The Occupy Wall Street movement started from young protestors growing tired of high student loans and low grossing wages. The movement had moral and economic implications. These implications could be compared to utilitarian, Kantian, and virtue ethics, with one that best applies to the movement. There are several people and organizations that can be held responsible for the inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. There is an equitable outcome that would be appropriate for our capitalistic society from this movement. The movement will fade away with time with likely outcomes to come from the protests. Discuss the moral and economic implications involved in the movement.
One of the main concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the rising cost of college and student loans. If student loans were forgiven, however, it wouldn’t solve the fundamental problem of costly education. A government program that forgave student loans would improve the finances of people holding student loans, but it would do so at the expense of taxpayers in America. Many of these taxpayers would fall within the 99%. Furthermore, by seeking bailouts for student loans, the Occupy Wall Street movement is fundamentally no different than the banks and corporations that they’re criticizing. For the most part, media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protest has been predictable.
Stories are narrated according to the pro/con structure typical of balanced reporting or sensationalism. On the one hand, positive focus sympathetically explains why protesters have been demonstrating en masse since Sept. 17. These accounts place the activist mantra of “We are the 99%” in a historical and economic context that connects significant inequalities in wealth to violations of justice that should prompt people of conscience to demand rectification. On the other hand, negative reports argue against interpreting the protest as legitimate civil disobedience. Occupy Wall Street is an especially interesting collective action movement because it embodies a distinctive and pervasive shift in ethical orientation. The long-simmering forces that gave rise to the protests also have profoundly altered how students today view their place in society.
Analyze each of the implications identified above against the utilitarian, Kantian, and virtue ethics to determine which theory best applies to the movement. Support your position with examples and evidence. We are living in historic times. Capitalism will not be brought down in this through this movement. This is as a result of weaknesses of linkages between working class revolutionary theory and practice as represented by the partisan and broader social manifestation of this most decisive force of bringing to birth a new world on the ashes of that morass which we now live in. But it is an hour in which great leaps forward can be made and are being made.
Such hours come with lessons that would be invaluable for us living today and for generations coming after us that would eventually cleanse the life of humankind of the ugliness and pains that capitalism stamps on its beauty and fullness. Utilitarian ethics on its own part conflates the expansion of wealth in society as a whole with greater happiness for the greater number of persons in society, thus losing sight of the proportional increase in unhappiness for most members of society that create the wealth, with the expansion of such wealth, which a few appropriate (Ferguson 2008). This is of particular importance for industrial relations, which addresses the site of relations in the process of production.
Determine who is responsible for income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. In your analysis, make sure to include if this is something that happened suddenly or if it built up over time. Explain your rationale. Wealth accumulates over time. The highest earners are able to save much of their incomes, whereas lower earners can’t. That means high earners can accumulate more and more wealth as time goes on (assuming they don’t blow it all, of course). Higher-earning Americans also have the resources to pay for better tax preparation, which helps them reduce their taxes and save even more money. On the tax front, note also that people who have already accumulated wealth stand to earn a lot in capital gains, which are also taxed at a lower rate. Most of the attention paid to economic inequality pertains to what people are making each hour or each year, not what they already have stored up or what kind of cushion they have to fall back on. Perhaps that’s because most people do not have a firm grasp of how much they’re “worth,” but they can always look to their paychecks to see how much they have coming in, and can make easier comparisons to their neighbors.
Proposals for a wealth tax resurface periodically. The idea is always contentious since it basically requires double-taxation of earnings. There are lots of existing examples of double-taxation on the books, though. Few measures would help the long-term health of the economy more than reducing the economic and political clout of Wall Street. The financial sector exists to connect savers with investors and to do so at the lowest feasible cost and risk. In a sensible world, we would view the financial sector as nothing more than a transactions cost to be minimized along the way to producing the goods and services that the economy is really about. No society has come close to making wealth distribution equal. The great egalitarian experiments of the 20th century proved this, as attentive readers have known since the 1957 publication of Yugoslav dissident Milovan Đilas’ The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System, which revealed shocking disparities in quality of life in the “workers’ paradises” of Eastern Europe.
China gave the world a horrific double-shot of rural poverty and relative urban wealth; it is only since the country joined global trading markets that it has seen provincial poverty decline. At the same time, income inequality in China has grown, as it does in every rising economy. Growing wealth disparities are in fact a sign that overall prosperity is increasing in a competitive marketplace. The economist Gary Becker recently described how this works: “It would be hard to motivate the vast majority of individuals to exert much effort, including creative effort, if everyone had the same earnings, status, prestige, and other types of rewards. Fewer individuals would engage in the hard work involved in finishing high school and going on to college if they did not expect their additional education to bring higher incomes, better health, more prestige, and better opportunities to marry.” Creating general equality of opportunity is among the greatest U.S. achievements.
But creating equality of outcomes has caused misery everywhere it has been tried. Suggest an equitable outcome from the movement that would be appropriate for our capitalistic society. This protesting will end up in getting at least one of the following token changes enacted: Eliminating the electoral college but leaving campaign finance untouched; Outlaw lobbying and then creating a new official department with a new name that companies use to lobby through; Legalize gay marriage; Raise the tax on the rich a small amount for a few years. After winning this token victory the people will go back home to their normal lives and get stuck in the rat race again. It’s true that loan forgiveness will not solve the fundamental problem with education costs, because the real problem is that corporations just aren’t interested in paying for it, they’d rather make money off it, which is precisely what they’re doing. But this does not mean that the costs have to be shifted to the taxpayer.
The private institutions that created the debt in the first place ought to bear the burden. But there is a way that education costs can be drastically reduced without raising taxes a dime on anyone, even corporations: by slashing the defense budget. There are high-quality universities in third world countries that have negligible education costs, simply because they are funded directly by the public sector. Why the richest country on the planet can’t have inexpensive education as well is anathema.
Cutting the defense budget & increasing education spending are some of the main goals of the Occupy movement, which are also shared by the vast majority of the population, but unfortunately not by our politicians. Michael O’Hanlon examines proposed budget cuts for the Department of Defense, noting that U.S. military will have to eliminate programs and forces just to accomplish the savings goals now on the books, and outlining possible ideas for cutting spending without harming national security. Predict whether the movement will continue, fad away, or turn into something else. Provide a rationale with your response.
Occupy Wall Street was at the pinnacle of its power in October 2011, when thousands of people converged at Zuccotti Park and successfully foiled the plans of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sweep away the occupation on grounds of public health. From that vantage point, the Occupy movement appears to have tumbled off a cliff, having failed to organize anything like a general strike on May Day, despite months of rumblings of mass walkouts, blockades and shutdowns. If history repeats itself then the police will continually harass the protesters and make their lives miserable using nonphysical methods. It will not come to Americans getting shot by law enforcement officials. Technology and a more connected culture has changed the political landscape so that less outrages more people.
And the Internet has given every person in the world a megaphone that can be heard around the world. It doesn’t take too many people with megaphones to rally the world. Americans will put their collective foot down after a few more beatings well before it comes to shooting. Plus, a lot of law enforcement personnel are pretty fed up with the system themselves. If the protesters made a more concentrated effort to win the hearts and minds of the police and the military they could speed up the process of forcing the government to throw them their victory sooner than later.
The Occupy Wall Street movement started from young protestors growing tired of high student loans and low grossing wages. The movement had moral and economic implications. These implications could be compared to utilitarian, Kantian, and virtue ethics, with one that best applies to the movement. There are several people and organizations that can be held responsible for the inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. There is an equitable outcome that would be appropriate for our capitalistic society from this movement. The movement will fade away with time with likely outcomes to come from the protests.
Business Ethics 2010
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