The “Occupy Boston Issue Survey” received responses from just over 260 occupiers. The survey posed sixty questions to determine the views of occupiers on a wide variety of issues, ranging from tax policy to defense, in order to determine the aggregate opinions of the occupiers. It reached participants via email lists, Google Groups, Facebook, and Twitter.
A frequent criticism of the Occupy movement is that the occupiers have expressed no central set of demands. Some critics have concluded that the lack of defined demands signifies that the protesters are not protesting anything at all. However, the survey finds that ten issues and beliefs have near-universal support among occupiers.
1. Revoke corporate personhood so that corporations have no ability to interfere in elections.
2. Remove the “revolving doors” that contribute to the corruption of the regulatory process.
3. Institute a progressive tax code which both removes loopholes as well as makes the rich and corporations pay their “fair share”.
4. Re-institute the Glass-Steagall Act and place stricter regulations on capital leveraging.
5. Increase the transparency and accountability of the Federal Reserve.
6. Institute election reform so that money can no longer be used to buy elections.
7. End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
8. Invest in clean energy development and increase environmental regulations.
9. End the drug war and institute rehabilitation programs for non-violent offenders.
10. Protect unions and increase worker safety protections.
Few survey participants expressed an interest in blocking resolutions of support for these issues, suggesting a high likelihood that such resolutions might be passed with relative ease at a General Assembly.
From a review of the survey results, the values of equality, fairness, compassion, and protecting the disadvantaged appear to link those statements with the highest levels of support.
A Statement from Joshua Sager on His Methodology
Over the past few weeks, I have disseminated an online survey across all Occupy Boston email lists, websites, feeds and social media. Over 260 people have replied to my survey, giving me a sample of Occupiers’ views on over 60 issues. The breakdown of that survey’s results is below, but before you read the results you should keep these four points in mind:
1. I understand that not everybody took the survey. However, I took a large sample size from as diverse a group as I could in order to achieve a representative sample of ideological alignments. I wrote, administered, and analyzed the survey on my own, thus it is limited by the resources/time available to me.
2. These results are only speaking as to the aggregate views of the occupation on an issue by issue basis; they are not intended to be used as a definitive guide for deciding upon the demands of our group.
3. The results are simply a tool intended to help all working groups with their work
4. All answers are rough due to the large size of the 99% as well as the several biases inherent in all surveys. I tried to minimize bias and maximize exposure, but there will always be some error in this type of survey.
My analysis of the survey results included three levels: Support Intensity, Block Override Potential, and Average Support.
In the first level of analysis for my survey results, I found the ratio of respondents that support any single idea to those who don’t support it. I divided the answers into three brackets: low, Middle, and high. The low bracket (score of 0-3) is composed of the people who would not support the proposal in any way and would likely be difficult to persuade otherwise. The middle bracket (score of 4-6) is composed of the people who are on the fence and could possible be swayed to the one side or the other. The high bracket (score of 7+) is composed of the people who will likely support the proposal no matter what.
By finding the ratio between those who would support a proposal and those who wouldn’t, I can estimate the aggregate levels of support for every included issue. Any issue that has a high ratio of support to ‘oppose’ is uncontriversial and identifiable as a common ideal for the protesters.
The second level of analysis is intended to determine whether the answer to a survey question could pass in a General Assembly if there were a block enforced. In our process, a block is the most extreme opposition to a proposa. If a block is imposed, there is a 90% required consensus in order to push the blocked proposal through the GA.
In order to determine whether a measure would push past a block, I calculated the ratio between the frequency of the high bracket of support and the frequency of the block score. Any ratio larger than 9 indicates that the measure could push past a block (90% consensus).
The third level of analysis for my survey is intended to determine the average level of support for every issue. I use a simply mean calculations to determine the average level of support and apply the low/medium/high support brackets. An average support of over 7 indicates a high average support for an issue while an average of under 4 indicates low levels of support.