Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupied With Wall Street: Notes on a Popular Uprising

Leave it to the Wall Street Journal: What percentage are you ?

While evidently not a resident of or embedded in Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park, Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi who was the subject of an Andrew Breitbart attack (based on allegedly leaked/stolen emails) claiming he is directing OWS policy, may be  emerging as the journalist with his fingers on the pulse of the political-economic zeitgeist that has catalyzed this popular uprising. In his blog, he suggests that key to this movement is its not getting boxed in by either the Democrats (as “their movement”) or the GOP (“OccupyWS is a Dem movement”) – he’s argued that the longer they can channel this popular discontent – but not, I would offer, the boiling rage of anger and hostility of the Tea Party that seems more claustrophobic and exclusive rather than inclusive– the more possibility they will have to influence policy. As soon as OWS gets locked into the traditional political discourse with identified leaders, etc.,  it runs the risk of getting caught in the same merry-go-round as Life in the Slowlane of the Beltway and Ye Old Campaign Trail and it will just go off the rails like the rest of Washington-centric politics. But as Taibbi's continuing analysis and the OWS's willingness to continue to hang in there and stir the pot demonstrate, clearly, sooner or later, something’s gotta give…
-DITHOB
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Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi on hit the bankers where it hurts here http://www.rollingstone.com/?redirurl=/politics/news/my-advice-to-the-occupy-wall-street-protesters-20111012

Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on the 1% and everything else here "The 1% may have the best [of everything] but their fate is bound up by how the other 99% live."

From the Brooklyn Rail review of Matt Taibbi's 2010 "Griftopia:Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America"
"The grift in America always starts out with a little hum on the airwaves, some kind of dryly impersonal appeal broadcast over the skies from a high tower, an offer to sell something—help, advice, a new way of life, a friend at a time of need, the girl of your dreams. This is the way the ordinary American participates in this democracy: he buys. Most of us don’t vote more than once every four years, but we buy stuff every day. And every one of those choices registers somewhere, high up above, in the brain of the American Leviathan."...



"Looking back now, what I experienced in the wake of the Goldman piece was a lesson in a subtle truth about class politics in this country. Which is this: you can pick on the rich in an ironic, Arrested Development sort of way, you can muss Donald Trump’s hair, you can even talk abstractly about class economics using clinical terms like “income disparity.” But in our media, you’re not allowed to just kick the rich in the balls and use class-warfare language."

Full review of Taibbi's book here



NY TIMES: In Private, Wall Street Bankers Dismiss Occupy Wall Street as Unsophisticated
But, going global, they can no longer ignore it.  "But when they speak privately, it is often a different story. “Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” said one top hedge fund manager. “It’s not a middle-class uprising,” adds another veteran bank executive. “It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.”
Citigroup’s chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit, even said he would be happy to talk with the protesters any time they wanted to drop by. Mr. Pandit, onstage Wednesday at a Fortune magazine conference, said that the protesters’ “sentiments were completely understandable.” 

“I would also corroborate that trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that it’s Wall Street’s job to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust,” Mr. Pandit said. The protesters should hold Citi and others “accountable for practicing responsible finance,” he said, “and keep asking us about how we’re doing.”

Full article here

NY Times: Paul Krugman: Losing Their Immunity 
"And what about the current situation? Wall Street pay has rebounded even as ordinary workers continue to suffer from high unemployment and falling real wages. Yet it’s harder than ever to see what, if anything, financiers are doing to earn that money. Why, then, does Wall Street expect anyone to take its whining seriously? That money manager claiming that finance is the only thing America does well also complained that New York’s two Democratic senators aren’t on his side, declaring that “They need to understand who their constituency is.” Actually, they surely know very well who their constituency is — and even in New York, 16 out of 17 workers are employed by nonfinancial industries."


"But he wasn’t really talking about voters, of course. He was talking about the one thing Wall Street still has plenty of thanks to those bailouts, despite its total loss of credibility: money."

"Money talks in American politics, and what the financial industry’s money has been saying lately is that it will punish any politician who dares to criticize that industry’s behavior, no matter how gently — as evidenced by the way Wall Street money has now abandoned President Obama in favor of Mitt Romney. And this explains the industry’s shock over recent events."

"You see, until a few weeks ago it seemed as if Wall Street had effectively bribed and bullied our political system into forgetting about that whole drawing lavish paychecks while destroying the world economy thing. Then, all of a sudden, some people insisted on bringing the subject up again."

Full link here

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