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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

November 16, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Why Occupy’s 15 minutes of fame are running out

At the risk of being seen as another Main Stream Media tool who “doesn’t get it,” I’m getting over Occupy. The leaderlessness and lack of an agenda (because that would imply something done top-down) of the movement is no strength, however mystic it might sound. Instead, it is sending Occupy into increasing irrelevance and alienation of the 99 percent. Yesterday in Seattle, Occupy protesters held up a Metro bus full of cubicle proles trying to do their part to ease climate change by using transit stressed by budget cuts. The plutocrats went about their business as usual. By turning public spaces into increasingly dirty and dangerous campgrounds, occupiers show the same contempt for the commons as the nihilistic Republicans who would defund Amtrak, sell off the National Forests and privatize everything.

It’s not that the grievances expressed are groundless. Far from it. The evidence continues daily that Wall Street, Washington and crony capitalism are failing our society on multiple levels. Yesterday, the New York Times reported how prosecutions for bank fraud were falling ahead of the swindle-caused financial collapse — and have continued to fall. Justice has not been served. The super-rich are richer than ever. Main Street has been scrod, as they say in Boston. Millions are suffering from unemployment, stagnant wages, foreclosures and downward mobility in a system gamed for the wealthy playerz.

And Occupy is doing, what, exactly, about any of this?

Every movement that wrought real political and societal change in America had leaders, an agenda, a painstaking strategy…you know, adult stuff.

The civil rights movement entailed mass marches and freedom rides on buses into the heart of vicious racist regions, using non-violence and accepting the beatings and even murders that finally called the country to its better angels. On a parallel and sometimes conflicting track, the NAACP was fighting in court. The goals were clear: Voting rights and integration. The leaders are now celebrated as heroes. The sit-down strikes in the auto industry of the 1930s were similarly focused on unionization. The strikers occupied the assets of the wealthy and paid in blood, but ultimately won. The outcome was a pillar of the middle class that is now vanishing.

This is not to say Occupy can’t turn into something more constructive. But not on this course. It lacks the big-money backers of the Tea Party, as well as that group’s sympathetic coverage by Fox “News” and alignment with the interests of the rich and powerful. The Obama administration has done little for average Americans, preferring to side with Wall Street and failing to bring accountability, whether for the banksters or the enablers of torture. Many Americans agree with Occupy’s grievances. But on television, do they see the militarization of law enforcement and take pause? Or do they see a bunch of hippies, homeless and hobby-activists they left behind in the 1960s? That decade helped set the stage for 30 years of reaction.

And Don’t Miss: How to solve the corporate tax problem || Salon

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Austere medicine

May make politicians smile

Economists weep

Comments | More in Occupy, Occupy Seattle, Occupy Wall Street


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