"Unclear goals:" How do you say what constitutes "fair play in financial markets" to predators who have to look up the definition of "fair."
You can't fix a sick organism with one quick shot of medicine. You can get its immune system working so cells throughout the body are driven to act to attack or drive back the infection in their own small area.
Collectively the effect grows logarithmically. I can't say I was optimistic about either the goals or success of OWS when it started. Now, I'm hoping it fires up the natural defenses of indignation and resistance in both individuals and small groups, online and off.
If I were running a major corporation I'd hate the whole idea, at least while I was at work and not reading my own KGB-like notice from Verizon's anti-privacy squad.
As an individual, I can't see it as anything but a good thing, at work or away from it, that someone is trying to pull together what companies often refer to as the all-powerful customer, but often treat as the powerless, abusable step-sister made to clean the fireplace while the arrogant, selfish sisters go to the ball.
It may be more of a cross between Cinderella and PollyAnna, but I expect the Occupations will actually make a difference, if only by proving to "the 99 percent" that non-billionaires have rights even in the financial services market, shouldn't accept being treated as the base assumption is that a blue-collar worker with a $5,000 limit on a credit card and no interest in fiance other than to pay the bills and mortgage, will defraud CitiBank into insolvency if not treated like a dangerous criminal from the very first interaction and in every case thereafter.
Like I said, it would take a conscious choice to be optimistic with so little evidence of change among the financial powers that be. But in the future I expect people like the step-sisters to find that many of their natural victims are suddenly acting as if they may have rights as well.
Long-term impact: more resistance from more of the disenfranchised
And, by "step sisters," I mean entities or corporate "people" like:
the banks bailed out by the Fed by promising to renegotiate fraudulently written mortgages but which choose to lose the paperwork until the borrower goes away or dies;
securities brokers happy to sell "total crap" to the public, take the commission and let the investors go broke on their own, behaving more as if they were carnies scamming the yokels at 50-cent midway games to make some extra cash in between stretches in prison;
and political donors who give so much anonymous money to select candidates of easy moral virtue, then demand so many favors on regulations and legal loopholes that they've turned our democratic republic into a kleptocratic oligarchy.
I don't expect major changes any time in the near future. The economic mess and regulatory disaster we're in now took years to develop and would take years to unravel even if those able to unravel it were to live somewhere other than in the pockets of their benefactors for more than a few minutes at a time.
I do expect the Occupations to provide a good example of how well identifying the culprits and resisting them – even when there's nothing more within the power of consumers than to point and shout their accusations to at least let others know when someone is being fleeced.
With enough resistance, passive or not, enough complaints and enough organized pressure for reform we might be able to begin making some progress back in the direction of relatively fair, relatively open financial markets.
To get there, though, a lot more people than just the OWS protesters have to be involved, aware of changes to financial terms, privacy promises and other ways big companies deceive their customers, and resist the power – even when that doesn't mean sleeping outside in Manhattan for a month.