Despite my skepticism of the Occupy Wall Street protests, I decided to attend the Dayton edition on Courthouse Square to see what all the fuss is about (link for ‘Occupy Dayton’ on Facebook). After all, the thing doesn’t seem to have any particular impetus or agenda, so what is the fuss all about? No one really seems to know with any kind of specificity. Ridiculous claims that “everyone intuitively knows the demands” are utter nonsense; how do you legislate and implement a vague intuition? OWS doesn’t have to limit itself to a single policy demand, but it does need at least one if it is to develop into more than mere primal scream therapy. Protest for its own sake isn’t meaningless but it is certainly aimless, and unfocused anger simply isn’t a good foundation for policy discussions.
There wasn’t much in the way of specifics, just like the NYC demo, so it was difficult to get a feel for just what this thing hopes to accomplish (especially in Dayton, of all places). Most of it was organizational, what committees were going to be set up, what kinds of things would be needed and so forth.
Since it seemed to be an open-source BYOB (bring your own beef) kind of thing (and since I’m fond of specifics), here are some of mine in no particular order.
- Convert student loan debt into grants/forgiveness. Don’t force students to repay crushing amounts of debt, especially when the economy isn’t generating enough well-paying jobs to absorb graduates.
- Legally speaking, Mitt Romney was correct when he said “corporations are people too, my friend.” So let’s make him not just morally wrong but legally wrong as well, and abolish corporate personhood. Rights are for natural persons with natural lifespans, not for artificial legal constructs that can only come into existence by an act of government.
- While we’re at it, overturn Citizens United, full stop. SCOTUS way overreached, and it’s time for some checks and balances, goddamnit. We got by just fine for over two centuries without letting corporations and so forth buy our elections, and I say we go back to that system before it’s too late.
- Reinstate Glass-Steagall regulations on the financial sector so those parasitic gamblers on the stock exchange cannot do this to us again. Financial “innovations” are invariably nothing more than recycled Enron-esque accounting tricks, shell games and other obfuscatory scams intended to separate people from their money.
- Use federal antitrust authority to break up and downsize all of the big banks, insurance companies and investment companies on the principle of not putting “all your eggs in one basket.” Too Big To Fail entities still exist, and that just represents another crash waiting to happen.
Police presence was nonexistent and the crowd was quite diverse in age, ethnicity and motivation. If I had to make an estimate, I’d say it started off with around 100 people at 2:30, swelled to roughly 300 people at its height and by 4:00 when I left it was back down to around 100. Megaphones were in use, but the “people’s mic” was additionally employed to make it easier for people to hear. There was some discussion of occupying Cooper Park (camping out behind the main library), but that idea was abandoned once the crowd arrived there. Then the demonstration moved on to Riverscape, where a wedding was in progress so naturally there was no occupation possible there. The crowd returned to Courthouse Square at that point, which is when I left. Presumably the idea was to take over the square again and simply set up camp, but as I had already left I cannot say for sure. I suspect that if that’s the case, the nonexistent police presence will manifest itself pretty quickly.
I have somewhat-legible video and audio of the speakers and the march, but WordPress doesn’t allow posting those file types to free accounts and I’m just not dealing with figuring out how to combine, convert and post to YouTube. Some of the photos below are larger and more detailed than others, thanks to the way WordPress processed the image gallery. I had no control over this size variance, the camera took all images at the same size.