Monday, November 21, 2011

A few notes on the Occupy movement, and elementary communications

First - the police pepper spray assault on UC Davis students is horrific. This shouldn't be happening in a free society.

Second, I wanted to lay out some just-for-the-record notes about my Occupy movement views, which I'll be the first to tell you are not well informed; if you want wisdom, stop reading now, or just follow the links below.

I'm broadly sympathetic to the movement but dubious about a) its [your cause here] aspects (someone I talked to recently said the OWS body had initially come up with 20 items on its list of needed changes) and b) the "headless" group decisionmaking; I'm enough of an engineer to be appalled at the thought of interminable meetings, and have spent enough time in the climate controversy to know full well how easy it is for the confused to paralyze forward movement. I do think our government is near paralysis, I do think changes are needed, I do think the Occupy movement has been effective in framing the problem as the 1% vs the 99%. And I think the movement's most important step is to channel the numbers and concern into a few effective actions that'll substantially improve how our government works.

Jeffrey Sachs has a pretty broad recipe. Then there's Lawrence Lessig (with new book - Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress -- and a Plan to Stop It); and William K. Black (lawyer, academic, former bank regulator and author of “The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One).
Naomi Klein thinks wholesale change is needed (something I'm dubious about). And there's the Amend the Constitution to Abolish Corporate Personhood effort.

But to summarize and to repeat: other people are way better informed about this than I am.

"Elementary communications" principle #1: whoever you are, you're better off not overwhelming your audience with 20 things to attend to.

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