Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why Occupy

I keep hearing talking heads act dumbfounded by the current Occupy Wall Street protests/sit-ins. Really? Is it truly that much of a mystery?

Some of the nit picking is due to the lack of a simple, easily packaged mission statement that will fit in a headline. After all, that's the only thing most news shows and pundit parades have time for. They want a one sentence description they can wrap their pea brains around so they can then pontificate.

You want to know what it's all about? Try this little exercise. Google (or Bing, if you like) US unemployment statistics for the last few years.  National deficit estimates, mortgage foreclosure statistics and personal bankruptcies for the last year, just as a start. After you've spent a little time with those happy articles, search for US corporate earnings, middle class earnings of the last decade and earnings of the top few percent over the same period. Does anything strike you as strange about all this? Notice a trend?

Well, it sure seems odd to me and the crowds of people meeting for the Occupy Wall Street protests! It's odd that many of the companies who caused the economy to implode, and were then bailed out by American taxpayers, are doing great! Earnings as high or higher than before they mugged the economy and bonuses hitting record levels. Now compare that to the financial status of the bulk of Americans.

What are they protesting? They, and I, are watching as the top tier is slowly sucking dry the real engine of the economy, the middle class. We see a financial system guilty of massive greed and corruption yet, with few exceptions, puttering along as if nothing happened. What are the Occupy protesters looking for? How about Justice for those who don't make 6 or 7 figure salaries? How about making those who do take responsibility for their actions? Or is that too much to ask?

2011-10-30: Matt Taibbi has a good piece on this subject over at Rolling Stone. I encourage you to give it a read.


  1. So I spent all night googling and have made some startling discoveries...

    We are in a recession that began in 2008. Life isn't fair (that one caught me by surprise). Government Motors will need to sell 1 billion fafillion gajillion shab-ab-dood-illion cars in order to repay the taxpayers (wait a minute, GM isn't on Wall Street!?).

    How about this for a headline: "Wall Street Protesters Demand ONE MILLION DOLLARS!"

  2. These "protesters" might be taken more seriously if they could define more clearly what they are protesting and exactly what outcome they hope to achieve. "Wall Street is Bad" is a little vague. They have the limelight, so now what?

  3. Reply to Anonymous from Oct 28th @ 12:08pm. (The first Anonymous post was all snark and no intellect, so I'll skip that one)

    Sure, it would be nice if they could package their grievances in simple, beltway bullet points. Unfortunately life, and especially our financial system, is far from simple. Just as it's complicated to explain exactly how rampant greed and criminal stupidity caused the recession, it's not easy to put the Occupy message into a headline format.

    But while it's not simple to parse it down to a single sentence, it's not particularly hard to to understand if you really look and listen. They are sick of paying for the mistakes of the financial system and watching those who do bear responsibility for the disasters walk away with multi-million dollar bonuses. The system is broken. Wall Street has figured out how to make money while shouldering almost zero risk. As Matt Taibbi put it, "Wall Street isn't winning, they're cheating." This isn't the free market that conservatives pine for, this is more like organized crime.

    I'm sorry, but it's simple minded to just make fun of the Occupy protesters and pretend that they are just crazy. Wall Street is playing all of us for fools especially those of us who are too blind or too lazy to pay attention. The Occupy folks may not be especially polished or succinct, but they are at least sharp enough to know they've been mugged and demand justice. A surprising number of Americans don't even seem to know or care that they are being used. That's the truly sad part.

  4. Top Ten OWS Observations

    #10 They are the 99%. That comes out to about 303,936,484 people. I've seen maybe 5,000 in all protests across the country. So where are the other 303,931,484? Sleeper cells?

    #9 The 1% don't pay their fair share. The 99th to 99.5th percentiles include physicians, attorneys, upper middle management, and small business people. Just your run of the mill liars, cheats and thieves. Roughly 30% of their income goes to Federal, State, and Social Security taxes. Assuming a median income of $400k, that's $120k in taxes. I'm at least 99% sure that $120k sounds fair to me.

    #8 Susan Sarandon spoke at a demonstration saying, "I came down here to educate myself. There's a huge void between the rich and the poor in this country". Susan Sarandon has a net worth estimated at $50m, the average American has a net worth of around $100k. Her learning disability has obviously not had a negative impact on her earning ability.

    #7 The Lehman Brothers collapse was 3 years ago. Guess it takes time to organize a small angry mob with cardboard signs, sleeping bags and tarps.

    #6 A sign seen at a protest (written in Elvish) reads "I spend every waking hour fighting orcs while Elrond and Galadriel eat lembas bread all day. I am the 99%". Ok that was just a parody, but had to slip it in because it's funny and I needed a number six.

    #5 Nancy Pelosi supports OWS, saying she includes herself in the group of Americans dissatisfied with Congress. Pelosi has been a member of congress since 1987, party leader since 2007, with a disclosed net worth of $35m (up 62% from last year). The OWS folks should start a collection so Nancy can finally afford to retire.

    #4 Wealthy supporters have joined the protest, and have started a blog, westandwiththe99percent, saying "I am the 1%. I stand with the 99%". This would bring the total of supporters to 100% who stand in opposition to the remaining 1%.

    #3 The OWS group has taken in substantial donations, forcing them to deposit money in a bank. But not just any blood sucking leech of a financial institution, but the Amalgamated Bank of NY. One hundred percent union owned from the 1920's up until September 2011 when they were forced to sell a 40% stake... to a couple of capitalist pigs, err, I mean billionaire investors.

    #2 Supporters include such notables as Hugo Chavez saying "This movement of popular outrage is expanding to 10 cities and the repression is horrible, I don't know how many are in prison now" and former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, saying "The Zionist media has their paid whores condemning the demonstrations across America against these criminal banks". That rounds out the last bit of the 99% rather nicely.

    #1 The OWS group is camped out in a park. Blocks away from Wall Street. Apparently no one has bothered to tell them that they are lost. People can be so cruel.


Please let me know what you think, even if it's to disagree.