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Occupy Wall Street

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past several weeks, a group of malcontents has been camping out in the Financial District’s Zuccotti Park as part of the “Occupy Wall Street” series of public nuisances.  And by “group” I mean thousands of people, raging against perceived financial sector excess by enjoying autumnal park days while the rest of us, you know, work.  Also, I recognize that there are huge problems right now and there are legitimate grievances that deserve to be aired, but as a rule I reject this sort of organizing and protesting outright.

As for the organizing itself, I’m all for playing hooky to sit in the sunshine, but there has to be more to Occupy Wall Street than slogan chanting and hackey-sacking.  Until recently, it would have been difficult to make that argument.  Since its start, one of the chief criticisms of the Occupy Wall Street movement has been its lack of focus or, rather, the lack of any clear and specific demands.  What were they mad about?  What were they protesting?  What did they want (someone) to do about it?  A protest without a purpose isn’t a protest: it’s a flash mob.  Or a WBC gathering.

Well, the days of blissful indecision are over, because the protesters have released an “official” (difficult to know whence representatives of a grassroots movement derives authority, but whatever) list of demands.  And since it wouldn’t be a left wing jamboree without incredible pretension and delusions of grandeur, they have, without any apparent hint of irony, dubbed themselves the New York City General Assembly (seriously, this is what they call themselves) and named these demands (again, without any apparent understanding of the irony herein) the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.  Let’s break it down! (After the jump)

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

“Mass injustice” ought to be reserved for things like genocide or apartheid or poorly called playoff baseball games.  If the Occupy Wall Street movement truly believes that the behavior of investment banking institutions qualifies as “mass injustice,” then the gulf between the group and me might be innavigable.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members;
I don’t think any economic system of thought argues that cooperation is anything but essential.  Even bully playground economics requires that the bullied kid willingly part with his lunch money and not tattle to the recess lady.
that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors;
Aside from my right to enjoy a peaceful stroll in downtown NYC, what rights are being violated here?  Your right to a free lunch?
that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth;
Well, considering that corporations in the United States can only make money when somebody agrees to pay them, it seems to me that you could make the argument that each transaction a corporation executes requires consent.  If you’re talking about the bailouts, then blame Washington, not Wall Street.  Finally, if by “extract[ing] wealth from…the Earth” you mean harvesting natural resources then sorry, but that requires governmental consent (which companies must “seek”) as well.
and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.
This is probably true, but who in their right mind wants “true democracy?”  Even the Greeks, who are at least the etymological originators of democracy, didn’t have “true democracy,” because they, like we, and like everyone ever, believed that some people simply shouldn’t have a hand in running things.  You diatribe against corporations suggests that you agree.
We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
What does it mean to place profits over people?  Which people?   Corporations require people willing to do business in order to profit.  Had you spent your days at Antioch College taking economics classes instead of peacably assembling on the quad all day, maybe you would understand this.
At this point in the “Declaration,” the “NYC General Assembly” presents its enumerated demands, which I’ll address one by one.  NB: Despite being called “Occupy Wall Street,” these points are apparently related to Corporations (by which I mean for-profit businesses) in general.  They points bob and weave between being finance-related, health-related, and animal-torture (?) related with all the subtlety of pinball, but I’ve preserved them in their original order.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
 Agreed, illegal foreclosures are bad (and, ahem, already illegal), but not sure what this business about not having the mortgage is.   An institution cannot foreclose on a homeowner without having the mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
Which the banks have returned.  Again, is your problem that banks took money or that Washington gave it?  And why aren’t you directing this anger toward the auto companies, who were bailed out and haven’t return the money yet.  Is it because those bailouts saved union jobs?  Hmm?
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
Who, banks?  Hospitals? Paper mills?  What data are you using to support your assertion that there’s systematic discrimination in any of these fields, let alone all of them?
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
Ah, I had been wondering when we might make our first ascent to the summit of Mt. Craazaaayyy and here we have it!  I’ve heard a lot of complaints against the securities industry, but neglecting the food supply is definitely a new one.  As for monopolizing the farm system, I’m not even sure what it is you’re trying to argue.  Is it like unions trying to monopolize labor?
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
Are we still talking about banks?  What do you think banks do?  In your mind, are they electrocuting kittens and force-feeding puppies fertilizer that they were supposed to be applying to the cornfields they’re willingly neglecting?  And, perhaps, poisoning?
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
White collar workers of the world, unite!  Bankers need a guaranteed minimum 5 weeks vacation annually to sail their sloops around Anguilla’s turqoise seas!  And the lack of fresh king crab in the cafeteria is appalling!
But seriously, the “right to unionize” is a far cry from the “right to negotiate.”  With 10%+ unemployment in this country, arguing for a right to unionize in order to browbeat employers into paying higher salaries is eyebrow raising.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
Even if you were to make this argument (which, to be honest, is essentially meaningless), does a so-called “right to education” entail a right to a University diploma?  To hours of instruction by professional educators?  Does it give you the right to party (for which you’ve got to fight, anyway)?
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
Let’s say you’re trying to hire somebody.  You can choose the American who, by law, requires a minimum wage, health benefits, minimum vacation and sick days or a foreignor, who works just as hard (if not harder) for less money and has the added benefit of being in a different country, so you don’t have to deal with that whole awkward “hey, coworker, want to grab drinks?” thing.  It’s a no brainer.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
First, I submit that you don’t know how to properly use the word “culpability.”  Second, you’re wrong, as has been demonstrated time and time again when these “persons” are found “culpable” and “responsible” for wrongs committed and are ordered to pay fines, damages, etc.  As for “influencing courts to achieve…rights” – sacre bleu!  People fighting for their rights! How gauche!
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
You mean they spend millions of dollars on legal teams to make sure that they’re compliant with American law?  I agree, though, it is appalling that government regulation leads to such waste.
 They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
Who?  Google?  You don’t like it, don’t search for things on Google.  It’s not hard.  Or do you think you have a right to someone else’s server space, too?
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
Just because your ‘zine didn’t take off doesn’t mean that somebody’s oppressing you.  Except for good taste.  Good taste might be oppressing you.  Is good taste a person?  Maybe it should incorporate!
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
Since it’s clear you don’t think things through before you write them, I’ll assist.  Companies whose products are found to be faulty and don’t recall them run the risk of massive, class action lawsuits, in addition to loss of prestige and future business.  Any profit-minded business would immediately recall faulty products and issue a huge mea culpa.  Which is, you know, exactly what happens.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
Actually, the government determines economic policy and business reacts to that.  Businesses can lobby the government to influence policy which is, again, their constitutional right.  There we go with you hating rights, again!
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
So have “real” people.  So have unions.  So what?
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
Huh?  Just about every energy company is focused on alternate energy sources, the corn farming lobby gets more government subsidies than just about any other industry because of our belief in ethanol, and the government just sank hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into Solyndra.  The fact that we’re not using 100% alternate energy at this point isn’t because the oil industry is blocking it: it’s because we haven’t figured out an efficient way to do it.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
What do we want?  FREE TRADE! When do we want it?  NOW!
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
Husbands cover up infidelities, students cover up the fact that they just didn’t do their homework.  That’s not an argument against husbands or students: it’s an argument against people who don’t follow the rules.
As for the anger against inactive ingredients: erm, what?
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
This claim is non-falsifiable, but I’ll just say that it doesn’t take a lot to misinform America.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
Ah, back to the crazy, part three (the Wild West one).
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
Are we still talking about corporations?  Or have we moved on to the Kingdom of the Netherlands?
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
The military?  WHAT ARE YOU PROTESTING???
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.
Well, weapons manufacturers do, yeah.  That’s their business.  Supply and demand, babe.
Here, the demands end and the epilogue begins.

To the people of the world,

This is subtle but important.  One of the things I’ve noticed about the apologies made for the protestors (viz. Salon.com, The Atlantic) discuss the protests as if they were manifestations of a downtrodden people fed up with how their pursuit of the American dream is shaking out; that if they could just make a decent wage and get some home equity back, they’d be satisfied.  However, when the organizers of the protest drop in a “people of the world,” at the back of their Declaration, their memento of their Homage to Catalonia moment, it becomes apparent that these aren’t people who believe or have ever believed in the “American dream,” as it were.

The leaders of this movement are radical left-wing operatives who are enamored with the romance of revolution.  People of the world, indeed.

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Are you talking to the people of the World or the people of America?  Are you referring to the power to vote?  The power to lobby government?  The power to travel to a city that isn’t yours and spend weeks at a time making things uncomfortable for everymen in the neighborhood who are just trying to get to work so they can pay their mortgage and support a family?

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

You have the right to play Peruvian flute music at incredible decibels in Times Square.  Doesn’t mean you should do it.  As for a process to address problems, it’s CALLED VOTING AND LOBBYING.  And, oh yeah, Zuccotti Park is private space.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

So for all of the communities out there who want to end foreclosures, bank bailouts, discrimination, food negligence, farm monopolization, animal torture, union busting, student loans, outsourcing, corporate rights, analysis of health insurance law, privacy commoditization (?), military blocking of freedom of the press (?), faulty product manufacture and non-recall (?), the constitutionally protected right of lobbying, the blocking of alternate energy research (?), the blocking of generic medicine, the covering up of oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping and inactive ingredients (?), media misinformation, prisoner murder, colonialism (?), torture of innocent civilians overseas (??), and WMDs…YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

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