Occupy Wall Street

If anything I am a liberal – and although I work in Wall Street, I am the antithesis of a typical Wall Streeter (my kids think I should have been born earlier so I could have been a hippie in the 60’s!)

In spite of this I have found it difficult to support the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy XXXX movement so far.

I saw the protestors a few weeks ago in Zucotti Square, and it was somewhat heartwarming to see a peaceful 60’s style protest with them all camped out, singing, dancing etc.  But what was clear to me was that they really did not have a message.  Even their website as of last week said they have no agenda.

I felt I could hand out a bunch of Save the Whales or Stop the Genocide posters and they would happily take them and start waving them around.

Any protest needs a voice, a medium and a clear message.  They seem to have found their voice and have a powerful medium (Facebook, internet etc) but somewhat lack a clear message.

I just read a list of their demands – and again it is not cohesive with a clear outcome – but more like a jumble of grievances that have been jammed together.   And many make no sense at all.

OccupyWS

For example they want open borders so everyone can travel freely and they also want minimum wage set to $20.  How is that going to work?  There will be a mass influx of people into the US and even if the legal minimum wage is $20, the illegal wages will drop like a rock down to $3-$4 an hour.

They want to forgive all mortgage debt, credit card debt, personal loans etc. Why is rewarding individual fiscal irresponsibility a responsible or economic beneficial act? Forgiving all mortgage debt basically means doing away with all real estate lending altogether and home prices will fall by over 80%. The financial system will crash and people will lose their bank deposits en mass.

So to be a credible movement, they need to develop a clear message with achievable solutions and measurable outcomes. If you look at recent movements, like the anti-corruption in India or the protests in the middle-east, they had fairly clear, focused objectives.

However saying all this, there is an interesting change evolving.   Today I have read at least three main street media articles on the movement and in each of these the authors state what the movement is all about.  The authors didn’t actually get this from the protestors, but took the liberty of interpreting what they are seeing and translated this into clear messages. So while a movement normally starts with a purpose, it seems like this one may have started with just a voice and a medium and now their message is being defined elsewhere! This to me is truly fascinating and may actually convert this movement into something with legs – as opposed to something that will disintegrate into nothing.

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