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Jon Talton

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

September 17, 2012 at 9:11 AM

Occupy Wall Street #fail

It’s been a year since the Occupy Wall Street movement emerged. Not one member of Congress who defends tax cuts for the rich or policies that hurt the middle class is fearful of losing his or her seat. Besides Elizabeth Warren, no serious candidate for office is running on a progressive, populist platform — and she’s neck-in-neck with her opponent (in Massachusetts!). No policies have been enacted to address rising inequality or the jobs crisis or malfeasance on Wall Street.

Far from it. Republicans in the House have blocked even the modest jobs measure by President Obama. His Attorney General, the former corporate lawyer Eric Holder, pursued no criminal prosecution against the major banksters whose risky business and frauds have cost the economy some $12.8 trillion — while they enjoy their millions in compensation. The middle class saw its household income shrink, continuing a 30-plus year trend of decline. Mr. Obama was bullied into accepting a budget deal that could wreck the economy further if the so-called fiscal cliff is allowed to happen. The GOP nominee is a unapologetic financier who engaged in the destructive behavior that destroyed the middle class. His platform promises more of the same, repeated with the monotonous insistence of the Aflac duck: Tax cuts. The big banks are bigger, and more politically potent, than ever.

To be sure, Occupy was never bankrolled by the plutocracy, as was the case with the Tea Party and FreedomWorks and other front groups. The case against corporate welfare lacks money from the Koch brothers and other big energy donors. No big donors are fighting the Military-Industrial Complex or the for-profit health and pharmaceutical industries. There is no super PAC pushing for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall and outlawing flash trading, derivatives and other gambling.

But Occupy did itself no favors, proudly leaderless, with a sprawling, inchoate agenda, if one could use such a precise word. In Seattle, the “movement” degenerated into a camp out, or protests downtown that mostly inconvenienced the 99 percent. Where were the Occupy camps in Mercer Island, Clyde Hill or Medina? Ah, Occupy popularized the “99 percent” and the “1 percent.” But all that matters at election time is the 50.01 percent, many of whom will continue to vote against their economic interests. Was Occupy really the force that caused many corporations to distance themselves from ALEC, the powerful right-wing, legislation-writing organization?

No wonder a reader writes me:

I’m 79 and have lived through the changes you write about. I wonder if the richest will continue their power climb and wealth accumulation until the country ends up in or at the end of a monopoly game where everybody except the winner is broke? We are on many collision courses with our economy and our place in the world. We are living in “Interesting Times”.

It appears that the poor and working poor have no voice or influence in our political process and the middle class in continuing to lose its influence. Is there enough will within the population to make or force the changes needed for a better (more equitable) distribution of wealth? To rebuild the manufacturing sector to provide manufacturing jobs with middle class wages and defined benefit pension plans?

I don’t see any will in the general population at this time to force changes to improve the lot of middle class, working poor, or poor. There are those who favor more tax cuts for the benefit of the richest in our country. Money seems to buy politicians of all stripes and judges, too. Last year I thought the “Occupy … ” movement might have some effect to start to bring needed changes … they have apparently gone away with the aid of police force.

And, the aid of their own missteps.

And Don’t Miss: Study finds tax cuts for rich do not spur economic growth || Talking Points Memo

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Long West Coast summer

Another record for heat

Frogs, boiled in water

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

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