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Posted 5:00 pm
October 18, 2011

Occupy movement must organize, offer practical solutions to be successful

Sara Donchey art

Illustration by Sara Donchey.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month, there has been no way to ignore the movement known as #OccupySF.

The protests have created a lot of buzz and received mass media attention since the Occupy Wall Street movement started in New York City’s Financial District Sept. 17, then spread like wildfire through North America. But it’s like reading a Nancy Drew novel trying to figure out exactly what they are rebelling against.

If the movement has any hope of truly effecting change, they need to refine their goals to be measurable and achievable.

With so many issues on the table, from bank bailouts and corporate politics to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and high unemployment rates, it’s hard to see the finish line.

These all are intertwined, but for politicians to get behind the cause protestors need to give them a game plan. The purpose should not be to destroy economic infrastructure, but rather offer practical solutions to the mistakes that spurred the protests to begin with.

Here are some suggestions that should be the focus since socioeconomic conditions are the underlying motivator for many protestors.

In 2008, the average family income of the wealthiest one percent was more than $1.1 million, while the other 99 percent had an average family income that was less than a tenth of that, according to a study by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at UC Berkeley and the director of the university’s Center for Equitable Growth.

Anyone that has passed eighth grade algebra should be able to understand that the more you make, the more taxes you should pay.

But since 2000, the taxes on millionaires have gone down more than four percent. That means they pay at least $45,000 less today than they did 10 years ago, according to calculations based on a tax rate report from the Tax Foundation.

The average annual family income of the bottom 90 percent is less than $45,000. So low-end millionaires are saving more than the average family makes in a year.

That $45,000 in tax revenue could go a long way. The top 10 earning congress members all voted for these tax cuts, according to 2009 Congressional data.

Occupiers should approach Reps. Darrell Issa, Jane Harman, Vern Buchanan, Jared Polis and Sens. John Kerry and Dianne Feinstein directly and openly.

With all the attention the #OccupySF movement has received, they need to prove now, more than ever, that they are serious. They must keep the momentum going and prove that they are not just some hippies and college students trying to block a bank entrance.

These acts are justified.

Banks were bailed out, but employment rates barely changed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the California unemployment rate for August was only 0.3 percent lower than the year before. The government spent $8 billion to extend unemployment benefits, but spent $25 billion to bailout Wells Fargo & Co.

The Employment Development Department of California reported that as of last week more than 544,000 unemployed Californians have ran out of all available unemployment benefits.

The rich keeps getting richer. The poorer keeps getting poorer.

If the Occupy movement has any chance of succeeding, they need to stop worrying about their tents getting torn down and focus on building up their message.