One of the ironies of the Occupy Wall Street protests is how many of the protesters refuse to acknowledge the contradiction of their outrage against the rich and corporations even as they demand taxes, jobs, and benefits from the rich and corporations. They seek to overthrow the very institutions they also want to depend on for their livelihoods and well-being, and they seem to have no plan for the chaos they could unleash if they succeed.
From my point of view, the protesters need to stop depending on Wall Street taxes, jobs, and benefits if they want to end Wall Street corruption. What they need to realize is that they can’t have it all and that they are the ones who are going to have to make something else happen if anything is going to happen at all.
I think the protests have a place in the grand scheme of making things happen because they draw attention to problems that do exist, but the protesters need to define what they’re for as much as what they’re against. And, no, they are not creating this definition by demanding more taxes on certain income earners or better benefits.
Instead, the protesters need to put their money where their mouths are, sometimes quite literally, and stop supporting the very corporate enterprises they are protesting against with their consumer habits. The sea-change these protesters could awaken in the United States, if they chose to do so, is a return to local economies for the benefit of local people, the very thing they claim, after a fashion, that they want.
And they could do so as part of their protests by seizing the opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship the protests themselves provide. Why does the City of New York have to provide sanitation for the park where the protest is being held, for instance? Why hasn’t someone in the protest community figured out how to make this happen?
Establishing self-sufficient sanitation is one among the thousands of things the protesters and their supporters could be doing to change the way Americans think about how they do just about everything. There are opportunities in food, clothing, shelter, logistics, and even medical care that present themselves if they would take the risk to make them happen.
But they need to show the creativity and initiative to do these things first. The world is watching and waiting.