« A Soap Impression of His Wife | Main | Sing it, brother »

Friday, November 18, 2011

The First Draft of the OWS Constitution?

UPDATE: A commenter points out that the list I discuss below is just a single person's contribution and has no official status.  Mea culpa!  (One reason I've gotten so many posts written lately is that I've been writing them at 6 am.  One reason there have been errors is that I've been writing them at 6 am.)  I'll leave it up as an embarrassing lesson to myself.

Per my recent post and Mark's post as well, here is what purports to be a "proposed list of OWS demands."  I reprint them after the jump.  Perhaps others can contribute some background, but I can't vouch for the accuracy, basis, or provenance of these proposed demands.  The Internet's a funny place.  Plus, leaving aside questions of whether the OWS movement would be better off with specific demands or not, it's still a "movement," and one could imagine an OWS Constitution that is both larger and smaller than the specifics spelled out in the list.  But certainly, if this list is an accurate statement of (some of) the basic demands of (some of) the OWS movement, it involves a different Constitution than the one we have now, or at least a different understanding of the Constitution.  

From my point of thinking, some of these demands may or may not have something to do with a more just society, but have very little to do with "Wall Street" per se, or what the "Wall Street" idea is supposed to stand for.  And some of it bears a very odd relationship to the trope of the one percent versus the 99 percent.  I understand that this trope is not just about populism, although that is surely an element of it.  But who is more likely to support a demand to end not only the death penalty but also to eliminate sentences of life imprisonment--the one percent, or the 99 percent?  Who is most likely to favor animal rights laws--the one percent, or the 99 percent?

And as a law and religion scholar, I am particularly interested in this one: "Make homeschooling illegal. Religious fanatics use it to feed their children propaganda."  I assume a word is missing before "propaganda," because I would have thought that the OWS movement, just like everyone else, also believes in feeding its children propaganda; maybe the word "religious," or "harmful," is missing before the word "propaganda," or maybe it should read "propaganda we don't like."  And, again, I think the relationship between the one percent and the 99 percent is oddly related to this demand.  Based on the (contested) data I have seen, plenty of homeschooling families earn less than $50,000 a year, and although the average income of homeschooling families has increased, they are still not among the wealthiest of the wealthy.  Most Wall Streeters are not hoping to homeschool their children and feed them religious or non-religious propaganda; they are more likely on waiting lists for expensive private daycares and elementary schools.  Even if there are many economic issues on which there is a genuine gap in interests or beliefs between the one percent and the 99 percent (nothing turns on that question for me), what this list--and especially items like the homeschooling demand--suggests to me is that there are also lots of social issues on which the one percent and those members of the 99 percent who are represented in OWS are far closer together than the rest of the country.      


 Here's the list:

Repeal the Taft-Hartley Act. Unionize ALL workers immediately.

Raise the minimum wage immediately to $18/hr. Create a maximum wage of $90/hr to eliminate inequality.

Institute a 6 hour workday, and 6 weeks of paid vacation.

Institute a moratorium on all foreclosures and layoffs immediately.

Repeal racist and xenophobic English-only laws.

Open the borders to all immigrants, legal or illegal. Offer immediate, unconditional amnesty, to all undocumented residents of the US.

Create a single-payer, universal health care system.

Pass stricter campaign finance reform laws. Ban all private donations. All campaigns will receive equal funding, provided by the taxpayers.

Institute a negative income tax, and tax the very rich at rates up to 90%.

Pass far stricter environmental protection and animal rights laws.

Allow workers to elect their supervisors.

Lower the retirement age to 55. Increase Social Security benefits.

Create a 5% annual wealth tax for the very rich.

Ban the private ownership of land.

Make homeschooling illegal. Religious fanatics use it to feed their children propaganda.

Reduce the age of majority to 16.

Abolish the death penalty and life in prison. We call for the immediate release of all death row inmates from death row and transferred to regular prisons.

Release all political prisoners immediately.

Immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Abolish the debt limit.

Ban private gun ownership.

Strengthen the separation of church and state.

Immediate debt forgiveness for all.

End the 'War on Drugs'.


Posted by Paul Horwitz on November 18, 2011 at 09:24 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The First Draft of the OWS Constitution?:


PH: "who is more likely to support a demand to end not only the death penalty but also to eliminate sentences of life imprisonment--the one percent, or the 99 percent? Who is most likely to favor animal rights laws--the one percent, or the 99 percent?"

One further question: "Who is more likely to use one random guy's manifesto as a chance to make counterintuitive, David Brooks-ian observations about the curious elitism of the protesters--someone completely blind to the rampant inequality that is OWS's obvious target, or someone who merely has a deep-seated sympathy for preserving the comfort of the rich, whatever the cost to the rest?"

Posted by: Anon | Nov 22, 2011 7:12:03 PM

"institute a negative income tax . . ."

Milton friedman's brainchild makes an appearance on the OWS list. Interesting.

Posted by: GU | Nov 19, 2011 4:37:06 PM


Posted by: jt | Nov 18, 2011 5:11:16 PM

^^ That was perhaps a little snarkier than I should have been.

Anyways, I think Kent's right: these are one set of opinions (and not a very sophisticated one at that.) It's not hard to find this kind of stuff in any movement, so I'm not sure what purpose it serves to give it too much attention.

Posted by: Andrew MacKie-Mason | Nov 18, 2011 1:02:45 PM

Many of these ideas are sophomoric. But they're about on par with the Republican presidential debates.

Posted by: Andrew MacKie-Mason | Nov 18, 2011 12:51:49 PM

Paul, the web site your link refers to clearly states: "This content is user submitted and not an official statement." So this is just one person's opinion.

Posted by: Kent Schenkel | Nov 18, 2011 10:28:57 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.