Beyond Zuccotti Park

Yesterday, under the cover of darkness, Bloomberg ordered the eviction of Occupy Wall Street from their encampment at Zuccotti Park. Despite an injunction to block the action, the city went forward with its plans to clear the space of occupiers. The legal showdown between OWS and Bloomberg’s New York culminated in Judge Michael Stallman’s ruling that tents will no longer be permitted in the park overnight, effectively ending the ongoing occupation at this location.

While many view the eviction as emblematic of the modern police state and its imperative to suppress dissent, others see the city and Brookfield Properties as relatively tolerant. Apparently NYC landlords have little patience for those that challenge the sanctity of their property, making John Zuccotti and Brookfield seem quite charitable.

But, what if the move to displace OWS is bigger than one privately owned public space? Perhaps the decision to expel those protesters reflects a growing fear among the elite, that this movement will result in the emergence of widespread class consciousness. If the movement continues its extension beyond Zuccotti Park, will Occupy Wall Street become Occupy Economics, or Occupy Politics?

Source: Reuters as of 2010. Key: Beige – Sysco, Green – Wellpoint, Red-Blue-Purple- P&G, Purple – ADM, Red – Citi, Pink – IBM, Turquoise – AMEX, Blue – Boeing.

The graphic above shows John Zuccotti’s connections within the network of corporate governance among the largest corporations in America (top 100 on Fortune list). Taken to three degrees of separation, Zuccotti is situated within a class of individuals that direct the following corporations: Sysco, Wellpoint, Proctor and Gamble, Archer Daniels Midland, Citigroup, IBM, American Express, and Boeing. Zuccotti sits on the board of Wellpoint, which is directly connected to both Sysco and P & G. Most immediately, a question emerges: What interests do these three companies have in common? Might there be a relationship between health insurance, food processing, and pharmaceuticals sufficient to necessitate mutual board oversight?

The picture above cannot answer that question, which is a task that requires in-depth research into the history of both individual directors, and the corporations they presently serve. However, it does illuminate the intersection of many potential interests, and hints towards the structure of a class of individuals that make decisions affecting the food we eat, the health care we receive, and the drugs we use, among many others. This graphic is a tool for those that wish to delve into these connections further.

More importantly, as soon as we recognize that the important social questions, such the magnitude, direction, and distribution of production, are vested in the hands of a small few, we begin to question whether they have our best interests at heart. This recognition sits in the very heart of the occupy movement itself.

The greatest threat facing the one percent is the possibility that we will categorically reject the false scarcity implicit in TINA, and insist that we can afford to build an equitable and sustainable world for our children. By occupying economics we can advance proposals to achieve full employment, universal health care, while promoting the development of healthy and sustainable food production, or anything else we wish to consider.

There is no scarcity of ideas among the occupy movement, only patience for an elite minority who have demonstrated the illegitimacy of their authority.

About Mitch Green 2 Articles

Affiliation: University of Missouri

Mitch Green is a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He earned his B.S. in Economics at Portland State University in 2010. His research interests include: macroeconomics, institutional and post-Keynesian economics, and social network analysis. As a native of the Pacific Northwest, he enjoys a number of leisure activities to include: skiing, biking, running, golfing, gardening, and coffee drinking.

Visit: Economic Perspectives

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