Thursday, October 6, 2011

Occupy Austin's Objectives Under the Microscope

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As stated and apparently ratified on their "official" site:

  1. This movement is about democracy. We demand that the government be truly responsive to those it represents. We demand an end to the massive corporate influence blocking the voice of the people by eliminating corporate personhood and limiting monetary contributions to political campaigns and lobbying.
  2. This movement is about economic security. We demand effective reforms to prevent banks and financial institutions from causing future economic crises.
  3. This movement is about corporate responsibility. We demand strict repercussions for corporations and institutions who cause serious financial damage to our country and its taxpayers.
  4. This movement is about financial fairness. We demand tax reforms to ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.
I don't disagree in totality, nor in sentiment. I just think there's some things that are missing the mark. Asking to limit lobbying sounds good, it sounds like a reasonable populist demand, but lobbying is really only the ability to talk to our government, and I don't care to see any limitations on that as it may affect my ability to talk to my representatives. Then who gets to do the talking? Those in high places. I think it becomes a feedback loop of further corruption.

I would be in favor of placing some extreme spotlights on our Elected Officials though. Whether it's a log of everyone they meet with, a webcam in their office or some kind of forced email newsletter people can subscribe to that details everything they do in legislation, from new legislation (and who actually wrote it) to what they voted for or against. I'd particularly be in favor of legislation that said something like "for every XX number of pages in proposed legislation there must be XX number of days before voting is allowed".

Goal #2 is a little vague. Asking for "reforms to prevent banks and financial institutions from causing future economic crises" can be taken in a lot of different ways. My assumption is that this is a request for more regulations to watch the "big bad wolves". My view is that the free market is the only true regulator when coordinated with a legal system that upholds contracts and property rights. There were tons of regulations in place before the housing collapse, there were people who saw the housing bubble before it happened, there were people begging regulators to look at Madoff long before he got busted. None of that mattered, because regulators are either sloppy, bought, or overwhelmed.

What does matter is that you have a Federal Reserve pumping money to whomever it pleases. The domestic monetary policies are the source for our current mess, an unending expansion of credit creates an unsustainable boom leading to the inevitable bust. Now, if the goal of #2 is to audit and impede the Fed and repeal legal tender laws allowing the market to set interest rates and choose currencies, then I'm game.

Goal #3 is vague as well. I wholeheartedly agree, there should be repercussions for corporate irresponsibility. I call it bankruptcy. I desperately hope the Occupy Austin crowd is not Pro-Bailout and Pro-Stimulus, because it would be a terrible lack of consistent principles. That covers both George W. Bush & Barack Obama, they both did their fair share of bailing out. So voting for Obama again is a mistake, as well as anyone looking to carry Bush's torch. However, looking to pass any laws that attempt to make it worse for companies going bust is ripe with the potential for further corruption.

Goal 4 sounds solid as well, depending on your view of that goal's intent. "We demand tax reforms to ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes." If tax reforms mean that "rich people pay more", I think it'll fail. By principle, I favor equality. I think it's fair and equal for everyone to pay the exact same tax percentage/rate. I think the more complex you make a tax code the easier it is for the elite to take advantage. I would support the goal to erase the existing tax code in favor of something uber-simple. Whether that means making states collect the income tax (thereby eliminating the IRS) or just reducing it to a flat rate, I'd support that, hopefully it'd be a transition out of the income tax altogether.

I love that people are so passionate to protest. I think civil disobedience is a great way to raise awareness. I also think our country has a great democratic system in our Republic, we can choose our officials. So voting is the most constructive way of bringing change. I think this movement's alleged stated goals are good and bad, depending on your views of what they really mean.

The same fire that heats your home will burn it down. The streets are fuming, let's find the hearth.

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