The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Citizen Occupiers

Have you had enough of politicians who appear incapable of honestly discussing and reaching consensus  on solutions to the challenges threatening our lives, our families, our freedoms, and our hopes?

Burdened by

* an unprecedented housing crisis,

* overwhelming student debt,

* the worst unemployment and income inequality since the Great Depression,

* the failure of leaders to adopt a real energy policy,

* uncertainty over the future of a failing health-care system, and

* governments dominated by mega-corporate-power brokers,

We have indeed had enough! From Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party Patriots, the American cry for “fairness” and justice” resonates across our land and joins with others around the world.

Occupy is more than the political left. Occupy reaches out beyond ideology, beyond liberal and conservative labels. Occupy raises the legitimate grievances  of the 99 percent to a roar rising to the highest powers in the land.

Those great words, “We the People,” still stir American’s aspirations. We want empowerment and to enjoy “the blessings of liberty”. Let’s take a look behind the street protests and encampments to reveal some of the habits motivating the Occupy movement.

Shared Values.

A general consensus of commonly held values exists among Occupy movements . Behind it all, seven habits seem to engender both hope and outrage: Consensus, Nonviolence, Decentralization, Fairness, Responsibility, Freedom, and Sustainability.

Consensus. For decades groups ranging from small businesses to nonprofit corporations began turning away from divisive simple-majority rule. They embraced, developed, and refined cooperative forms for decision making. They breathed new life into an old democratic ideal: the consensus process.

Nonviolence. Occupy Wall Street embraces nonviolence as a primary strategy for their movement. Since World War II in particular, nonviolent campaigns and movements have increasingly proven their effectiveness. By all measures, nonviolence has become the strategy of choice for mass movements, and the methods for nonviolent-political change empower tactics and direct actions for success in the twenty-first century.

Decentralization. Burdened by overreaching power from private corporations and government bureaucracies, we want effective governance and fairness free from the machinations of the private sector as they attempt to regulate our lives and pursue ambition and power. Decentralization evokes common cause for conservatives and libertarians, moderates, liberals and progressives in the Occupy movement. Decentralization means we want decision-making close to the people.

When institutions become “too big to fail,” without absurd subsidies, it is time to demand solutions! We the People empower institutions from corporations to government, and We the People want our lives back!

Fairness. We want a tax structure we can respect. We want to believe it is fair, reasonable, and just. We want people to be both free and responsible, so a spirit of fairness can empower our lives and country.

Responsibility. Reacting to proclamations of corporate greed, of rewards paid to corporate elites regardless of accomplishment or merit, people moved into public spaces demanding to be heard and treated fairly. Our elites must accept responsibility for their actions and pay their fair share of taxes.

Freedom. Combined with responsibility, freedom dominates the mind of the American people. Indeed, the statue placed atop the new Capitol dome in Washington during the American Civil War, was herself christened, “Goddess of Freedom Triumphant.” around the world today, the cry for individual and human rights drives the new global wave for democracy. When governments join together with corporate elites to take rights away from the people and award them to special interests, freedom looses out. Rights belong not to governments, but to the people. Among these, rights of speech, assembly, petition, privacy, association, worship, self defense, and others inherently belong to the people.

Sustainability. Finally, stop giving sick institutions band-aids designed for short-term relief. Isn’t it time to actually lead? Isn’t it time to honestly work to resolve challenges by adopting sustainable solutions?

When institutions become “too big to fail,” without absurd subsidies, it is time to demand solutions! We the People empower institutions from corporations to government, and We the People want our lives back!

ENOUGH!

If mega-corporations continue to impose themselves as a new governing elite, we will continue to say, no! Hell no! If government continues to impose weak-minded and ineffective programs and laws which benefit only the wealthy elite, we not only say no, but we will be in your offices, at your corporate headquarters, and in the streets.

Occupy today joins with the people of the Earth in an international wave bringing democracy to the people. Spokespeople for elite media try to describe these movements as having “gone away.” To this, the answer is look to the neighborhoods and towns. “We’re not back! We never left!” “Remember, we will not go away. We have, indeed, had enough!

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What is Occupy? What does the Occupy Movement Hope to Accomplish?

As the Occupy movement evolves beyond encampments, what does Occupy mean today, and why should it matter?

Once again, as so often occurs throughout American history, a new populism has energized people, not only in our country, but around the world. What does Occupy mean here in America? Why should it matter? Can we identify its core motivations, ideas, demands, and goals? Is it really only an issue for the political left, or does it speak to a broader range of people and points of view?

With rare exceptions, my fellow journalists have performed their services poorly by failing to report common and easily identified fundamentals regularly expressed by the broad mass of people. Small wonder confusion exists about why so many people, right, left, and in between, have raised the cry for fundamental reforms in our financial and market systems, education, health care, energy and trade, and with bloated and over-reaching government! It is well past time to step back and take a serious look at the Occupy response to the frustrations of people across the country and around the world.
We hear these frustrations expressed by people who want to work and bring success and happiness into their lives and the lives of their families and loved ones. The appeal of Occupy touches people throughout the political and economic spectrums. And, it is about time “We the People” had an accurate accounting of the motivations, frustrations and values of this world-wide phenomenon.

“We are the 99 percent,” must be central to what defines occupy, what it is and what it supports. It can not become an empty slogan. Legitimacy derives from addressing the conditions and needs of the 99 percent. Specific solutions may vary among the broad range of citizens, stakeholders, within the 99 percent. Democracy works when greed does not subvert the process.

Yet, just how can journalists cover the fast-evolving movements when they, like so many today, are already overwhelmed by overtime and restricted salaries? Lacking time to gather information for their stories, we all fall victim to popular misconceptions dictated by corporate media. Well, the answers are readily available, so, time to break free of those misconceptions and ask, “what is Occupy?”

Occupy has grown and evolved. Occupy explores the process of democracy and cooperative decision-making through nonviolent means. It seeks to empower the full range of citizens in democracies. The emphasis on empowerment and empowering open processes, exposing greed and bloated corporations and over-reaching governments requires broad points of view, rather than the usual narrow goals pursued by most interest groups. our media simply need to do a better job as custodians of the public trust.
What are the key values of the Occupy movement? Can we occupy the process.”

Consensus or Cooperative Decision-Making. Occupy groups focus on consensus and modified consensus to make decisions.

Cooperation when making decisions requires fundamental rethinking of how we each listen, examine issues, and identify core purposes for coming together to resolve and solve life’s challenges. In the end, modified or straight-forward consensus builds win-win solutions, replacing the common win-loose, winner-take-all policies our political system revels in.

“Rules for Reaching Consensus,: A Modern Approach to Decision Making” by Steven Saint and James R Lawson. 1994, offers organizations and groups, business and non-profit organizations, concise, tested, and proven means to quickly understand and employ powerful tools to achieve win-win solutions. We need a new edition for today’s Occupy.

Be advised, cooperative decision-making demands recognition of the purpose a group identifies as its reason for coming together. So, often when leaders fail to lead and achieve meaningful results, the failure can be identified as a failure of purpose.

Decentralization of authority, power and decision making.. Big corporate over-reaching government, government policies, or government regulations too far removed from the people frustrate success, rather than preserve, protect, and serve the very people they pretend to benefit.

Nonviolent-political change. Nonviolence remains a core value of the occupy movement.. We have seen it in Burma, Beloruss, Serbia, Tunisia, Egypt, and here in our own United States.

Chief among thinkers and practitioners of contemporary nonviolence is Gene Sharp. Sharp, a retired college professor and architect of the re-energized nonviolent alternatives to violent confrontation lives in Boston. His Albert Einstein Institution champions the new wave of movements employing the traditions of Henry David Thoreau, Mahandas Ghandi, and Martin Luther King. Recently, his work and successes lead to a major documentary, “How to Make a Revolution,” already shown in Australia, the United Kingdom, and in the United States.

Democracy. The democratic process deserves respect by all legitimate stakeholders in our republic.

Key Concerns: Occupy Ourselves.

Economic opportunity and Fairness. In the 1920s, Congress released a study tracing the roots of World War I to market pressures and manipulation of governments encouraging national expansion and arms development and sales. Sixty years later, Jean Kirkpatrick, of the Reagan administration, reminded us of these findings while serving as US ambassador to the united Nations.

Today, when we follow the growth of international markets since World War II, it does not take long to find the roots of the problems of home foreclosures, currency crises, and poor job growth in similar market failures. We as people are not served by purveyors of greed, but certainly are affected by the huge volume of money they extract from our economies.

Social Mobility. Our middle class has stopped expanding. The great expansion of opportunity enriched the generation who won World War II, but their children discovered wages beginning to flatten as early as 1975. Now, almost four decades later, wages have not only remained flat, but have declined in some instances, while those at the top continue to demand more for themselves and demand we pay their taxes as well as our own!

Sustainable Public Policy. Any policy of any government must be able to sustain itself over time. These may fund or regulate markets, banks, road construction, educate our children, make health care available to our families, protect the environment, or regulate interstate or international trade.

Personal andCollective Responsibility. Too often, government has responded to pressures of concentrations of wealth, instead of remembering the people they pledged to represent.

Fundamental Rights: Occupy Liberty.

Access to Education. During the 1960s, the children of the World War II generation enjoyed unprecedented opportunities for education. college graduates became common in families where they had previously been unknown. Today, students graduate burdened by debt unimaginable a generation ago. Access has declined, and people, young and old, fear the rising costs of training required to earn good jobs. Uncertainty and concern for the future knows no ideology or age limits today.

Employment. Despite trillions in amassed wealth, money taken out of our economies prevents job growth. Infrastructure crumbles, while governments lack the means or will to rebuild the transportation, communications, power, and financial systems necessary to stimulate full employment of our people.

Housing. Somewhere, the ideal of free and open markets gave way to unregulated greed, concentrations of wealth, and abuses of privilege and outright fraud, matched by government policies demanding unsustainable-home loans. What we discovered, beginning as early as Dec 2006, was an overinflated-housing market dominated by the strangest documentation for real property in the long history of the world. Results? Well, the entire house of cards has been propped up by tens of trillions of dollars of free, that’s correct, free, funds and guarantees provided by the US Federal Reserve to the banking and home loan system. How many of you want free government loans or loan guarantees? Meanwhile, the rest of us just want a roof over our heads and safety for our families.

Privacy, peace and security. Everything we do today is monitored. Been to London lately? Notice the cameras monitoring every move you make? How about all the video monitoring in the United States? How about private companies gathering information about people in order to mine it for advantages for marketing their products. It is one thing when we are asked. Another when we receive some payment for our private information. It is an entirely different matter when domestic spying and controls restrict our rights to speak, gather information, and feel secure in our lives and privacy. Governments and private corporations, as they grow larger each pose threats only imagined by writers like Aldus Huxley, “Brave New World,” and George Orwell, “1984.”

Speech, association, assembly, expression, movement, petition. What value do we place on our ability to gather, talk, demand to be heard, cause our governments and the multinational businesses who regulate our private and economic lives Do we have the right to travel freely? Why are some states no longer allowed to build highways without paying private, often foreign companies, millions of dollars in penalties? A what point do we wake up to discover others now tell us what is free and what has become only privilege? We are crossing that line today. Occupy has raised the cry. We have said, “No!”

Freedom from domination by elites. In classical times we called small-groups who concentrated wealth, power, and influence oligarchs or plutocrats. The rise of an elite class who own increasing amounts of wealth concentrated as never before imagined threaten the fabric of our elections, our governments, the choice of products we purchase, and the quality of information we depend on to make informed decisions. Wonder why corporate control and domination raises such consternation among so many different kinds of people? Isn’t it obvious? Just look at the elections in the United States this time around. It is a national embarrassment. Corruption has become legal and expected. Time to Occupy the vote, here, inNorth Africa, and everywhere!
Specific Core Issues and goals. Occupy the legislatures, occupy the law.

End corporate personhood. Corporations are not natural persons. They are immortal, hold onto power, and prevent people from accessing economic opportunity and exercising political rights..

Protect personal speech. Corporate speech is not the same as personal speech. States should return to enforcing and when necessary re-enacting laws regulating corporate behavior with government and speech common until they began to change in 1956. The Constitution of the United states needs immediate amendments to end corporate speech and personhood as rights, returning them to privileges as they once were..

Do not reward extractionism.. Extracting capital from markets is fundamentally subversive to capitalism and healthy economies..

Prosecute fraud. We need an honest review of our financial markets over the past 35 years in order to study in detail laws and regulations enabling greed, financial waste, and mismanagement to subvert our housing, financial, educational, health, energy, and international trade markets. Where ever fraud exists in either the private or public sectors, in business or in government, the people have the right to know criminal behavior will be prosecuted and punished.

Encourage voting, Do not manipulate access to the polls to achieve short-term political ends..

Enact fair Taxation and economic policies.. Tax rates and government regulations should build healthy economies and reflect the true costs and benefits available to the American people. this holds true for any country.

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