LA Times: An Occupy Manifesto for Real Change

Today’s LA Times editorial page features this editorial about the Occupy movement and turning the energy behind it into something that actually affects change instead of just a protest. The editorial seems to capture the essense that many people — including those who support the ideals of Occupy — want the movement to morph into an effort that mobilizes voters and backs candidates who can vote on policy changes needed to change the inequity faced by 99 percent of this nation’s population.

But the problem with a leaderless movement is someone needs to step up and lead the way.

From the editorial:

Financial reform. Although Occupy Wall Street has sprung up as far afield as the University of California, it originally was an occupation of the actual Wall Street in New York, or at least of nearby Zuccotti Park. What motivated this (we think) was resentment of the financial industry, particularly the Wall Street financiers whose irresponsible behavior produced a worldwide economic downturn but who seem not to have paid much of a price. The banks that were bailed out at monstrous taxpayer expense are now returning to profitability, and busily repossessing homes that never should have been financed to begin with but that might yield fewer losses if their mortgages were modified instead of foreclosed upon. Meanwhile, little has been done to reduce the speculative trading that contributes to bubbles and busts.

Protesters and their backers could make a difference by pushing the banks to modify defaulting mortgages and allow more “underwater” borrowers to refinance their loans. That would mean writing off some debt and cutting into profits in the short term, but would yield better results in the long term than repossessing thousands of homes and reselling them in a depressed market. Consumers demonstrated their power over banks when, by closing or threatening to close their accounts, they persuaded Bank of America to drop its plans to impose a charge on debit-card users; a similar economic boycott of banks that are too eager to default could get a new message across. Meanwhile, protesters could pressure Congress to explore a financial transactions tax — a fee on every Wall Street trade. Presuming that other big trading markets in Europe and Asia did the same (the European Union is considering such a move) and that the tax were small enough to avoid discouraging long-term investing, it could shave hundreds of billions off the national debt and slow speculative trading without hurting overall savings or investment rates.

Taxation. You know the rhetoric: It’s the 99% versus the 1%. The gap between rich and poor has indeed grown precipitously in the last decade, thanks in part to tax changes that have disproportionately benefited the rich and, in turn, helped fuel Occupy Wall Street. For a model of how to fix taxes the right way, we look to the Reagan reforms of 1986, when loopholes and tax shelters were eliminated, top rates were reduced and capital gains (collected mostly by the wealthy) were taxed at the same rate as other kinds of income. Since then, Congress has reinserted the loopholes and reduced capital gains taxes. Republicans are far more unyielding on taxes than they were during the Reagan era and won’t return to 1986 without a fight, but if the Occupy movement can rally reform-minded Democrats to turn out at the polls the way the tea party has rallied Republicans, it could achieve a great deal.

Corporate influence. The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission was a prime example of the kind of judicial activism that conservatives hate, except when it benefits their cause. By granting corporations the same 1st Amendment rights as individuals when it comes to expenditures on independent political advertising, it overturned legal precedent and increased the power of special interests to influence elections. Congress could undo part of the damage by approving laws that would enssure that shareholders, or rank-and-file union members, approve of their organization’s political spending. There’s also a movement afoot among a handful of Democratic senators for a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United, but that’s a quixotic quest. Feel free to back it, Occupiers, but prepare to have your hearts broken when it goes nowhere.

And there’s more.  What say you Occupy?


  1. Economics
    The Glass-Steagall, HR 1489, bankruptcy reorganization is the only Wall Street reform what has any chance to save the Nation from economic collapse.

    Money & Politics,
    Repeal the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution, which changed the election of US Senators from the state legislators to the direct vote of the people. Senate candidates need to raise 10’s of millions of dollars to be a serious Senate candidate under the present system.

    But you say, – I want democracy; I want to be able to vote for US Senators. Stop. Please click the above link and watch the 5 minute video.

  2. @Robert Lauten You are kidding, right? I watched the video and, while I may agree that reinstating those parts of Glass-Steagall that were repealed is a good thing, the other ideas of Larouche show just why he is considered part of the fringe element by most people.

    Eliminate the ability of the people to elect their Senators? How about we eliminate the electoral college and allow a direct vote of the President of the United States? The video says the masses are too stupid to elect their leaders. Then who would? the power elite? That’s who elects them now with their money and political ties.

    Larouche and his followers think everyone else in America is an idiot. What Occupy is doing is attempting to wake the sleeping giant and get them to understand they need to get reinvolved with politics to elect people who will do the bidding of the people for the good of the people. They understand that people aren’t stupid. They are just lazy. Larouche thinks they are both.

    • LaRouche vs. Occupy (Whatever) – A Comparison:

      Former Federal Reserve System chairman Alan Greenspan’s 1984 Pamphlet – “Rethinking Glass-Steagall” (Greenspan argued for Glass-Steagall’s repeal). (12 minute video).

      List of 56 cosponsors and institutional support for HR 1489 which will reinstate Glass-Steagall

      Occupy (Whatever):
      is a mob that is absent the will or the ability to form a single coherent demand.
      (The LA Times suggestions are too mild & too late.)

      Who will elect US Senators?
      (Re-read my above post)The State Legislator will elect the US Senators.

    • If you have seen the countless interviews with the Occupy protesters, then you already know the people are too stupid to do almost anything!

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