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What I Learned at Occupy Wall Street

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I went down to the site of Occupy Wall Street (after first having been confused at Zucotti park, where I luckily found a few dudes from the protests who sent me in the right direction) to ask some random questions I thought would be illuminating.

Before I get into the data, here’s some top of the mark good news:

  1. There were virtually no signs advocating violence. The most that I saw were the ‘revolution’ signs or the sign that said “If nonviolent protest is crushed, violent protest will take its place.”
  2. There were no people in stupid costumes, unless you count dreadlocks or hipsters as costumed.
  3. The sanitation level was not significantly worse than anywhere else in New York. For those seeing the pictures of large piles of garbage by the side of the street: that’s normal in NYC.

The top of the mark bad news:

  1. Paulian shit has earwigged its way in there. Not only was a lot of support for the “end the fed” argument, but people talking about cutting off foreign aid.
  2. The most organized people there were the ‘socialist’ (actually Marxist) groups, who had tables, literature, etc. However, though they were tolerated, they were not popular; I didn’t see their literature actually being read, consumed, etc.

Okay, now the data.

I polled 90-ish people. Obviously the selection of them was unscientific. I simply approached people who looked like they’d answer. This means I didn’t engage with anyone doing anything highly active, nor working, nor, probably anyone who smelled too bad.

I know my numbers don’t add up to 90 and in some cases I forget to record the ‘don’t know/others’. Sorry.

Question 1: Are you registered to vote.

  • Yes : 64
  • No: 16

Question 2: Did you vote in the last presidential election?

  • Yes: 54
  • No: 28

Question 3: Do you identify with any political party?

  • 19 Democrats
  • 6 Republicans
  • 2 independent party
  • 1 socialist party
  • 2 Libertarian party
  • 58 small-i independent

Question 4: Do you know who Adbusters are?

  • Yes: 42
  • No: 42

Question 5: Do you feel corporations should continue to have rights derived from the rights of citizens? Do you think the 14th amendment should apply to corporations?

  • Yes: 6
  • No: 64
  • Don’t know: 18

Question 6: Violence towards the police is justified in a protest.

(Answers on a scale of 1-7, with 1 being the least agreement, and 7 being the most in agreement.)

  1. (Definitely do not agree with statement) 52
  2. 22
  3. 7
  4. 5
  5. 2

Question 7: The Federal Reserve should be ended.

  1. (Definitely do not agree) 8
  2. 10
  3. 8
  4. 6
  5. 4
  6. 29

(None of the people who answered 6 could explain what the fed does.)

  • Don’t know: 30

Question 8: The banking industry needs to be more heavily regulated:

  1. (definitely do not agree) 12
  2. 0
  3. 0
  4. 8
  5. 12
  6. 0
  7. 58

Question 9: The current political system is irrevocably broken:

  1. (definitely do not agree) 3
  2. 0
  3. 2
  4. 8
  5. 14
  6. 20
  7. 30

Question 10: Do you know what progressive taxation is?

  • Yes: 62
  • No: 20

Question 11: The money that you’re using to be at this protest, where did it come from?

  • 60: Earned it myself.
  • 20: Student, so parent’s money.
  • 9: Some bullshit.
  • 1: Trust fund!

To explain the large number of people who say they disagree with more banking regulation: They expressed no faith in the regulators.

So, there you have it. My first poll. I plan on going back during the week.

I asked one other question which was to tell me what question I should have asked, what question they’d like to ask everyone else at the protest if they could.

The by far most common answer was some variation on:

“What do you hope to achieve? What issue should we focus on?”

The other good answers I received to that were:

“Are you ready to eat rats?”

“Where can I find good cheap craft beer in Manhattan?”

“Do any of these girls put out?”

“Are you employed?”

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