October 22, 2011
Occupy Wall Street Finds Support in Some Unlikely Places
One way or another it's been an eventful week for protesters around the world, loosely gathered together under the "Occupy Wall Street" banner.
Amongst the usual suspects, last Friday Michael Moore spoke to Lawrence O'Donnell in an interview broadcast on MSNBC:
Amongst other things Michael said that:
We are not going anywhere. We are there until we have justice, and for people who say "What does that mean? What does everybody want?" what we want is a fundamental change. This is no longer about trying to get some bill passed, let's elect this Congressman or whatever. We've been down that road, and everyone's depressed by the way the political system is run, so until we get the money out of that system we're going to have to depend on really grassroots people demanding this change and making this change occur. and that's what's going to happen.
On Saturday Dr. Ben Mack, protege of Buckminster Fuller and a Facebook Friend of mine, marched in protest on the streets of Phoenix Arizona. Ben got gassed for his trouble. Amongst other things Ben said that:
I'm having trouble sleeping, I got tear-gassed earlier tonight, and I was 150 feet away, and it sucked. These protesters are braver people than me. Why don't they come with gas masks?
On Monday a leader in the Financial Times newspaper said, amongst other things, that:
The fundamental call for a fairer distribution of wealth cannot be ignored. What is at stake is the future of the American dream.
On Tuesday Michael Moore was invited to talk to Jeremy Paxman in an interview broadcast on BBC Television here in the UK. Amongst other things that Michael said this time around were:
There are new "Occupy" movements beginning in towns and cities every day, and now it's spread across the World. It's really touched a nerve. It may seem weird because you have a lot of young people there in the park. It's only "weird" in the sense that all movements for justice begin with people who are willing to be out there "on the edge" a bit.
Today the cover story in The Economist magazine puts it this way:
European social democracy promised voters benefits that societies can no longer afford. The Anglo-Saxon model claimed that free markets would create prosperity; many voters feel instead that they got a series of debt-fuelled asset bubbles and an economy that was rigged in favour of a financial elite, who took all the proceeds in the good times and then left everybody else with no alternative other than to bail them out. To use one of the protesters’ better slogans, the 1% have gained at the expense of the 99%.
The Economist's message to the "politicians [who] are already in something of a funk" may not find much favour amongst those occupying Wall Street, and other streets worldwide, but here it is nonetheless:
Braver politicians would focus on two things.
The first is tackling the causes of the rage speedily.Make sure the rich pay their share, but in a way that makes economic sense: you can boost the tax take from the wealthy by eliminating loopholes while simultaneously lowering marginal rates. Reform finance vigorously. “Move to Basel 3 and higher capital requirements” is not a catchy slogan, but it would do far more to shrink bonuses on Wall Street than most of the ideas echoing across from Zuccotti Park.
The second is telling the truth—especially about what went wrong. It is worth remembering that the epicentre of the 2008 disaster was American property, hardly a free market undistorted by government. For all the financiers’ faults (“too big to fail”, the excessive use of derivatives and the rest of it), the huge hole in most governments’ finances stems less from bank bail-outs than from politicians spending too much in the boom and making promises to do with pensions and health care they never could keep.
Do you suppose any common ground will be found amongst those seeking to replace capitalism with something better, such as Jacque Fresco, and those who believe that reforming capitalism is a more realistic objective, such as Bill Gates?
Will "Occupy Wall Street" one day become "Wall Street is Redundant"?
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