I was trying to think of ways that we could remember the basic tenets of the Occupy movement so that when people ask what we stand for we can more easily recall them. In this way we don’t spend time arguing over the things that are being yelled at us (lazy, socialist, get a job, bums, etc.) and keep the conversation about what is really important.
What I thought we could use to help us is our hands, as we do with our hand signals, together with some easy to remember mnemonic devises. My idea started with the convenient fact that we all have ten fingers. This can be the beginning reminding ourselves first that we have ten basic tenets.
I put up my right hand pointer/index finger up. One. I think, my index finger is attached to my hand, which is attached to my arm and body. My body, when I am dead, is a corpse, my body is a corporation. I lower my index finger in the air and remember that we first want to reduce corporate influence on politics.
I imagine a corpse dressed in a hooded sweatshirt under the corporate uniform of a pinstriped suit. I imagine that corpse suddenly getting up like a zombie. I think, “that corpse is a person with a hood,” and remember that we want to eliminate the “personhood” legal status for corporations.
I look back at my hands and see my fingers as citizens united by my palm and I flip my hand of citizens over to see the reverse side of my palm. I remember that we want to reverse the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision. To remember why we need to reverse “Citizens United,” I think back to the corporation corpse (zombie) and imagine it trying to speak, but instead of audible word coming out money keeps coming out of its mouth instead. Then I remember that “Citizens United” was the Supreme Court ruling that designated dollars as free speech and therefore could not be limited.
Then I imagine our corporate zombie trying to give money to a politician on an elevated platform and Occupy movement trying to stop him, and remember that we want to limit campaign contribution. I then imagine our hooded corporate zombie with the word “lobbyist” emblazoned across the shoulders of his pin stripped suit, trying to give money to a government official at a desk while the Occupy people try to prevent him from doing that, and I remember that we want to stop the influence of money and lobbyist on government officials.
When I go back to my fingers and look at my index finger I remember:
1. Stance on reducing or eliminating corporate influence in politics
Eliminate "Personhood" legal status for corporations. The interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.
Reverse Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission (2008 Supreme Court decision), the decision that states that dollars equal free speech.
Fix our broken electoral system by limiting campaign contributions.
Eliminate the influence of money and lobbyists on government officials.
Then I put my index finger and my middle finger up at the same time indicating 2, the second tenet of the Occupy Movement.
I bend my fingers down imagining they are crumbling as I do this. When I put them back up I imaging they are reforming into the walls outside the New York Stock Exchange, and remember stance number 2 is for the reform of Wall Street. I look into the palm of my hand and I imaging that there is a glass there with an image of a seagull on it and remember that we want to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, which keeps brokerage houses out of regular banking.
I look back at my two fingers and I imagine them gripping the handle of a broom and I go into the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and begin to sweep out Black Jack tables, roulette wheels and slot machines and remember that we want to remove the casino like aspects of investing now practiced on Wall Street. Once I’ve finished with sweeping the casino stuff out of Wall Street, I go back in and cuff all the brokers responsible for the gambling, and lead them out of the NYSE, all of them wearing blue trader coats like prison garb and all chained together like a chain gang. This reminds me that we want those who caused the financial crisis to be held accountable.
2. Stance on reforming Wall Street
Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, keeping brokerage houses out of mainline banking.
Eliminate the “casino” aspects of business investing currently practiced on “Wall Street” and place serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and banks.
Hold the people who caused the financial crisis accountable.
I now have my index, middle and ring finger up to signify 3. I go back to my hand and cup them as if to hold water. This reminds me of a dam. I imagine my hands making a life-like model of the Hoover dam on my palm and thousands of tiny workers helping me put it together. This reminds me that Occupy wants the government to be active in creating jobs and one solution for this is to massively expand public works projects. I imagine my hands paying all these tiny workers money, which reminds me that all workers should be paid a living wage.
3. Stance on creating jobs
Massive expansion of public works projects or projects in general designed to employ people directly.
Guaranteed living wage income for employment.
I now have 4 fingers up with my thumb tucked into my palm. I put my 4 fingers together and take my left hand and create a flat top on top of my right hand to form a “Timeout” T. Only this time the T stands for “taxes.” I put my hands together with the palms facing my eyes, tuck my thumbs in and bend my spread out fingers to form a bush, and remember that we want to end Bush-era tax cuts to the wealthy and put in a progressive income tax structure. I now cup my hands together to form a hole and imagine our corporate zombie trying to squeeze through, but then I collapse the hole so he can’t. This reminds me that we need to close corporate loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying taxes. Then I imagine that I have money in my hand and I am giving it to our corporate zombie, but then I don’t, which reminds me that we want to end corporate welfare and handouts.
4. Stance on reforming the tax structure
End the Bush-era tax cuts, institute a progressive income tax that asks more from the wealthiest Americans, close corporate tax loopholes and eliminate corporate handouts.
My right hand is now wide open showing all five fingers. I look at my hand and think how much it is like the leaf of a palm tree and how it would be a shame if that palm tree leaf would be damaged by pollution or burned by climate change. And I imagine it catching fire. And I see the flame turn into the burning flair off of oil well heads and the flames seen above refineries. I remember that we want to strengthen our environmental laws in order to hand future generations a world undamaged by our callousness to the environment. I also remember that we want to end the fossil fuel economy and replace it with clean, renewable energy.
5. Stance related to the environment and energy
Strengthen environmental laws to guarantee a clean, undamaged environment to future generations.
Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same time bringing the alternative energy economy up to current energy demand.
Now my right hand is wide open and I have the index finger of my left hand up. I move my hands over and under each other as if I were holding a globe the size of a softball between them. I move my hands close to my heart and I remember health, which reminds me that all Americans should have healthcare.
6. Stance related to healthcare
Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans.
I now have two fingers up with my left hand and an open hand with my right. I move my hands to point up, fingers together and parallel, like the “touch down” signal, but only in front of my face. I bend my fingers over and touch my middle fingers together to form a roof and remember that we want to freeze foreclosures until we can figure some way to keep families in their homes during this crisis.
7. Stance on how to deal with the mortgage crisis
Keep working families in their homes by putting a freeze on all foreclosures until a solution can be put in place.
I now have three fingers up on my left hand and all five fingers up on my right. Eight. I move my hands together and open them up as if they were a book. This reminds me that college education should be free and that the overburden of college loans currently being held by students needs to be eased.
8. Stance on reforming education
Tuition free public college attendance.
Ease current student debt.
I now have four fingers up on my left and all fingers up on my right hand. Nine. I move my right hand to the edge of my brow then I put my index fingers out with my thumbs up, point them straight ahead and pretend to shoot as if they were pistols. This reminds me that we don’t want to be the policeman of the world and we don’t want to be an empire by force or arms. We want to reduce our military presence around the globe and immediately withdraw our troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
9. Anti-war stance
Reduce the U.S. military globally. We are supposed to be an empire of peace, freedom and liberty, and not of war, force and oppression.
Immediate withdraw all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
My palms are facing out and my fingers are flared. Ten. My fingers are now American workers in their various worker uniforms and clothes. Little by little their clothes signifying their jobs begin to disappear and corporate zombies fingers begin to transform to have the American workers clothes. Before I can do anything, corporate zombie jumps on a corporate jet and flies off. This reminds me that corporations should be taxed for moving American jobs off shore and that goods coming back to this country should have tariffs imposed on them so as not to unfairly compete with wages here in the United States.
10. Stance on out sourcing and moving jobs off shore
Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries.
Impose trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for American family farms, American manufacturing and the American worker.
I welcome other ideas on how to remember the basic tenets.