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Occupy Wall Street Movement

In: Business and Management

Submitted By holly0553
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Occupy Wall Street Movement
Holly Hyder
Professor Zimmerman
Business Ethics
July 28, 2013

Occupy Wall Street Movement
In the fall of 2011 there began a movement in America. This movement would forever be known as Occupy Wall Street. Taking over Liberty Square in the Manhattan Financial District in New York, a group of Americans began a nonviolent protest over the economic state in America. One of the stances that Occupy Wall Street held was that 99% of American’s economic well-being was controlled by the top 1% of Americans. This economic truth would no longer be accepted by this group of Americans. This group also called for solidarity inside of the 99% of Americans defining this in a set of principles. These principles involved a direct and transparent engagement of participatory democracy, exercising responsibility on collective and individual levels, empowerment of each other against all oppression, redefining how labor is valued, the sanctity of individual privacy, that education is human right, and that all knowledge, technologies, and culture be open to free access, creation, modification, and distribution (Stone, 2011)). Together in this movements solidarity they came together in New York to speak out about the injustices that they have suffered at the hands of corporations. These facts were that homes had been placed in foreclosure without the original mortgages, bonuses have been given to executives after corporations have received bail outs from taxpayers, the constant outsourcing of labor and using that ideal as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay, and purposely keeping people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media to name a few. With these sets of principles and these statements of truths this movement set into motion to Occupy Wall Street. (Poppitz, 2011)

This movement directly relates to the ethics of business and this paper will demonstrate the connection between this movement and many of the topics discussed in this course so far. First off, there will be a discussion of the many moral and economic implications that the movement incited. Next this paper will analyze these implications discussed against the utilitarian, Kantian, and virtue ethics. It will also determine which of these theories would best apply to the movement and why. Determining who is responsible for the income inequality and wealth distribution in the United States of America is also paramount in the analyzation of this movement. In this analysis the paper will determine if this wealth distribution happened suddenly or slowly built up over time. Then this paper will suggest an equitable outcome from the movement that would work for our capitalistic society. Finally this paper will predict whether the Occupy Wall Street movement will continue, fade away, or turn into a different movement.
These implications that Occupy Wall Street had stated need to be analyzed to better understand what they fully mean. In one statement the participants of Occupy Wall Street wants the illegal foreclosure of homes to no longer be allowed and have spoken out on this practice quite strongly. With this one must think how is this foreclosure illegal? Did the homeowner not ask for the mortgage? Was the homeowner aware of what would happen if they failed to pay for the home they had borrowed money to purchase? In all it comes down to that the homeowner wants to blame the Wall Street investor and the banker for allowing them to wager their money away in an unsure system of numbers for the chance of a better life. In all these statements from the Occupy Movement that state this is true, it is truly a scapegoat for the inherent responsibility created when signing a loan contract and agreement. Another statement created from the Occupy Movement is that corporations gave our high bonuses to their executives after a taxpayer bailout. This statement must be looked at as why a bail out was even necessary. If a company is failing and needs money to survive its mistakes, why would they give out bonuses to executives for a job well done? This statement is true in every sense of the word. No company, regardless of whom it may be, should take a tax payer bailout and then use that money to pay bonuses to its higher level executives. This type of business management is a gross waste and abuse of government funds. Also this type of action demonstrates very low, or none at all, regard to the value of the American taxpayer’s dollars. Now to the third implication that was mention in the last paragraph, outsourcing. Now in America there has been tax breaks given to companies to outsource to countries other than America. Not only does this type of incentive program bring jobs to other countries spreading the wealth of America’s business savvy executives. This type of action removes entry level factory jobs that have been a backbone of America for countless years since the industrial revolution. Without these types of jobs, more and more Americans are now unable to survive without the government’s assistance. Under this type of assistance, a person can choose to just give up on life and continue to live off the assistance provided by the American taxpayers that continue to work hard towards their dreams. This is all thanks to the American government allowing companies to receive a break on taxes to outsource American factory jobs to a small town in communist China where the labor is cheap and the environment protection is minimal. The last statement has been shown to be a very scary and shocking truth in America. When looking at the choices of media you will notice a different story from many different media source on the same story. A reason for this is because media companies want to have a certain viewer basis and create the story to those specific viewers. Now these four statements show some of the feelings of the Occupy Wall Street movement and all of them can fall under a certain type of ethics. When reviewing the implications three of the four would fall under the utilitarian ethics. In that concept the bailout bonuses, controlled media, and outsourcing stances definitely fall under this theory of ethics. Rectifying this issues would definitely go a long ways to better the issues demonstrated by this movement. In that no longer having those types of actions in America or recreating the regulations that control those three ventures would help the entire population of America or in Occupy Wall Street’s idea the 99% of America. The last statement of the illegal foreclosure of homes by banks would fall under the Kantian ethics. In that it would be the homeowner who would need to fulfill their obligations when they request any type of loan amount. Yes, the banks should not loan out money to someone who cannot afford the loan but the consumers signing these mortgages have an inherent personal obligation not to exceed their own means when requesting loan amounts. Overall, I think with every type of movement many things will change and many ideas will come in and go, yet when think of the ethics of the movement utilitarian ethics would fit the ideals of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Since all they want to do is better the entire nation as a whole.
With the discussion of Occupy Wall Street’s movements, the idea of their statement that 99% of the America is being run by 1% of Americans who possess substantial wealth. Exactly what does that mean one could ask? It means that when you break down the wealth in the country the top 1% of America hold 35.4% of all the privately held wealth. While the next 19% hold 53.5% leaving only 11% for the bottom 80% of Americans. These bottom 80% are normally the wage and lower salary workers. With this type of unbalanced wealth distribution one can see how America’s economy is ran by only a few people in the highest of wealthy circles. How did this type of uneven wealth distribution come to pass in America the land of the free? Well this has been a normalcy since the beginning of the country. Now in the early 1800s it wasn’t as bad as the 1920s but there has been ups and downs in the economy throughout the country’s history. Yet the wealth distribution of America has never been fair throughout the entire history of the country. This is likely never to change either since there is continued tax cuts for the rich and higher taxes for the middle class. America will always be a land of the free for those who can pay the most. (Domhoff, 2013)
Now with this movement in full swing what could happen to ease both sides of the argument? We can’t take the people who speak out about the wealth distribution and constant hardships for the 99% to a cell and throw away the key. We also cannot as a nation allow more and more corruption to run our countries business and allow so much wealth and power to be held in the hands of so few. The best solution for this problem is to have simpler tax regulations that create a fair and balance system to redistribute the wealth into the country while not creating a system that brings one group down to oppression so another can rise to great wealth. Also there should be no government bail outs to any private company no matter what will come from the failure. This will allow these specific companies to hold greater respect for their jobs, customers, and the bottom dollar. No more tax payer money put in the pockets of executives for bonuses would calm many of the protestors. Also the media should be forced to follow a strict rule of “truth above ratings”, that way no matter who the news is about the truth is always published to the populace. Now lastly the American people need to take responsibility for their actions and accept that the stock market is nothing more than gambling and that when signing into a contract that they will be responsible for their end of the agreement. With these solutions the issues brought up by Occupy Wall Street could be calmed.
To date, over 1000 people have been arrested as a part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. There is no longer a tent city inside of the park in Manhattan. Also the people who continue this 99% matter mantra are no longer running headlines as they did in 2011. This shows that the Occupy Wall Street became nothing more than a fad that picked up steam during a country’s financial crisis. While the Occupy Wall Street made very good points in things that needed to change, this organization has become quiet and will one day fad away into nothing more than a crazy protest that showed nothing for their actions other than police records for the protestors. Hopefully one day America will stand up and speak with their votes and take back the government from the disgusting corrupt government and create a better democracy. Until then the people or those deemed the 99% will continue to organize under different and changing names asking for a better system of wealth distribution and fairness in the finical market.

References
Domhoff, G. W. (2013, Feb 1). Wealth, Income, and Power. Who Rules America?, p. 1. Retrieved from http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

Poppitz, T. (2011, Oct 18). Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. Occupy Wall Street, p. 1. Retrieved from http://www.nycga.net/resources/documents/declaration/

Stone, F. (2011, Oct 19). Principles of Solidarity. Occupy Wall Street, p. 1. Retrieved from http://www.nycga.net/resources/documents/principles-of-solidarity/

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