Occupy protesters are Dewey-ing nothing of importance

by Beacon Staff • October 20, 2011

strongEric Twardzik, Beacon Correspondent/strong

An Oct. 17 post on the official site of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement celebrated their first full month of occupation—but what do they have to celebrate? For what is now a global movement in its second month, they have nothing concrete to show. These protests will not accomplish anything, due to their lack of focus and utter disconnect from reality.

The single official statement that OWS has managed to release is their “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,” passed by their NYC general assembly on Sept. 29. It consists entirely of accusations against a never-defined “They” of committing such vague crimes as “They have used military and police force to prevent freedom of the press,” and “They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.” I would really like to know who “They” is, and see direct, documented cases of the many crimes they have perpetrated. If protesters are going to take a corporation to task for perceived wrongdoing, they must produce specific evidence and cite real perpetrators.

Americans are rightly angry about the economic plight of our country, but how can it be helped when the frustrations are manifested as vague accusations against a perceived Illuminati-style enemy, whether it is labeled “Wall Street,” “Corporate America,” or “The 1 percent?” OWS claims that their purpose is to begin a dialogue, but misdirection and ignorance are not legitimate tools of discourse in democracy.

The Occupy movement currently has thousands of protesters in over 100 U.S. cities, according to its website. The turnout is impressive, but their tactics will not effect change in the same way the Tea Party did in 2010, which OWS is often compared to. The Tea Party had clear goals and directed their anger at the government, whom they could hold accountable as voters.

A problem with the OWS protests is that Wall Street simply will not care — the protesters are not the customers of Wall Street, and Wall Street is not accountable to them. OWS will prove no more successful effecting change through congress. The Tea Party was able to shake congress in the 2010 midterms because of focused objectives. OWS, despite holding general assemblies for a month, has not established a clear focus or any demands based on practical realities. The wide variety of beliefs and grievances they have stated — ranging from ending the federal reserve to across the board debt forgiveness, are largely fringe left ideas that will not move in a center right congress.

Lastly, they must consider that the government has to deal with reality. The government must do what is practical in an economy healing from recession, even if it is unpopular—that is why the bailouts occurred. During a fragile time for our financial system the government is not going to slap the financial industry with new taxes, regulations, or fees because of several thousand protesters.

These protests that dwell in fantasy are costing us in reality. On Oct.12, New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly confirmed that overtime payments to the police has exceeded two million dollars, and will continue to cost working New Yorkers more than 70 thousand dollars each day. In a report on Oct. 14, Boston City Council President Steve Murphy projects that if Occupy Boston continues through October it will cost the city over two million dollars in police overtime, according to The Boston Herald.

If the protesters in Boston, New York, and elsewhere are costing taxpayers, they should at least have a mission and demands based on something real and a plan to carry out that mission. Right now they are living out a very expensive fantasy. As Bill Clinton said in reference to the movement Oct. 12 on emThe Late Show with David Letterman/em, “You need to be for something, not just against something.”

America needs solutions, and we won’t find them on Dewey Square or Zuccotti Park.

emEric Twardzik is a junior writing, literature, and publishing major. Twardzik can be reached at eric_twardzik@emerson.edu/em