Monday, October 10, 2011

The 99% Party: a Platform

Sounds about right
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which I'm only beginning to get a handle on, being so far from its center, is supported by the website. It's a good place to go to support the movement and to understand its underpinnings. A recent post denies any link to an, stating simply, "We are not a political institution." All right.

I get it. Yet movements can breed parties, and those who wish to challenge the status quo can do it on a number of levels. So if it's people action Occupy Wall Street wants, then let my suggested platform be calls to action rather than a political document:
  • Support consumer protection. If that means raising the consciousness of Americans that the new Consumer Protection Agency needs to have teeth, a strong leader, solid funding, and the clear support of its creators -- the Obama administration and the Democratic Party -- then that means we stand for and support strong protections for consumers and those that advocate for them, such as Elizabeth Warren. Because, let's face it: the consumers are us.
  • Use the boycott as a tool for achieving our ends. If it's Wall Street we wish to influence, then lead boycotts against participating in any way that favors the institutions of Wall Street, i.e. the investment banks and the too-big-to-fail banks. If Bank of America wants to raise fees because, well, "we deserve more of your money," fine, move to a bank that doesn't charge that fee. Make it stark and undeniable. Recently Netflix decided to raise prices and split its service into two divisions, one for DVDs and one for streaming. Today, Netflix changed course and decided not to split the services. Someone, customers or shareholders, or both, leaned on the company. Boycotts work, perhaps more quickly in this instantaneous day and age.
  • Support tax fairness. That means raising taxes on the rich, since that's who got the big breaks from the Bush tax cuts. Let's go back toward the progressive tax rates of the past and end advantages for rich investors and hedge fund managers who pay less in taxes than their help.
  • Support and expand labor unions. The middle class was built by the unions, and job rules that protect workers were born in the labor movement. Real wages have been falling for years. It's time wages made a comeback.
  • Work to lower CEO and top-management pay. Make it contingent on the ratio between the lowest paid and the highest paid. Also, pay packages that feature large bonuses must allow for the complete loss of bonuses for those who do not perform, especially those who are forced out for bad performance but somehow land a multimillion-dollar severance package. If they're losers, let them lose their bonuses!
  • Health care is a right, not a privilege, and therefore cannot be left to the vagaries of the marketplace. Those who claim that consumers should have choices in healthcare are a bit daft. Let's see, this procedure gives me a 20% chance of survival and this other one offers an 85% success rate. But the first one is 80% cheaper, so I'll go for that! Right.
There's more in any platform, but this is a start. the 99% Party just wants what hardworking Americans have always wanted. You know, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Just like your grandads and grandmas. The only difference is we want it for everybody, not just the people inside our gated communities. Sounds about right to me.

Malibu Colony

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