Occupy something

By David Rohde
December 2, 2011

By David Rohde

The views expressed are his own.

Update: On Dec. 6th, Occupy protesters began a new tactic of rallying around homeowners trying to resist foreclosures in several cities. Read more here and here. The following column was published on Dec. 1st.

The Occupy movement is flirting with irrelevance. While press reports trumpet the movement’s introduction of the phrase “we are the 99 percent” into the political conversation, the group’s largest encampments have been razed. On Wednesday night, Los Angeles and Philadelphia joined New York, Oakland, Detroit and St. Louis in clearing out its protesters. Small demonstrations continue, but the movement now needs to turn catch-phrases into political change.

This week, Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park was a symbol of the movement’s potential dissolution. On Tuesday afternoon, a dozen Occupy Wall Street protesters held a quiet discussion in one corner of the park. In another, a lone office worker sat at a small, marble table and ate his lunch. Christmas lights glistened on trees that once sheltered protesters. Scores of police blocked anyone with a tent from entering the area.

Generating debate and media coverage are significant achievements, but Occupy’s real test is whether it can convince Reagan Democrats — the working class Americans who began voting Republican in the 1980s — to abandon the Gipper’s progeny.

Despite all the talk of the “99 percent,” the Occupy movement remains light years behind the Tea Party in terms of sparking political change. In a remarkably short period, the Tea Party translated intense media coverage of a small, fervent protest movement into real political power. The Tea Party and other factors shifted the Republican party dramatically to the right in 2010.

The question of 2012 is whether Occupy can do the same with the Democrats. Occupy’s lifeline is clear: unions. With their large memberships and deep political war chests, uniting with unions is Occupy’s best chance at producing the change it demands.

The power of unions was clear during this fall’s protests in New York. On a given day, Occupy protests generally attracted several hundred or thousand people, a hodgepodge of students, older liberal activists and the poor. The largest rallies, by far, occurred when organized labor joined in and produced crowds of 20,000 to 30,000.

In recent interviews, Occupy and union representatives praised one another and talked of a conversion of interests. Chris Policano, Public Affairs Director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the country’s largest public employees union and a top funder of Democratic causes, credited Occupy protesters with re-energizing — and potentially unifying — the left.

“Eighteen months ago, the right wingers were getting away with pitting $40,000-a-year folks against each other while protecting the ultra-wealthy,” Policano said in an email. “But Wisconsin and Ohio and Occupy have profoundly changed the narrative, and that’s a major accomplishment we will build upon.”

Yet while Republicans quickly embraced the Tea Party, President Obama and many Democrats have kept Occupy at arm’s length. The President’s caution will come back to haunt him. Whatever the movement’s political liabilities, it articulates the deep frustration of many middle class Americans.

In recent appearances, Obama has tried to tap into that sentiment. In a speech in Scranton, Pennsylvania Wednesday, the president used the term “fight” repeatedly and rhetorically asked of Republicans, “Are you willing to fight as hard for middle-class families as you do for those who are most fortunate?” But his language was tepid compared to that of Occupy activists.

The gap between Obama and the Occupy protesters is about more than rhetoric: it reflects the failure of a pragmatic and effective political movement to emerge from the fractious left. After initially faring well in public opinion polls this fall, the Occupy movement is losing support. A nationwide poll conducted from Nov. 10th to 13th by Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh, N.C. based Democratic polling firm, found that opposition to the group’s goals rose from 36% in October to 45% in November, while support dropped from 35% to 33%.

When asked whether they had a more positive view of the Tea Party or Occupy movements, 43% of those polled chose the Tea Party while 37% favored Occupy. A month ago, the results were roughly the opposite, with a slightly higher number supporting Occupy.

The firm said in its analysis of the results that many Americans still support Occupy on the issues, particularly rising economic inequality in the United States. But controversy over the movement’s tactics has reduced support.

“What the downturn in Occupy Wall Street’s image suggests is that voters are seeing the movement as more about the ‘Occupy’ than the ‘Wall Street,’” the firm said in a statement. “The controversy over the protests is starting to drown out the actual message.”

That dynamic played out last Monday night at the Baruch College campus of the City University of New York. Students bitterly complained after police forcibly ended their protest against proposed tuition hikes, unleashing billy clubs and arresting fifteen.

Using language reminiscent of pre-Reagan America, students defended the concept of a free public university, which CUNY was until the 1970s. Many of them had participated in Occupy Wall Street protests and been energized by it. Educational opportunity was slipping away from middle class Americans, they said. Money, not merit, now ruled the country.

“We see the money in our education,” said Denise Romero, a 19-year-old student who holds down two part-time jobs and an unpaid internship while taking classes full-time. “We see the money in our politics and we’re all against it.”

A few minutes later, a policeman standing nearby dismissed the student protesters and their cause. When a passerby asked him why they were protesting, he derisively said the students “don’t want to pay tuition.”

The Gipper’s hold on working class America remains strong. If the Occupy movement fails to reach out to unions and do a better job defining itself, its moment will pass.

36 comments

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Totally agree. In fact, I’ve been blogging about it:

Dear Occupy Wall Street: A Letter From The Middle Slice
(Excerpted from http://allamericanindiangirl.com/?p=714)

At first, I was with you. You made it easy for me, partially by defining the “us” in the “us versus them” rhetoric of the movement so broadly as to include basically anyone outside of the wealthiest of the wealthy, and partially just by claiming to stand for something so fundamentally American as the underdog.

So thanks for that; always happy to be included. And while I don’t own a tent, know how to picket, or plan to cop a squat in Zuccotti Park any time soon, I do sympathize. Having no control over Washington or Wall Street, and having spent the past few years struggling to get financing for real estate projects that would actually create jobs in an economy where the super-rich just seem to keep getting super-richer, I’ve been more than just frustrated. I played by the rules, too. So here we are.

But what started a few months ago as an ingenious way to build a platform and raise awareness of inequality has turned itself into a conundrum for the middle slice of your fellow 99 percenters. We’re wondering what you want, and you don’t seem to want to tell us. Which can only lead to the conclusion that what you want is attention.

Read the entire article: http://allamericanindiangirl.com/?p=714

Posted by IndianGirlBlog | Report as abusive

#OccupyCapitolHill

#OccupyAJOb

Posted by jaham | Report as abusive

As far as the general public knows OWS has never had a mission statement or a leader. Nor do we know where the bulk of their financing is coming from. As such OWS is making a psychological statement whereby they’re letting you fill in the blanks based on your own interpretation. It seems lame, but it worked for Obabma when he got elected on an ambiguous platform of “change.” The definition of change meant different things to different people. So he let you fill in the blanks, then after he got elected he did what he wanted to do regardless of whether you liked it or not. OWS lack of transparency echoes a similar idiology. They appeal to lots of people on an emotional level, but what their goals are remain unclear perhaps on purpose.

Posted by GLK | Report as abusive

I think our political pundits are missing the point.
While a far cry, in some ways, from the uprisings in the Arab world, there are enough similarities to draw comparison. If their overthrown leaders had said, “hey, you guys don’t have a cohesive message”, they’d have been as wrong as wrong can be. The message is there, loud and clear. If you sail in northern latitudes, you know that you’re thankful if you see an iceberg in time to change course. If you see the ice above surface, and don’t change course, then fool on you.

Posted by Poalima | Report as abusive

These people know how to pop up and attract a news camers, but they have nothing to show it, nothing to tell the microphone or the public listening. They offer no plan or alternate future.

They are union members marching, who feel entitled but do not think and have nothing to say taxpayers will agree with. They are the dismayed; the unemployed, unqualified, and unskilled that have no “place” or function in modern society and won’t unless they change themselves.

They are the unmotivated and the homeless, many tattooed, and many smell. America cannot identify with such and their employment prospects are few and bleak.

It’s “moment” passed when America got a good look and said NO!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

I dont understand , usa said itself democracy but it supress its own people for bankers benefits.

Posted by Itri | Report as abusive

@ GLK and OneOfTheSheep (an apropos name, btw): You both glaringly demonstrate that you frankly don’t have any understanding of OWS, nor do you wish to, and that is fine. Remain asleep.

As to David Rohde, beyond your suspect poll information, your understanding is fairly superficial. First, while you are correct that solidarity with the unions is something that benefits OWS greatly, your comments regarding Democrats and the “Left” miss the mark. It is not Obama who has been holding OWS at arm’s length; OWS wants nothing to do with the Democrats or Obama. Obama has demonstrated from his first day in office that his campaign rhetoric was empty and dishonest. And he is not the only one. The Democrats in Washington are as much a part of the problems OWS seeks to address as the Republicans. A comprehensive understanding would recognize that politics itself, tied as it is to the overarching and controlling financial system, is the very thing OWS seeks to dismantle. That means Dems and Repubs alike. They are all corrupt, they are all culpable.

If you believe that the sweeps of the encampments spell the demise of the movement, again, you have seriously missed the mark. The camps were not the movement, and never have been. The camps are an expressive tactic, designed to bring attention to the grievances OWS was peaceably assembling to redress (all violence having been perpetrated by the State to suppress political dissent). OWS is not going away. We are still here. And we will continue to be here. The camps also furthered a secondary purpose, which in some respects is actually more important in the long-term than the political expression aspect, but which I’m not inclined to get into here. It would not be understood by most readers of Reuters anyway, as one must be willing to listen and learn, as opposed to critique based upon ossified conceptual and contrary conclusions.

We are not interested in catering to the desire of critics for 30-second soundbites and slogans. If you don’t understand our point, it is because you haven’t tried. Poalima and Itri, in their succinct comments, demonstrate a far more nuanced understanding of the movement than this article or the other comments combined. It is not that they set out any extensive or elegant arguments, but that they simply evinced understanding. It is almost like code; the obstinately ignorant critics can be identified nearly instantaneously, and those with whom the movement resonates just as instantly “get it.”

See you all in the Spring.

Posted by BowMtnSpirit | Report as abusive

I guess I’m just a suspicious kind of guy. When I attended a few of the Tea Party rallies in our town, I saw folks I knew of all political persuasion and, up until that point, no political participation. Then I saw the misprepresentation, locally, within our State, and nationally of what it was all about. I listened to the visceral, hateful narrative about myself and the folks I know personally visited upon us by pols and supposed objective journalists alike, saying things I knew were entirely false and unproveable. Now, this same group lauds the Occupy Movement, a group I’ve not seen a single person I know within. A group that has a laundry list of grievances that sounds like an anti-capitalist, socialist manifesto. So, I’m not buying it. This was a lame attempt to manipulate malcontents into a movement to mimic the Tea Party in hopes of getting the same election results for Progressives.

Posted by wildbiker | Report as abusive

BowMntSpirit:
You say the camps were not the movement.
But you havent made clear what you think IS.
To be succinct: What’s the point?

A bunch of people gathering together, with no goals or leadership, are fated to either disperse, or be coopted by those who do have goals and leadership.

If OWS does not support democrats or republicans of any ilk.. then who does it support?

you may “still be here, and continue to be here”.. but so what? what’s the point? What is going to change, and who is actually going to MAKE it change?

OWS seems to be a bunch of children saying, “we’re unhappy, but we dont know what to do, or why, or how, and we definately dont want to do it ourselves. Wont some mommy come make it all better for us?”

If you want change, *make it happen*. Dont just cry for someone else to make it all better.

Posted by PhilipB | Report as abusive

@BowMtnSpirit — thank you for saying it in such a clear and illuminating way. I see the movement as addressing *everything in human life*, not just corruption and greed (though these are the causes of a lot of the problems we face). I see it about reducing our dependence on corporate products and replacing them with things we make locally and creatively. If we can’t make everything we think we “need”, we should carefully consider whether we truly “need” a given thing (this includes many jobs which are unnecessary and/or dehumanizing). It’s amazing just how much we can do without…every little thing we learn to do without is one less bit of reliance on corporations. And every little thing we replace with something we create and share is one more bit of self-confidence in our abilities to be creators rather than consumers, which gives us real personal, intellectual, and spiritual power.

What’s tricky is how the movement will get entangled into politics. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s plenty of blame to go around for the way things have gotten in Washington and on Wall Street, and sadly, very few of the evildoers are going to get any punishment whatsoever. Realistically, though, I don’t see a “take-back” of the government anytime soon, so the movement needs to work within the existing structure…just pushing it to new limits. For the election, it will come down to two candidates, again. And my fear is that if a third-party candidate (either from the movement or endorsed by it) takes away votes which would otherwise be Democrat, we’ll get stuck with a Republican. Obama’s not perfect—nobody is—but out of the two possibilities, I’ll take him over any GOP candidate, any day. He will definitely do more to help the middle and lower-classes than the other side (this is quite clear historically), so it’s a start.

I still have faith that the government can in fact do great things for the people (and people can do their share for the government), if planned and managed right. When it gets it right, it’s far better than any private version could ever be—you have economy of scale, you have transparency, and you don’t have a profit motive (again, when done just right). Does that sound “socialist”? Yes, and frankly, I’m sick of that being a “bad word”. Do those who think “socialism” is a bad word think the same thing about social work? What’s bad about wanting to help the less fortunate? I think it’s a lot better than helping the rich get richer…

Anyway, lots more to come in this amazing movement. Can’t wait to see how it evolves and spreads. I feel privileged to be living in this time—it’s fascinating and empowering!

Posted by seejayjames | Report as abusive

“Flirting with irrelevance ” presumes that this so-called movement ever had any real
relevance. The tea party movement NEVER occupied anything! They merely stated
opinion and goals; it does not matter whether one agreed or not. This movement stated
philosophy and positions; What are the goals of OWS??. These people wanted to return
to the 60′s!
GAR

Posted by Naples | Report as abusive

@BowMtnSpirit,

You claim “understanding of OWS” and discuss “…the problems OWS seeks to address…”. You say “The camps were…an expressive tactic, designed to bring attention to the grievances OWS was peaceably assembling to redress.”

redress:
Verb: Remedy or set right (an undesirable or unfair situation): “the power to redress the grievances of our citizens”.
Noun: Remedy or compensation for a wrong or grievance.

A lot seems missing here. OWS has no power to “remedy or set right” anything. It has no money with which to compensate “for a wrong or grievance”. In fact, no “grievance” has been articulated; perhaps because OWS has no leader(s), INCLUDING YOU.

You say “We are still here. And we will continue to be here.” Who is “we” and where is “here”? By what right can YOU claim to represent OWS?

You laud “…succinct comments, [that] demonstrate a far more nuanced understanding of the movement…”. You suggest that “…those with whom the movement resonates [that] just as instantly “get it.” With all due respect, a bowel “movement” has more form, substance and purpose than OWS has yet produced.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

This guy, the article’s author, is not even in the same universe as the OWS. IMHO.

He is talking about HOW to work within the EXISTING political system. Forget about it.

Our money-ocracy (scratch democracy) offers the 99% no chance of really shaping Washington’s policies.

The date of this article is Dec 1. Was it not Dec 2nd that the Senate voted to make the American people the enemy?

Maybe if we follow this guy’s suggestions we can have get it codified that the military has to be *polite* when they crash down the front door of our homes without warrant, without any requirement to show due cause.

The Constitution is now a prop and Bush was far more honest than Obama will ever be with us when Bush uttered: “The Constitution is just a g-ddamn piece of paper”.

FOR the People, BY the People. Not going to get it voting in the two party monied system.

Posted by JagPop | Report as abusive

This guy, the article’s author, is not even in the same universe as the OWS. IMHO.

He is talking about HOW to work within the EXISTING political system. Forget about it.

Our money-ocracy (scratch democracy) offers the 99% no chance of really shaping Washington’s policies.

The date of this article is Dec 1. Was it not Dec 2nd that the Senate voted to make the American people the enemy?

Maybe if we follow this guy’s suggestions we can have get it codified that the military has to be *polite* when they crash down the front door of our homes without warrant, without any requirement to show due cause.

The Constitution is now a prop and Bush was far more honest than Obama will ever be with us when Bush uttered: “The Constitution is just a g-ddamn piece of paper”.

FOR the People, BY the People. Not going to get it voting in the two party monied system.

Posted by JagPop | Report as abusive

Traditional political tactics to defeat opponents involve destroying or coercing focal points of influence. However, because the OWS movement is leaderless, its defeat is not as simple as clearing out OWS camps. If OWS remains persistent, they’ll find a way to deal with this new situation using different approaches.

Posted by KyuuAL | Report as abusive

OWS is actually very clear and simple: 1) Tax the Rich and Corporations; and 2) Stop the funding of elections/campaigns/special interest groups by the rich and corporations.

Unlike the TEa Party, which we all know was heavily funded by the Koch brothers, the OWS is not anti-government but pro a truly democratic government that is elected in fiar and open elections.

NYC is a perfect example of how the rich have taken over the political system. NYC voters passed over 10 years ago a term limit law limited a politician to two terms. Bloomberg at the end of his second term buys of CHristine Quinn and has the city council overrule the voters! With millions of his own money, Bloomberg buys the election exactly in the same manner the Borges bought the papacy in the late 1400s. NYC politics today resemble more the type of rule under the Borges and Medicis than ti does a modern open democracy.

OWS is for a democracy and against the autocracy of the rich….

Posted by Acetracy | Report as abusive

@BowMtnSpirit, you used an awful lot of words to make no other point than to call people stupid for not agreeing with your point of view. I kinda wish you could have done that little rant face to face so you can see me laughing at how ridiculous you are.

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

I won’t even try to say it as well as BowMtnSpirit did,
but will simply add another voice to the, hopefully,
mounting chorus.

I think I got it – OWS -at least have garnered something
for my own point of view.

And I will just say that David Rohde, the author of this article,is more than “off the mark” he resides in a previous universe.

OWS -
By The People
For The People
does not exist.

Our money-ocracy leaves the 99% with essentially no power to really influence Washington. Practically the day before David penned this article we learned of the secret collusion between the major American banks and “our” government to loan the banks 7.7 Trillion (not millions or billions but Trillions!) dollars.

“Our” government hid this fact from us, did not exact any reasonable terms from the banks that would favor *us* and protected the banks as they lied and lied. There was substantial leverage that the American people could have used in this situation to 1) get those responsible for creating this financial crisis out of their positions, if not into jail
2) we could have gotten legislation to regulate the banks so they wouldn’t continue their threatening ways.

No, instead the banks profited billions merely from handling this, our, money. The bankers enriched themselv the game is still regulated in the favor of greedy banks.
Obama even brought in one of the bankers, Geitner, to work in “our” government.

Money-ocracy.

It was the day AFTER David penned this article that the Senate voted to make the American people the enemy – S.1867.

David would have us believe that for OWS to be effective it must work within the current money-ocracy. He would have OWS reaffirm the current system.

Maybe, just maybe, OWS, working in the current system could have enough influence to get Obama, etal, to make with the lip service. Do ya think?

Posted by JagPop | Report as abusive

@BowMtnSpirit

You are trying to talk to a wall. OneOfTheSheep is indeed on of the sheep. I am no longer amazed at the level of ignorance to be found in America, even from supposedly informed individuals. For some, well myopia comes with age and a worldview derived from a 10-ft radius only makes it worse.

Take note of the sheep and what articles and columns they choose to comment on. Do you find the sheep ever commenting on any financial crime pieces? If you did they are probably finding a way to place the blame anywhere but where it belongs. Do you see the sheep comment on MF Global? Bailouts? The crimes have gotten so brazen no one blinks an eye. The sheep say nothing, ready to defend crony capitalism and business no matter the context. The fact that profits are privatized and losses are socialized, the sheep will be quiet. They’ll never comment on pieces like these:

Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion in Secret Loans
http://tinyurl.com/43fedby

Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress
http://tinyurl.com/7qtcwgm

A Hedge Fund Insider Explains Why Retail Investors Should Flee The Stock Market
http://tinyurl.com/7ofhwls

How Paulson Gave Hedge Funds Advance Word of Fannie Mae Rescue
http://tinyurl.com/84ubru2

Exclusive: MF Global mixed funds, transferred abroad
http://tinyurl.com/7cfzndo

But the sheep come and visit columns such as OWS and make ignorant comments. For example, anyone who actually reads about OWS (as opposed to seeing what they want to see) knows the movement cuts across a wide spectrum. That includes working people and veterans. But they want to boil it down to dirty or smelly hippy types so it fits their worldview. Of course it’s much easier to take shots at OWS then it would be to challenge your own perceptions to ask for accountability from all. But truth seeking requires looking at the facts, in their context and that takes effort. Much easier to call people smelly meanwhile blindly defend business as though it is without sin.

See the myopic sheep want only accountability from common people, like those practicing their first amendment rights but not from the barons, the wealthy, the powerful, who have looted from the greater wealth of the nation. Those who have created a system that is in fact rigged. You’d have to be uninformed or a fool not to know what the OWS movement is trying to say. The moral outrage is directed in the right place, Wall Street. It then has to be shifted to the enablers, Washington (both party’s).

It has been the failure of journalism in America that has not given a platform for the OWS movement. As for the author, instead of attacking OWS for being decentralized, which was on purpose, there are a myriad of financial crimes happening that could be written about and brought to light. Perhaps instead of asking OWS to do it, you can.

Posted by TheUSofA | Report as abusive

It is ridiculous to claim that today’s Republican Party is the party of Ronald Reagan. Instead, it is perfectly clear that it is the party of Richard Nixon, full of duplicity, deceit and cynical disrespect of the American People.

The point of the “Occupy” movement is that the USA does not belong to the people who run it, to the top 1%. The point is that those people will need to change the current policies of impoverishing most Americans while depriving them of any political or judicial power. If they do not, they will be deprived of both wealth and power by whatever means necessary.

Political and judicial corruption and bribery are not legitimate defenses against democracy. Who cares about quibbles about a “republic” versus a “democracy”? What we have is neither. We have a P.T. Barnum punch and judy entertainment show.

The system must heal itself or get thrown out.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

Perhaps a recall of the American Revolutionists would be helpful here: scrappy colonists hid behind rocks and shot from trees to confound the organized ranks of British redcoats marching in the open. Don’t underestimate the unconventional and creative methods and cunning of committed change artists.

Posted by loannetter | Report as abusive

@TheUSofA,

I don’t read everything on the net, and none of the URLs you list have anything to do with “Occupy Something”. Nonetheless, I have visited each. The outrage of these authors seems well documented and well founded; and, to such extent as the information is accurate, their conclusions seem logical. So?

The reason I don’t comment on financial crime or MF Global is that I’m not a wealthy man nor do I have stocks or a 401k; and so have had little reason to follow such matters in detail. Starting out, I have worked at minimum wage for $1/hr. and made ends meet. I appreciated that job, found satisfaction in the work and earned raises.

I am also a veteran and have been “management”. I later founded, ran for over a decade, and sold a successful small business. I own rural property free and clear, and live mostly on Social Security. I happen to believe very strongly in “accountability from and for all”.

Having been there, done that, I am less than happy at the reluctance of banks to loan to individuals and small business that are clearly better qualified today than many loans approved “back when” that the government has jumped in to effectively insure. I have been generally aware that an upside down banking system has been getting huge amounts of assistance while upside homeowners have gotten little attention and even less money.

I, like you, have seen little in the way of Congressional efforts by either party to publicly debate or correct the situation. There is no defensible reason individual investors in the stock market should be at a disadvantage to members of Congress or Hedge Funds, etc. regarding availability of information on pending government action that could reasonably be expected to affect share prices or interest rates.

Yes, “We, the people” need to know details of, ask the right questions of the right people, and mobilize political forces to correct obvious abuses. But you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The American people and their “blend” of Capitalism have shown the rest of the world the way in achieving the highest standard of living of any major country. Corporations have been a legitimate part of that, and so I defend the positive contributions “business” has made and must continue to make if America is to survive.

Are there villians in business? Sure, just as there are villians in charge of countries. You deal with each as appropriate. Outrage must have an effective outlet if the current situation is to change.

If someone like you came to me and proposed…”Let’s call for all dissatisfied people to camp out on public property to draw attention to this problem”, I’d tell you you were out of your mind. Calling together unions, inexperienced students, the homeless, addicts and social anarchists, all vehiminantly anti-business and anti-profit to kill the goose that lays the golden egg is NOT “appropriate”. It is insane!

The average American can not and will not identify with “these” people. The “powers that be” respect only influence, power and money; which makes OWS a diversionary joke that is politically deaf, dumb and blind and does nothing but perform bodily functions on public property while impeding people with jobs getting to work. OWS “decentralized…on purpose? Please. What rational person is seriously going to believe such nonsense? What IS the “purpose”? What is the PLAN? Those who complain without suggestions for improvement waste everyone’s time.

The people to involve are American individual investors and small business owners who are losing out. The appropriate “private sector” action would be to set up or utilize “peer-to-peer” financing sites that could, over time, marginalize bank participation and profits from such loans. THAT would get their attention, and the attention of regulators and Congress to address and further level the playing field, or thwart it (in which case “We, the people”, would finally know who to target.

You mindlessly speak of “…the barons, the wealthy, the powerful, who have looted from the greater wealth of the nation…”. If you bothered to step away from the computer and the weed, you could not help but notice that grocery stores, liquor stores, restaurants, the malls, and the internet are filled with citizens in a frenzy spending money. Yes, more than usual are having a hard time; but, by and large, the American consumer is out there spending “the greater wealth of the nation” and our economy is NOT “on the ropes”, at least visibly.

Journalism is a profession, not a platform. Both good and bad ideas get media attention, as OWS has found out. I think it is those who claim to know what OWS is “about” that are the fools. Wall Street is a bunch of financial facilitators who make money on transactions, good and bad. If they need more regulation, that comes from Congress. Congress is in Washington, folks. That’s where they form the committees that “seek truth” and hang the guilty up before public scrutiny for all to see (modern version of the “stocks” on the village square”.

Just because OWS is a failure does not mean white collar crime is OK. You just don’t go after a pack of wolves with a bunch of carrots and genuinely expect success.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

@txgadfly

Moneyed interests prevail in America today, no matter the party. Even the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court has not escaped the rot. As the court has decided to further corrupt the electoral process by granting that money is equal to speech. The court is another reflection of the dysfunction that is America today.

“The oligarchy of moneyed interests have done a spectacular job convincing the working middle class they should be angry at 20 year old OWS protestors, illegal immigrants and the inner city welfare class, rather than the true culprits – the Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks and mega-corporations. This is a testament to the power of propaganda and the intellectual slothfulness of the average American. U.S. based mega-corporations fired 864,000 higher wage American workers between 2000 and 2010, while hiring almost 3 million workers in low wage foreign countries, using their billions in cash to buy back their own stocks, and paying corporate executives shamefully excessive compensation. The corporate mainstream media treats corporate CEO’s like rock stars as if they deserve to be compensated at a level 243 times the average worker. The S&P 500 consists of the 500 biggest companies in America and while the executives of these companies have reaped millions in compensation, the stock index for these companies is at the exact level it was on July 9, 1998. Over the last thirteen years workers were fired by the thousands, shareholders earned 0% (negative 39% on an inflation adjusted basis), and executives got fabulously rich.”

We’ve created a society based solely on winners and losers, not the common good. To add insult to injury, the winners often game and cheat the system and they get away with it time and time again. Whether it’s corporations who game the tax system (at least a trillion dollars in tax shelters abroad) or the bankers, the gamblers, the risk takers who create “financial innovations” with which to gamble and from there privatize their profits and socialize any losses. They buy influence, they buy politicians on both sides of the aisle.

The bankers especially have the public by the throat and they are wrapped tightly around Washington. Moral hazard is lost on our leaders. Too big to fail and crony capitalism is the norm today.

Posted by TheUSofA | Report as abusive

@OneOfTheSheep

You don’t follow financial crime or care to study predatory economics yet you follow columns about OWS?

And then to top it off you deride OWS and state “They are the unmotivated and the homeless, many tattooed, and many smell.” Who are you to say they are unmotivated? Tattooed? Smell? I suppose the working people among OWS and the veterans among them are also as you say? Or are you to now qualify such remarks and say that “most” are such and such?

You don’t see what those URLs have to do with OWS? Understand that many who support OWS do.

You don’t read about financial crime because you’re not wealthy? Yet you jump on threads and columns about OWS to deride them? Bravo.

If you’re going to clap, try using both hands.

Posted by TheUSofA | Report as abusive

@TheUSofA,

I must confess your own words reveal prejudices that are as an ax constantly chopping away at any credibility your perspective may have originally had. “Moneyed interests prevail”, for the most part, anywhere and everywhere. I agree with you that our civil courts increasingly reflect judicial dysfunction.

You speak of globalization in terms of the effect it has had on domestic employment and how corporate executives have made their companies richer and those companies have then rewarded them richly. They are playing a changing game under unchanging rules and finding numerous advantages to leverage. That’s what their JOB is!

The average worker with a 501k plan and a mortgage would likely give their eye teeth if the combined value were today at the level it was on July 9, 1998. If government regulation is the “answer”, why hasn’t it been more effective during the time Democrats held both White House and Congress?

You see no “double standard” in sports “stars” and rock “stars” making millions for doing something that interests (individually) a relatively small percentage of a fragmented population, but the people who manage the S&P 500 companies, on which much of the future of America depends, aren’t worth what their Boards of Directors pay them or reward them? You must be looking at the world through coke bottles!

Capitalism IS a society of winners and losers. Get used to it! For every one whose performance or remuneration is above average there is someone whose performance or remuneration is below average. Show me a single society “based solely…on the common good” and I’ll show you a religious sect, a commune or a native tribe; certainly not a society comparable to America. America does not have to meet YOUR standards of “perfection”. It just has to be what it is…the best working government in the civilized world in terms of the stahdard of living enjoyed by it’s citizens.

Is there waste? Is there corruption? Is there undue advantage taken? YES, YES, YES. The “bottom line” is that OWS cannot lead the parade to fix this. They cannot lead anything. They are, at best, a flash mob that pops up when they want attention; and blend in with everyone else when that better suits their purpose.

Look around…there ARE no more “Occupy” camps to support. City police reported after dismantling one camp that about 30% of those evicted had been local “homeless” people. There is no “Occupy” manifesto. All that remains is internet wannabes like you that have yet to offer worthwhile or cohesive ideas.

The solution never changes in America. Lead, follow or get out of the way!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Ok, one last time. Spent quite abit of time composing postS to this article but none of them display. If this posts then I will compose AGAIN.

Posted by NightBird | Report as abusive

So you don’t read about financial crime because you’re not wealthy? I suppose there’s no point in concerning ourselves with something like the Kansas City child porn case if we have no children then.

“Is there waste? Is there corruption? Is there undue advantage taken? YES, YES, YES.”

But let’s focus on OWS instead and reduce them to caricatures? Bravo.

“Capitalism IS a society of winners and losers.”

This is quite the defense of capitalism. So capitalism means there are no rules? It means if you game the system that’s part of capitalism? Crony capitalism is all in our heads? Privatizing profits and socializing losses, all part of capitalism? I suppose competitive markets in capitalism are also a relative notion? Just like reducing the OWS movement to fit your view, you would reduce capitalism to one grand statement. Perhaps that’s why you choose not to read about the financial system and all of it’s ills.

But let’s go take on OWS instead. Bravo. Those smelly working people and veterans and students who were beaten and bludgeoned for practicing their first amendment rights. You have quite the priorities.

“You see no “double standard” in sports “stars” and rock “stars” making millions for doing something that interests (individually) a relatively small percentage of a fragmented population…”

Sports stars? Rock stars? In comparison to Corporations and CEOs that ship jobs abroad and game the system to avoid paying their fair share of taxes? Have their cake and eat it too? Really? I’m sensing a pattern.

As I said, if you’re going to clap, try using both hands.

Posted by TheUSofA | Report as abusive

This is choice:

“If government regulation is the “answer”, why hasn’t it been more effective during the time Democrats held both White House and Congress?”

The answer is quite self-explanatory and to ask it reeks of ignorance. I suppose there are no such things as moneyed interests in politics? That too is all in our minds. It has nothing to do with Democrat or Republican. Both feed from the same trough. Bill Clinton is still loved on Wall Street to this day. Bring up Glass-Steagall to a devout Democrat and you’ll be met with silence. Of course Glass-Steagall was deregulation so for some they automatically approve, without any thought.

Posted by TheUSofA | Report as abusive

@TheUSofA,

What reeks of ignorance is anyone who believes the nonsense you spout. Just as politicians SHOULD prioritize the dollars they shovel out, individuals that would have effect MUST prioritize their time.

He who is “interested” in everything will know little about anything and make NO difference, ever. I am confident the good people and parents in Kansas City can get done what needs to get done without my heightened awareness or commentary.

But you might like my comment here:

http://blogs.reuters.com/david-cay-johns ton/2011/12/04/the-taxpayers-burden/#com ment-709

You flatter me if you think my words “…reduce [OWS] to caricatures”. OWS was a caricature from beginning to the end. All I did was offer my personal opinions on it’s utter inanity. Let it rest in peace.

You don’t like the Democrats. You don’t like the Republicans, so I’m sure you hate the Tea Party. You don’t like Corporations. You don’t like anyone with more than you have (which is probably very little). If you don’t like Bill Clinton, you certainly won’t like Ronald Reagan. To the extent ordinary Americans reject what you’re trying to sell, you hate them too.

I can see why you’re frustrated and why you’re politically impotent to move any change YOU desire forward. You have no “worthy champion”. So, even though no one is home, I can empathize with your desire to breathe life back into the illusion of OWS.

I’ll wish you the best and just say no to the clap.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

To OneOfTheSheep,
I did notice that all your arguments are derivatives of slogans, which is why I think of you as a typical “slogan thinker”. The main tell of such thinking is that it stops its argument exactly at the point where it risks undermining itself.

Posted by Biscayne | Report as abusive

@BowMtnSpirit. Thanks for making my point. On and on you go, where are the specifics? Nobody knows. See you in the winter of your discontent.

Posted by GLK | Report as abusive

@OneOfTheSheep,
Re: your comments to TheUSofA et al

“Never try to teach a pig to talk. It frustrates you and annoys the pig.” (I believe this is from Mark Twain, and it sure seems appropriate for much of the discourse here.)

Posted by dogstar | Report as abusive

Capitalism is not anarchy. There must be regulation or capitalism cannot exist.

Making robbery at gunpoint illegal is “regulation”. Making fraud illegal is “regulation”. Making murder illegal is “regulation”. Got it? Regulation is law. Law is regulation. This is very simple, very clear. If we have no regulation then we have no law. Then get yourself a street gang and automatic weapons and go help yourself to whatever you want. That is not capitalism. It is Somalia.

There are a bunch of lying thieves who have seized control of our financial system and hired a bunch of “mouthpieces” to justify their system. Well, as the Bible says, by their fruits shall you know them. Increasing poverty. Decreasing employment. A disappearing “middle class” and the market they used to provide. Increasing wealth and income shares for the wealthiest 1%. Lies about who and what is “American”.

This will end. Given the repression of complaints by the wealthy, it looks like it will end just as the French Monarchy ended in 1789, in a blood bath. It is not up to the oppressed people to come up with a peaceful solution that does not involve the liquidation of an entire class of Americans. It is up to our “leaders”. If left to the people alone, you are not going to like what happens. If nothing else, we will have a military coup.

This current situation cannot continue. Nothing at all like it ever has in the history of humanity. Try reading some history.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

Occupy Wall Street began as a fringe Utopian Anarchist spasm by teenagers. It managed to conduct the massive ambient electricity of discontent with the economy and political backlash against the Tea Party into a lightning bolt of publicity. Yet for all its raw power, lightning is by nature wild, brief, and unpredictable. The “movement” has already begun to splinter under the weight of the multitude of incompatible voices all speaking at once. A protest against unanimity is like a motorcycle gang I once knew who hung around with each other 24/7 and called themselves on their jackets, “The Loners”.

Posted by BajaArizona | Report as abusive

@txgadfly,

You are babbling about how you wish things were, and not how they are. There are all kinds of differences between individual statutes, laws and regulations just as there many differences in associated penalties. Got it? The U.S. is NOT Somalia.

And quit the nonsense about the 1%. More than 80% is at the malls this Holiday Season, not in unemployment lines or bread lines.

When you speak that “This will end…as the French Monarchy ended in 1789, in a blood bath” you state your personal dreams of anarchy, not those of even 1% of Americans. Americans are NOT “oppressed” nor will there EVER be a military coup here.

But you’re obviously smokin’ some GOOD stuff… If you want to read history, try some American History. Read about the “bonus Army”, for example.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

David Rohde obviously does not got a clue what he is talking about.
An uprising does not need a written mission statement: It is explicit in denouncing the current system and the entire political culture: lobbying, the two party political system, the merge of state and corporate powers. A deep dissatisfaction realising that neither the Dems or Reps have any solutions, they are just a smoke screen to give people of the illusion of choice.
Plutocracy hijacked democracy. Why would those who are in power give up their priviledge? “The land of opportunity” is like being a guarding dog who is well fed, groomed and excercised but ultimately must serve its master;just another brick in the wall. It can hardy be referred to as freedom when the perimeters have already been defined.
It is time to shed the old concepts of two party system. Get rid of the Federal Reserve, and the Federal taxes, establish Direct Democracy. Direct Democracy would, in fact, elliminate lobbying, corruption and return power to the people.

Posted by Renox | Report as abusive