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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see

Discontent with the troubled economy, and with government's response to it, is now being taken to the streets of big cities across the United States. Tomorrow it will be Portlanders' turn to join in the protests that began in New York.

It's a dangerous time. A tiny fraction of the nation's population has gotten fabulously wealthy over the last 30 years. Much of that wealth was taken by underhanded means, and a lot of the rest wasn't deserved. So long as the middle class was getting along decently, the looting was tolerated, so that it became routine. But now the masses in the middle are realizing that what they've gained over the last half-century is starting to slip away, and quickly. And so the uneasy peace is starting to crumble.

Unrest seems to be a greater threat under a Democratic White House than under a Republican one. Photogenic liberal personalities such as the Kennedys and, yes, Obama raise expectations far beyond the realities of the day, and when their constituencies sense that they have been sold out, the anger tends to flare.

Let's hope that nobody gets hurt as America gets "occupied." And let's hope that the politicians figure out that they're going to have to be brave enough to risk their political lives by standing up to the Henry Paulsons and Jamie Dimons of the world. They'll certainly be damned if they don't.

Comments (88)

Now that unions have joined with the occupation it will likely weaken the appeal.

"Unrest seems to be a greater threat under a democratic White House than under a Republican one. Photogenic personalities such as the Kennedys and, yes, Obama raise expectations far beyond the realities of the day, and when their constituencies sense that they have been sold out, the anger tends to flare."

Can't argue with the photogenic part (Kennedy vs Nixon; or Obama vs McCain; Clinton vs HW; Clinton vs Dole), nor can I argue with the raised expectations.

But it really wasn't Obama's fault that he became a Messiah. He was set up to fail by both the Obamabotic Democrats and the Obama-as-Messiah MSM that reported his every utterance as Lincolnesque. Obama was always as he is today (fairly failed at all things except for being the most liberal activist, but not the smartest, in the room) and just because he is a natural failure at most things, does not give the Democrats the right to crucify him for being what he always was.

The alternative was Sarah Palin. Whatever he is, he isn't that bad.

Underhanded means? Undeserved? Of all the people in the 1% I know (guessing it's around 3+mil net worth) - they all earned it by starting and building their own businesses or worked high into corporations and built up stock.

Granted I'm not living in the nyc financial scene, but it seams like a mob mentality is putting all the bad apples in the bailed out finance industry with the far bigger group of frugal millionaire next door types and successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, etc that make up the bulk of the top 1%'s wealth.

I don’t think Democrat or Repubican have anything to do with it. People are losing their homes. Late middle aged people have almost not hope of ever finding employment. No one laid off from their job can anticipate ever returning to the standard of living they had before.

Young people are deeply in debt for their college educations & can’t find jobs... one woman in NY carried a sign: NY read: “MFA, $50,000 in debt, work two part time jobs, no benefits, no health care, homeless, two children-- this is f***d up.”

The situation is dire and no politician is addressing it adequately. Obama has flunked completely-- he seems tone deaf, just happy to be playing in the court with the big boys. But I think the demonstrations would be happening whether a Republican or Democrat's in office.

they all earned it by starting and building their own businesses or worked high into corporations and built up stock

Gag. Like Merritt Paulson?

I think the demonstrations would be happening whether a Republican or Democrat's in office

Maybe. But the element of betrayal is what takes you beyond the block-the-Hilton program and into the riot zone. Let's hope we don't go there, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Sam Clemens,
The world economy was not destroyed by anyone who actually made something of value. It was destroyed by the Wall Street power brokers who lobbied for changes in the banking rules allowing their firms to act as casinos.

Do not be swayed by 1% happy talk. This was about creating financial instruments with no useful purpose. This was the antithesis of Steve Jobs.

These instruments called derivatives were baskets of subprime mortgages all sliced up into an unrecognizable mishmash and then rated Triple A despite the clear knowledge that they were not.

That's the criminal fraud part but the really frustrating part is that these security swaps bounced around the world being insured again and again against default till these craven bastards had created a financial exposure of 600 trillion dollars if it all unraveled. I repeat: 600 trillion.

Why did they do it? Here's the unforgivable greed part: It appears that these traders were simply trying to generate a lot of big numbers on their books so that their sales commissions and bonuses would be big. That's what drove the economy of the world down - the greed of a handful of individuals who risked the financial security of the world to get millions themselves.

That's the really frustrating part: If we had just paid each trader a billion dollars not to do this, they would have gotten much more, and the world would be in so much better shape.

The absolutely essential thing for any American with the brain power to do so is to wade through what happened. It's all there if you want to find out. You will be hearing thousands of corporate weasels trying to co-opt this into something it is not.

The oligarchs are in the process of trying to deflect you from learning what really happened. Don't let them do it. It's your duty as a human being to find out who did this and why.

It sounds melodramatic but the future of humanity depends on it.

3 million net worth isn't getting you anywhere close to being in the 1%. Not when guys like J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon make $20 + million per year. Not counting bonuses. For tanking the entire economy.

I think this is part of the problem. So many of those like Sam Clemens here have no sense of the scale involved. To the 1%, 3 million is chump change.

It's not that those that worked for their money are evil. There is a systematic issue here. We do not protest the rich so much as the system that causes chaos and inequity. That said, there is a certain wealthy subset in the finance industry that can seriously go f*** themselves.

But they won't -- so now the crowds are going to do it for them.

Here's an example of the numbers we're talking about from a financial site on the Internet:

"The nation’s four largest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs — hold nearly 95 percent of the industry’s total exposure to derivatives contracts, the report found. JPMorgan, topping all commercial banks, holds nearly $78 trillion of the industry’s $231 trillion in derivatives, according to the report by the comptroller, the federal agency that regulates national banks. Citi is next on the list, with more than $50 trillion in the insurancelike contracts."

Look at that number just for America: 231 trillion dollars worth of exposure? Compare that to the 14 trillion debt we hear so much about.

I think this qualifies as the craziest thing in world history - it's mind-boggling that all these suits would get together and allow something like that. All because derivatives generate a few billion in profits for a bank if all goes well.

Of course, if it doesn't, all hell breaks loose and we haven't addressed anything from 2008. We just kicked the can down the road and waited for America to kick the bucket.

To be fair, it may have been impossible to try and safely unravel something this big. So we spent trillions just trying to keep the damn thing from unraveling. It took trillions just to keep the insanity going.

The problem is, it can't keep going. That's why they say Greece is such a threat: When these derivatives default in one place they trigger more and more defaults around the world like a wave.

What we are witnessing here is the most screwed up thing in the history of commerce. Austerity measures? What kind of austerity measures do you know that can save us 600 trillion?

So now we wait and listen to the media machine portray any sign of anger as misguided anarchy. Meanwhile the real anarchists were the ones who ran up the 600 trillion exposure - not the people who will get crushed by it.

Jack - In Oregon, for every Merritt Paulson or Mark Edlen, there are many McMenamin Brothers, Phil Knights, Richard Wendts, Duane Sorensons, etc. A mob mentallity against everyone in the 1% isn't justified.

Ex - I am quite aware of the scale and it is exponential. 3-5mil in wealth (depends on how its counted) gets you into the 99th percentile. The top half of that 1% is ~$15M. And the .1% is where the real f**** you money starts.

A mob mentality against the 1% is entirely justified. This town has far too many clueless punks who inherited their father's big money, and CEO types who got (and in some cases still get) obscene "compensation" because they knew and kissed up (and in some cases still kiss up) to the utterly corrupt Neil Goldschmidt. Phil Knight went from rich to super-rich on the backs of kids in Asian sweatshops. Sorry, your sales pitch isn't working with me. March on, protesters.

"Phil Knight went from rich to super-rich on the backs of kids in Asian sweatshops."
No, he delivered products people wanted and loved, just like Steve Jobs. He created wealth out of thin air and created opportunity for thousands of local creative people. And like it or not, the laborers in those factories are there because they want to work and they are making many times more money than their parents. China will never have another famine and they will become freer and richer as capitalism grows.

Wow. I rest my case. I've read the real Sam Clemens, and you, sir or madam, are no Sam Clemens.

Again, the protests are not about bashing the rich. We are about bringing down a corrupt system that allows the very few to prey upon the many.

A few comments here.

If this goes to full scale riot, it will be due to the Popo turning into pigs. In NYC, I believe JPMorgan just made a huge donation to the local Popo. That will encourage more police violence there. And nationally the Popo have a long history of violence against protesters so I don't hold out much hope. The cops in Chicago rioted in 1968 (and some of them now admit as much) and there is nothing to prevent that now.

I am not sure how starting a company out of a garage and having your product initially sold out of the trunk of an auto (as Phil Knight did) means you started rich. I am however seeing that there is some sort of personal hatred going on when it involves Phil and Nike.

And the remark about kids in factories is a little off. Why not rail about countries that allow kids to work in factories. Nike no longer contracts with any factory that does not meet certain standards and even in countries where kids are allowed to work, they are not allowed to work in factories that produce Nike products. Facts, Jack, facts.

That said, I personally don't like the off shoring and outsourcing that Nike and a number of other companies have done.

I was wondering when the masses would finally wise up and rise up.
I just hope that a "reign of terror" does not follow. No one benefits from anarchy and chaos.
Still it will be interesting to see if the big boys get nervous enough to change their ways, or ???

"Facts, Jack, facts."

Oh, you just want to spoil all his fun with straw men.

Obama vs Palin? Fact?
Or Obama vs McCain and the "pitchers of warm spit" were Biden and Palin.

Facts ain't nearly as fun as the alternative.

OK, so it's Bill Gates' and Warren Buffetts' fault, who after all, are by far the wealthiest of that top one percent. Lot of clear thinking going on around here.

So I'm supposed to be sympathetic to some moron that chose to go $50,000 in debt to get a Masters of Fine Arts she knew wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on when she decided to pursue it?

...a Masters of Fine Arts [not] worth the paper it was printed on...

Yeah, my MFA totally hindered my Technical Writing career. I guess all those comments from employers about how impressed they were by my degree made my study of acting and theater worthless.

China will never have another famine and they will become freer and richer as capitalism grows.

So what happens when they can no longer burn coal in their power plants, and the west can't afford to buy their products?

"The nation’s four largest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs — hold nearly 95 percent of the industry’s total exposure to derivatives contracts, the report found. JPMorgan, topping all commercial banks, holds nearly $78 trillion of the industry’s $231 trillion in derivatives, according to the report by the comptroller, the federal agency that regulates national banks. Citi is next on the list, with more than $50 trillion in the insurancelike contracts."

When people from these orgs start going to jail there will be some relief.

Looks like we may get our own "Arabian Spring".

Bill McDonald: are there any financial websites, blogs or books you would particularly recommend?

Sorry, your sales pitch isn't working with me. March on, protesters.


Sally et al.:


If you regularly read those two blogs, you'll be miles ahead.

One demand = Stop the looting, start the prosecuting.

The financial terrorists need to be prosecuted.

Lloyd Blankfein is a criminal.
Jamie Dimon is a criminal.
Joe Cassano (of AIG FP who created the worst of the CMOs) is a criminal.
Ken Lewis is a criminal.
Etc., etc., etc.

Besides bitching about all the "injustice," what else you got? Like plans? Proposals? Specifics? Details? Or is it much easier to just moan about how unfair and unbalanced it all is.

Lost my private-sector job in 2009, seven years short of retirement. Took me 17 months to find a new one, which involved financial hardship, uprooting my family and moving 300 miles to take something that pays about two-thirds of what I made before. And I wasn't getting rich on the first job.

Would I have wished it any other way? Sure. But that's the hand I was dealt. Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is for sure. Nor should it be. As Damon Runyon so pithily put it, all of life is 6-5 against.

I learned a long time ago that I am the only person I want looking out for me. The occupiers want to just help themselves to whatever they want, regardless of who earned it, because by God they deserve it for all that college educating they did.

The best thing the government can do for me is get out of the way and stay there.

I personally just bounce around the Internet trying to learn.
That way I can mix in the silly stuff when my blood pressure starts to rise. Of course, it's all in figuring out what to believe.

This story has the ability to give me a stroke if I'm not careful. It is particularly distressing to read the uninformed comments here disregarding the facts of Wall Street's plunder.

I would stay away from anybody who is actually making something of value. Take Donald Trump. He had an advantage having a wealthy father, and he was certainly rescued by the banks when he would have gone bankrupt. But at least he constructs buildings. Really nice buildings. He contributed something.

These Wall Street weasels found a way with derivatives to sell insurance to each other on crap, while providing nothing to society. Then they used their power to put us on the hook for the toxic security swaps when their greed went bad, and now they're threatening to bring down the country.

Analogies are dangerous but it'd be like if Donald Trump built a skyscraper out of twigs, and then sold insurance policies in the project over and over, claiming it was built of the finest marble. Then he also bet that the building would fall down.

When it began to fall, he ran to the US Treasury to get more money, not to fix the building but to allow him to do more buildings made of twigs.

Then a bunch of 1% wannabes ran forward to declare: "This is class warfare. Why are you going after him? He deserves getting rich off the building. Never mind the criminality issues, he earned the money. It's your fault if you didn't get rich with a similar scheme."

Uh oh, back to comedy. I feel the stroke coming on.

Other Jimbo: You're right to feel that you should be the only one you rely on to take care of you. The problem is that certain people in this country (usually that top .1%) enjoy protection FROM the laws as opposed to the protection OF the laws. The SEC, FTC, CME, Fed, and other "regulators" have proven to be completely corrupt, allowing the Financial Twig Skyscrapers to gouge trillions of dollars from the taxpayers. THAT'S what we're pissed about.

At least for me, this is NOT that someone has 10X, 1000X, or 10,000X more money than me, it's that those with the wealth can avoid prosecution for crimes that have a much larger impact than bank robbery, but if you rob a bank, you get life. Nations of laws become tyrannical when "some pigs are more equal than others."

'Sam Clemens' trying to make merely 3-million dollar 1%-ers a distinction for 'him'self to be kept apart from the really rich "bad apples" who mobs lynch, does not make a difference (to 99% of humankind), and those people 'he' "knows" are just as shameful and guiltily deserving to also be on the gallows of any public-enemies lynching lessons for society haters.
In the phrasing and word-choices of 'his' jargon, and in 'his' irrelevant pickyness about how many sociopathic public enemies can dance in the pinhead 1%, and especially in 'his' precisely and knowingly calculated "$3-mil." determination, (which is along the narrow $-range of what a Hate contract in talk-radio can garner), 'Clemens' sounds like 'he' represents the LarsLarson mentality, ill-gotten.

I thought the thread topic was about the mass power of 99% on the march, and its participants needing a precautionary reminder to not debase into mob lawlessness as public demonstrations powerfully can, (more likely if provocation by insensitive police or planted saboteurs), but the thread seemed to get bushwhacked where 'Clemens' makes up a concern about the low-end of the antisocial 1%ers and the high-end of the antisocial 1%ers. Heck, I'd think about lynching the entire 1% and let God sort them out, deluded pettyfoggers from grand illusionists.

I'd think of many points to make on topic, vox populi, rather than and beyond the 'Clemens' crap bracketing the in-come discussion. But, as the song aptly and artfully acknowledges for me,
You don't know me but I'm your brother
I was raised here in this living hell
You don't know my kind in your world

Here's the declaration of the Occupation of NYC:

"As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!"

My niece goes to NYU, I called her yesterday, she's excited, explans what she thinks the protest is about: "well, I'm not too sure, but the government needs to create jobs and support education."

Scary, where this may lead. Prosecute the wrongdoers, end big bonuses to the money-gods, eliminate federal pensions, give bankruptcy rights to student loan debt-holders...but please, please don't talk about gender and race discrimination and why the government should be giving everybody jobs.

Report out recently that federal pensions are costing us as much as Social Security. Why the hell aren't people protesting that? And how the hell do animal rights come in?

Don Smith,
Isn't it annoying hearing the government go on and on about jobs, when - if it had done its job watching Wall Street - we wouldn't be in this mess?

oh, and I LOVE the line: "They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas."

How does one perpetuate colonialism at home, exactly? Oh, I know. They are lamenting the egregious failure of the federal government to prevent the metastasis of an underclass born of rampant illegal immigration, right?

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, get your blinders off, you leftist grasshoppers.

Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered.

Here is something that is very clear...

The Pyramid Scheme


Bill - Amen, brother. Though on the jobs front, the real culprit is Congress's establishment of incentive to offshore jobs.

The Fat Cats lobbied (bribed) Congress to pass rules that allowed corporations to pay less in both tax and labor costs to offshore jobs. What we need are wage and environmental parity tariffs to make the $2/day Chinese worker cost the same to the corporation as the $100/day American worker. An analysis was done and it would raise prices on consumer goods between 5 and 20%. I would happily pay that so that my fellow Americans can have a job.

Rock on Don Smith, Rock on

I posted a comment to Don Smith and Bill McDonald referencing links to recent Michael Lewis pieces I have encountered, but it was noted "withheld" for management approval. The only other time that occurred the comment never did appear so I will just further note the thanks and reference.

So why can't these clowns actually have a platform that reads something like this-"we might tear NYC apart IF congress does not act to":

-protect American jobs through repealing laws that encourage out-sourcing
-protect the American K-12 education, judicial, and social services system by bringing a halt to illegal immigration through the implementation of a national ID card system
-eliminate bonuses to bankers
-eliminate government workers'pensions
-allow student-loan debtholders to file for bankruptcy
-tightly regulate the financial system so nothing like the derivative-driven melt-down can ever happen again
-expand Medicaid to cover all the uninsured and scrap Obamacare-let them live on savings and Social security l
-reform taxes to stimulate economic growth- if experts can generally agree that Cain's 9-9-9 plan would stimulate the private-sector economy, do it
-enact tort reform that is friendly to business and economic growth.

But no. Let's talk smashing up our great cities while complaining about...animal rights, torture, race and sex discrimination, the safety of the food supply, collective bargaining rights, environmental disasters, and colonialism.

Sigh. What would Socrates say? Homebrew hemlock on the way, children.

The statement "let them live on savings and Social security" was referring to federal workers, not uninsured people deserving of Medicaid.

The distinction between Bill McDonald and Jack is illustrative of why OWS is both needed and doomed to fail.

There IS a problem in the economic world, and its roots are in the replacement of production with finance as the road to economic growth. There ARE policies, laws, that can be put in place to alleviate that problem.

And OWS with its ‘big tent’ approach and rants against the ‘1%’ are guaranteed to distract, defuse and ultimately help defeat any such solution.

The numeral "1" and it's exponents are used a lot in these posts.

I'm hoping that Jack's hope for chaos doesn't happen, even though I agree with several parts of most posts.

I agree with Don Smith's post listing financial criminals, but I'd extend the list to 100 individuals and put them in jail. If that is done soon it would go a long way in avoiding chaos.

Gaye's posting of the Declaration of Occupation had me partially agreeing with the first paragraph. But when it followed with "They...." it lost me. It reminded me of a typical CoP Charette.Their first concept ideas are acceptable, but then the charette groups throw in everyone's pet peeves. Luckily the Declaration of Occupation participants didn't write our Constitution.

I had to chuckle a few weeks ago when the Republicans responded to Obama's jobs/budget speech by accusing him of using the "class warfare " card. The fact is our government, under the control and guidance of mostly Republican elected officials, and beholding to immense special interest (corporate) donations, initiated class warfare decades ago when it reduced the Capital gains tax from 28% to 15%. The effect of this for the vast majority of working class Americans, was to tax their labor (wages) at a rate higher than the rate on income earned on the passive and accumulated wealth of the largely well to do class. This is what Buffet complains about. Then there was the so called "death tax" movement, to eliminate estate taxes on the wealth accumulated from such passive activity. Those factors and countless others have resulted in an obscene accumulation and concentration of "personal wealth" in a fraction of the population, while the standard of living for 80% of Americans continues to erode. Certainly no one person or family "needs" personal wealth in excess of say $100,000,000 at the most. I challenge anyone to present a truly rational argument why we need personal billionaires, or why anyone living in our open society and free economy would need to inherit in excess of $10,000,000 to assure a very comfortable life, even if they are lazy sloths. And if that ain't enough, then they deserve what ever misery they bring upon themselves. The occupy Wall Street movement is not the igniting of class warfare, it is possibly the beginning of resistance to the class warfare that was started decades ago by those now using that term (the so called "job creators").

deergawd PLEASE put out someone enough gutsy of the LarsLars-ill mentality or AlpoFUX Broadcasting payroll from behind their gold-bricked bunker stonewalls, into public appearance getting facts of the boots-on-the-ground in face2face news gathering impressions of the man in the street.

and should your Holy Ways of redeeming just us, who suffer, prey not, include blood on the tracks to cross the public square, PLEASE step your honor to stick on my brick, there, forever for all, juicy 2 C.
faithfully, T.

RIP Steven Jobs.....

Let's have a history lesson here. So who opened trade to China? Richand Nixon, a Republican. One of the worst things that has happened to the average American.

While it is heartening to see people push back, I fear that enough of the population is still too comfortable to care. They aren't hurting enough, inconvenienced enough. They can still (and do in many and various blogs and lists) make fun of those who are, and who are protesting, because "those are just shiftless poor people" or "immigrants" or "idiots" and "anyone can be like me (or the wealthy) and have a job and make a fortune if they try."

Unless the movement can become seriously focused on what matters (and avoid the extraneous complaints noted, above), educate itself on how we have been used or if and when more Americans join the suffering, it will be just like many other occupations. Short attention span America will pay attention for as long as crowds are assembled in large enough numbers and everything will go back to "normal" after they are forced to disperse or fall apart on their own to the lullaby of managed mainstream media.

LucsAdvo - Two things - first, trade with China is not a problem, nor is trade with anyone else. International trade is vital to our economy. It's the lack of parity that allows wage arbitrage that's the problem. This has been lobbied for by the global corporations whose goal is to maximize profits. I don't even have a problem with a corp wanting to maximize profit. What I have a problem with is our elected officials giving away America just to get campaign donations and keep their "jobs" in DC. Disgusting.

Second, please for the love of God STFU with the partisan "Scorecard" if you can't realize that Republicans and Democrats are literally the same relative to you. 8 years of Bush so far = 3 years of Obama. Yeah, one party or the other yields something on what are truly minor issues in the grand scheme (DADT repeal, gay marriage bans, fuel economy standards, tougher drug laws) compared with the absolute pillage of your ability to get a job. The intentional, systematic dismantling of the middle class in the country is the problem. Both parties are active, seditious participants.

Drew writes: "Certainly no one person or family "needs" personal wealth in excess of say $100,000,000 at the most. I challenge anyone to present a truly rational argument why we need personal billionaires, or why anyone living in our open society and free economy would need to inherit in excess of $10,000,000 to assure a very comfortable life, even if they are lazy sloths."

Challenge acctepted. If it is morally acceptable to confiscatge wealth over $100 million or $10 million (the numbers you, as a well-to-do lawyer, suggested), then it is just as morally acceptable to confiscate wealth over $1 million, or $100,000, or $1000. The correct number will depend only on who you ask. The moral code you have suggested would also permit a street person to mug you for your lunch money on the way to work tomorrow. You have it; they need it.

That's why we need billionaires (which I wish I were, but am not).

I don't blame people for being pissed off. I'm pissed off. We're just all pissed off about different things. If people want to protest, they should protest. But don't expect you'll get what you want at the end of the process. You won't.

I lived in Detroit right after the riots. I recall two bumper stickers which appeared in quantity:



I expect these to appear again soon. Most Americans are fed up with the conspicuous inequalities that have arisen through the greedy cabal of Multinationals + SCOTUS + Republiklans + Unearned Wealth.

The Original Bob W,
"If people want to protest, they should protest. But don't expect you'll get what you want at the end of the process. You won't."

Are you sure about that? I thought the protest against England that led to the founding of America went pretty well.

Bill, I don't see too many George Washingtons, Thomas Jeffersons, or John Hancocks at Waterfront Park this afternoon.

Tools. This is all about the overthrow of capitalism and replacing it with less freedom and more government czars. The one party system in washingon created this problem and now we look to them to fix it? How about qe3 and the destruction of the dollar? Keep looking to government as your savior and you will get mao, Lenin, or a man who will destroy what was once a great nation and an exceptional experiment.

Bill, I don't see too many George Washingtons, Thomas Jeffersons, or John Hancocks at Waterfront Park this afternoon.

Details, details...

Hey Don Smith - First off I disdain both parties but you don't pay enough attention to my long term posting. Second off, foreign trade where there is an inequity in trading terms has been screwing the average folks in this country. Wake up, Buddy. And take a look at the trade balance numbers. That will help your facts.

And also, I will argue points for the fun of it, Don. I wanted to rankle some righties with the Nixon post. And apparently I succeeded. I will rankle lefties too when I think they need it.

Best comment I've seen all day on another forum is that people are taking to the streets because they have realized the ballot box will change nothing.

I was addressing the sweeping nature of your comment about protests.
They do work sometimes.

Note the unions "supporting" this steaming pile of malodorous excrement all represent either public employees or, in the case of the UAW, beneficiaries of government bailouts.

Probably just a coincidence.

And the Portland folk just want an excuse to smash things and rumble with the cops. The latter will likely result in some nice lawsuits over "brutality" that are realy aimed at getting a settlement in the form of a fat check from the public treasury.

This is all about money, folks, and we don't mean "economic justice." And if there are any leaders of this whole business, they ought to think about who is getting on TV. The people we see talking camera sound like they couldn't spell justice, let alone define it. Poster children for the term "overeducated moron."

"Note the unions "supporting" this steaming pile of malodorous excrement all represent either public employees or, in the case of the UAW, beneficiaries of government bailouts."

If you're poor or middle class and you're against unions, you're a dupe.

My comprehension of this nearly unfathomable economic debacle is that it will not come even close to being righted by "taxing the rich." It will be righted only by regulating the finance industry out of its ability to use hedge funds, derivatives and the like to play enormous betting games at the world's expense. The combination of little or deregulation together with government bailouts appears to be disastrous on a scale never seen. The instincts of the Wall Street occupation are probably better than their particulars. But currently there is no apparent leadership out at the top and differently chaotic comprehension at the bottom.

"If you're poor or middle class and you're against unions, you're a dupe."

I'd say if you're not a public sector employee and you're "for" public employee unions, you're dreaming. In fact I'd say even if you are a public sector employee you need to wake up to their own unsustainability crisis.

Well PDX'ers , I have returned from marching up the middle of OUR Broadway with many of my fellow citizens. I can report that it was spirited and pleasant. We took back the street for a time and people were loudly chanting and smiling. It feels good for the soul to do something with your fellow Portlanders to represent how pissed we are about getting totally screwed by the banksters and pols. I was joined by many young folks , and plenty of grey hairs , and in front of me was a great 9yr old kid on her kick board. Now the rest of you might get a spare blanket out for the brave ones who will camp out , and go down and chat with them , maybe buy them a pizza. I can assure you they are nice dedicated folks who care a lot for our country.

I've heard the Wall St. protests compared to the Arab Spring uprisings. The difference that I see is this: the Arab Spring protesters had one clear goal that could fit in one sentence: "Get rid of ________ [insert ruler's name here]."

If the Wall St. protesters could condense their message into one clearly articulated (and briefly stated) demand, I think they'd have better success at getting what they think they want.

It sounds like you expect the evil people with money to support the war against them. In LA the government is handing out rain ponchos. How about giving the protestors EBT cards or a government union job? Good thing they want more government or we would have to call the all white crowd racists. The comparison to the arab spring is right, let's blame the jews, I mean rich bankers. Send in the socialist democrat unions, right out of the 1933 play book. Obama is the only one who can save us! People who ignore history are destined to repeat it.

What you just wrote, Poncho, makes it clear that you know nothing about history--or current affairs.

"If the Wall St. protesters could condense their message into one clearly articulated (and briefly stated) demand, I think they'd have better success at getting what they think they want."

Why would you expect "one clearly articulated (and briefly stated) demand" from a grass roots popular movement that's just getting off the ground? Even the supposedly highly organized Democratic party doesn't have that.

The "Occupy Wall Street" movement is basically about insisting on economic justice for the great majority of Americans. That basic goal has to be achieved in many ways.

The local broadcast news (so-called) 'coverage' seems almost wishful of pandemonium or mayhem -- like one, voice rising at the end, "all the protesters are peaceful?" -- seeking video of bleeding to lead with, I suppose.

Such a decent protest makes the hazard pay overtime co$t$ for PDX (and flocking in from nearby, 'off'-duty) police seem to be so much more wasted City budget.

In many respects Peace is a trap for TV selling ad sensation.
Biased if they report it, biased if they don't.

Live protest cams showed a sign held high a long time: "al Qaida is CIA."
Gosh, if that's true can you imagine what that means, going on 10 years?

Define "economic justice".

Does it mean equal opportunities or equal outcomes? Is it a rejection of capitalism and private property? Do I have to share my retirement savings with people who did not have the self-discipline to put something aside when they were younger? Should my business hire a tattooed, pierced, person with a turquoise Mohawk (like I see on TV protesting, or am I just prejudiced against people who do not look like me? Does the world owe the MFA graduate the same job and earning opportunities as the chemical engineering grad?

I would like to see a mass protest against the individual profiteers who defrauded the country and wrecked the financial stability of the rest of the world. These people are as bad as drug traffikers at all levels -from the king pins behind the scenes (think Paulson), to the cartels who push the product (banks) to the street-level dealers (preditory lenders). Americans had, and still have the notion that they can get what they want with little or no risk. Mortgage one's house for the granite counters and exotic vacation or child's exclusive education. And when the rate changed and the house of cards fell down, who or what do people blame? Well, I don't hear many people saying they share some of the responsibility for their own bad fortune. Many people are complicit with their own greed and hubris leading them on. Just like a con man needs a sucker to believe the con, many (not all) people were willing to believe that they could live rich on an average income.

The grasshoppers have had their day and now want to force the ants to share their "wealth" because it's fair. This isn't a game -it's life. I wanted to be in the creative class when I was young, but it didn't pay the bills. I wanted to move into a nicer house, but I had to save for retirement. It's been a hard slog, but I am solvent and wonder how people's priorities became so messed up.

So why is economic justice so hard to find? Maybe because, we don't want to admit that the party was fun and now think that someone else should be blamed for the hangover. Go ahead, prosecute the kingpins and cartels who defrauded the masses, I'll be there with you. But let's not forget that none of the mess could have happened without the bad loans and credit debt regular people agreed to in the first place, and each one bore the signature of someone who should have just said NO.

Qualification: I understand that there are true victims here, but if not for the involvement of the masses, these events would have stood out and individual fraudsters would have been discoved and brought to justice.

What nolo said.

Also, for kicks, here's a little boots on the ground, Tenskwatawa.



You've done a lot to define economic justice in your post.

It does mean equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. It also means punishing those who ripped off the public on a massive scale, and it means making laws designed to keep that from happening again.

No, it doesn't mean that the MFA graduate is going to make as much money as the chemical engineer, but it does mean that each of them is protected by a basic safety net when they lose their jobs or get get sick or grow old.

It doesn't mean abolishing private property or ending capitalism, but it may mean saving capitalism from its own worst tendencies by making sure that the wealthiest don't stack the deck entirely in favor of themselves and their cronies. It means reversing the many trends that began about 30 years ago that have led to much greater concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, more people in poverty, and a shrinking middle class.

I think there are a lot of your fellow citizens who are working just as hard as you do, but they're just not making it. The prospects for young adults look especially bleak. Individual responsibility will always play a crucial role in individual lives, but I think you're making a mistake in assuming most people are less responsible than you are.

This country is still wealthy enough to ensure that in most cases individual effort will be rewarded. But a lot of people are starting to see that's just not true.

Richard, you're sounding friendly, this is highly appreciated. If it's the same Richard.

For a another boots-on-the-ground absolutely ridiculous OWS snippet:


I was downtown a few times today, saw nothing at 8.20 am, and nothing between 12.30 and 1.30. Where was everyone?

nolo - you'd better pray your investments/401k is not in something that the derivative scammers can find a way to rob you of. I ought to know about that.... but not everyone in this country had my fortune... I went to one of the best colleges money and brains could allow .... my parents had the money by the time I was going off and I had the brains and my parents kicked my butt to work and succeed. I have friends whose parents made them work in high school to contribute to the family income. They did not have much time to study and there were no extra-circulars. They did not have the chance to go to college. And some of them were female so they didn't have a lot of opportunities.

One of them works damned hard... and to me epitomizes the working poor. She has some medical issues and while her current job provides some insurance it never covers the bills very well and when you live paycheck to paycheck without medical bills, it bites.

She is a good person. Does not want help even though there are times she needs it.

I think it's far too easy to go all black and white about people deserving what they get until you actually get to know someone whose circumstances are far different than your own.

This system is really effed up. And it's crazy that some of you don't get it. You don't get that your world is imploding and that the powers that be will screw you surely as they have screwed everything and everyone that stands in the way of their utter greed.

I'm tired and my start time tomorrow will be far earlier than most of yours.

But think just think about the common good and not some myth that you have a chance at the American Dream. That's gone, really gone baby. And the grasshoppers won't be stealing from the ants. It's the effen praying mantises you should be worried about.

Great comments Richard. I know firsthand about the struggles of the younger generation - I have a couple of kids in that category. Hard work alone will not save them. After earning a professional degree and working for a number of years, one is back in school to learn new skills because the economy ripped the bottom out of his original field. It will take years years to get back what was lost. But others have it far worse, so he is one of the lucky ones.

What amazes me is to go to college campuses and see hoards of students eating and drinking at restaurants and bars, adding credit card debt to the tuition loans that will burden them for years. All those kids with their own computers and smart phones... And have you been out to dinner on weekday nights and seen restaurants filled with young families with babies, toddlers and school aged children? These spending habits were unheard of 30 years ago.

Have Americans learned nothing? The sooner everyone looks in the mirror and changes their behavior, the sooner we can move forward. We are all responsible for this mess, and we will all have to sacrifice some to get out of it. Hopefully some will have to sacrifice more than others. Now that would be economic justice!

I see the protesters focusing on the wrong people. In truth, those that created this whole mess are our elected officials.

BofA charging $5/month for debit card use. You can thank the Dodd Frank bill in general and one amendment in particular.

Bundling of home loans to sell as good debt? Hmm, Frank comes up again and threatening to sue banks if they didn't give home loans to those who can't afford it. What do banks do? Package the bad loans with good to try and hide the rot.

The list can go on and on but the root of it is our lawmakers meddling and not understanding the laws of unintentional consequences. I say toss all the bastards out and get some people in there willing to make the changes and piss everyone off in the process.


YOu're right, I haven't seen you post here much, but I don't get around much these days, so if you've been an avowed equal opportunity party-basher, I doff my cap.

Per trade, we're saying the same thing - has to be equal, lest one side gets really screwed, and we're seeing the results of $30 DVD players, lead-based toys, and melamine-laced baby formula.

I was simply arguing that trade per se isn't the problem. Sounds like we're of like mind on this. I'm no rightie, I just get rankled at partisan arguments that only obfuscate the real enemy. They want us bickering about gay rights and abortion rights while they rob us blind.

Richard, what I meant is that if the protesters could choose ONE goal and focus everybody's attention on that, then real change might happen.

The protesters are a small percentage of America's population. There's a really big group of people out there (myself included) who's looking at this thing and not really caring to join in because there is no clear message other than "We Don't Like How Things Are Going." I'd like to know what they propose...some practical solutions to one specific problem. Give me something to grab onto, and then I can decide what to support.

I like these four, especially the first one:

1. Place a fee on all Wall Street transactions and tax capital gains the same as income

2. End corporate personhood and overturn the flawed Citizens United decision

3. Get big money out of politics through substantive campaign finance reform

4. Jobs through investment in the public sector and infrastructure, not tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations

I'd support No. 1. If people are making millions, they can afford it. I always found it interesting that in all of the talk about Buffett's secretary paying a higher tax rate than Buffett, no one ever suggested lowering the secretary's tax rate.

Nos 2 and 3 are restrictions on the First Amendment, which I could never support. Free political speech should be for everyone, including corporations and special interests.

No. 4 is a canard designed to funnel public money to public unions, which are supposedly "nonprofit." What kind of salaries and benefits do union bosses get for running organizations that are at least as corrupted as Wall Street (Teamsters, anyone?). How come nobody is protesting that?

These "Occupy" events are farcical precisely because they are so one-sided. Free speech for me, but not for thee. My corrupt officials are being legally persecuted because they work so hard for the betterment of everyone. Your corrupt officials are heartless plutocrats who would steal the lunch money from crippled schoolchildren and should be hanging out with Sammy Gravano at SuperMax..

Yeah, lots of corruption to go around, but people are only interested in goring the other side's ox because they are looking for some sort of political benefit down the line.

There is also a lot of greed going around. At no small point our culture and personal as well as public morality need to be called into question. Was it not obvious that the housing bubble was a giant pyramid scheme? But how many people wanted theirs to double in value over a short period of time? How many people want 30 years paid-for retirement for 30 years work? How many public pension plans are billions of dollars unfunded? How many demands for services that someone else pay for? Are we closer to Germany or closer to Greece? For every entitlement and every demand, what is everyone willing to give?

Clearly stated specifics cause and help thoughtfulness.

1. Yes, DeFazio's (w/co-sponsors) bill: a one-quarter of one percent tax (okay, "fee" if that's more palatable) on the value of every 'stocks transaction.' Saying 'stocks' but undefined in thinking about bonds, annuities, notes, treasuries, and the too-many fungible and flim-flam 'financial instruments'; clearer definition to be worked out. ... maybe 'compound tax' taxrate on margin plays, indexes, hedges, derivatives, and other what-I'll-call 'meta' or 'abstracted' levels of buy/sell.

2. The ethical and possibly criminal deeds of Justice Clarence Thomas, (10 years of tax evasion and false filings of $1.6million household income, unreported; plus more), has brought action (a letter from Blumenauer/Slaughter, w/co-sponsors) to invoke Retroactive Recusal, a style of censure in the Judiciary, which effectively cancels his tainted vote(s) and, in this case, overturns Citizens United ruling as a 4-4 nondetermination. See (google) John Dean involvement with this point currently ... yes, that John Dean.

3. 'Campaign finance' has two sides of its coin, same as 'finance' of anything: income and outgo, revenues and appropriations, means and ways. NOthing has been moved to regulate campaign outgo / appropriations / ways of campaign spending; what there has been is single-sided distraction, imbalanced concern with where political money comes from. NOW regulate political spending.
Clear, simple: Ban (paid) political broadcast ads.
[Precedent: (paid) cigarette/tobacco broadcast ads are banned. Government can legally and rightly prohibit certain content of broadcast -- prurience(!?), seditious invocations, libel & slander, false representation, cigarettes, etc. -- due to the psychological devastation (power) of unilateral broadcast into the 'massmind' a.k.a. public 'sentiment' or 'sense'.]
Simply, politicians canNOT buy TV or radio ads. Regardless where they got the money, (even they could rob vast dollars from bank vaults or from the people's common wealth), they canNOT spend it (buying psychological indoctrination of public sentiment). The potency of Ban broadcast political ads is that everyone hates viewing them, being 'exposed' to them as audience.
A major Majority supports banning political ads from being broadcast.
Rash Lamebrain, LarsLarson hatetalk broadcasting IS paid political advertising.
A major Majority hates them.
Let politics and politicians use Print advertising (bumperstickers, lawn signs, billboards, newspapers & periodicals, books, direct mail, decals on the side of NASCARs same as cigarettes ... prurience, sedition, libel, false statements, etc.), to advocate their 'positions,' thinking, beliefs, policies. Accomplished literacy, the faculty of reading comprehension must and rightly should be prerequisite for 'participation' in politics -- whether or not that includes (though it does imply) having enfranchisement to vote, I don't know, yet reasonably it seems so if/while free public education is established.
Prohibit paid political ads in broadcasting because (like cigarettes, etc.) the product (negative hate-thought) is addictive, psychologically, AND is public (mental) health disease. And broadcast human voice/sound effects derange preschoolers who can't read.

4. 'public sector, public edification jobs and economy.' Well, in a word, socialist balance with capitalism. Yes, credit socialism practices. That is what sustains humankind in viable dominion of the planet -- good and evil on the little teeny tiny blue marble speck whirling through space and time.
'Socialism' is only a bad word to bad-thinking people; pop quiz: do you think 'socialism' is a bad word? a bad concept? If your answer is 'yes' then you can opt out of 'our thing' -- GO AWAY now, socially ostracized and outcast, grow your own damn food, live in the compound of supremacists in Idaho or somewhere not here, have a good life ... just not ours in humankind.

Add: 5. Universal conscription for a term of public service (employment), i.e., reinstate 'the draft' like in the military in oldworld times (pre-1993, pre-world wide web). BUT not only military service conscription, which is the least of it, the employment of last resort, the default assignment after an individual fails or lacks capacity to perform any-and-all other service occupation.
Think: jury duty (conscription).
Draft ALL public employments employees. Draft mayors, representatives, senators, judges, teachers, police, firemen, DMV clerks, road construction workers, roadside lawn mowers, roadside trash picker upppers (litter patrol), caretakers of the infirm or disadvantaged, Peace Corps, VISTA, jury duty, and, sigh, yes, if you CANnot (or WILLnot to) do anything else but stand guard and keep watch then, okay, carry a gun and like neurotic Barney Fife you get one bullet and for any more force required than that you have to call for backup help.

First thing, lawyer up and prosecute the greedy exploitative capitalist in-roaders who have stolen our livelihood and treasure. Maybe not persecute them, just take away all they have stolen, ill-gotten, and put them on litter patrol, residing in simple barracks for the next two years.

WE occupy America/Earth. They get an occupation, pre-occupied.

Maybe there is a way to change things through a Constitutional amendment.

Like, elected officials can be recalled through online forums for specific things-like for enacting legislation that is clearly benefiting the rich while clearly putting the poor at a disadvantage. (Or for failing to legislate remedies for obvious egregious public policies that are stacking the deck.)

Lessee,let's start with "Social Security". Social security means "social security", that's why they called it that. So WHY do wealthy older people collect Social Security, while young people suffer crippling student debt, and pay interest to the government for it? Oops, STACKING. Let's go to government-funded healthcare. We pay for the old, and the poor, because they are vulnerable, right? So WHY are we paying the medical bills for the wealthy elderly, while letting younger workers go bankrupt from their healthcare bills? Beats me. Let's go to government pensions. Let's see, if you retire from the government, you collect a generous pension AND social security, too. But if there are downturns, and people need to be laid off, guess what, the youngest walk the plank, because, you know, they are resilient.

So, so tired of all the injustices that Congress does nothing to rectify. The reason I won't participate in OWS is very simple. In their blindered fashion, they list age discrimination in the workplace as one of their beefs. Except, I think they are talking about a different sort of age discrimination than the type that is strangling our younger adults. The type that WILL lead to so much anger that the specter of anarchy looms great, as our representatives continue to be derelict in their duty to the country.

Tenskwatawa wrote:

The ethical and possibly criminal deeds of Justice Clarence Thomas, (10 years of tax evasion and false filings of $1.6million household income, unreported; plus more), has brought action (a letter from Blumenauer/Slaughter, w/co-sponsors) to invoke Retroactive Recusal, a style of censure in the Judiciary, which effectively cancels his tainted vote(s) and, in this case, overturns Citizens United ruling as a 4-4 nondetermination. See (google) John Dean involvement with this point currently ... yes, that John Dean.

I'm not sure there are viable allegations that Justice Thomas engaged in tax evasion. Justice Thomas didn't disclose his wife's income in the disclosure form as required by the Ethics in Government Act. That is NOT the same as tax evasion. Do you have a source to the allegation of tax evasion?

My source is from Common Cause at:


The Clarence Thomas argument is generated in much the same fashion as Lawrence O'Donnell calling Herman Cain an uncle Tom. Democrats are furious an African American man thinks independently. Mrs. Thomas' income was no secret - let's see a correlation between her income and any ruling Justice Thomas made which was outside his established norm.

Liberals get bug-eyed whenever a person of color sounds/lives like a wealthy Republican: if you're not a victim, they can't show you how much they care.

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