Occupy Wall Street needs to capitalize on the moment with specific action


It’s the Tea Party with fewer wrinkles.

Yes, that’s how you might characterize the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement spreading across the country. Undoubtedly, the two groups share similarities.

They are both a valid expression of frustration at a system they find to be failing. They both have used the Internet to form a grass roots movement that has spread nationwide. They both have politicians that are eager to jump on the bandwagon.

And, they both currently lack a coherent plan for change.

For the Tea Party, change has been seen at the state level. Yet at the federal level, they haven’t made

a dent, even with their gains in the 2010 midterms. Their unifying message of small government has served them well in organization, if not in legislation.

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The same fate is likely to befall the OWS. As protests spread to dozens of cities around the country, their organization is strong. Although their message, as of now, seems unspecific, they are pushing forward the idea that corporate greed is bad and that social/economic equality is good.

That message is complex and contains at numerous smaller messages. In the Occupy Anchorage protests last week, unemployment, student loans, taxing the rich, union rights and other messages were littered among the signs. To borrow a line from the movie “Network,” these folks are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.

In order to make things better, they need a plan. They need

specific ideas to make a difference. Trade tariffs? Perhaps, but good luck getting that legislation passed. Tax the rich? Whatever it may do, it won’t create jobs for the protestors. Those are the more rational of the demands from the protesters. Other demands, like free education, debt forgiveness and a living wage are simply unrealistic.

Furthermore, though Wall Street is a decent meeting ground, it’s really Pennsylvania Avenue that needs to be the sight of the protests. What is Wall Street going to do to solve the problem?

There are some specific things that might be appropriate in the way of legislation for this group.

Closing corporate tax loopholes would be a great start. After making billions in profit, General Electric paid $0 in taxes last year according to ABC News. There’s something wrong with that and there is, if we consult a tax lawyer, something specific we can change to bring it under control.

Maybe the group could advocate for a financial transactions tax that would de-incentivize quick speculative trading on Wall Street, which would help everyone’s 401Ks as well as their gas bills

There are other legislative acts that might boost their cause..

Regardless of the method, channeling their frustration into legislative options would not only make the group more viable, it would give Democrats something to run on and be held accountable for. Then 2012 might be a battle between the Tea Party and OWS. A battle between hippie-chic and Heartland-tough..