conscience.  That's the definition of a psychopath.  No conscience, no empathy, no restraint. Incidentally, only psychopaths would have interpreted Jimmy Carter's desire to level the playing field for black people as the right to fleece them.

Oh we can see what's really happening.  We can see that you and your corporate friends want to be free to take everything away from the rest of us and remove everything we have to hold you accountable for it.


Doreen said:

There is absolutely no use trying to talk to you left wingers. None what so ever. You just can't see what is really happening and don't want to.

You can't see that Unions are nothing but tax exempt Corporations. They have a president, vice president and board of directors and are NOT PAYING Their "fair share" of taxes. Good greif!! What do you people say to that?

 

I was a protestor in the 1960's and 70's but finally grew up and saw the light, and no I don't want to take anything away from you. I  just expect you to earn it like most hard working people do. The government has no business giving us anything put secure borders.

 

What do you say about this?? Humm??

Unions Give More Campaign $$ To Dems Than Corporations To GOP

http://nevadanewsandviews.com/2010/10/24/unions-give-more-campaign-...

(Warner Todd Huston/The Union Label) – The left’s meme about campaign contributions since the Supreme Court beat down some of the McCain/Feingold Act has been that the Republicans are awash in illicit political donations from those eeevil corporations — and unfair donations at that — and this puts the poor Democrats at a disadvantage. Why all those evil rich corporate raiders are burying the Democrats, dontcha know?

The truth is a far different animal, however, as Democrats haven’t lost a step in fund raising due to the millions upon millions that their favorite special interest have given them. The fact is unions have donated far, far more to Democrat politicians than corporations have mustered for Republicans.

The Union Corporations give MILLIONS of dollars to the left wing Democratic party .

Snipt:

http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/02/public-unions-force-...

Enormous contributions, yes -- to the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign. Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle.

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.

So, just as the president complained in his 2010 State of the Union address about a Supreme Court decision that he feared would increase the flow of money to Republicans, he also found time to complain about a proposed state law that could reduce the flow of money to Democrats.

And, according to the Washington Post, to get the Democratic National Committee to organize protests against the proposed Wisconsin law. Protests that showed contempt for the law, with teachers abandoning classrooms, doctors writing phony medical excuses, Democratic legislators fleeing the state and holing up in a motel. The lawmakers played hooky without losing any salary, which is protected by the state constitution.



Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/02/public-unions-force-...

 

 

 

I think Ann has a good point here:

 

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/10/05/coulter_on_wall_s...

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