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Plagued by media coverage alleging a lack of focus or agenda, the ongoing Wall Street protests have now produced at least one provisional list of demands.The grievances, collected by an n+1 writer, range from the vague and impossible to the specific and pragmatic. The people behind the list do not claim to be representative of the protesters as a whole, but it’s a start.
Check out the full n+1 piece for a refreshing, honest take on the protests. The writer acknowledges that participating feels somewhat like a “cliché,” but makes a good point about the sentiment behind the movement:
“Compared to other large-scale protests I’d attended in my life—the WTO protest in Washington D.C. in 2000, various antiwar protests throughout the early aughts—the aggravating causes here were less abstract. These were not Americans decrying foreign policy. They were Americans in debt, Americans out of work. This ‘day of rage’ was inspired by personal injustices, best illustrated by anecdote rather than data.”
The list-makers reached a consensus that this was their most important demand: 'It would ostensibly create a more truly democratic political climate, through which our other demands could be met.'
(Last year's Citizens United Supreme Court decision made it dramatically easier for corporations and unions to funnel money into political campaigns.)
If the protesters want to infuriate traders, this would be a good place to start.
A Tobin tax would probably hurt Wall Street bonuses and curb high-frequency trading, and might harm speculative market moves in general. Basically, politicians like to wave around the possibility of such a tax, but it seems very unlikely that it could ever be implemented.
Many argue that the weakening of Glass-Steagall helped make the financial crisis possible.
Created in response to the Great Depression, the act built a regulatory wall between commercial and investment banking. It was intended to prevent commercial-bank speculation. Glass-Steagall was repealed in 1999.
The 2010 Dodd-Frank act attempted to re-establish aspects of the reform--to limited success.
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