99% does not mean 99 things #OccupyWallStreet


I read the #OccupyWallStreet story in the New York Times this morning and kinda just shook my head slowly. They reported this as if it were a 2011 version of Woodstock, complete with hippy-chicks and guitar-slinging beatniks.

Yay. Or should I say “bully* for them.”

It’s not that the New York Times didn’t get it. I think they do. It may be because the protest is making itself hard to get.

Here is my advice to the #OccupyWallStreet folks. Do with it what you will.

Get simple. Fast.
Know what you want. Demand something short and easy for the media to understand in under nine seconds and something that even Chuck Todd won’t misunderstand and mangle (though I’m not entirely sure how you can do that.) It is really hard to get what you want when you can’t define it in 140 characters or less. Human dignity? Universal health care? Free universal education? Free checking? A specific banking bill that a Congressman wrote? (e.g. SB-5 in Ohio got over a million signatures because we were able to point to a specific bill.) If you can’t answer the question: “What do you want?” quickly, you are just creating a mob, not a group of lawfully-assembing citizens who demand that their grievances be met. (Example powdered wigs worked for the Tea Party!)

The worst thing you need media to call you is hodge-podge, rag-tag, unorganized and that sort of thing. The easiest way to organize is to get a slogan and have everyone wear the same t-shirt. Green would be delicious irony. Print a big 99% on the front and silk-screen a large block of white on the back where each person can write his/her own story.

Get a Kickstarter going and start raising money. You are gonna need a lot of it. A Kickstarter helps those of us in Dayton, Ohio who can’t be in NYC to participate. That would also force you to think specifically about how you will spend the funds which will lead you to define your goals.

Website, Social Media
You have a good start at occupywallst.org/, but there is way too much on your site. Photos of people, just like this. And quit with the fist-pumping anger. Us older people still remember the Black Panthers and you are scaring us.

This is not an event
Quit scheduling things. There is no “agenda.” Do-nothing corporations have an agenda for meetings that nobody likes but go to anyway because there is almost always free muffins. The 99% are not corporate offices. And keep celebrities out of your group. Susan Sarandon and Cornell West are not helping your image. They are even less of the 1% those in your group will never be. When they show up, the media focuses their cameras on them and away from the crowd. Who does that serve? The celebrity. Only.

Produce your own media
Have your own reporters and writers. Use studio media techniques to deliver your own stories. Issue media credentials to people at NBC, CBS, Times, etc. Make them come to you. (They won’t and the credentials will mean nothing, but it will send a message to corporate-owned media… who are part of Wall Street… which you knew, right?)

Shut up
Do not chant. Do not talk to the media. Say nothing. Ask everyone there to say nothing to media, the police, hecklers, etc. The medium of silence will be your message. You are the 99% who are not being heard.

Ultimately, I think this movement will die off simply because a mob of hobos and stray dogs is not a group you can negotiate anything with. Sure, there is general unrest and all the ingredients for an uprising and class riots exists in all parts of America, but unless there is something specific (like ending the Vietnam War) to rally around, it is just a mob. If you want this to take hold, you have to simplify.

Quickly. Winter is coming.

*Sorry for the pun. I know this is a serious topic and I knew better, but I couldn’t resist. Part of what I’m protesting is a general lack of humour, in good times and bad.

6 Replies to “99% does not mean 99 things #OccupyWallStreet”

  1. Although the title was odd… you nailed it. I’ve been wondering when these folks were going to begin to focus instead of just emote fuzzy anger. This is what happens when you don’t make civics a required course throughout K-12. In my humble opinion, of course. I wish these guys well, I support them and understand their frustrations. This isn’t the America I grew up in and kids are concerned about their future. Heck, everybody is concerned about the future. I can’t help but think our current economic situation is one of those “Those who don’t study history are condemned to repeat it” things. French, American, and Russian revolutions, as well as Ghandi’s India, should give the “top 1%” here in the US a clue as to what happens when power and wealth become too skewed. When the kids see that no amount of hard work is going to get them anywhere they get really angry. The “top 1%” need to respect that or suffer the consequences.

  2. I agree on the title, but since my editor works banker’s hours — which don’t include the weekends — I’m left to fend for myself. 🙂

    I think YOU nailed it with “When the kids see that no amount of hard work is going to get them anywhere they get really angry” All they need to do is take out a calculator and divide their student loan debt into equal monthly payment amounts for their entire working lives to realize that statement to be true. The answer is not to go not to college because there are no jobs worth a damn anymore without a college degree. Even if you go into business for yourself, you are quickly swallowed up by the system that is better educated.

    What America does not need is several generations of young people with nothing to lose and nowhere to go. That is a recipe for riots. We may be almost there.

  3. Here are my thoughts on the “Occupy Wall Street” happenings:
    I don’t think they need to simplify more than their manifesto. It’s not one issue, and it’s definitely not just a Wall Street or a US protest- it’s a global one- if you read it right.
    Yesterday groups popped up in Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland- and across the country- it’s is the 99% against the 1% and it is a matter of the future of our planet.
    They do have a kickstarter, they did publish the “Occupy Wall Street Journal”- they are making a change. There was no single issue in the Arab Spring- no single leader- no organization- and that’s why it was successful.
    The Tea Party is a dismal failure in comparison- a single issue- “taxes” is not an agenda-
    I hope you reconsider your post.

  4. I read their manifesto. They lost me at the “non-human animals” part and it all just went downhill from there. All I heard in my head was PETA, PETA, PETA… We have enough crazy people at the far right to deal with. We don’t need the crazies from the far left adding to the confusion about what the real issues are.

    And I read nothing about FICO. Why are they not concerned about reducing human beings to a single (three, but so what) score in everything from health care to employment to housing to insurance? That is such a HUGE thing that to miss that in a manifesto is to fundamentally misunderstand a larger issue. One mistake can destroy a life. One mis-keyed stroke. That should scare the HELL out of us all.

    Simple is good. People understand simple. It is the secret to FICO, Twitter, Facebook…

    They need to get simple fast or regardless of how global the issue, how damaging, etc. if media and public can not articulate the purpose and the goal quickly, you will lose them into a babbling sea of hippy-talk.

  5. …the Tea Party a dismal failure, dear David? You mean like the 730 Democrats from US Senators to county coroners who were given the heave-ho last election? Or the pimp-wannabe labor unions who gave $200 million of their members’ coerced dues to the Dems only to see them bum-rushed by the electorate? No question, David, you know failure when you see it…

  6. There are all sorts of ways of measuring success, but success with one issue as it negatively affects others is not one of them. Sure you can cut taxes, make government small, etc but when that just pushes larger costs onto private business, that is not really solving the problem… it just makes someone else pay more.

    I liken this to the episode of I Love Lucy and the candy wrapping job http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uztA6JCKB4s Sure, the production department (Tea Party) can claim they met their quotas, but if the factory as a whole can’t pack and ship the product, it is a waste of resources.

    The Tea Party is so myopically focused on one issue that they don’t ever see the effects of their actions on the people on down the line. That may be meeting their goals, but it is not successful governing. (In Ohio, I’m sure the cost-cutting, small government of John Kasich are causing me to do more needless, expensive work even as he claims success. In this case, paying additional taxes is the lower-cost option. Or Ohio could eliminate the need to file forms http://www.dogwalkblog.com/taxes-and-a-disturbing-trend.html)

    We need to stop confusing simple with single-issue focus. Or simple with easy. If it were easy, we would already being doing it. Simple takes a lot more work than complicated.

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