Thursday, October 13, 2011

Moving Forward with Solutions

Many have voiced their concern about the solutions that the Occupy movement is requesting. What are the solutions? Which politician do you support? What if the Occupy movement requests solutions that endanger us all?

To their credit, and to their fault, each Occupation has remained in solidarity on their broad critique of our current economic dilemma. There is consensus that the public has lost trust in the relationship between banks, insurance agencies, the stock market, the politicians, and the monetary policy. The Occupy movement strives to start discussion on the problems within that relationship. Let's explore why this broad critique works well for the movement, while at the same time limits it's potency.
A popular argument is that the strategy of a broad critique is helping the Occupy movement. Empathetic "experts" interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC have stated that it is a virtue to remain broad so as to promote inclusiveness. Unlike with Civil Rights protests and Vietnam war protests, this is a different kind of revolution that must address a multi-faceted problem all at once. A broad critique allows for people to chip in their opinion on what is wrong. We need to everyone to join this conversation. a broad critique is important in order to realize the full scope of our problems.

The critique is that there is a window of attention that is being opened, and as the media attention increases we need to present principled information that should be easy to explain. There are some obvious solutions on the surface of our critique. Fred Raines has come up with 4 solutions currently attaining mass-consensus:

  • Reversing the Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This decision allowed corporations and unions the right to unlimited donations to political candidates. 
  • Reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act that was repealed in 1999. It had formerly prevented bank holding companies from participating as investment firms. The repeal allowed for banks to trade financial instruments known as mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. Reinstating a new draft of Glass-Steagall needs to be up for debate.
  • Institute the Tobin tax. James Tobin received a Nobel prize in economics for his proposal of a very small tax on each foreign-exchange transaction. This small tax wouldn't dissuade investors in foreign exchange, but it would dissuade speculators engaging in high-frequency and investing their money on a very short basis. The Tobin tax needs to be up for debate.
  • A multi-trillion dollar investment into our infrastructure. This investment would provide jobs that would both stimulate the economy and repair our damaged roads, bridges, dams, etc.

These 4 solutions seem obvious, and although there may be critique of them, we have to realize that these issues were not up for debate to the public until now. These solutions operate within the mode of thinking we're familiar with. I propose we collectively open our mind to new perspectives when envisioning other solutions. I have personally encountered viewpoints within my experience at OccupyStl that are very different from mine. Exposure to different viewpoints is crucial during this conversation. My advice is that we need to remain broad, but also start discussing specific data points.

[This was drafted by Kyle Prindiville and Fred Raines]

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