Editor's Note - It's difficult to find fault with any of the demands listed below.
UPDATE - A website has been set up for online voting on #OccupyWallStreet demands.
Guest Post By Jason Hamlin
I am writing this article to express my full support and solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests that have been growing rapidly across the country. In typical fashion, the media first ignored the protests and have now been trying to marginalize the efforts by constantly stating that the protestors have no goals. To the contrary, there have been a number of General Assemblies and online polls where the people have been voting on which issues are most important and which specific demands rise to the top. This is a lesson in true Democracy, something that we haven’t seen on Capitol Hill in quite some time.
After all, the degree to which the politicians have been voting against the will of the people is insulting to the idea of a Democracy or Republic. It is clear to most Americans, if not the full 99%, that the government has been corrupted, bought off and is no longer working in the interest of the people they are supposed to be representing. This is one of main underlying grievances, which manifests in a Congressional approval rate at an all-time low of just 12%. But there are also specific demands that have been well articulated, despite the insistence of the mainstream media to the contrary. I’ve pulled from the various sources and distilled the list to what I believe should be the 7 core demands from the Occupy Wall Street movement:
1) End the Collusion Between Government and Large Corporations/Banks, So That Our Elected Leaders Are Actually Representing the Interests of the People (the 99%) and Not Just Their Rich Donors (the 1%).
This will involve sweeping campaign finance reform that would limit the contributions that come in from for-profit corporations or provide equal public funding for campaign finance. It will also involve limiting the size and scope of corporations, in order to reduce the power of the 1%, reduce monopolies in critical industries and ensure no bank or other corporation is ever “too big to fail.”
We should reverse the effects of the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision which essentially said corporations can spend as much as they want on elections. The result is that corporations can pretty much buy elections. Corporations should be highly limited in ability to contribute to political campaigns no matter what the election and no matter what the form of media.
2) Investigate Wall Street and Hold Senior Executives Accountable for the Destruction in Wealth that has Devastated Millions of People.
Financial fraud was very likely committed and those behind the curtain have gotten away with nothing but a slap on the wrist. We must remove the moral hazard that persists in the system and completely restructure the regulatory agencies so that they are no so easily manipulated. One common sense step would be to end the revolving door phenomenon, whereby the regulators quit their government jobs early in order to take jobs with the companies they were supposed to be regulating, resulting in a huge payoff for not enforcing the rules. Likewise, the people tasked at enforcing regulations should not be coming from the industries they will be regulating. The conflict of interest is obvious.
We must also liquidate both the public and private debt that has been growing out of control. Most of this debt was created out of thin air and is owed to banks with interest. The problem is that there is not enough money in existence to every repay the debt. The system was designed this way and serves to concentrate wealth in the hands of the bankers, as the rest of us scramble to pay them back, plus interest. Since the debts can never really be repaid (other than with Ponzi-scheme printing), the loan contracts were never entered into with good faith and the banks offered no consideration, the loan contracts are no valid and the debt must be forgiven and canceled.
3) Return the Power of Coining Money to the U.S. Treasury and Return to Sound Money
The founders understood the dangers of giving a small group of private bankers the authority to print the nation’s currency. The Constitution explicitly states:
Art. I Sec. 8 Cl. 5
[Congress shall have Power ... ] To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, …;
Art. I Sec. 10 Cl. 1
[No State shall ...] make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; …
The bankers found a way to subvert this law as was meticulously detailed in the book “Creature from Jekyll Island” by Edward Griffin. The top bankers in that day were aware of the power they would acquire as evidenced in this quote from Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild: “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes it’s laws.”
Giving the ability to print unlimited amounts of money out of thin air to private bankers has been the main underlying cause of the boom bust cycles, inflation that has led to the U.S. dollar losing 95% of its value since the Federal Reserve was created, the control the banks now command over government and increasing concentration of the world’s wealth and resources in the hands of fewer and fewer people. When the protests point out the gross imbalances, such as the top 1 percent of Americans possessing a greater collective net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, their outrage ought to be directed at the head of the banking beast, the Federal Reserve. Accordingly, we should bring the FED under total control of the people, with absolute transparency of all of its actions. Furthermore, we need to return to sound money, whether it is gold or a basket of other finite commodities. This serves to restrain out of control government spending and reduce the hidden tax of inflation on the people. This “hidden tax” affects the poor and middle class the most.
4) Limit the Size, Scope and Power of Banks so that None are Ever Again “Too Big to Fail” and in Need to Taxpayer Bailouts
This means moving ahead with Basel III capital requirements and adopting the Volcker Rule to limit banks’ ability to engage in risky and speculative investments. Whether this is done via HR 1489 (“RETURN TO PRUDENT BANKING ACT”) or another way, it must accomplish the main objective stated above.
5) Eliminate “Personhood” Legal Status for Corporations
Revise the interpretation of the famous 1886 case where the U.S. Supreme Court supposedly ruled that corporations are “persons” having the same rights as human beings based on the 14th Amendment, which was intended to protect the rights of former slaves. As most lawyers know, the Supreme Court made no such decision. In the case in question – Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, the court itself never rules on personhood. A court reporter by the name of J.C. Bancroft Davis (a former railroad president) snuck that “ruling” into the books.
What most people don’t know is that after the above-mentioned 1886 decision, artificial persons were held to have exactly the same legal rights as we natural folk. (Not to mention the clear advantages corporations enjoy: they can be in several places at once, for instance, and at least in theory they’re immortal.) Up until the New Deal, many laws regulating corporations were struck down under the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment–in fact, that clause was invoked far more often on behalf of corporations than former slaves. Although the doctrine of personhood has been weakened since, even now lawyers argue that an attempt to sue a corporation for lying is an unconstitutional infringement on its First Amendment right to free speech. ( Nike v. Kasky.)
6) Repeal the Patriot Act, End the War on Drugs and Protect Civil Liberties
The constitution’s fourth amendment protects people and their property against “unreasonable search and seizure” without “probable cause”. The Patriot Act tossed the probable cause provision out the window. Now, if government agents want to read your mail, listen to your phone conversations, comb through your financial records or worse, they don’t need evidence or a search warrant; they need only say, “It’s for a terrorism investigation.” This draconian law was never about public safety. Americans’ constitutional liberties have been trashed for the war on drugs and war on terrorism.
7) End All Imperial Wars of Aggression, Bring the Troops Home from All Countries, Cut the Military Budget and Limit The Military Role to Protection of the Homeland
The two demands above are the key requests in order to reign in a government that has grown too large, cumbersome, bureaucratic and inefficient to serve the needs of the people.