For almost two weeks, protesters have been rallying in New York’s financial district under the name Occupy Wall Street. They have numbered from a couple of hundred to about a thousand, and have been peaceful despite a group being pepper sprayed by an NYPD officer. Smaller Tea Party rallies received wide media attention while this event has barely been covered by the main-stream media — but this doesn’t have the powerful corporate backing of the Tea Party.
Like the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street is an entirely predictable outcome from the events of recent years, where the corporate evil doers, enabled by a ‘fixed’ government, got away with it while millions of Americans suffer unemployment, loss of their homes and downward economic mobility. As the economy continues to suffer, expect more unrest.
The goals are nebulous or evolving, depending on whom one talks to. Is it to protest the enormous social costs and economic damage caused by the swindles of the banksters? Or call attention to high income inequality? Call for real financial regulation? Or seed a movement that can go nationwide?
No question that Wall Street is crushing Main Street, and setting us up for an even more severe financial bust in the coming years. But this is hardly the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., consisting of perhaps 300,000 protesters, and galvanizing a nation to fight injustice. This reminds me more of the Cindy Sheehan protests during the worst of the Iraq War. Sheehan looked at the Obama administration and said, “I don’t think much has changed since the Bush administration.”
The same could be applied to Wall Street. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t resist and protest. But most of the nation remains passive, watching an average 34 hours of television a week (and not CSPAN) and distracted by the latest electronic wonders made in Asia.
Speaking of bankers, Simon Johnson weighs in on Jamie Dimon’s comments about international regulation being “anti-American.” Just who is being anti-American?
Today’s Econ Haiku:
Germany says ‘ja’
In the latest bailout vote
Soon they’ll count to ‘nein’