Krystal Graham “Occupy Wall Street” Business Ethics Professor: Steven Curry “Occupy Wall Street” The “Occupy Wall Street” movement has become a big deal since it began in the fall of 2011. This movement was inspired by international protests, with thousands arriving in New York City answering the call, soon spreading to well over 500 cities. I would like to discuss more of the details of the movement, the moral and economic implications, as well as the different ethics theories to see which theory best applies to the movement.
The Arab Springs protest on February 11, 2011 was the most notable inspiration of the Occupy Wall Street movement. According to the website occupy together, the occupy movement is an international movement driven by individuals. They are organized in over 100 cities in the United States, and they aim to fight back against the system that has allowed the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. All of us have many different backgrounds and political beliefs but feel that, since we can no longer trust our elected officials to represent anyone other than their wealthiest donors, we need real people to create real change from the bottom up… We no longer want the wealthiest to hold all the power, to write the rules governing an unbalanced and inequitable global economy, and thus foreclosing on our future. The movement works to achieve their goals by resist, In the spirit and tradition of civil disobedience #occupy takes to the streets to protest corporate greed, abuse of power, and growing economic disparity; Restructure, #occupy empowers individuals to lead others into action by gathering in the commons as engaged citizens to demonstrate a culture based on community and mutual aid. We will be the change we are seeking in the world; and finally, Remix work to make fundamental changes in the system.
Now that we know a little more about the movement itself, let us look at some of the moral and economic implications of this movement. In the Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment requires that the government provide “equal protection of the laws” to all citizens. The moral implications of the Occupy Wall Street movement reach far beyond the passing sensation it has created. The movement seems to be acquiring immunity from the laws the rest of us are expected to obey by calling themselves representatives of the 99 percent against the 1 percent.
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If 99 percent of the people in the country were like the Occupy mobs we would have anarchy, not a country. Democracy means majority rule, not mob rule, and if Occupy or any other mob movement actually represents the majority, they would have enough votes to legally achieve what they are trying to accomplish by illegal means. In problems of collective action, individuals who work solely for their own selfish interests can bring about tragic consequences for society as a whole. The only way for collective action problems to be solved is to create coordinated collaborations that unite social and individual interests.
The “collective” element is paramount because even one “defector” (someone who acts selfishly, like those who stand accused of criminal acts at Occupy Wall Street camps) has the power to run everything by leading others to defect as well. I found an example of the Occupy movement being about the law on the national review website. “When trespassers blocking other people at the University of California-Davis refused to disperse and locked their arms with one another to prevent the police from being able to physically remove them, police finally resorted to pepper spray to break up this human logjam.
The result? The police have been strongly criticized for enforcing the law. Apparently pepper spray is unpleasant, and people who break the law are not supposed to have unpleasant things done to them. Which is to say, we need to take the “enforcement” out of “law enforcement. ” The police are the last line of defense against barbarism, but they are equipped only to handle that minority who are not stopped by the first line of defense, moral principles. If everyone takes the path of least resistance, then the moral infrastructure will corrode and crumble.
The moral infrastructure is one of the intangibles without which the tangibles don’t work. Like the physical infrastructure, its neglect in the short run invites disaster in the long run. Examples of real, measurable Occupy inspired change in the political sphere are hard to come by, though a band of millionaires did storm Capital Hill on Wednesday November 16, according to an article by the Associated Press to urge Congress to tax them more, claiming they are not paying their “fair share. The financial crisis caused a deep recession in our economy, and there are many individuals who are struggling to make ends meet and to get a job and to live their lives given the economic difficulties. I think there is an understandable frustration with the difficult economic circumstances that many families are experiencing now and a desire for change. There is one cost associated with Occupy Wall Street that is readily available, and that is the cost incurred by police as they patrolled the movement, originally in a watchdog status, and eventually as they cleared protestors from parks throughout the country.
According to the Associated Press, as of November 24, taxpayers had paid at least $13 million in police overtime and municipal services. This includes $7 million in New York and $2. 4 million in Oakland, which faces a budget gap of $58 million this year. Utilitarianism is the moral doctrine that we should always act to produce the greatest possible balance of good over bad for everyone affected by our actions. The interests of the community are simply the sum of the interest of its members. An action promotes the interests of an individual when it adds to the individual’s pleasure or diminishes the person’s pain.
There are six points that need to be considered about utilitarianism. First, when deciding which action will produce the greatest happiness, we must consider unhappiness or pain as well happiness. Second, actions affect people to different degrees. Third, because utilitarians evaluate actions according to their consequences and because actions produce different results in different circumstances, almost anything might in principle, be morally right in some particular situation. Fourth, utilitarians wish to maximize happiness not simply immediately but in the long run as well.
Fifth, utilitarians acknowledge that we often do not know with certainty what the future consequences of our actions will be. Finally, when choosing among possible actions, utilitarianism does not require us to disregard our own pleasure, nor should we give it added weight. Immanuel Kant sought moral principles that do not rest on contingencies and that define actions as inherently right or wrong apart from any particular circumstances. He believed that moral rules can, in principle, be known as a result of reason lone and are not based on observation. Kantian theory uses the categorical imperative which says that we can will the maxim of our action to become a universal law. By maxim, Kant meant the subjective principle of an action, the principle that people in effect formulate in determining their conduct. Another way of looking at the categorical imperative is universal acceptability. Each person, through his or her own acts of will, legislates the moral law. Because reason is the same for all rational beings, we all give ourselves the same moral law.
In other words, when you answer the question “What should I do? ” you must consider what all rational beings should do. You can embrace something as a moral law only if all other rational beings can also embrace it. It must have universal acceptability. In addition to the principle of universal acceptability, Kant explicitly offered another, very famous way of formulating the core idea of his categorical imperative. According to this formulation, as rational creatures we should always treat other rational creatures as ends in themselves and never as only means to our ends.
Virtue ethics is identified as the one that emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach which emphasizes duties or rules or that which emphasizes the consequences of actions. Out of the theories, utilitarian, Kantian, and virtue ethics, I believe the Occupy Wall Street movement tries to follow the utilitarian theory. The movement is attempting to end the relationship built on money and donations between our elected officials and corporate interests.
They want a system that operates in the interest of the people and to empower people to be a part of the process. They say they represent the 99 percent, and trying to make a change to have equal distribution of wealth for the country, which is what they feel is the best interest of the country as a whole. The income inequality and unequal wealth distribution in the United States is something that has been building over time and is not really any one person or companies fault. Many of the wealthy have earned the money by working hard to get to where they are now.
There are many issues involved in the wealth distribution in our country, including that many of the poor have gotten poorer due to the lack of jobs as well as the fact that many of the mortgage companies allowed people to get into more debt by handing out home loans to people who wanted to purchase homes way out of their price ranges. This is also the fault of the people who got themselves into those positions. I am not sure if there is an equitable outcome from this movement, but I am sure this movement will continue, and if not, there will be another movement similar to this one.
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