Occupy Wall Street Movement
The upset Americans led the Occupy Wall Street movement, which set off in mid September 2011. The main objective of the movement was to fight against greed and corruption that had taken roots in America. Occupy Wall Street protestors claimed that the government had failed to support the 99% of the Americans who were not satisfied with the policies used to govern the country. These protestors accused the government of failing to address the problem of inequalities in income distribution, unemployment issues, excessive compensations for the employees of financial institutions and influence of public corporations on politics. Several parties are responsible for income and wealth distribution inequalities in the US. The movement has moral and economical implications to the country, both in the short-run and the long-run. The movement seems to fade slowly as protestors’ are dividing along the lines of priorities concerning their demands.
Moral concerns that governments should take in to consideration can be clustered into categories. These are care, liberty, authority, fairness and sanctity. The moral issues that Occupy Wall Street fought for included liberty, care and fairness (Van, 2011). America is one of the countries renowned for moral justice. The onset of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations tainted the moral perception if the US in the face of other countries. The protestors accused the rich of unfairly taking and misusing public property without giving back. According to the Occupy Wall Street movement, the rich exploited the poor as they sought their way up the economic ladder. When they fell in to the financial crisis, they used the taxpayers’ money to bail themselves out. The movement demanded care and liberty from the government. The authority did not consider these moral concerns regardless of the fact that 99% of the Americans suffered in the face of only 1% who exploited them (McMillan, 2012). The moral implications of Occupy Wall Street include the government becoming more sensitive to the desires of the public. The government may not tolerate to face similar demonstrations again in the future. Therefore, the only end to this is to ensure care, liberty and fairness prevails in the states.
Occupy Wall Street activists were concerned with the economic flourishing of America (Van, 2011). This is the main reason why they fought against corruption and exorbitant compensations, which the employees of state corporations and banking institutions set aside for them. The homemade signs that protestors prepared indicated their intention of getting money out of the politicians’ pockets. The reason for getting money out of politics was to save America from economic catastrophes. Protestors claimed that they joined together to ensure good education, health and education that are the basic ingredients of economic prosperity. They came up with the slogan “We are the 99%” to address the problems of economic disparities between the rich and the poor (Hazen, Lohan & Parramore, 2011).
Occupy Wall Street movement is one of the organizations that actively supported globalization from below. Their focus on market deregulation was that the policy was supported by international institutions and by the governments of the superpowers. Their main interest in deregulation was to take advantage of the mega world corporations. The protestors of demanded that the government should intervene and change the ways of operating businesses in the US in order to eliminate the economic difference between the rich and the poor. The success of this claim will be contingent upon the movement’s ability to give evidence where the poor get poorer, and the richer are becoming even richer. They can begin from giving evidence of excessive compensations to bank staff because this is one of the reasons why the 99% live in undesirable conditions while the 1% keeps getting more powerful (McMillan, 2012).
Economic implications of the movement include reduced government expenditures, equality in income distribution and reduced chances of bailing public corporations using the taxpayers’ money. The US president Barrack Obama recognized that the country faced the biggest financial crisis during the Great Depression. The president lamented that the great depression led to massive loss of property and warned irresponsible folks who were fighting to reinstate the abusive practices that led to the financial crisis. The US government is currently working on the problem of excessive compensations, which characterizes most banking institutions (Hazen, Lohan & Parramore, 2011). One of the milestones that the government has taken the implementation of the Dodd Frank Wall Reform and Consumer Protection Act that allows shareholders to vote for or against executive compensations (Macmillan, 2012).
The protestors’ ideas occupy several theories including the Utilitarian, Ethical, and Kantianism theories. Utilitarianism is characterized by actions that tend to produce pleasure and eliminate all chances of pain. John Stuart Mill argued that an action is moral as long as it produces utility to the greatest number of people. Traditionally, utility involves maximum pleasure and presence of the least of pain. The focus of Occupy Wall Street movement was to ensure pleasure in the country and eliminate all forms of suffering (Hazen, Lohan & Parramore, 2011). People were suffering huge financial burdens such as heavy taxes to bail out corporations and students’ loan repayment schemes. The struggle to find pleasure for the majority had negative implications on the majority. Protestors were arrested and judged for public nuisance and others fined heavily. When the protestors confronted the police, accidents might have occurred that led to suffering of the victims. The street riots blocked the highway and travelers suffered from delays. Some groups had to suffer to bring happiness to the majority (Van, 2011). This limited the applicability of the theory of Utilitarianism.
Virtue ethics determines what is right or wrong. Virtue ethics are contingent upon the character of a person rather than the reflection of a person’s actions. Virtuous characters of business managers include integrity, courage, loyalty, and honesty. The movement, Occupy Wall Street, attempted to demand change in character of top managers of the US corporations. Van (2011) argued that one and half million workers in the US had already consumed their unemployment benefits. Those who are still receiving their cheques get averagely $302.90 per week (Van, 2011). This sum is cannot support these parties to live comfortably in the US. A greater share of the US economic growth goes to the top 1%, who currently makes $27 million per household. Establishment of justice, domestic tranquility, and improvement of the general welfare were the ethical terms the Occupy Wall Street was demanding.
The theory that best applies to Occupy Wall Street Movement is Kantianism. This is because the theory is based on the principles of democracy, which can help solve all issues addressed by other theories. Kant’s theory is an example of deontological morality, which states that an action is moral if it is democratic in nature (Van, 2011). Kant also argued that the greatest weakness of democracy occurs when people are not allowed to participate in decisions that negatively affect them. The theory protects people from being used the elite in the society as a means to satisfy their needs. OWS movement wanted to instill a form of direct morality where all the stakeholders of the corporation vote for issues that are deemed to affect them. The utilitarian covers both morality in terms of natural fairness and issues related to compensations to employees. Morality element in this theory is that of considering the interests of all the stakeholders before making decisions that may affect them. For instance, the directors of Wells Fargo voted to gave the Chief Executive, G. John Stumpf $18 million and James Cracchiolo, Ameriprise Financial Executive, $17 million all in the year 2011 (Van, 2011). These decisions were not reached in the presence of stakeholders’ participation (McMillan, 2012). The directors were putting their interests first and ignoring the desires of other stakeholders.
There are two parties to blame for inequality in income and wealth distribution in the US. These are the government and directors of public corporations. Inequalities are not natural occurrences, but matters of public policy (Van, 2011). The government enacts tax laws, salary scale and takes the ideas of directors who want to satisfy their own greed. This issue arose in the US during the early 1970s and the gap seems to increase consistently. The wages of American workers remained stagnant in the 1990s Macmillan, 20120. A study was carried out to determine the income and wealth distribution in the US between 1973 and 1993. The study findings revealed that the 10% wealthiest citizens had their income increased by 22% while the 90% majority experienced a decline in income distribution by 21% (Hazen, Lohan & Parramore, 2011). Another study was carried revealed that the economy has been consistently growing since the year 2001and all the benefits submerge in to corporate profits. The report also reveled that the compensations for the people earning $90,000 per annum have been rising consistently while that of workers remained stagnant at $27,000. The Wall Street Journal reported that the benefits and compensations for banks and security firms at Wall Street hit $135 billion in the year 2009. This was an increase of 5.7% of $128 billion compared to the previous year (McMillan, 2012). Therefore, inequality in income and wealth distribution is not a spontaneous issue, but something that has built up over time.
An equitable outcome in the movement appropriate for the capitalist society would be altering the tax structures. The government can come up with a progressive tax system that can ensure the upper 1% pays more tax to the government than the majority 99% who receive lower incomes. Lowering the tax burden for the less fortunate citizens will leave with them money to own private property. Taxing the rich heavily will avail the money for the government to provide public utilities such as education, medicine and recreation that will boost the living standards of 99% of the population.
Occupy Wall Street Movement is currently facing a crisis, and there are signs of the movement fading away. Leaders of the OWS movement have not been able to take control of the protestors to fight for one issue before addressing others. McMillan (2012) noted that some protestors fight against corruption, some are fighting against unemployment and others are for reduction of the legal age of alcohol consumption to eighteen years old. The movement is struggling to ensure unity prevails among these thousands of protestors (Van, 2011). Unless the movement succeeds in implementing unity, the movement may scatter due to disagreements arising from varied priorities forwarded by participants.
The Occupy Wall Street Movement was formed to address the social injustices and inequalities that existed in the US. Their claims can be argued on the basis of various theories such as Kantian, Utilitarianism and Ethical theories. The movement is currently facing a crisis because there is no unity among the members due to prioritizing different issues. The leaders of the OWS movement must seek long lasting solution to the unity issue, lest the movement will fade away.
Hazen, D., Lohan, T. and Parramore, L. (2011). The 99%: How the Occupy Wall Street movement is changing America. San Francisco, CA: AlterNet Books.
McMillan, S. (2012). The beginning of the American fall: A comics journalist inside the Occupy Wall Street Movement. New York: Seven Stories Press.
Van, S. (2011). This changes everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers