The Occupy Wall Street Movement began on September 7, 2011 in Zuccotti Park, located in New York’s financial district. A Canadian activist group called Adbusters initiated the protest, which later spread to other Occupy protests and movements around the world. Adbusters proposed a peaceful occupation of Wall Street to protest corporate influence on democracy, the lack of legal consequences for those who brought about global crisis of monetary insolvency, and an increasing disparity in wealth. The main issues that the participants wished to address were social and economic inequality, greed, corruption, and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government, most specifically from the financial services sector. The Occupy Wall Street slogan which was widely used by the protestors and spread through social media was “We are the 99%,” which referred to the growing income inequality and wealth distribution in the United States between the wealthiest one percent and the rest of the population.
The goals of Occupy Wall Street movement included reducing the influence of corporations on politics, creating a more balanced distribution of income, fostering the creation of more and better jobs, forgiveness of student loan debts or other relief for indebted students, and alleviating the foreclosure situation in the U.S. The protestor’s wanted to see steps taken to ensure that the rich would pay a fairer share of their income taxes, that banks are held accountable for reckless practices, and that more attention is paid to finding jobs for the unemployed. These topics all resonated with many people, as they reflected the frustration that many struggling American’s were feeling (Occupy Movement, The New York Times).
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The implications of the OWS movement contain aspects of many of the prominent theories of business ethics, including the utilitarian theory, the Kantian theory, and theory of virtue ethics. The Occupy Wall Street Movement’s goals basically entail creating equality among all social and economic classes in the United States. This resonates with the Utilitarian Theory of business ethics, as utilitarianism is the moral doctrine that says we should always act to create the greatest possible balance of good over bad for everyone affected by our actions. Therefore actions are right if they promote the greatest human welfare, and are wrong if they do not. By utilitarian standards an organizational policy, decision, or action is good if it promotes the general welfare more than any other alternative. Utilitarianism encourages organizations to focus on the results of their actions and policies, and allows them to tailor their decisions to suit the complexities of their situation (Business Ethics).
As the goals of OWS focused on addressing income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S between the wealthiest one percent and the rest of the population, it conforms with the utilitarian approach to ethics in that it wants to create the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people, instead of catering to the rich at the expense of the poor. The Kantian theory of ethics, on the other hand, places emphasis on moral motivation and respect for persons. Kant sought moral principles that do not rest on contingencies and that define actions as inherently right or wrong apart from any particular circumstances. In this theory, instead of the OWS movement goals being right because they provide the greatest amount of happiness to the most people as with the utilitarian theory, the goals would be considered ethical and right simply because having equality in wealth is the moral thing to do. Kant’s categorical imperative gives us firm rules to follow in moral decision making, and these rules do not depend on circumstances or results.
Utilitarianism, deontological, and virtue theory ethics are three normative approaches to ethics. This paper will go over the similarities and differences between virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological principles. It will include information of the variations in how each concept details ethics, morality, and it will also discuss a personal experience to describe the correlation between ...
Kant postulates that no matter what the consequences may be or who does it, some actions are always wrong. Kant stresses the importance of motivation and of acting on principle. According to this theory, it is not enough just to do the right thing; an action has moral worth only when it is done from a sense of duty and from a desire to do the right thing for its own sake (Business Ethics).
The final theory of ethics that can be applied to the desired outcomes and goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the theory of virtue ethics. Virtue ethics is an approach that deemphasizes rules, consequences, and particular acts and places to focus on the kind of person who is acting. The primary focus of this theory is whether or not the person acting is expressing good character or not. In this theory moral virtues refer to admirable character traits which contribute to social harmony, enable us to act in accordance with reason, and enable us to feel appropriately and have the right intentions. As the Occupy Wall Street movement sought to create social harmony through equality, the individuals involved were acting in way that demonstrated virtues including those of generosity and compassion, thus the goals of the movement can be applied to the theory of virtue ethics as well (Virtue Ethics).
The OWS movement called for changes to the entire structure of society, and questioned the idea of capitalism and the distribution of wealth in our country. The protestors mobilized to resist banks in America being able to do whatever they want and getting away with it.
They wanted to ensure that steps be taken to make sure that banks and other financial institutions would be held accountable for their reckless practices, and that the rich would be made to pay a fairer share of income taxes. These issues of income equality were not entirely new ones. As early as the 1990’s economists began to release studies which showed the increasing income inequality in the United States, but it was never really discussed until the cause was championed by the Occupy Wall Street movement. Giving more momentum to the movement was the political response that it received. Leading democratic figures including party fundraisers and top allies of President Obama were embracing the spread of the anti-wall street protests, as the Democratic establishment saw the movement as a way to align disenchanted American people with their party. Additionally, the amount of news coverage given to the movement spurred more people to seek out information on the protest from social media sites and other web sites as well as lending an air of legitimacy to the movement.
The question of ethics is particularly important for a person who is both part of society and works with a group. The development of community and collective self is impossible without the struggle of opposing ideas and positions, and the collision of different points of views and opinions through which it is possible to overcome contradictions and disagreements. The relationship within a team ...
However, the media attention was short-lived. Presently, just a year after the Occupy Wall Street movement began its participants are struggling to regain the visibility and momentum of their early days. With less visibility the movement has received less attention from the news media, taking away a national platform. Occupy Wall Street does not have a traditional leadership structure, making it difficult for the movement to engage in conventional political organizing in support of state legislators and members of congress (Occupy Movement, The New York Times).
Despite fading from the forefront, the Occupy movement has not disappeared completely. And most importantly the movement caused people to question the current government and tax structures that create and foster the disparity of wealth in the United States. It pointed out what many studies have shown, one of the recent major trends in the U.S. economy is the growing gap between the poorest and richest sectors of the U.S. population.
Virtually all studies confirm that since the early 1970’s both income disparity and wealth inequality have continued to increase in our country. The cause of this growing gap lies in the government as they cntinue to under tax the rich and over tax the poor, causing the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. Despite it being well documented that this trend is continuing, nothing has been done to correct it. An equitable outcome from the movement that would be appropriate for our capitalistic society would be for the tax structure to be changed so that the income taxes of the rich would be increased while the income taxes on poor people would be decreased. In addition to this, programs should be implemented to help students with insurmountable debt from student loans to have their loans lowered or written off completely if they meet specific requirements.
The United States of America is the land of freedom, equality, and opportunity for each and every American, with the ability to live the “American Dream.” The American Dream suggests that anyone in the United States is able to follow their hopes and aspirations, succeed through hard work, and has the potential to lead a happy and successful life. Through hard work and dedication, reaching success ...
In addition to this programs should be implemented to help the millions of American’s that due to lowering real estate prices have had their homes foreclosed on after paying on them for years. I realize that none of these solutions are things that can happen overnight, but the government should at least start the process of change. The attention that the Occupy Wall Street movement brought to these issues should be a catalyst for change. Despite the fact that the Occupy Wall Street movement, as mentioned above, has faded from the media forefront I do not think that it will completely fade away. As long as the government continues bail outs of banks and other financial institutions while individuals suffer under large amount of loan and credit card debt people will stand up and fight for change. As long as these social and economic issues continue people will continue to protest and stand up against corporate greed, social inequality, and the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process. It is a right of every citizen of the U.S. to speak out against and peacefully protest things that they feel are corrupt, and as long as these problems exist in our society I feel that people will continue to exercise these rights.
11/01/12. Occupy Movement (Occupy Wall Street).
The New York Times. www.topics.nytimes.com 2010. “Business Ethics: A Textbook with Cases.” William H. Shaw 11/03/12. “Virtue Ethics: A Basic Introductory Essay.” Dr. Garrett. www.wku.edu