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Forum Post: What Should Occupy Wall Street Concentrate On (Part 1)

Posted 12 years ago on Nov. 4, 2011, 5:09 p.m. EST by LindsayMoir (4)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

What Should Occupy Wall Street Concentrate On

  • Why A Maximum Wage? Occupy Wall Street needs to have a central issue that it can coalesce around, otherwise all of this energy will just be abated into a thousand little battles and the war will be lost.
    I am writing this to encourage people to think about what I believe is THE fundamental problem with western society right now. This does not mean there are no holes in how I am presenting this argument. However, at its very core it rings true. That is a maximum wage would do far more good than harm and in my opinion this wage discrepancy is at the heart of why western capitalism is failing for the 99%.
    Why do we have a minimum wage? The answer often given is that employers have more power than employees. Without some regulated bottom (minimum wage) wages would never go up for the most vulnerable people in our society and they would be continually pushed down.
    Few would dispute that a minimum wage is helpful. Those that would, would have a difficult time explaining where the fruits of that cut in pay to workers would go other than senior management (mostly) and to a lesser extent shareholders. Some might argue with no minimum wage that we might employ more people as burger flippers (no disrespect). I doubt that anybody sees the future of their country being a country of burger flippers. When we passed minimum wage laws we said as a society that there is a power imbalance that causes problems for a class of society and we decided to rectify it by creating a minimum wage.
    Let’s see what problems are being created by NOT having a maximum wage for the most senior people in PUBLIC companies. I say public companies because at the end of the day these people are not entrepreneurs (at least 99% of them are not). These people came up thru the ranks and became CEOs of the most powerful companies in the world. They just played their cards (very often excellent cards that were not dealt to the other 99%) better than the rest. They did not create jobs and entire industries like Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, etc. did.
    If you look at the behavior of many people who started a company, took it public, and became fabulously wealthy they do not pay themselves the exorbitant salaries that Wall Street does. A case in point is Bill Gates. For years he made $240,000/year. Meanwhile the boys on Wall Street are making $100,000,000/year. Who created more wealth, jobs, and value? Bill Gates or Wall Street? Guess what Bill does now? He is the world’s largest most active philanthropist. Who do you want to be handing the fruits of western democracies to, future Bill Gates’, or Wall Street? First of all let’s make no mistake, executive pay has sky rocketed over the last 30 years. For example, the President of the Royal Bank of Canada used to make $330,000/year in the 1970s. He now makes $10,000,000/year. Why is that? Did our executives get 30 times smarter? Did they go thru a massive productivity increase and get 30 times better than the average worker?
    The answer is that the capitalist system (supply and demand) does not work at the highest regions of corporate pay. If the price of something went up 30 times, don’t you think there would be coincident rise in the supply of the commodity (executive talent). The answer is something does not work here. We can list what some of the barriers to entry are into this elite club.
  • Parents
  • Education
  • Work Experience
  • Where You Grew Up
  • Money
  • Who You Know Notice that I did not put smarter, quicker, funnier, better, creative, etc. in this list. The market for senior people does not work the same way that it does for everybody else. At the same time these people demand capitalist treatment at every turn, except when it comes to the market for their pay.
    Let me make this clear. We would all behave the same way. We would all demand the capitalist system work in our favour and be very quiet where it does not when it is to our advantage. Would any of us refuse to manipulate the share price of our company if we could exercise options and make $100,000,000 in one year? Shame on you if you don’t admit that the other 99% given the same opportunity as the 1% would behave in exactly the same way, except for the very rare exceptions.
    Everybody around you would be telling you the same thing. The Wall Street boys would be repeating the mantra, shareholder value. You would do the right thing for you and your shareholders and by the way make an extra $100,000,000 that year. We have seen the enemy the enemy is us.



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[-] 3 points by Philpux (643) from Mountain View, AR 12 years ago

Campaign Finance Reform. Boom!

All of the successful protest movements of the 20th century in the U.S. had a very clear and concise goal. The civil rights movement had integration. The counter culture movement of the 60's wanted to end the Vietnam War. The Women's Suffrage movement wanted women to vote. The Anti-Saloon league wanted prohibition of alcohol.

Wayne Wheeler of the Anti-Saloon league, was known for insisting on a very clear and singular goal to the exclusion of all else, a constitutional amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol. His model for political influence through demonstration has been replicated over, and again. The prohibition movement might have been misguided, but no one could argue that it wasn't successful.

Could it be, that it is time for OWS to focus? I believe many more people would become active, if a singular goal could be devised.

Campaign Finance Reform!

Many Americans could line up behind getting the big money out of politics, I think.

I don't believe we will accomplish much else, until we get the big $$ out of our government.

What I am saying is that, imho, OWS needs a clear goal complete with a kick ass sound bite! Americans only respond to sound bites.

Any good sound bite is concise, crunchy, and tastes good with ketchup. “BUY BACK the VOTE.”

[-] 1 points by Chupacabra (55) from Houston, TX 12 years ago
[-] 1 points by LindsayMoir (4) 12 years ago

The questions is, are the problems of Campaign Finance Reform a symptom or the problem? I think it is both. If I have a lot of money, I am eventually going to get more access to the people in political power. How would you do this?

[-] 1 points by Philpux (643) from Mountain View, AR 12 years ago

Well, as they say, the Devil is in the details.

[-] 0 points by JonFromSLC (-107) from West Valley City, UT 12 years ago

Yes it's the reason the problem exists. When people contribute private or corporate money to a politician, they're simply buying leverage. If that candidate gets elected, they can always say "Hey remember that time I got my company to donate $100,000 to your campaign?..."

The solution? No one can take private money. Every candidate applies for a spot on the ballot, and if they're selected by signatures or mandate or whatever, they're on and they get a set number of dollars. Make the playing field even first. Then get rid of the parties. Vote for the man (or woman) and his/her ideas, and not because of the affiliation they hold. Take the politics out of the process. There's enough politics after they get elected anyway.

[-] 1 points by Philpux (643) from Mountain View, AR 12 years ago


[-] 1 points by Mike2820 (1) 12 years ago

Lots of misconceptions here that could be cleared up with a basic textbook on economics. I'll just tackle one paragraph on minimum wage:

  1. Anytime you raise the price of something, whether it's people or products, above the market rate, you cause more to be supplied and less to be demanded. In the case of people, that means unemployment.

  2. The effective minimum wage is zero. You can't force a company to hire someone when it would be unprofitable to do so.

  3. When someone isn't hired because his productivity is below the minimum wage, he loses out, because he cannot aquire the skills he needs to increase his productivity to society.

  4. Indeed, minimum wage laws universally affect the young.

  5. Employer-provided benefits also need to be included in the equation and with the same results.

  6. Labor unions also benefit since experienced workers are less likely to be replaced by unskilled workers if the unskilled workers need to be hired at an artifically inflated level.

  7. Minimum wage laws also increase the time it takes to find a job.

  8. I remember when I was looking for a job in high school. I thought no way is someone going to hire me at $6/hr, and it turned out I was right. Too many applicants and not enough jobs.

  9. If wages are forced down below what someone is worth (as you postulate), then there will be a shortage of workers, thereby bringing wages back in step with demand.

  10. Because of competition, companies are forced to pass along savings on labor (or anything for that matter) to customers first. Otherwise, competitors would pass along those same savings, taking away their business. Shareholders would not be happy if that happened.

  11. You might think that flipping burgers is beneath you, but I guarantee that there are many young citizens that would disagree, but your minimum wage is preventing them from getting a job.

  12. I'm sure you and every other country thought they were doing the right thing when passing minimum wage laws, but if you could think more than one step ahead, you would see the unemployment that comes with. Take a look at Switzerland's unemployment rate: 2.8% No, they don't have a minimum wage.

[-] 1 points by bensdad (8977) 12 years ago

We need to pick an issue that is simple - that is popular - how about an issue that 83% of Americans agree on - that 56% of TP agree on - that will cement the people in OWS with the people outside of OWS

Our only goal should be to pass a constitutional amendment to counter Supreme Court decisions Citizens United (2010) & Buckley v. Valeo (1976), that enable unlimited amounts of anonymous money to flood into our political system. It will be as short and concise as possible, a legally constructed “corporations and other organizations are not a persons and have no personhood rights” and “money is not free speech”.

We don’t have to persuade people to accept our position – we have to persuade them to ACT based on their own position. Pursuing this goal will prove to the world that we, at OWS, are a serious realistic Movement, with serious realistic goals. Achieving this goal will make virtually every other goal – from jobs, to taxes, to infrastructure , to Medicare – much easier to achieve – by disarming our greatest enemy – GREED.

THE SUCCESS STORY OF THE AMENDING PROCESS The Prohibition movement started as a disjointed effort by conservative teetotalers who thought the consumption of alcohol was immoral. They ransacked saloons and garnered press coverage here and there for a few years. Then they began to gain support from the liberals because many considered alcohol partially responsible for spousal and child abuse, among other social ills. This odd alliance, after many years of failing to influence change consistently across jurisdictions, decided to concentrate on one issue nationally—a constitutional amendment. They pressured all politicians on every level to sign a pledge to support the amendment. Any who did not, they defeated easily at the ballot box since they controlled a huge number of liberal, and conservative and independent swing votes in every election. By being a single-issue constituency attacking from all sides of the political spectrum, they very quickly amassed enough votes (2/3) to pass the amendment in Congress. And, using the same tactics, within just 17 months they were successful in getting ¾ of the state legislatures to ratify the constitutional amendment into law. (Other amendments were ratified even faster: Eight—the 7th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 21st and 26th—took less than a year. The 26th, granting 18-year-olds the right to vote, took just three months and eight days.)

If they could tie the left and right into success - WHY CAN'T WE??????????

[-] 1 points by LindsayMoir (4) 12 years ago

I do believe that we need to pick an issue and get behind it. It seems that Campaign Financing reform and free speech just seem on an absolute collision course every time this comes up. Perhaps the better alternative is an actively engaged citizenry. The more active and engaged the citizenry the more expensive it becomes to buy votes. Of course how do you make sure that your citizenry gets involved. Australia for example fines you if you don't vote. That might be a good place to start. I think that a Maximum Wage law for Public Companies would start to shut down the money tap. Remember at the end of the day, people do things in direct proportion to their win. If your personal win for subverting the political process is diminished you might be less likely to put funds into political campaigns, especially at the corporate level.

[-] 1 points by bensdad (8977) 12 years ago

my primary point is that CU is 83% "disapproved" and requires no "education" or "persuation" - our job is already half done - it falls into our laps - all we have to do is the legwork. "Campaign finance reform" is impossible with CU in place!

[-] 1 points by Jrobin8 (40) 12 years ago

OWS should concentrate on building a better community. OWS should use the donations to gather medical equipment that can be used to save lives. Then they should offer free health care to the terminally ill who can't afford it. When America can SEE how the movement is being used to save the lives of those individuals deemed "disposable". It will truly show Americans the health care that they can receive if the doctors are focused on their "health" as opposed to their "insurance".

[-] 1 points by bettersystem (170) 12 years ago


Please pass this on if you agree. We are working on setting a date.

Force Change, Boycott Capitalism

until we have full government resignation and a new online voting system with verification so we can rebuild our country and eventually our world.

We know what the problem is, let us fix it and move forward together.

When you look at a republican or democrat, congress or FDA official, Judges and Justice Department, you see criminals.

Our corruption dates back decades to when those, who in trying to preserve slavery, had to find new ways to preserve it and so created a scientific and advanced form of slavery.

Only two components were required -- the illusion of freedom & choice and the taking away of the freedom to live off the land.

How else would you get a person to submit themselves to mind numbing or degrading work unless you oppress them into it.

Our current system is rooted in corruption and every attempt in preserving it involves manipulating human thought and turning people against one another.

In America the population has been transformed into two major voting groups but they only have one choice.

They had been distracted up until now with television and American culture which prospered through the oppression of other nations.

Americans allowed themselves to be fooled into using their military and economic dominance to seize resources of other nations and create expanding markets for American profiteers.

Now that technology, competition and conscience have evolved Americans are realizing that our current system of government is damaging and unsustainable.

Our government officials have allowed private profits and personal benefits to influence decisions that affect the health and well-being of people all over the planet, not just in America... how much longer will we allow them to rule over us??

Occupy Washington and demand that all government officials resign their posts.

We will setup new online elections with a verification system that will allow us to see our votes after we cast them, put our new officials in office and work toward rebuilding our country and our world.

Pass this message along to any and everyone, we already occupy the world, unite.

Occupy Washington, Boycott Capitalism, Force Change


[-] 1 points by LindsayMoir (4) 12 years ago

Still the best answer to this is if you want to make $100,000,000/year and you think you are worth it. Start your own PRIVATE company. Pay yourself as much as you want. However, the moment you decide to go public and take public money then you will be regulated by the maximum wage. One of the hidden beauties of tying these two income levels together (minimum and maximum) is you will have very bright motivated people trying to figure out how to get a raise and the only way to legally do that will be to raise the minimum wage. Now how is that for irony? They rise up, the people on the lower end rise up! Maybe the worst that will happen is a lot of people will start businesses and create jobs because they feel that the PUBLIC companies are grossly under paying them. This would be a wonderful result. However, the skills necessary to start a company, grow a company, and create a large successful company are far rarer than the hordes of over paid executives that we have at the top of major public companies today. Entrepreneurs know from experience that hiring from large corporations for talent during the early stages of growth is often a bad idea. Most of them (corporate executives) do not have the right stuff to get it done in a small entrepreneurial environment where wealth and job creation really occurs. However, they are very good at wealth siphoning which is what we have going on in Wall Street today.
OK, it is your turn, pick holes in the argument. I won’t accept it would be hard to do. Getting to the moon was hard too, but we did it. Cheers, Lindsay

[-] 1 points by Jrobin8 (40) 12 years ago

I wish more had your attitude. Everyone should be allowed to talk to openly discuss these issues and guess what a lot of us will be WRONG. The point is we are talking about a major issue that needs to be addressed. And ALL of us should have a voice in the outcome. Thanks for having a great attitude Lindsay.

[-] 1 points by LindsayMoir (4) 12 years ago

Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it. The answer is out there. I do believe it comes down to the fundamentals of markets and human nature. When you see markets failing and human nature taking advantage, this is a terrible thing for a democracy. We have that now. We have market failures (e.g executive compensation, environmental damage, racism, etc.). The question is which is the lynch pin that fixes many of these at once. It may seem very pedestrian to say "Maximum Wage", however, if you follow the effects of what distortions are occurring, it certainly seems that this would be a simple good place to start:) Why for example did Wall Street get a bail out and not main street? I believe a large part of the answer was that Wall Street got 24 hours a day for months of the governments time. Why did they get it and not Main Street. Simple, they could afford to pay for it. I am not planning on stripping them of their wealth. I want Wall Street to make enough money that they are very comfortable. I don't want to let them make enough money so that they can commandeer the entire political process.

[-] 1 points by Jrobin8 (40) 12 years ago

I see where you are going

[-] 1 points by LindsayMoir (4) 12 years ago

What Should Occupy Wall Street Concentrate On (Part 2)

  • Why A Maximum Wage? So, the question is why is that a problem? Well how about this list.
  • Did you know there is a long term inverse relationship between the value of a corporation and how much their senior executives get paid? We are paying people exorbitant amounts of money to risk the companies they work for so that they can get paid massive amounts of money now and who cares about next year. Does this make any sense?
  • Money buys access to everything, including rules and regulations that enhance one’s ability to thrive and prosper. Why do we want a society where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Our Presidents, Prime Ministers, etc. only have 24 hours in a day. If they only ever hear from people that have money do you think that their ideas of what the problems and solutions are will be driven by people that have money? Hugo Chavez (Chile) is driving his economy into the ground. However, if you are in a village in Chile you have clean water. A water truck shows up every week. Hugo did not come from money. He knows that clean water is an absolute requirement. Did this ever happen with any other leader in Chile’s history? Is this a relatively cheap thing to do compared to Chile’s national budget? Absolutely. Why did Hugo Chavez do this and not his predecessors? The answer is that the rich and powerful did not set his agenda. His experience as a poor person in Chile did. We have the rich and powerful setting our agendas. We have too many of these people taking up way too much time in the halls of political power.
  • What do rich people buy versus poorer people? The answer is a lot. The average person in a G7 economy consumes 55 times more than the average person in a third world economy. That is the average. Imagine what the consumption is for the rich. The point being that increased consumption and environmental damage go hand in hand. Not that the rich person is doing it on purpose but one of the results of major money is vastly increased consumption.
  • Imagine if you get sued by somebody with a lot more money than you do? Is that fair? Who is going to win? Do we want a society where money buys the right to win in the courts? Will a maximum wage remove this inequality? No, but it will mitigate this quite a bit.
    Minimum wage or maximum wage the issue is the same. There is a market failure that it is incumbent upon governments to regulate. I am proposing 100 times the minimum wage should be the maximum wage for a CEO of a public company. No gimmicks, no hidden consulting fees, no stock options, no cushy benefit plans, no payment in stock, etc., etc. Have an auditor audit the compensation package. The directors and the CEO go to jail if they pay the CEO more. I don’t care if the guy collects dividends from stock that he has paid for from savings. That does not count. We are talking about his wage from the corporation each year.
    $10/hours X 40 hours/week X 50 weeks in the year X 100 = $2,000,000/year.
    The big argument against this will be the best people will leave. People will say, “Why should I work for Goldman Sachs for $2,000,000 when I can go to London and make $100,000,000/year. You won’t be able to compete.” The answer I say is good riddance. Go to London and have them deal with the problems that this is causing.
    Whoops you can’t go to London, they are having the same problems. How about Hong Kong, you can go there. Oh by the way do you speak Mandarin? Are you a member of the Chinese Communist Party? These people are pretty much stuck here. Most people would be quite happy to work for $2,000,000 a year. I doubt very much if there would be an abatement in quantity or talent. Come on $2,000,000/year versus $10/hour on minimum wage? Give me a break. You don’t really expect us to swallow that argument.
[-] 1 points by dthompson (79) from New York, NY 12 years ago

I don't really think most of the 1% get a wage or salary. They mostly just own a lot of stuff.

[-] 1 points by LindsayMoir (4) 12 years ago

They get huge bonuses that are reported to the tax department. This is considered to be part of their annual income. Certainly for somebody that has a lot of wealth and they are getting passive income this would not apply. However, anybody employed by a corporation it would apply. Guess what it only has to be the CEO. The CEO will never let anybody get paid more than he/she is getting paid.

[-] 0 points by betuadollar (-313) 12 years ago

You should concentrate on gathering expert testimony.

[-] 0 points by Jimboiam (812) 12 years ago

Campaign Finance Reform.