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10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Occupy Wall Street and the 1%
December 2, 2011 01:40 PM
'TIS THE SEASON
It’s the holiday season, aka the time for indulgence, consumption and of course, gift-shopping. The process of buying the perfect present for loved ones is a difficult one and it is especially so this year with the polarized national climate brought about by Occupy Wall Street. Is your relative part of the 99% or the 1%? Is he or she an Occupy movement protester or sympathizer? Today, once seemingly-innocuous gifts might come across as political statements. For example, an Occupy protester might see a
) plush toy as a symbol of the excesses of corporate power and a Wall Street exec annoyed at the Zuccotti Park sit-ins might see a nice bar of locally-made, cruelty-free and organic soap as Occupy Wall Street hippy nonsense.
So, in consideration of the new reality in which 99% and 1% have very specific connotations in the minds of the American public, we’ve put together an absolutely tongue-in-cheek gift guide that offers choices for both the 99% / Occupy Wall Street protesters and the 1% / anti-Occupiers.
For Occupy Wall Street Protesters, Sympathizers, and the 99%
Sudecon Decontamination Wipes
“Pepper spray has become America’s car horn,” said
Daily Show host
Jon Stewart. Indeed, the inflammatory agent seems to have gone viral as we approach the holidays, with Black Friday Walmart shoppers wielding it as if they were modern-day Moses hoping to part the crowded retail aisles. There’s also the infamous and disturbing youtube video of an incident at UC Davis where a campus police officer nonchalantly douses a group of peaceful Occupy protesters seated on a quad pathway with pepper spray.
Sudecon Decontamination Wipe
then. These chemically enhanced wet wipes act as pepper spray and tear gas neutralizers in the absence of running water and a bag of them will make a perfect gift for your UC-attending or Occupy Wall Street protesting friends and family members.
TRACE Anti-Bribery Tool
Just as parents bribe their children with presents to get them to behave, businesses often dole out gifts to business partners in both the private and public sector to grease the wheels. Big corporations like
Johnson & Johnson
) have all been
accused of bribing government officials
to win contracts. It’s hard for compliance departments to track every individual gift that a company’s employees has purchased, but with the TRACE anti-bribery software, companies can now easily check to see if any employees are offering up lavish presents to government officials before a contract is signed.
, the software works “by requiring each employee to enter information on a short form—such as type of gift, to whom, at what company or government entity, at what cost — [which] allows a chief compliance officer to search the data a number of ways to look for patterns.” Perhaps the Occupy Movement nationally can urge big corporations to cough up $15,000 for an annual TRACE membership, which will come with the gift-tracking software. No more excuses for bribery then.
Financial Crisis Primers
“They don’t know what they’re protesting” has become one of the most commonly cited criticisms of the Occupy movement. New York City Major Michael Bloomberg, for example, slammed Occupy Wall Street protesters for
, saying, “They want their government to fix it. They don’t even know what the problem is, much less how to fix it.”
While protestors cannot be expected to fully understand the inner workings of Wall Street, they would do well to learn about how the financial crisis came about, especially if they are protesting against government bailouts of big banks. Two good primers, both available on
) are Gretchen Morgensen and Joshua Rosner’s book,
Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon
, which highlights the toxic link between Wall Street, Washington in the subprime mortgage crisis, and the Charles Ferguson DVD,
, which is a documentary that takes a comprehensive look at the financial meltdown of 2008.
A Gift from a Small Business
Keep it good, and most importantly, keep it local – that’s probably the mantra of the Occupy movement. Indeed, a key protest rallying cry is that big corporations wield disproportionately far too much power in America, and a way to counter their power is to stop supporting their products, and spend on small businesses instead. We saw it in the
Occupy Black Friday movement
, which urged Americans to boycott big retailers like
), and buy their discounted goods from local shops on Small Business Saturday instead.
The folks behind Occupy Black Friday have since moved on to their next project, Occupy Christmas. No, they’re not being grinches and calling for a boycott of Christmas gifting; rather, they’re refocusing on getting people to buy from small businesses. So if you’re thinking of a gift for protestors, buy something thoughtful from a local business, preferably artisanal or at least made in America).
Donation to Open Secrets
Wall Street and its ‘fat cats’ have become the poster children of income inequality, corporate excess and crony capitalism that the Occupy movement has railed against. However, it is also important to recognize that corporations are able to wield the power they possess because of policies set by the government, which constantly faces intense industry lobbying.
Opensecrets.org is a website run by the non-profit, non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics (It doesn’t even accept donations from businesses, labor unions or trade associations), whose stated mission is “to inform citizens about how money in politics affects their lives, empower voters and activists by providing unbiased information, and advocate for a transparent and responsive government” The site provides extensive data on federal campaign contributions and the direction of lobbyist funding, and so is a great treasure trove of information on the ties between K Street and Capitol Hill. Make a donation to this cause and you’ll surely make the day of any self-respecting Occupier.
For Anti-Occupiers and the 1%
Bernard Madoff Investment Securities Trading Slip Oct 2005
What would Occupy Wall Street non-sympathizers do for the halcyon days when Zuccotti Park was unoccupied and income inequality wasn’t part of the national conversation, when Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were still standing tall, when Bernard Madoff Securities was bringing home the (illegal) bacon? A lot, probably.
Well, thanks to eBay you can bring a little Christmas cheer to these folks with a piece of authentic early 2000s nostalgia, a
Madoff Investment Securities trading slip
circa Oct. 2005, which, as the seller notes, “shows stock activity.” The starting bid is $499.99, and as of press time, no bids had been placed yet, so this is a good opportunity to buy this little slice of history
A Foreclosed Home
The subprime mortgage crisis of the late 2000s is still plaguing the American economy, with new foreclosures still outnumbering foreclosure sales by
. In the spirit of Christmas, anti-Occupy Wall Streeters, especially the 1% with some cash to spare, could purchase some foreclosed homes as a reconciliatory gesture, since the buying of foreclosed homes helps lifts the prices of all the properties in the same neighborhood (Some college students in Merced, California have also taken advantage of the foreclosure crisis by renting some sweet
) Everyone wins with this gift: The anti-Occupier gets a new home at a bargain price; and his or her neighbors have their net worth boosted.
Of course, buying a foreclosed home could also piss off protestors who have organized a
Occupy Your Home
sit-in in the homes of families who were about to be evicted on Dec. 6. Either way then, you can’t lose with this gift.
A Christmas Gift from a Publicly-Listed Big Box Retailer
So Occupy Wall Street protesters are planning to boycott chains like
Abercrombie & Fitch
) and Walmart, and want people to shop at small businesses instead. What’s the best way to make the point that the movement does not have much power nationally? Support big businesses, of course.
Occupy Black Friday turned out to be a bust, with retailers reporting robust sales, and a gift from any publicly-listed chain will strike a blow to the movement’s planned Occupy Christmas boycott.
Membership to the Chamber of Commerce
In terms of lobbying power and influence, the US Chamber of Commerce, which represents the interests of many businesses and trade associations, is the big daddy of the room, outspending its nearest rivals by more than 100%. The organization’s stated tenet is to “
fight for free enterprise
,” and it is a key proponent of financial deregulation, one factor which many of the 99% believe is the cause of the US’s income inequality explosion since 1980.
The Chamber also holds many other positions that make it anathema to Occupiers (anti-Obamacare, anti-Employee Free Choice Act, anti-climate change action, pro-Citizens United), so the gift of a paid Chamber membership would be surely be most welcome to any 1%er or anti-Occupier.
Boeing Business Jet
is not the most prudent of gifts in these recessionary times, but if you’re looking for a symbol of extravagance that has Occcupiers steaming, you can’t do better than this winged beauty, which can seat between 25 and 50 passengers and can include a shower and a master bedroom. You’ll be able to save some money of course, thanks to the depreciation schedule-extending
corporate jet tax breaks
President Obama famous railed against.
Additionally, the recipient of your generous gift will be more than happy to know that you supported Boeing, a company that’s been in the news for its controversial decision to base its new 787 Dreamliner production out for South Carolina, a right-to-work state, one which angered the
National Labor Relations Board
No positions in stocks mentioned.
ABERCROMBIE & FITCH
OCCUPY WALL STREET
HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS
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