With protesters impeding traffic, shouting slogans, holding signs and generally disrupting financial centers across the country, most notably Wall Street, the logical question is, why?
The answer is less obvious than might be expected, as there is no “official” list of demands or leader. Indeed, even big-name supporters of the movement have cited incoherent reasons when trying to spell out what has made these young people eschew their sofas, coffeehouses and showers to take to the streets.
Michael Moore suggested Monday that they want to see justice, or in his words, “perp walks” for bankers. Actress Roseanne Barr speculated that “reeducation camps” and “beheadings” for bankers might be good goals. And according to former Obama Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, “Occupy Wall Street” is a movement to save the “middle class.”
While the establishment scratches their heads in curiosity at the movement which has attempted to model itself after the Arab Spring, the motivations and demands that are cropping up on message boards and forums are far-reaching and disparate.
On the “unofficial, defacto online resource for the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests,” there is a proposed list of 13 demands, including immediate debt forgiveness for all, free college education, elimination of free trade, a $20 an hour minimum wage, guaranteed “living wage” regardless of income, open borders, $1 trillion government spending on infrastructure, $1 trillion government spending on ecological restoration, a racial and gender equal rights amendment and easier unionization voting procedures.
“These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy,” “LloydJHart,” the drafter of the online demands, asserts. “LyoydJHart” lists his hometown as Vineyard Haven, a Massachusetts town on the island of Martha’s Vineyard — a favorite summer vacation spot for the president.
The demands listed by “LyodJHart” are more specific than the general dictate of these protests. As one Internet forum poster, “GandhiKingMindsetResist,” put it, “The one demand in New York is: ‘Shut Down Wall St.’ Why are we shutting down Wall St.? ‘Because Wall St. is hurting Americans, hurting citizens of the world and ruining our environment.”
Business Insider has reported on what an n+1 magazine writer discovered during his foray into the protests: That outside of the aforementioned demands, the protesters also want full employment, negative income tax (in which the government actually pays people below a certain income bracket), repeal of the Citizen’s United campaign funding Supreme Court ruling, universal health care centers, a Tobin tax (short-term tax on currency conversions), reinstatement of Glass-Steagall banking regulation, paid sick leave and pay-as-you-go military intervention.
Of course the demands are by no means comprehensive. As more people, and now institutions, join the protests, the demands are growing. Currently, there are gatherings occurring in New York City, Boston, Portland, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Time will tell how this movement shakes out.