The OWS protesters have gotten everyone’s attention now, and started a conversation (that probably should have taken place in late 2008 or early 2009, but better late than never); it’s now time to move from just occupation to an actual program for moving forward.
Get rid of all of the demands that aren’t related to the economy. Issues like animal rights, gay marriage, and other social issues are creeping into the conversation. They’re all fine issues that deserve a hearing of their own. However, with regard to what is trying to be accomplished here, they’re a distraction.
Have both a short term agenda and a long term agenda. We have a lot of short term problems right now. Many are symptoms of longer term issues. Both sets of issues have to be addressed, but sequence and priority is critical.
Keep the agenda points short and concise. Limit the number of them. Don’t get mired in the details.
Here’s a good starting point:
- Focus on jobs. The government should make jobs a top priority until the unemployment rate falls below 5%. Bring the full power of fiscal and monetary policy to bear, and if necessary, pursue direct works programs.
- Focus on housing. The housing market is fundamentally broken. It needs to be fixed. The economy will not recover until it’s fixed. Doing nothing is not an option.
- Focus on education. The economy of the future demands a better educated workforce. People shouldn’t have to become lifetime debt slaves to acquire a college degree and a secure future.
- Realign finance. Financial institutions should exist to fund productive investment by matching savers/lenders with investors/borrowers. The economy can’t function without a working financial system. Unfortunately, it’s been turned into a casino where heads the big banks win and tails the taxpayers pick up the losses.
- Develop an industrial policy. Historically, this has meant a combination of trade restrictions like quotas/tariffs with subsidies to business. That’s not what we need now. What we need is a policy that takes into account the needs of all stakeholders – importers, exporters, labor, management, business owners both small and large.
- Save the middle class. This is what all of the short term and long term agenda points mentioned thus far lead up to. A vibrant, growing, and upwardly mobile middle class is what has made America great. For generations, people were inspired by the idea that their children would do better than them. That idea is fading rapidly. We need to change that. It will take action – a large middle class is NOT something that just comes about naturally, it’s not a natural outgrowth of capitalism or any other ism; disabuse yourself of that false notion.
This is the sort of agenda that will resonate with the American people. The statistics on the decline of the American middle class are indisputable. When confronted with this, the 1% will have no choice but to remain silent or change the subject. Keep pushing.