Just one more old lady gripe about the kids on my lawn, and then I’ll find something else to write about — please do read this post by Ian Welsh, which I think is spot on.
For Occupy to be successful, on its own terms, will require shutting down Wall Street and probably all of NYC. There must be so many people on the street that it is impossible to arrest them all or to get rid of them without resorting to a lot more than a whiff of grapeshot. The elites must be be faced with a decision tree â€œnegotiate or lose a ton of money and be massively inconvenienced or shoot hundreds of thousands of people and build mass detention camps.â€ That will require two or three million people occupying New York City. …
… If you want politicians to take out Wall Street for you, it has to be worth their while. Either the Koch Brothers have to pay them to take out one part of the elite on behalf of another part of the elite, or they have to know that not only will they lose their positions if they donâ€™t do it (remember, the Soviet Politburo had more turnover than the Senate does) but that they will never have a good job afterwards, that whatever monied interests they have served either will not be able to give them a good life afterwards, or they will be unable to enjoy that good life.
OWS has gotten remarkably sympathetic press so far, but I’m still not seeing an indication that they know how to make a movement. People say “go down there and see for yourself,” but folks, 99 percent of Americans are not going to be able to see the protests for themselves. What they know of OWS they’re going to know through mass media. You can wrinkle your nose at media all you want, but we’re still not at a place that a smart Twitter campaign can override what gets on the TeeVee when it comes to affecting public opinion.
Many commenters have said they smell fear on Wall Street. I think Krugman is right —
Whatâ€™s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Streetâ€™s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. Theyâ€™re not John Galt; theyâ€™re not even Steve Jobs. Theyâ€™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 â€” basically, theyâ€™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 canâ€™t bear close scrutiny â€” 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.
The Powers That Be are going to crush OWS like a bug unless it gets too big to fail, and fast.
Nevertheless, whether targeted at dictators or corporate greed, protests alone â€” however impressive in their numbers or disruptive in effect â€” do not make a movement. The revolutionary pretensions of a youthful counter-culture aside, Occupy Wall Street must become genuinely representative of the vast majority of Americans now struggling as a result of inordinate corporate power and political influence, reflecting also the legitimate aspirations of small business owners, small farmers, and working families of the poor and middle-class majority whose voices in the established political process are too often drowned out by powerful corporate interests.
The OWS declaration is a frustrating document. While I don’t specifically disagree with any of it, it reflects the biases and restricted views of the core group. It’s a self-indulgent mess that’s not going to mean squat to the small business owners, small farmers, and working families of the poor and middle-class majority.
Like it or not, if this thing is going to be too big too fail, it’s got to include people who are squeamish about gay rights, love the military, and support the death penalty. It’s got to include people who don’t give a rat’s ass about what’s going on overseas and who don’t see the big deal with confining calves to veal crates. That’s not what I want; that’s the reality of it.
No, the hard core baggers will not join, because they’d rather sell their children to David Koch than join anything that looks “liberal,” but there’s a vast pool of Americans who are not baggers, but neither are they all that liberal. And you can’t rightfully claim “we are the 99 percent” without the support of that pool.
On the other hand, it’s curious to me that reproductive rights aren’t in the soup anywhere. I’m not saying it should be, just that the document too obviously was mostly written by guys.
A couple of lines stand out —
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
True, but the Affordable Care Act addresses that. It’s supposed to stop in 2014. Keep up.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save peopleâ€™s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
The real issue is that the U.S. is the only industrialized country that doesn’t control the price of drugs, and the Medicare Part D program is basically a taxpayer-funded giveaway to Big Pharma.
Really, I want OWS to succeed. My fear is that if it fails, it’s going to be that much harder to start something else later.