Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

   Occupy Indy is one of at least  three websites that join Indianapolis with the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement.

    I agree with the goals of the OWS movement. Contrary to what some contend, the goals of the movement are not vague. The movement seeks to raise taxes on the one percent richest people in the country, void by whatever means necessary the United States Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, place greater restrictions in the operations of large banks and other companies that operate in the stock market, punish those responsible for the economic chaos begun in 2008, provide relief to those in gross debt from student loans and mortgages, and place people back to work via means such as building bridges and roads.

   I attempted to sign on to the Occupy Indy website. To do so, one is required to provide one’s date of birth. Beside that request it is noted: "We require that you enter your birthday as to comply with US law." There is no Federal statute of section of the Code of Federal Regulations that requires a person to provide dob to access an internet site. Perhaps this was a naive request, part of a package of defaults pre-set by the website provider. (Ning, this website’s provider, had a similar default provision, a request for gender, that, once discovered, we eliminated.) I find a request for that specific info disturbing in the 21st Century. After all, the other two parts of the trifecta of identity theft are SSN and mother’s maiden name. Why not ask, as well, the name of the person’s first school and her/his (gender-neutral) favorite pet (also gender-neutral or neutered, as the case may be). There’s a receipe for AmEx cards issued to addresses in the New Hebrides or rented postal boxes.

   Another problem I have with the Occupy Indy website is the presence of advertisements. I am not averse to someone trying to make a buck. But OWS is against organizational greed. When the ad for State Farm Insurance—and I would argue big insurance companies are as nasty as big banks—popped up, I thought it antithetical to OWS’s tenets. I have the same problem with MSNBC interspersing ads for oil companies in its broadcasts, but at least MSNBC is part of a for-profit endeavor.

   That brings me to the nature of the Occupy Indy entity. One of the threads concerned a "Living Trust." A PDF file attached to the thread was the text of the "Living Trust." Organization is necessary, however, "living trusts" have very bad track records, generally, in many ways. The document lists one person as "trustee" of the living trust. That is not good for a group that advances egalitarian/democratic principles. The document states it is an "unincorporated association of people" in the Statehouse, and gives the precise location of the Indiana Capitol, by latitude and longitude down to minutes and seconds. Unfortunately, there is no such entity as an "unincorporated association of people" recognized in Indiana. We have individuals, indivdual proprietorships, partnerships, and various entities created to limit liability (e.g., LLCs, LLPs, corporations, not-for-profit corporations).

   This is important because the Occupy Indy website generates revenues, at the very least from whatever service feeds it ads for State Farm Insurance (with whom our society, most assuredly, is not in good hands). If the entity makes money, that income either is taxable or it is not. With Occupy Indy’s goals such as they are, organizational details are not mere niceties. Also, payment of taxes is at the heart of the movement. The group should register as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. With as much time as its members spend on details on its website, this task should not be difficult.

   And where does the money go? The teabaggers were co-opted by the Koch Brothers and by the PR firm in California. The PR firm made a lot of money from its Tea Party Express, most of which went into the PR firm. Occupy Indy’s money either goes into advancement of its goals (good) or improvement of someone’s life style (not good).

   Another website, "Occupy Indianapolis" states, if you double-click its "about us" tab, that it has "partnered with Shopping [dot com] to bring the most comprehensive products, prices, and merchant information in an easy-to-browse format." If this is the same Shopping [dot com] website for which I found reviews, it is not very consumer-friendly. In any event, it is another means of generating funds.

   As I said at the top, I agree with the OWS goals. The local effort has some weaknesses. I gave an incorrect dob to register on one website. If a group that claims to advance egalitarian interests falsely invokes "US law" to obtain information, that has the potential for use in identity theft, as a requirement to register for that group’s website, I see no moral problem in hitting the wrong buttons for the numbers that give dob. I will not question the intentions of the people who have set up these websites and worked toward the OWS goals. The appearance of impropriety could significantly impair the groups’ efforts.        

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