Once again, CNBC.com gave participants of the Occupy Wall Street protests a podium to express their views, from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.
John, who is employed, says he is not represented by anyone in Washington. He says it's never been better to be a billionaire, and that everyone needs to pay their fair share. Stephanie is a 22-year-old who says she's having problems paying for school and that it would be great if America had a program to help pay for education. The systems we currently have in place don't allow that. And Jackson from Mississippi, who attends Columbia, says he's here to fight corporate greed. He also says that while tuition is going up, financial aid is going down, and that he'd like corporations and people to give back, like Oprah. People need to come together and think more in terms of we, not me. We're all connected.
Ken Jones says he was says he was in Chicago in 1968 when Mayor Daley called in the National Guard and this is the best thing he's seen since. He believes 9/11 is a propaganda scam that's been very successful helping companies make money. He worked on the Standard Oil Building, near the site when the World Trade Center was being built, and says the WTC did not fall because of the planes. The main reason he's here, though, is because he believes things have gotten worse since 1968. This country is an enormous disappointment to him and many others, in spite of the fact that he loves America. There's a huge need to investigate 9/11 and we should quit calling it 9/11, because it's become a brand to be profited from. He honors the ladies and gentlemen in this park.
Warren says he's a semi-retired Wall Street executive and that we need to end the iron triangle of corruption. Right now the system is controlled by those who control the legal process. Essentially, we're set up with a divide and conquer system in this country. An increasingly growing population is causing huge problems around the world. We're looking at a structural breakdown and it's essential that we look at our systems in a more practical way. We need to get people to see the larger picture instead of focusing on single issues. It's similar to the crisis the world faced in the 1930s when ignorance nearly brought about complete totalinarianism. The Freedom Tower, he says, is a sign of failure and breakdown. We need to understand our role in the world.
A 55-year-old gentleman says he graduated with $3,000 in student loans as an electrical engineer. It was not hard to pay back. His generation, he says, is not providing the same benefits to today's students. It's fundamentally unjust and he apologizes for the Baby Boomer generation. The next speaker thanks him and says he got hit in 2008. His business fell apart. The protest started on Wall Street because the most important group to reach is the one that controls the money. He says we have to take our money back. The more we give it to Wall Street, the more power they'll have in Washington. Know where your money goes. Kate from Minnesota, who's an entrepreneur, says what we have now is crony capitalism and it's not working for 99 percent of us. This movement gives her hope.
Chris, an OWS organizer, says the "Occupy" movement is about catalyzing a global movement toward direct participatory democracy. No one represents you but yourself. No bosses, no leaders, no capitalism. That is what we want, a peaceful subversion of the current order where commuities can decide for themselves what they want to be. There's no purpose in making demands, because business and the state could only help by disappearing. Monica is a student at St. Francis and is there because she believes if student loans were forgiven, it would help stimulate the economy.
The left is part of America, too, says the next speaker, a college student. There are all kinds of people at this protest. We all have different solutions, but we all know something is wrong with our economy and our system. The economic inequality hasn't been this great since the Depression. A man in a hard hat says we need to end the Federal Reserve and stay as civil as we can, like the founders imagined it. Raphael says he's from Madrid and discusses his presence at Zuccotti Park (in Spanish). A gentleman from New Mexico, who moved away from NYC after 9/11, says he was at the 1969 anti-war protests in DC and this feels like old times-- it's an expression that people want change. It would be wise if the leaders of this city kept a cool head about this. There's nothing here that resembles a rowdy crowd, he adds. Let them have their say. People are suffering becauase of sheer greed, and there's no accountability. Catherine from New Orleans, a retired school teacher, says watch a YouTube video called Military vs. Poverty.
David, who's a long-time protestor, says this is a very different experience. He's glad he came and wants to know why Jamie Dimon gets $254 million in compensation every year. I'd be comfortable seeing their salaries slashed, he adds. While a gentleman from Long Island, who supports the Obama campaign, says hope and change suggested there was an opportunity for people, but the conservatives don't like to hear that. When you're the one percent, the last thing you want to hear about it change. He says he's delivering tents to send a message that his organization is with these good people, who are sleeping in a park, who have been employed, are students, and have the best of intentions. We could use more people here today, he adds.
A retired NYC teacher is there to support the movement. He says teachers have been working without a contract for the last two years. They need a new contract with smaller classes, better working conditions and less harrassment. Santo from the Lower East Side says he's being evicted from his apartment. He's been here since the 50s and asks "Will capitalism destroy itself?" Ethan from Massachusetts says he believes in democracy and we currently have a government that does not respond to the will of the people. He wants ranks choice voting and campaign finance reform. Do what you can, he adds. Paul, from COAC, in Massachusetts, is looking for a new system to unplug from the one controlled by corporations and the Fed. The system benefits only a few and extracts the wealth from Main Street.
Laura's tired of big money from Wall Street taking away everything she holds dear. Laura says the 1 percent should know that greed is our enemy and the 99 percent will not be moved. She then leads the group in the song, "We Shall Not Be Moved." Raquel, from the UN, says she's here because during the 3 years she's been at the UN, she's realized how much housing policies have destroyed people's lives around the world. And finally, one speaker says CNBC should be removed from television. He also believes markets are fraudulent, that we should get rid of ETFs and derivatives, and that CNBC is the moderator of a big craps game.
Bernie, who is a part of the movement, says he's a liberal writer. And the movement is about being making people happy. We go about this by liberal means, he says. For example, raising the minimum wage, which should have been done years ago. Ken from Warwick, New York, says turn to the Internet to find which corporations have taken jobs out of this country. That's why nobody has any money here. An older woman says part of creating jobs is not blaming the government, but blaming the corporations and people like the Koch brothers, who've poured millions into the Tea Party. go out and become part of the government, she says. The 14th Amendment was not written for corporations. Another woman says we need to stop giving so much money to defense and focus on rebuilding this country here.
A gentleman says the OWS protests are a hodgepodge and that he's very frightened by right wing Republicans. He's a conservative Democrat who believes in fiscal responsibility. Why did the banking system get so much money, he asks? The banking system is worse than a cabal, he adds. We need to pull ourselves back together. I know I need money, but let's not kill the poor. You banker guys have too damn much money. Share some of it. Another speaker says there should be more people at the OWS protests. The wealthy have taken over the country. We need to stop it by being a collective as human beings who care about one another. We need to have certain priorities and have people be there for each other. Barbara from California says we need to keep closer tabs on our Congresspeople and hold them accountable. It's the only way we'll be able to control Wall Street.
A man says he comes here every day during his lunch break. What we need, he says, is unfettered democracy with controlled capitalism, not unfettered capitalism with controlled democracy, which is what we have now. Becky from Canaan, New York, says she's thrilled people are finally addressing issues destroying our world. She came down to see what it was all about and is just so glad someone is doing something. She also represents Common Good Finance and is looking for solutions to our problems. An actress says she's been playing street theater Marie Antoinette and is here because corporations have way too much control over the planet.
TV Tony represents the Red Rose gang and says Power to the People. We make our own things and live by our own rules. And that's the way the system should run. A woman encourages people to visit cooperatives. Kent was a Gulf Coast Herald reporter before Katrina, but says he's behind the movement and that corporate America has been responsible for raping people across the country. He wishes the best to the people at OWS. Another speaker counts to four and says every four seconds, a child dies due to poverty-related causes. We have the ability to give food and care to everyone. Poverty is manufactured, he says.
Students from the Little Red Schoolhouse in New York City on a school trip explain they understand the problem, but aren't sure what the solution is. They think the movement is great, but to see it and actually talk to people changed their perspective. Art from Des Moines, says he's here because he believes this could be the start of something beautiful, even though there's a lot of work to be done. We're all in the same boat, he says, and we need to work together. Gwen says housing and public education are important to New Yorkers. We need to draw a line in the sand to protect the public school system. Brenda from Long Island is here to show support for these people and would like to see the wealthy pay their fair share. She also believes we could fix our problems if the financial institutions would stop running our government.
Another young woman accuses CNBC of profiting off Occupy Wall Street and says she is staging her non-violent protest by not speaking, even though she continues to speak for some time. A woman identifying herself as an Occupy Wall Street spokesperson apologizes and thanks CNBC for being there, and soon the "non-violent" woman returns to crack an egg on the microphone. The same woman from Occupy Wall Street apologizes for the other young woman's behavior, and asks the non-violent egg smasher if she's going to clean up after herself. The woman doesn't and is led away.
Outlaw Bobby Seal channels Al Pacino by shouting "I'm occupying over here! I'm occupying over here!" Juan Carlos moved the the U.S. from Ecuador and discusses his visa issues before he became an American citizen and says that immigration reform is one reason why there are so many problems with this country's economy. Art, a Republican from California who used to work for the Wall Street Journal, says he agrees with Occupy Wall Street. He believes this is not an extreme group, but represents what's happening across the nation as our economic system has deteriorated. There needs to be a change in capitalism. Executive compensation is completely out of control. What is happening in Congress and the White House is not good for the American people. This movement shows the need for change in this country. Norman from Detroit says jobs have been sent overseas and it's important for us to remember it's up to us to empower ourselves. Start your own business, get an education, build up your community, he says. Phil from Long Island says he's a retired capitalist who's in full support of the protesters.
A man in a hat says America was strongest when America had a strong middle class. It's been annihilated over the last 20 years, mostly because of greed. He wants to wipe out K Street in Washington and eliminate lobbying from our government, and adds that capitalism is not wrong, it's just broken and needs to be fixed. Jenna says she's concerned that you cannot continue with an economic paradigm based on unlimited growth. She says infinite growth is not sustainable as resources like water and oil diminish. Barbara says she's excited about this movement but it will all be for naught if the people of this country do not vote. Find a candidate, become a candidate, she says. A young man wants an end to all the wars, an audit of the Fed and affordable tuitions and healthcare. A dental student named Matt says support the movement.
Kurt Jenkins from Alabama wrote a song this morning called, "We Are Your Supply, Meet Our Demands," which is based on the idea that companies are nothing without consumers, like the people at the park, spending money to buy their products. This movement should not polarize, he sings, adding that protesting is patriotic.
Craig from Oakland, California, says housemates and friends bought him a ticket to New York City because it's where decisions are being made. He's helped set up a People's Library that's publishing a poetry anthology. Yes, there have been some troublemakers, but generally speaking, Zuccotti Park is an uplifting place to be. Mia wanted to see the spirit of the 60s come alive and adds that the movement is inspirational. She also wanted to express her frustration as a renter in a coop who's been there for 30 years who's being asked to leave.
A man says after working with a thinktank, he came up with a mission statement that attempts to encompass virtually every idea at Occupy Wall Street. The definition of a nation, he says, is determined by how it disperses its resources in a way that is sustainable. There is also a need to create and regulate business, which provides people with essential services. That's neither positive or negative, but when profits are put ahead of the national intest as a whole, a restructuring becomes imperative.
Emily, who's a senior in college, says she comes from a poor background and that she is going to have to slow her pace in college or drop out. She says her mom is a nurse's aid and is treated horribly, while her father has worked for the same company for years, and has never seen much of a raise. A woman brought her 12-year-old son so he could see for himself what people are talking about. We're not against any one person, we're against the machine that's a rigged game, like any casino. Mark, a jazz musician, says he's here because he believes in the cause. The wealthiest among us, he says, should be willing to pay more into the system. Justin is there because he believes in the movement and has a beef with the way movie studios do business.
Sura, who used to work for Goldman Sachs, says she is here to support the movement and that people need to really understand what happens on Wall Street. Our greatest power, she says, is where you choose to spend your money. Shop at local stores and be concsious of where you spend your money. Taking Wall Street down would devastate a lot of people, more than just those on Wall Street. This is a time when we really need to listen to our intuition. Now she teaches yoga and meditation. A woman from China has her own ideas for how to create jobs.
Eli the banjo player plays a song by Woody Guthrie called "Pretty Boy Floyd." Steven says it's his third week here, and this feels like the center of the universe. There's a dynamic range of conversations, he says, and he understands the world outside wants demands, but it's not going to happen. He's here because he's curious and concerned, and he wants to have a say on where society is headed.
A young man, Brian Thomas of Maine, says Occupy Wall Street exists because power has been so consolidated at the top, that smart people no longer have a chance. The middle class is disappearing, and the top 1 percent is using politicians as human shields. People are angry because banks are privatizing their profits and socializing their losses. Another man says the 1 percent is not showing the 99 percent any respect and they should stop being so greedy. A chef from North Carolina, who has a job, a house, and insurance, says this crisis has been caused by irresponsible banking, even though they've turned it around and are blaming teachers and fireman. A New York City teacher says he's against the education budget cuts and says when you cut education, you cut into the future of the country. The unions are not the problem, they are the solution, he says. Giovanny says the economy needs to be restructured from top to bottom. Sandy, who's an architect, says a lot of architects are out of work. She's won awards and still can't find a job. And Christopher, who's been trying to figure out what OWS is about, has found out that people are experiencing tough times and need jobs. Meanwhile, leaders in Congress fight over which is the right plan. We need a plan, he says, or we'll continue to go in circles. We need leaders who care about the American people.
Arinam wants to be an agent of change. He's 60 and says something's happening here. Change is taking place. John, a Vietnam vet, is 60 and just lost his job. He's tried to be here as much as possible. One of the reasons this movement has caught on is that often, poor people and working class people are in the same boat. We're not giving up, he says. We're going to make the people who control most of the resources in the world think. There were riots in America before, he says, and if we don't make some changes, that's going to happen again. We're all in this together, he adds. Brenda from Philadelphia wants a return of the WPA and to bring art back to the schools. Van Toosy, a musician, says even though things may not be as organized as we wish, there is a passion for positive change. There's too many hands inside the cookie jar, he adds. Another man says he believes it's essential to get the money out of politics. Once that's done, a lot of other issues can be taken care of. On a host of issues, getting the money out of politics would be a great help.
A man named Pinchas says there's a great irony here in that many years ago, he had a Wall Street job. The company where he worked liked him and promoted him to broker as a 16-year-old. They hired someone to take his job as an office boy and it was his job to teach his replacement. The two became friends often talked about metaphysics, capitalism and blues music. When Pinchas's replacement left, he drew pigs all over the walls and went to live in a commune. This was 40 years ago, during the time of the Vietnam War. If Republicans win next year's election, he warns, you won't recognize this country. Keep the struggle together. It might get cold, but this won't end.