I assume that the main complaint of the ninety-nine percent is social inequality.
One percent holds most of the wealth, power, access, etcetera. The rest of us have gone backwards in real economic terms, over the last thirty years, probably longer. We want to fix this, but how? What are the demands to get us there? What change should we insist on?
Here are some things I think the demonstrators might decide to ask for.
- Cap Executive Salaries. Separate the top earners from the rest. Limit their compensation to some multiple of the average of everyone else in the enterprise. I suggest a descending multiple, say 400 times this year, 300 next, 200 the year after, 100 after that, and in five years down to 50. They would still make fifty times the average of their fellow workers. Why is that not enough?
- Tax Idle Capital. We are told that 2.5 trillion dollars are sitting idle in the coffers of major corporations in North America. Tax that. Use the revenue to fund education and social assistance.
- Make education free. Phase this in over five or even ten years, but do it. This requires common standard entrance tests, so those who can do the work get to take the course, and questionable entrance marks cannot be obtained from diploma factories.
- Incent scarce professionals. If we need more rural doctors, provide clinics for graduates. Cuba does this, and has the same infant morality rate as the USA.
- Tax large incomes. As an interim adjustment, make ongoing student loan payments tax free and interest free. For example, a dentist should be able to pay off her/his student loan, and today these can be very large. As the loans drop, tax the income. Use the revenue to pay for social programs and education.
- Close tax loopholes. The rich have access to tax tricks unavailable at lower levels of income. This is unfair.
- Tax large movements of capital, including funds transfers. The volatility of capital is one ingredient in the economic witches’ cauldron which led to our current depression.
- Tax outsourced jobs. If we can do it here, do it here. The idea that profit is ahead of social values is one we should get rid of.
- Write some “commandments” for corporations. Thou shalt not shortfall thy pension plans. Thou shalt not bring devastation to thy neighbourhood environment. Thou shalt not choose profit over social conscience. Thou shalt not demand ever higher productivity in quest of ever more profit. Thou shalt not bonus thy staff with stock options, for this leads to short-term opportunism. Thou shalt be competitive in part by reducing thy executive compensation.
- do not allow your movement to be sullied by small groups of troublemakers. If they act separately, call the cops on them. If they act up while among you, make sure you know the legalities of citizens’ arrests, and do it. Don’t let another ‘black block’ tar you with their colours. You will outnumber them, hundreds to one. Let them know they can’t do vandalism in your presence.
- unify your voice(s). Agree on a few basic principles and decide what is strategic. Remember Hertha’s Law, and keep your demand list short (shorter than mine above, eh?).
Good luck. We all have a stake in your outcome.