Why I Support The Occupy Wall Street Movement

16 10 2011

For me, it has to do with the social contract. The actual social contract theory refers to mutual agreement between a people and its government but I feel the sentiment applies to an agreement amongst citizens as well. Nation-states can only exist upon the mutual agreement of its citizens to cooperate at some level. Some of us, namely the wealthiest Americans, are abusing this collective agreement.

First, to be taken seriously, I feel I should address some common complaints about the OWSers.

One, that many of the protesters seem inarticulate. Agreed. But this is true for almost any protest, anywhere, including the Tea Party protesters back in the day. Any news organization can cherry pick the dumb-looking protesters out of a crowd to show on TV. Some go a step further and call the protesters “lazy hippies” or some such thing. Personal attacks on the protesters are nothing but a diversionary tactic made by those who can’t or don’t want to respond to the protesters’ legitimate concerns. This is true of both sides of the political aisle.

On that note, two, the protesters demands are not clear and specific. While I think this is less true in recent days, I will still admit that the movement has not been defined by a clear set of demands. Having said this, I believe that the general purpose of demonstrating the collective discontent with corporate corruption and economic inequality is purpose enough. Again, I think that those who dwell on this “problem” are merely diverting attention from an issue that is notoriously complex and unpleasant to deal with.

Now, why I support them.

Few people will deny that there is a problem in the U.S. with corporate corruption and economic inequality. Until now, even fewer have taken any meaningful action to resolve those problems. Most of the U.S. population, including myself, implicitly supports the status quo of corruption and inequality – by shopping at Walmart, by driving fossil-fuel powered vehicles, by craving the latest fashions, by eating at McDonalds, and by not speaking up about the problems that exist.

Corporations and people who have the skills to become rich deserve to do so. That is the essence of the American Dream and it is a beautiful thing. The problem arises when people become too concerned with profits and when money becomes too involved in politics. Jobs get sent overseas, wages decrease, products become more expensive and so on. There is ample evidence that profits among the top 1% have steadily increased for decades while the remaining 99% continue to work for the same amount of money they did in the 50s. Americans continue to put the same amount of effort into their country but receive less and less in return. This is not the mutual agreement that Americans deserve. Corporations and the ultra-wealthy are taking advantage of a social contract in which all Americans have part, whether they know it or not.

People see these problems but rarely do anything but complain from their armchairs. I fall into the armchair category. Even though I am blogging about the issue, I have done little to change it. That is why I support the Occupy Wall Street movement, because they are willing to speak up.

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One response

18 10 2011
Fred Leavitt

While I do agree that there is a problem with many large corporations I believe the root of the problem lies with the government. When our government bails out the very corporations that create most of the abuse, caters to the lobbiests and creates the cumbersome tax code that allows many of the rich to avoid taxes I feel the solution to the problem is at the voting booths and not sleeping in the parks. When 40% of the taxes are paid by 1% of the population I find it hard to say that the rich are not paying their fair share. After all 47% of the population pays no taxes at all. What more do they want?

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