My biggest issue with it is that I’m not exactly sure what the ultimate goal of the so-called movement is. Some try to compare it to the Tea Party Movement, which I am no fan of, but at least they had specific goals that they argued for, and they supported political candidates to further their agenda, and have been largely successful in that regard. By comparison, OWS just seems to be about making noise. Generally, I agree that the vast income disparity in this country is not a good thing for our long-term stability as a nation. That doesn’t mean that we should rob from the rich to give to the poor, but I definitely think that we need to find ways to ensure that every citizen has the opportunities made available to them to better their lives, which simply isn’t the case now. Relieving the tax burden on the poor and middle classes while, to some degree, increasing it for those that can afford it, is one option. But I’d like to see a more concerted effort towards increasing education in this country.
We need to make sure all public schools have the resources they need to educate their students, and that teachers are paid decent wages so that more people are encouraged to become teachers (& we also need to make sure that various teacher unions don’t have too much power, so that bad teachers can be removed 7 replaced easily), and we also need to make sure that college education is more affordable for those who want it. In this increasingly high-tech world, a college education is going to become more necessary than before to get a decent job or career, yet the expense has become so great that many can’t afford it. And those who do, via student loans, end up deep in debt by the time they graduate. So they begin their “adult lives” already in the hole, which is not good. I won’t even pretend to have the solutions to this, that’s for folks way smarter than me to figure out (I didn’t go to college, myself), but that’s where I think most of the energy should be focused.
I’d also like to see more effort towards keeping American businesses in the U.S. If we’re going to give tax breaks to corporations, we should give them to those that remain based in this country, and to those who move back to America after outsourcing to other countries. In debates about illegal immigration, I often here people say some variation of “Illegal immigrants* are willing to do the jobs that Americans won’t do,” which is only half of the truth. The truth is that Americans WILL do those types of jobs, be it picking fruit or whatever, they just won’t do it for sh*t-wages. Pay a decent, living wage, and you’ll find Americans willing to work.
Of course, even while saying this, we do need to keep in mind that times are changing, and we just can’t turn back the clock. They days of mass-manufacturing in America are over, and won’t be coming back completely. And this isn’t just because of American businesses shipping jobs overseas, but just due to they way technology changes. Instead of a row of employees working on an assembly line in a factory, you can have one guy programming a machine to do all the work. Even major supermarket chains like Ralphs and Albertsons have been adding “self-checkout” lanes in their stores. I never use them, but I suspect that eventually they won’t even bother hiring people to run the checkout counters, and it will all be self-checkout, so even those jobs are in dangers. That’s what brings me back to my earlier comments about the increased need for Higher education.
One thing I think would be perfect for this movement to rally behind is the Congressional Reform Act of 2011 which is a set of ideas proposed by Warren Buffett. It states:
1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.
2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to theSocial Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.
Now that sounds like the way to really shake-up our political system! And I’d love to see any congressperson or senator actually try to argue against it. And it seems like a pretty non-partisan agreement to, something liberals and conservatives could all get behind. So why isn’t the OWS movement pushing this? Or the Tea Party? Anyone?
*Or “undocumented workers”, if you want to get all far-left PC about it.