What I Learned at Occupy Wall Street
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:
- 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.”
- There were no people in stupid costumes, unless you count dreadlocks or hipsters as costumed.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.)
- (Definitely do not agree with statement) 52
Question 7: The Federal Reserve should be ended.
- (Definitely do not agree) 8
(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:
- (definitely do not agree) 12
Question 9: The current political system is irrevocably broken:
- (definitely do not agree) 3
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?”