10 Things to Know About Wall Street's Rapacious Attack on America
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
When you climb out of the subway at Wall Street, you might wonder why there are no protestors in the cavernous alley by the stock exchange. That’s because since 9/11, Wall Street has been barricaded shut to prevent possible attacks. But up the block at Zuccotti Park between Liberty and Cedar streets, west of Broadway, the party’s on.
There you’ll find a festive group of about 1,000 people, mostly young folks having a good time accompanied by the occasional cluster of old lefties singing songs. People make signs while sitting on the ground then prop them up wherever they can find a space. They gather at tables filled with donated food and browse boxes of donated books. You also can’t miss the swarm of media folks milling around asking questions, taping interviews and taking notes: they’re the ones in dress suits who spend most of their time interviewing each other. My favorite sign held by an occupier is painted on a skateboard: “This is what Freedom Looks Like.” My son would agree.
And my recurring thought is, “It’s about f’ing time.”
What took us so long? How much worse did it have to get before public outrage would finally focus on those who caused the problem and those who are milking us dry? Several of us have been pleading in blog after blog for more than two years to build a broad-based assault on Wall Street. Where was our answer to the Tea Party? Well, here it is.
There’s no telling where this Occupy Wall Street can lead, especially if a virtuous media feedback loop continues: The more protestors, the more coverage, the more protestors. It’s about the only good thing the mainstream media has done in years.
If unions throw into the mix full force, we may have something powerful in the making. It’s far too early to tell, although the October 5 labor march in New York that drew upwards of 25,000 people was certainly a good sign. Will labor come back and do it again each and every week? Will unions mobilize support for the satellite occupiers in city after city? Or will most of their energy go into the Obama/Democratic Party re-election campaigns as if nothing much has happened? (They should listen to protestors, who agree that corporations and the wealthy are destroying our democracy by buying candidates of both parties.)
Already you can hear the chattering classes mumble about the lack of focus, the lack of consensus and the lack of a coherent agenda in this nascent movement. But they have this coherent call: We are the 99 percent, and we demand our fair share. The irrefutable fact is that 99 percent of us really are being screwed by the 1 percent who are looting our country (actually it’s more like the top 1/10 of one percent). So if you still harbor any doubts that Wall Street is the right target, here are 10 reasons to consider:
1. Wall Street caused the crash: Unless you are suffering from financial amnesia, you should remember that it was Wall Street’s reckless gambling that did us in. It was Wall Street banks and hedge funds, not home buyers, who created the enormous demand for high-risk mortgages to pool, to securitize, and to turn into Ponzi-like gambling structures with names like CDOs, CDO squared and synthetic CDOs. It was the money-grubbing rating agencies that blessed these pieces of garbage with AAA ratings. As a result, trillions of dollars of worthless toxic assets polluted our financial system. When the bubble they induced burst, our system crashed, causing 8 million working people to lose their jobs in a matter of months due to no fault of their own. Anyone who still blames low-income home buyers, or regulations or Greece -- or anyone other than Wall Street -- should be checked for dementia.