Monday, December 12, 2011

Occupy Boston evicted without incident


Video - At exactly 5am, Officers arrived at Dewey Square and evicted the Occupy Boston encampment.

Patch | That’s why, for my money, the future of Occupy, whatever your personal take on it, was on display here in Reading this past week.

The group needs to fan out, state by state, city by city and organize meetings like the one Dec. 7, at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Woburn Street, where residents can get together and feel involved in this process. By focusing energy in smaller groups, on a national level, more can be gained than by larger rallies, which, let’s face it, can feel somewhat off-putting and inaccessible. It’s also important that the movement avoids politics as much as possible, or risk banishment to the world of the punchline, like the Tea Party.

As far as streamlining the message, that’s going to be the hard part. If it proves too hard, then we may have already seen the apex of the Occupy movement’s influence.

Here’s what needs to happen:

Some sort of codification of goals should occur, but it can’t be too lengthy and must be relatively focused. Back at the early stages of the Occupy movement, back in October, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, heir to the National Affairs Desk, the space famously occupied by the legendary Hunter S. Thompson, proposed a five-pronged platform that would encapsulate the most pressing issues relating to economic injustice quite nicely. Focusing on the following five points would make the Occupy message clear, focused and hard-hitting.

  • Shatter the monopolies. The “Too Big to Fail” financial institutions “pose a grave threat to national security,” writes Taibbi. They are “more dangerous and unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined.” There are roughly 20 such firms in America, and Taibbi advocates dismantling them. Repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.
  • Pay us back. As Taibbi points out, a tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all derivative trades would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have a sizable chunk of change to fight the deficits the banks are so worried about. It would also deter things like High Frequency Trading, and force Wall Street to “go back to the job it's supposed to be doing, i.e., making sober investments in job-creating businesses and watching them grow.”
  • No public money for private lobbying. This one seems like a no-brainer. A company that gets a public bailout shouldn’t be allowed to use a taxpayer's money to lobby against him. “You can either suck on the public teat or influence the next presidential race, but you can't do both. Butt out for once and let the people choose the next president and Congress.”
  • Tax hedge-fund gamblers. An immediate repeal of the carried-interest tax break, which allows people like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay just 15 percent tax on their multibillion dollar incomes, while ordinary American—like teachers and firefighters—pay twice that rate. “I defy any politician to stand up and defend that loophole during an election year,” writes Taibbi.
  • Change the way bankers get paid. “We need new laws preventing Wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all of our faces later. It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now. That forces everyone to be invested in his own company's long-term health – no more Joe Cassanos pocketing multimillion-dollar bonuses for destroying the AIGs of the world.”

I’d love to hear anyone tell me why any of the above suggestions don’t make sense.