By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
What started out as a protest in New York City has now spread throughout 900 cities around the world. But the Occupy Wall Street protest might not ha...
What started out as a protest in New York City has now spread throughout 900 cities around the world. But the Occupy Wall Street protest might not have started at all in New York City without the help from the very people they're protesting.
And it's all thanks to a New York City land-use policy.
The epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street movement is in Zuccotti Park. The park is privately-owned by office landlord, Brookfield Office Properties Inc. and its open all day and night to the public. But how did the park come to existence in the first place? A zoning code that requires developers of large towers to set aside a certain amount of “privately owned public space.” The Wall Street Journal explains:
Termed a “privately owned public space” — or POPS, in zoning parlance — these plazas stand at the intersection of capitalist instinct and public interest.
The zoning code puts restrictions on the scale of towers that developers are allowed to build. In an attempt to add public space in Manhattan without buying new parkland, city government allowed developers to build bigger structures if they set aside a plaza that remains open to the public.
While many of these are tucked away in the backs of buildings or in lobbies, Zuccotti Park turns out to be one of the most accessible POPS in the city. Of course, there is an irony that the space in which Occupy Wall Street has found a continued home is owned by the city’s largest landlord for financial services firms — the very industry they are protesting.
These POPs are not only good for the Occupy Wall Street protestors, they're also a smart way to help the city conserve land for public use. This zoning code has allowed for 500-plus privately owned public plazas throughout the city, and at least half are open all the time.
And while cities need development, they also need places like Zuccotti Park to protest, gather, and play.
Oct 18, 2011
Their "invisible" asset? Public ignorance. They claim to be merely protesting low taxes on the rich and bank bailouts, but the reality is that "OWS: Yes, we are anti-capitalist!", and they really want full (government) employment, a "living wage" or $40,000, and forgivenss of debt. Then there's the 99% myth. The top 50% of wage-earners, those with an income over $50,000 a year, pay 98% of all income taxes. Their "visible" assets: Hypocrasy and narcissism. The use iPhones and iPads to tweet that the 1% (which until recently included Steve Jobs) are evil. They think that it's OK to borrow money from someone and not pay it back. If that's true, I want to borrow money form the OWS crowd.
How sad it is that union dominated publice schools have convinced so many people that the evil in America is business. The real evils are government and big unions that are able to tax the wealth of oridnary Americans to feather their nests. Public sector union members earn twice what their private sector counterparts do at the expense of those workers who must pay for the lavish salary and benefits by force. My hope for this once great land is fading away.
government is not an entity existing separately from business and other sectors. all of our senators are millionaires, and lots of the reps, too. they have investments, and they use the revolving door early and often. they follow the dictates of the army of lobbyists. today's government is controlled by the banks and big corporations. the supreme court has legitimated their buying of elections. government as such is not a problem; government by, of, and for the corporations is.
Ha, I was waiting for a comment such that in No Irony. So doctordawn, who do you think paid for those roads, police, plumbing, military, courts??? Business generates wealth and jobs for society while providing goods and services to the public. Government provides security. But frequently it just steals wealth to empower itself and its cronies.
Tyler, I generally appreciate your articles, but I think you're off the mark on this one, mainly because you rely on the WSJ article without questioning the article's underlying (incorrect) presumptions. Sure, the park is owned by a private company, but the park is there because of zoning laws, enacted by the government for the public good. It's not in existence because of any noblesse oblige by Brookfield Office Properties. Another incorrect presumption is that the OWS protesters are protesting all private companies for all private actions. The issues of inequality in our financial system are not black and white like that, and I bet many, if not most, of the protesters there appreciate nuance in land use, ownership, and public/private partnerships.
The protest didn't started in the US, it started in Egypt for political reasons and speed to Europe in politic-economic matters. The US cities started the last.
There is no irony in the land they are protesting on belonging to Wall Street landlords. The public interests are negotiated up front, and the owners must comply. Besides, just how valuable would that high rise be if there were no roads to get to it? No water to flush it's toilets? No city police to protect it from vandals and thieves? No military to prevent total takeover by armed Cuban militias? No courts to protect it from mortgage contract fraudsters? Put that exact same building in the middle of Mogadishu, then call the appraisers and see what they say. This country gives that high rise it's value, not the other way around. The saying isn't "building, building, building" in the real estate world, it's "location, location, location" and you better be ready to give to the community that makes you great. You're right. The premise is too corporate-media friendly for my tastes.
in order to vote? It's required to purchase liquor and smokes (among other things). Various other activities require ID. Voting is arguably the most important activity we can do. You should be required to show a photo ID before being allowed to vote. We wouldn't have as much voting fraud (illegals, dead people voting, etc.) if voters had to show valid ID prior to voting.
One of the larger 1930s protests in the DC area was a group over 40,000 people, among them over 17,000 war veterans, looking for the war bonuses and widow benefits promised them by President Wilson. My grandfather was among them. They hunted in nearby woods and fished the Potomac River for food during their encampment. 6 of the armies primitive tanks were used to support troops evicting the marchers. Marchers were killed in the eviction process. People who had carried everything they owned to the march had their belongings burned when future WW II hero Douglas MacArthur burned the encampment to the ground on orders of the Attorney General Mitchell. Congress eventually over rode President Roosevelt???s veto of the bonus funding bill in 1936. These whiny crybabies today have nothing in common with those brave people.
There is no data to support that rhetoric. In the 2008 election the poorest districts in my hometown had the highest voter turn out. I cannot speak for other states, but the lack of ID for voting in Massachusetts along with several other rules that allow voter fraud means that the state voting laws do not comply with UN voting rules for emerging democracies like Eqypt and Iraq. Voter id's are required in elections monitored by the UN. If we were an emerging democracy the UN would classify Massachusetts voting laws as making elections strongly susceptible to voter fraud.
These protests are hardly like the "Hoovervilles" of 80 years ago. For one thing, very few of those in the Hoovervilles were well fed, paid stipends, sponsored by unions, or had laptops and smartphones.
You simply cannot function in our society today without a proper photo ID. If you don't have one, the ability to vote is the least of your problems. Conversely, if you don't have the inclination and/or ability to obtain one, then I seriously question your intellectual ability to responsibly vote. And if a country cannot conduct an election with integrity, then there is no "democracy" there either.
...you can afford a photo ID and have transportation to get one. Seniors, college students away from home and the poverty-stricken have been shoved out of the voter pool in dozens of states. The League of Women Voters in Florida has cancelled all voter drives for fear of penalties newly imposed that would bankrupt them for clerical errors by volunteers - or intentional errors by infiltrators. Voting is dead. Anarchy is next.
We are repeating history and not learning a damned thing. In the early 1930s, people were out of work and travelled to Washingon DC and camped out. The camps were called "Hoovervilles" after Pres Hoover.
...that they've seen glorified for the last 40+ years. And what they're doing isn't really "democracy". At best what they're doing is theater. Democracy happens at the polling place.
If most of them are twenty-somethings, how can they re-live something that was before their birth? I for one am proud to see youth get involved again. the greatest enemy of democracy is apathy.