What you hear in the news is, "What do they want? Why won't they make their demands clear?" Actually, they have. The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City can be found here. Building on the declaration is, "The American People's New Economic Charter".
Keith Olbermann reads the first collective statement of Occupy Wall Street:
2. Social justice
One of the great conservative myths is their mantra, "Equal opportunity, not equal outcome". I've written about that here and here. The sad truth is that the best predictor of a child's social/economic mobility is family income. A lot of that has to do with the education that the parent(s) can provide.
Then along comes a study that has everything in it: Social Justice Report (pdf). A report of that study can be read here: Why inequality in America is even worse than you thought.
Here's a quick summary:
31 OECD member countries were compared for various social justice properties: poverty prevention, access to education, labor market inclusion, social cohesion and non-discrimination, health and intergenerational justice.
Here's how the US did:
Overall rank: 27th/31
Poverty prevention: 29th/31
Child poverty: 28th/31
Access to education: 20th/31
Public expenditure on early childhood education: 22nd/31
Labor market inclusion: 16/31
Unemployment and long-term unemployment: 22nd/31
Social cohesion and non-discrimination: 16th/31
Gini coefficient: 28th/31
Perceived health in relation to income level: tied 11th-13th/31
Intergenerational justice: 20th/31
Debt levels: 25th/31
It is interesting to note that the social democracies of Scandinavia ranked by far the highest. It flies in the face of everything I've been taught about free market economies. Ironically, social democracy seems to me what OWS is demanding. The first key finding of the report:
The north European states comprise a league of their own. Leading by far on the Justice Index,3. More on income inequality
Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland achieve particularly good results in the dimensions of “access to education,” “social cohesion” and “intergenerational justice.”
First, please read, 'Has America Become an Oligarchy?' In defense of free-enterprise, this is why it happened. If the playing field were fair, big companies would get eclipsed by smaller more adaptable companies which in turn would lead to the natural death of the biggest companies and income would revert to the mean. But big perpetual US corporations have used their monopoly power to unfairly take out their competition and have used their political power to rig the game in their favor. So the question becomes, "How do you level the playing field?" without swinging the pendulum too far the other way?
4. Global warming
From, 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' Wed. Oct. 26:
5. Frivalous lawsuits and Tort reform
From, 'The Colbert Report' Tues. Oct. 25:
6. Fox News making up the news:
7. Corporations reclaiming pension funds
Ellen Schultz, author of Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Monday, October 18, 2001:
From the New York Times: When Retirees Are Shortchanged.
An excerpt of her book can be read here: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers.