Archive for October 11th, 2011
Paul Krugman’s Sunday essay on the rich and the right’s extreme overreaction to the Occupy Wall Street Movement might be the clearest expression yet of what that particular fight is all about.
A long quote:
What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.
Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.
This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.
Decades ago, during another set of demonstrations, John Brunner wrote an amazing, eerily prescient book, The Sheep Look Up (Amazon link). Maybe, just maybe the American people are starting to wake up and realize the deck of cards they have been dealt isn’t just stacked, it’s frozen solid.
WC dares to entertain hope.
WC is having flashbacks.
It’s the fault of Occupy Wall Street movement. It all has a striking resemblance to WC’s undergraduate days, when his classmates occupied, at various times, the University offices, the ROTC offices (prior to blowing them up), downtown Eugene, the U.S. Forest Service offices (“Save French Pete”) and probably others lost in the haze of memory. WC, at the time, was a photographer for the University student newspaper. And, at least as he recalls, the “media” paid a lot more attention to those occupations than they have to the Wall Street Occupation.
WC’s has heard a lot of excuses for the media’s inattention.
It’s just oddly dressed people acting out!
So? WC’s 60′s classmates were dressed a lot more oddly. Or not dressed. Their point then is valid now: is it better when perfectly tailored politicians and bankers whose insane, reckless chicanery brought us the Vietnam War then and have brought the world economy to its knees now? Those Brooks Brothers types were bailed out by taxpayers. And now they are whining that President Obama is saying slightly harsh things about them?
In any event, isn’t that an apt description of the Teabaggers? What are the Teabaggers but oddly dressed people acting out? Okay, more heavily armed, WC will admit.
Why don’t they try to work within the system?
This would be the utterly dysfunctional Congress? The folks who are purely incapable of passing even a spending bill? A system where even someone as classy as Elizabeth Warren is roadkill as a nominee for a federal agency? Where the Republicans continuously and shamelessly play whore to that 1% the Wall Street Occupation is complaining about?
Why shouldn’t protesters go outside the usual channels?
Why not defer to people who know what needs to be done?
As Paul Krugman has pointed out, the VSPs – the Very Serious People – have been consistently, awesomely wrong, both before the financial crisis and after. Nothing in the recent record of policy suggests that the wise men of finance or government deserve any credence at all.
So WC says more power to the folks and their Wall Street theater. And to those trying to get similar efforts under way elsewhere in the country.
But he’ll add this caveat: the 60′s occupations mostly came to a bad end. Buildings were blown up. Students were killed. There were serious riots. WC got his camera and nose both broken covering them. When occupations have no effect, frustration mounts. As frustration mounts, the voices calling for violence can drown out the spirit of Ghandi and peaceful resistance.
WC will hope for a better outcome this time. But the image of the cop’s billy club, seen through a camera viewfinder, aimed at WC, keeps recurring. Flashbacks.