This tag is associated with 4 posts

Why Occupy Wall Street Wants Universal Healthcare & Education

Occupy Wall Street Healthcare Sign

Universal Healthcare and Universal Higher Education are two of the European economic system’s highest achievements.

However, they are constantly bashed by pundits with little to no facts about those systems.  Pundits tell us that the healthcare and educational systems in Europe are not as good as what we have in America, but the statistic prove them wrong.

For those of you who think we have the best Healthcare in the world:

America is ranked 37th in the world according to the World Health Organization, yet we spend almost double what other countries spend.  France was ranked #1.

However, we spend more than double what France spends on Heathcare.

Healthcare Costs

I personally received treatment in an emergency room in a mountain village in Europe and the total cost to me was $4.  They performed the exact same procedure that they would have in the US, with the exact same tools and medicine.  I can personally vouch that their system is vastly more convenient and helpful than ours.  Had I been to an emergency room in America, I would still probably be paying the bill in addition to higher insurance premiums.

Education is the same story.  The United States was recently downgraded to only “Average” in its education ranking:

US Educational Rankings

At least we beat Mexico and Bulgaria!

USA Education government spending

Those against universal healthcare and education believe that somehow, providing the most basic needs of our citizens will prevent people from working hard, and that higher taxes will make the American dream, the ability to improve your social and financial situation and to live better than your parents lived, more difficult to attain.  The truth, however, is very different.

For people who say Universal Healthcare and Education can’t work, we ask: then why does it work in Europe? Why are Europeans more upwardly mobile than Americans?

Europe has a better educational system, in many cases far better healthcare standards, and the population of Europe is more upwardly mobile than America’s middle class.  That means you are more likely to achieve the American dream in Europe, than in America.

“Results show that Britain and the United States have the lowest levels of cross-generation mobility [in the test], lying well below Canada and the Nordic countries.”

Excerpt from Jo Blanden; Paul Gregg and Stephen Machin (April 2005). “Intergenerational Mobility in Europe and North America” (PDF). The Sutton Trust.

View this New York Times chart for more comparisons:

 THE UGLY TRUTH: Americans are NOT as upwardly mobile as Europeans!!!

Could it be because Americans are crushed beneath tons of college debt and insanely high healthcare and insurance costs?US college tuition increase

US student loan chart

Rising Healthcare Costs

Wouldn’t you rather pay slightly higher taxes and never have to worry about how you are going to pay for your children’s healthcare or education again?

Or would you rather continue to pay increasingly high health insurance costs and ever-increasing college loan costs, while our free market system crumbles under the weight of the debt?

It is our argument that America’s current Healthcare and Educational systems are PREVENTING Americans from improving their economic lives, because of the crushing costs of healthcare insurance and student loans on average Americans.

A single payer system is the only way to lower healthcare costs.  Health Insurance companies profit from your illness and death. The only “death panels” are the people in the insurance companies who deny you coverage.  The government cannot deny you medical coverage in a single payer system.

It is clear that the burden of the Healthcare system and the Educational System must be borne by all.  It is currently only carried by a few, mostly by the middle class, and they can’t continue to carry it.  Everyone, rich and poor, must pay into the system.  Everyone, rich and poor, should also be able to enjoy its benefits.


Occupy Wall Street: List of Demands Part II

Occupy Wall Street Demand sign

Part of what makes the Occupy Wall Street movement so unique is that there is no codified list of demands that the protesters all agree on.  In fact, there is no single issue that sparked the protests. This is a reflection of the times.

There is no single issue that can be changed to make America’s problems go away.  That is part of the feeling that has created this movement: the feeling that so much needs to change that it can’t even be expressed in words.

The issues are complex, the problems are all-encompassing, and the solutions are nowhere to be seen.  However, through all the dust that has been stirred up by the protests, great ideas are emerging.

Here are some more of those ideas:

Demands are coming in from all over the country: provided a (in certain claims, excessive) list of possible demands, which include:

  • “Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment”
  • “Institute a universal single payer healthcare system”
  • “Free college education”
  • “One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now”
  • “Bring American elections up to international standards”
  • “Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all”

The Huffington Post’s article by Rep. Keith Ellison states:

  • “The message is that working Americans want Wall Street to be accountable”
  • “Working Americans want a fair tax system”
  • “Americans want the Congress to pass legislation that produces jobs”
  • “Americans are frustrated by continued income disparities and the inability of Congress to invest in jobs”

Clearly the main focus is holding Wall Street and the US Government accountable for the losses that occurred due to their policies, and reforming the economic, tax, and political systems so that it doesn’t occur again.

One of the top journalists covering the Wall Street debacle and the corruption of the political system in dealing with the aftermath of the economic crash, is Rolling Stone’s Matt Tiabbi, who suggests the following economic and tax reforms in his proposed List of Demands:

  • “Break up the (too big to fail) monopolies” that threaten our national economic security and “mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks”
  • “A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives…to pay for your own bailouts”
  • Companies that received bailouts should not be allowed to contribute to political campaigns
  • “We need an immediate repeal of the preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income”
  • “Change the way bankers get paid”, so that bankers stop getting paid upfront bonuses for big deals that might have negative consequences for their companies in the future.  Large bonuses should be paid out in company stock over 2-3 years so that the banker’s bonus is dependent on the long term health of the company and the economy.

All of Taibbi’s suggestions seem like no-brainers, except for breaking up the monopolies, which should be done with caution.  It seems clear from his suggestions that Wall Street needs to finally start paying its fair share of taxes on all those billions in earnings.

Taibbi and other experts have also suggested reinstating the Glas-Steagall Act to reform the banks so they aren’t too-big-to-fail.

“At one time commercial banks and investment banks had to remain separate entities as mandated by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. Today, however, because of Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1998 they can be combined.”

This deregulation of banks “helped turn every part of the financial universe into a casino.”

Banks need to be broken up into separate entities so that banks cannot participate in risky trading without consequences, and bonuses need to be paid out over time to stop encouraging wild speculation gambles. The American people should not be insuring Wall Street’s gambling habit with their bank deposits.

The article “What the Occupy Wall Street Demands Should Be” suggests that the protesters follow in the footsteps of FDR and demand a Second Bill of Rights, including rights like:

  • “The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation”
  • “The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation”
  • “The right of every family to a decent home”
  • “The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health”
  • “The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment”
  • “The right to a good education” including “affordable access to college and that education should be world class”

It is probably dangerous to call these “rights”, since however true and good the points may be, they are not innate rights of an individual simply by virtue of being born.  However, if we agree as a country, as we likely should, that our entire society (the rich, middle class, and the poor) will be better off if every citizen is given adequate education and healthcare, then we should provide it by law.  Life in America will without a doubt be better for everyone if all American citizens have healthcare and education provided for them.

As for the living wage, if healthcare and education were provided for free, the living wage would not be such an issue.  Corporations also need more incentives to hire, rather than fire and layoff, workers in the current economic environment.

Added to the ongoing BEST IDEAS SO FAR list of demands will be:


Basic healthcare checkups, advice, and procedures should be free to all. Wealthy people can still pay to be first in line with the best doctors.


Higher education should be fully subsidized by the government. Your grades will determine your eligibility for larger subsidies to better schools. Wealthy students can still pay to go wherever they want.


Reinstate a form of the Glass-Steagall Act to separate commercial and investment banks, to discourage rampant speculation, and to prevent banks from being too big to fail.

Banker bonuses need to be paid out over time to encourage long term growth and to discourage short term speculation.


No more corporate donations will be allowed in political campaigns.  Campaigns will be publicly financed through voluntary donations from tax payers, and funds set aside by the government.  All political candidates will be given the same amount of money.

Companies that received bailout money cannot fund political campaigns.


Repeal of the carried-interest tax break (allows Wall street gamblers to pay only 15% rather than 30% on their earnings)

Tax Wall Street on all stocks, bonds and derivatives.


Who We Are

Occupy Wall Street

We are the masses who don’t require millions of dollars to be happy.

We are the masses who don’t need a 3000 square foot house to sleep well at night.

We are the masses who think a mountain of debt is not a healthy future for anyone.

We are the masses who know that a better society is possible.

We are the masses who think peace is a better solution than war.

We are the masses who choose to use our energy to lift up our brothers, rather than hold them down to lift up ourselves.

We are the masses who don’t think it’s right for a few to make massive profits at the expense of the many.

We are the masses who simply request that the basic needs of all our brothers and sisters be met.

We are the masses who think education and healthcare are good for everyone.

We are the masses who know that our country has the resources, the ingenuity, and the integrity to improve life for everyone in America.

We are the masses who understand that improving another person’s life improves the entire society.

We are the masses who are tired of being ignored.

*Feel free to add your own “We are” lists in the comments section.

Occupy Wall Street: List of Demands Part I

Wall Street Occupation

The one thing uniting the protests is a sense of being wronged by the financial system and the political system designed to protect us.   What has not been forged yet is a common set of principles and political changes that the protesters agree upon.

Demands must have the following attributes:

  1. They should be immediately changeable
  2. They should be largely uncontroversial amongst the protesters
  3. They should have evidence to back up their effectiveness

Here is a list of some of the most popular and usable solutions so far:


1. Subsidize the creation of new jobs, not just companies: give companies a subsidy for each newly hired employee

Example: government pays up to 50% of salaries for newly hired employees, up to $15,000 per year.  (If your new salary is $20,000 per year, the government pays your company $10,000, if it is $30,000 per year, the government pays $15,000, if it is $100,000 per year, the government pays $15,000)

This pumps money directly into the workforce, and every cent goes to new workers. That money will then be immediately spent in the form of consumer spending, and much of it will return to the government through taxes.

2. Reward companies for keeping employees until retirement.

3. Discourage layoffs with increased taxes on companies that layoff workers while increasing executive compensation.


1. Increase taxes on the rich according to a graduated tax system.

2. Increase taxes on investments of the rich according to a graduated tax system which does not affect small investors or retirees (investments of less than $1 million).

3. Limit the growth of executive compensation by increasing taxes on corporate executives when their compensation exceeds a certain % of the average salary at their company.  Executives should not be making 100 times the salary of regular employees.  The more executives pay their employees, the more they can pay themselves.


1. Get our military out of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Spend that $2 billion per week on rebuilding America.

Occupy Wall Street War Spending

Putting the Annual Cost of War in Perspective (Source: New York Times)

2. Don’t train an army that can fight against us; train teachers and build schools.  Educate the people so they can build lives for themselves, not armies.

3. Stop invading other countries and fighting wars that we can’t afford!