People keep asking me “What does Occupy Wall Street want exactly?” The various news organizations say that OWS won’t be taken seriously until they have a list of demands. I don’t know anybody actually involved in “Occupy” (fill in the blank. I saw the tents in Hartford from the highway yesterday, and I read the actual liberal press, so I know a little bit, but that doesn’t qualify me to speak for them. I don’t know what their demands are, but I can say what I would demand if I ran a movement and it will include some of the other things I read in other people’s columns. So here they are:
1) I never want to hear that “The Golden Rule” is “He(she) who has the gold makes the rules” again. The Golden Rule is “love your neighbor as yourself” or “Do unto others as you’d like done to you”. There’s a big difference between the two and it’s important.
2) There should be a maximum amount an individual can have — and a minimum people have for working. The minimum should include food, clothing, and shelter, and real access to necessary medical care and access to medically (psychologically, as well) necessary medicines, as well. The maximum should be “when you don’t know how much you have or care how much you spend, it’s too much”. If it’s not contributing to your welfare, you don’t need it.
3) No one should be removed from their home if the bank or institution that is doing the evicting can’t prove that they own the house.
4) The maximum fee for an overdraft should not be more than the actual overdraft and what it actually costs to process it. That processing cost should be published — and monitored by the government, so that the banks don’t say “it costs a thousand dollars” when it actually costs a nickel.
5) Adding on daily fees or interest to money owed (overdraft fees, taxes, child support) to an institution should not be legal. If we already know a person doesn’t have the money, adding more to what they owe is going to discourage their payment. Let’s stop that.
6) Banks should create jobs by hiring tellers at least as often as they install an ATM. Any fee the bank would have charged for the transaction can pay their salary and insurance costs.
7) Immediate repeal by the president and congress of the “Citizens United” decision of the Supreme Court in whatever way that needs to happen.
8) Further legal description of “usury” (exorbitant interest on a loan) and stiff penalties for committing it.
9) No war\”police action”\ military attack should be contemplated without a way to pay for it in advance. The US can defend itself without worrying about money, but it cannot attack others without doing so. “Defense” stays on these shores. “Attack” takes place elsewhere.
10) All people who don’t complete High School should be trained to — and expected to — do a craft\work for the greater good. In exchange, they should be given enough income to have food, clothing, shelter and medical care. If this seems too much, consider that it costs $80,000 per year to keep them in jail. Two jobs to avoid one incarceration seems a better option for people who could go into gangs, or feel they have the right to steal for a living.
11) No one should be given a house loan without documentation of income.
12) Planning to make money on a planet that doesn’t exist is absurd. All economic growth must be environmentally sustainable.
13) White collar crime should carry the same penalties as blue-collar crime. If a person steals $1,000 worth of material and is given a 5 year sentence, for instance, then a a man who defrauded a million dollars should be given the same ratio of value to years served — a 5,000 year sentence. Laws should be equally enforced across socio-economic strata.
14) All communities in America should have fire equipment, police, rescue teams and Post Offices. They don’t need to be much, but they need to be enough to service the needs of the community. Perhaps people who drop out of school should become volunteer fire-fighters in exchange for their living wage.
15) All loans should be given by local banks and people giving loans should know the people they are giving the loans to.
I f we did all of this, things would be closer to equitable. It’s assumed that we’ll never get it totally right, but it’s a start.