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Tuesday Talk: Can Occupy produce equitable policy?

October 11, 2011 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

The Occupy movement is no longer just a Wall Street phenomenon. It’s gaining steam, with the march on Minneapolis continuing today. Conservatives are trying to paint the crowds as nothing more than a bunch of troublemaking kids and rabble rousers. But the movement’s frustration is real and it’s effectively highlighting economic disparities in Minnesota and the nation.

How do we channel Occupy’s anger and frustration into lasting policy change that will ensure shared prosperity in Minnesota and the U.S.?  

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  • Paul says:

    October 11, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Best thing is to join them at the People’s Plaza (gov’t center).  They’re happy to discuss the movement with anyone regardless of their opinions.  Open minds are especially welcome and will find plenty to contemplate.

    They will strongly resist any attempt to “channel” their energy to a political party because they’ve been let down by both the major ones.  Better to listen to their concerns and consider how they can be addressed.  Then show them that you’re willing to do more than just talk about it.

  • herb davis,jr. says:

    October 11, 2011 at 7:51 am

    I was there on Friday 10/07/11 when it started in Mpls.It felt good to see folks agitated by the con job many of our elected officials have played. What will it produce?

    Be honest with them and tell them that if they can’t impact elections and put the fear of removal into wayward politicians, they might as well be staying home and preparing for their future.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    October 11, 2011 at 8:30 am

    I think that, at this moment, the Occupy group’s function is to help educate the American public and the Congress about the various ways in which public policy has harmed ordinary people—the root causes being the transfer of the country’s wealth from the poor and middle classes to the wealthy and the ability of our largest corporations to influence elections and public policy with money. 

    I, too, was there Friday for Occupy’s first day and was impressed by people who were uniformly gentle, peacable, friendly and intelligent in the way(s) they made their grievances known. 

    I’m happy to see Nancy Pelosi, as a representative of the often-ignored Progressive Caucus and Keith Ellison, on behalf of both that caucus and the Black Caucus, stand with the Occupy-ers in support.  Pay attention, Blue Dogs!!

  • Mike Downing says:

    October 11, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I do not understand these protests on any level.

    We all have an equal opportunity to succeed in America. Some choose to compete and to be successful while some choose not to compete educationally or professionally. Each are free to choose.

    Everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed but no one has a right to equal outcomes.

  • KJC says:

    October 11, 2011 at 9:18 am

    OCCUPY is in its beginning stages.  It’s hard to tell where this will go, due to the ad hoc nature of it.
    I do think they are getting started on one very big job.  That would be?  Creating solidarity.  When they say “we are the 99%” it has an authentic ring.  So much of the politics in our great country, in the last 30 years, has been to divide… to say that other Americans are the “problem.”  We will have to get past that, to make real progress.  OCCUPY is the first movement, in a long time, that shows the potential to have us be All In This Together, Again.  A necessary foundation for American exceptionalism… and we are unbeatable in that mode.  Get that re-established, and then work on policy initiatives.
    I respect and admire them for taking a stand for something, for a new future.  I think of the genesis of our great country with words like “when in the course of human events” which brought forth democracy.  I can’t help but think that a few of our Founding Fathers would be there, with OCCUPY, if they were of this time.  “We The People.”

  • Jim Kielkopf says:

    October 11, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Anger and frustration is the wrong way to think about the Occupy movement.  It’s participants are having FUN, and it is that spirit of fun that provides it with its energy. 

    Yes, the fun is a righteous reaction to frustration with gridlock in Washington brought about by the 2010 election and with President Obama’s, as well as Governor Dayton’s and others’ unwillingness to confront, and over-willingness to compromise with, the resurgent Tea Party wing of the GOP. But the fact that banks have been bailed out but most borrowers have not, particularly those who are still repaying their loans while unemployment remains so high, is a continuing insult and an aggravation to fair-minded people everywhere. 

    Until something is done to either provide for massive government spending to employ people, or to massively write down individuals’ debts even if they are still repaying their loans, the Occupy movement will more than likely continue to grow and widen its scope of demands as more people get involved in it.

  • david nass says:

    October 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Most of the Occupy people probably never heard of Glass-Steagal, but if we want to go a long way to preventing another economic collapse, we’d restore Glass-steagal that separates banks and investment companies. It was a New Deal law after great collpse of 1929.

  • KJC says:

    October 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I rue the day Glass-Steagall got repealed. It was Christmas Eve, 1999 and the big progenitor was Phil Gramm and the Republicans, of course.
    We took the hard lessons of the Great Depression and ... “forgot.”  This took down the wall between regular banking, and riskier investment banking… and put the taxpayers on the hook for the whole deal through the FDIC.  “Heads they win, tails we lose.”  No wonder Wall Street went crazy?  Then they got derivatives specifically exempted from regulation and everything went into orbit.  In some ways it’s miracle we didn’t crash sooner.  Oh, and they got the tax laws changed so they could pay 15%, instead of regular income taxes on all that.  None of this helped regular Americans with our lives… we just got the Triple Whammy.
    The evidence is inescapable:  two times in modern history 1% of the U.S. populace has managed to gain control of more than 25% of the national wealth.  1928 and 2008… and both times it precipitated financial calamities.  The lesson: income inequality isn’t merely unfair, when it gets bad enough it’s incompatible with America.  Wall Street doesn’t want to Get It, for obvious reasons.  Leaving it to? “We the People.”

  • Bernie says:

    October 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Marxist protestors are parroting the president’s class warfare rhetoric, choking city streets, copulating in public, and defecating on the hoods of automobiles. Makes the Tea Party look like Saints. Harry Reed and the democrats won’t touch Barack Obama’s tax-raising jobs bill, employment numbers suck, and our national morale is in the dumper.  Maybe congress should pass and equal IQ law.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    October 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Bernie, who tells you crap like this and why do you believe it? 

    I was there Friday and met dozens of intelligent, committed young and middle aged and older people, each of which is dedicated to making our country a more decent place for every person.  The amount of trash-talk being thrown at these delightful demonstrators does nothing but show how afraid the 1% is that the 99% will no longer stand for being exploited by them.

  • Bernie says:

    October 12, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Read it in the New York Post Bernice.

  • BruceJ says:

    October 12, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I think it is a mistake to think anyone can ‘channel’ the occupy movement.  The slogans of the Civil Rights Movement were ‘Freedom Now’ and a demand for dignity expressed as ‘I am a Man’ and then ‘Power to the People’.  The slogans of the anti-war movement were ‘End the War’ and ‘Bring the Troops Home’ and ‘Hell No, We Won’t Go’. 

    The occupy movement takes a similar moral stance for economic justice.  The policy implications are not all that difficult to figure out though there is plenty of room for creativity and innovation.  So if you want policy, define some and fight for it.  Or just send food and supplies to the occupiers until the wonkish develop some courage.

  • Paul says:

    October 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    The New York Post and Washington Times are both pure propaganda tabloid rags whose deceptive names attempt to steal legitimacy from their mainstream counterparts.  Nothing of value can be found in either unless you need fish wrapping.

  • KJC says:

    October 14, 2011 at 9:11 am

    The Tea Party started out by espousing some ideas: against the bailouts of banks, smaller government and such.  But?  They failed one crucial test.  That would be?  When it came time to say what smaller government they wanted for themselves?  They had no answer.  It was always smaller government for “somebody else.”  Therefore, that isn’t a principle for smaller government, it’s just selfishness dressed-up with some rhetoric.  In a “we the people” government, that lack of “here’s what we’re willing to do, ourselves” is a fatal, unworkable, flaw.
    As a result?  They allowed themselves to be co-opted by the Hard Right, such as the Koch Bros… who found several of their positions useful to hide behind, and keep funding, with the pretense of it still being a “populist” movement.  Here’s what the results say: the Tea Party now has half the public approval rating of OCCUPY in nearly every poll.  So, sadly, in the end, the Tea Party became the defacto protector of the wealthy and their interests.
    Now there is a reaction to that:  the OCCUPY movement, which has a wide variety of individual positions… but has a consistent theme of raising taxes on the rich.  OCCUPY is still building momentum and solidarity, and it could get large and powerful enough to effect political change.
    In a government, to use President Lincoln’s words: “of, by and for the people”...each generation must do the work to renew the promise of America, our great country.  Maybe this is it?
    Oh?  While the right-wing media like FOX earlier ignored OCCUPY for weeks… they seem suddenly more concerned now.  How can you tell?  They’ve gone into a dismissive-attack mode.  I note with irony?  It is the absurdity that the Tea Party got manipulated into being a stand for “protect the status quo for the wealthy” that has essentially caused OCCUPY into existence.  And it would appear that the harder the Right keeps pushing for that, the bigger OCCUPY will become.  And so, with their “help,” OCCUPY just might get big enough to become a political force…

  • Paul says:

    October 14, 2011 at 9:42 am

    KJC - Nice analysis but I’d like to make 2 corrections if I may.

    1. The TEA party was never the grass roots operation it’s claimed to be.  It began with a pundit rant that became an internet sensation.  It’s been reported ( that this wasn’t spontaneous, but rather a well planned, Koch funded, kick-off to a sophisticated anti-Obama PR campaign.

    2. OCCUPY definitely does NOT have “a consistent theme of raising
    taxes on the rich”.  There’s about as many Ron Paul libertarians as there are Bernie Sanders socialists in the movement.  There may be a consistent theme of economic justice, but there’s no consensus on how to achieve it.

  • Paul says:

    October 14, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Sorry for the bad link in the previous comment.  I just discovered the original article no longer exists at its source.  Here’s a site that kept a copy:

  • Yi Li You says:

    October 17, 2011 at 7:55 am

      I think “the occupy movement” is to target on those big banks, big corporations. They control the US finance for most part. 2 years ago, they ask for assistance from federal government to “solve the financial crisits”.  The moment they got the money, what did they do? they pay their CEO people high bonus, and took vacation themselves. They didn’t do a thing to solve the financial crisis.
      I support Obama’s policy: to tax these super rich. They earn more, they should pay more taxes. What is wrong with that?
      I don’t understand why Republican legislators (from federal and state) are so against about it?
      Does it mnean those big corporations support Republicans so much? So most Republican legislators become representatives of the the big corporations?
      Now we started to see the effect of Obama health care policy: many small business owners start to buy health insurance for their employees. This will reduce lot of financial burdens for M.A. (medical assistance) and MN Care.
      This is the way to reduce “big government”. Not like: “Tea Party”, just say the empty slogan, without any concrete policies.
      I support “tax on rich”. Ask those who earn more than 500 thousands dollars a year to pay high proportion of tax.

      Yi Li You, LSW,
    E.D. of Chinese Social Service Center

  • Dan Conner says:

    November 1, 2011 at 3:01 am

    Occupy can only produce results if people act.  I have started to change my bank accounts from Wells Fargo to USAA.  It is a cooperative and did not receive bailout money.

  • KJC says:

    November 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

    The latest is in on this topic.  Please let me remind that the National Review is on the most respected conservative publications.  They have a “Mobility Impaired” article which debunks the assertion we tend to see as the current “talking point,” which is?  That if you just went to school and worked hard that you’d “make it” here.  (That’s repeated on 2020 in some form, all the time.)
    They even go so far as to suggest openly that the ability to do that in the USA now is overestimated by Republicans.  The next talking point often is?  That “Obama” is pushing us to be a socialist European-style state… and how that will crush us all.  Except?  In their analysis, besides debunking all that talk about easy upward mobility here, they then compare the USA to Europe on upward economic mobility.  Result?  We’re worse than them, at least for all the regular folks. 
    When the National Review suggests that upward mobility isn’t what it used to be here in our great country, and that ... if you’re a regular person… you’d be better off in Europe, isn’t that yet another blame-the-victim myth debunked by thoughtful (conservative) people and analysis?
    Isn’t it time for some people to change their minds, as the talking point myth of “if you aren’t making it, it’s obviously all your own fault and especially because America is the best at this” just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny by no less than the National Review?  I hope they’re reading National Review (or this) at OCCUPY! 
    Here’s the link to the whole article: