I’m not American, but here is my sense of some of the Occupy Wall street issues, particularly as they apply to Occupy Toronto/ Canada: asymmetric risk (get the benefits, don’t pay costs), counter-party risks (banks intertwine themselves, effectively forcing bailouts), taxation of capital gains.
Taxation: I make a lot of money from capital gains. If I don’t sell the stock I don’t pay anything. If I do sell, it is a capital gain, half taxable, and so I pay 23% (since I’m in the top tax bracket). This is less than the marginal rate of someone making $40,000 in Ontario . Capital gains have been taxed at varying rates in Canada , from zero up to 75%. The original idea was to encourage the development of business – don’t tax it so people have more to reinvest in their business and thus build up the economy. This makes sense, but nearly all of my capital gains are removed from this process. When you buy or sell a stock on an exchange, it is with a 3rd-party – the company is not involved at all. So why tax this less? Raising the capital gains tax in Canada would be horrible for me, but I can’t think of any reason I should be taxed less than a person making $40,000. As a side note, high-income earners in Canada do pay a higher rate of tax. The bottom 95% pay an aggregate average of 17% (meaning weighted towards the higher earners), whereas the top 1% pay an average of 31%. 
Suggested Action: Increase the capital gains taxes from half taxable to three-quarters taxable.
Asymmetric Risk: I am using this term simply to mean a situation where you receive the benefits of your actions but not the (full) consequences. A “freeroll” in gambling parlance. The bonus structure at most finance companies is yearly – you get a bonus based on your personal performance and your company’s performance (and perhaps your group’s performance), although for very senior executives they do sometimes get stock on a 5-year vesting period . Things go horribly wrong and you get nothing, or perhaps fired and you move on to another company. This incentivizes people to rationally take larger risks. For example, trading in exotic derivatives that bet on unusual events not occurring (say a housing collapse), can yield a large profit in most years and a disaster in some. But you are getting paid on your large profit yearly and no one can take that money away from you afterwards. Examples are found here . Another case is where you suffer a large loss that hasn’t yet been discovered. In an asymmetric risk situation you should double-down and bet more. If you’re right you’ve avoided getting fired (and perhaps you’ll get a big bonus), and if you’re wrong you aren’t really in any more trouble. I suspect this is why some derivative traders end up with such enormous losses (e.g. UBS and Bank of Montreal) . A similar case is taking on more risk because you believe a 3rd-party, such as the US government, will bail you out no matter what .
Suggested Action: Increase the cost to shareholders, directors and executives when bankruptcy occurs. Where possible, set still criminal penalties for those that violate banking laws and fail in their responsibilities as a director. I think this is important, because it brings back negative consequences for actions. The risk of going to jail (or suffering very high fines) will hopefully incentive directors to be more careful with the risks they take. Richard Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers, let the collapse of his firm but as of this writing, still retains 100% of the more than $500,000,000 compensation he received from 1993 to 2007. 
Counter-party Risk: Counter-party risk itself is the risk that your counterparty (e.g. other banks) will be unable to pay what they owe you. This is an area I understand much less, but the general idea is that banks swap pieces of each other to minimize risk to themselves. This works if they were to fail in a vacuum, but it also ties banks together if done excessively. If one bank fails, other, teetering banks, now have their equity hit, and may be in trouble. So they need to sell assets as well, starting a cascade of selling that crashes the markets and causes all the banks to go bankrupt. This makes the banks “far too big to fail”, requiring government intervention, and effectively minimizing the negative impact of bankruptcy.
I attended a talk by Eric Sprott (investor extraordinaire) who stated that banks equity is overstated because of the way that they model their assets, for example based on a model instead of market prices. Even market prices won’t hold in the face of heavy selling by multiple banks in any event. Mr. Sprott further mentioned that when bank do get bailed out, the cost is many times their theoretical equity, meaning that they were no where close to being solvent, highlighting his idea of their equity being greatly overvalued. As a side note, he says silver will be the investment of the decade . I didn’t buy any silver after the talk, which is good, because it plummeted 25% the next week.
So these intertwined banks need backstopping by governments (sovereign debt) effectively causes damage to taxpayers (higher taxes) and citizens (reduced services) to pay for the actions of others who previously benefited. It can also cause sovereign default, where a country runs out of money to pay their obligations. For example Ireland guaranteed all bank deposits, covered bonds, senior debt and dated subordinated debt . The Wikipedia article further goes on that they did not take equity, limit salary or bonuses or replace management. This exposed Irish taxpayers to enormous liabilities, enriching foreign bondholders who perhaps should have been made to pay the cost for holding riskier Irish bonds. Please note that Irish depositors, similar as in Canada, already had E$1000,000 protection .
Suggested Action: I don’t know. Hopefully someone smarter and more knowledgeable than me does. Some ideas I’ve heard are increased bank capitalization rates and requiring all derivative transactions to be public. As an engineer, I like things to be open – openness automatically encourages better behaviour. Once this is visible it should be easier to analyze how derivatives are being used to mitigate risk and whether further regulation is needed.
The formal Occupy Wall Street demands are here: http://coupmedia.org/occupywallstreet/occupy-wall-street-official-demands-2009
 Statscan A profile of high-income Canadians http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75f0002m/75f0002m2007006-eng.pdf
 Michael Lewis, The Big Short
 The Double-Barreled Silver Issue, November 2010 newsletter