The Problem with Occupy Wall Street - and What It Can Learn from Wall Street

Liberals and conservatives alike are looking over their shoulder and laughing at the "Occupy" movement. It's not because of what their demands are, but rather because of their demands are everything and nothing at the same time. Fundamentally, their core frustration is not a political one, but an emotional one. They're sick of feeling ignored by the wealthy and they want to be heard.

And heard they are - on every last demand. Even the crazy ones.

Let's take a look at some of their most popular demands, according to the votes on

Allow Everyone to Vote (136 votes)

Who is this for? Ex-cons? Immigrants? Children and teenagers?

Corporate Accountability (495 votes)

Corporations are already overflowing with paperwork. It's one of the things that makes it really hard for "regular people" to start a business. Maybe more accountability would be good, but they need to say what exactly this means.

End privatization of the commons (natural resources, education, healthcare, etc.) (139 votes)

The US already has both private and public education. And private education is, without doubt, far superior to public education. Would they like to terminate private education? Why? And if that's not what they're talking about, what does this mean?

Tax the rich and big business (285 votes)

Obviously the US already does. The rich and big businesses pay a much greater percentage of their income than the poor do. Would they like to raise the tax rate? To what? For whom? Or end some of the tax loop holes? Which ones?

I'm sure there are answers to these questions. But is there a consensus on these answers? And who will deliver the answers, when there is no central voice?

So what will happen to Occupy?

#1 They'll get a voice, but they won't get anywhere.

Everyone has gripes about the country, so they'll get plenty of members. They may even have politicians pander to them - their sheer numbers will do that. But how can anyone meet their demands, when there's no indication of what's important or how they would like Washington to "end the greed"?

#2 The crazies will come - and will belong.

As long as Occupy lacks a focused voice and set of demands, every demand can be "one of theirs." There's no one to disavow the really crazy demands, and there's no methodology by which to disavow them.

And if you give the media the choice of talking about the boring ol' reasonable demands and the crazy ones, guess what they'll pick?

#3 They'll be the left's Tea Party.

Sure, they'll say they aren't affiliated with a particular political persuasion. Tea Partiers say they aren't affiliated with the Republicans. But when the vast majority of their members are part of a particular political party, people won't distinguish.

Occupy will fuel Republicans' worst fears about Democrats (even the Occupy logo looks communist!) and will hurt the democrats. And let's face it - the vast majority of folks in the Occupy movement would much rather see a Democrat in power than a Republican.

It boils down to this: Occupy needs to learn what every business leader already knows. To effect change, you need to have a central voice and focused, reasonable vision. Without that, you're just a bunch of kids throwing a temper tantrum.