It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America’s direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent.
And this reaction tells you something important — namely, that the extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called “economic royalists,” not the people camping in Zuccotti Park.
Consider first how Republican politicians have portrayed the modest-sized if growing demonstrations, which have involved some confrontations with the police — confrontations that seem to have involved a lot of police overreaction — but nothing one could call a riot. And there has in fact been nothing so far to match the behavior of Tea Party crowds in the summer of 2009.
Nonetheless, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced “mobs” and “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” The G.O.P. presidential candidates have weighed in, with Mitt Romney accusing the protesters of waging “class warfare,” while Herman Cain calls them “anti-American.” My favorite, however, is Senator Rand Paul, who for some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads, because they believe rich people don’t deserve to have them.
Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor and a financial-industry titan in his own right, was a bit more moderate, but still accused the protesters of trying to “take the jobs away from people working in this city,” a statement that bears no resemblance to the movement’s actual goals.
And if you were listening to talking heads on CNBC, you learned that the protesters “let their freak flags fly,” and are “aligned with Lenin.”
The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.
Last year, you may recall, a number of financial-industry barons went wild over very mild criticism from President Obama. They denounced Mr. Obama as being almost a socialist for endorsing the so-called Volcker rule, which would simply prohibit banks backed by federal guarantees from engaging in risky speculation. And as for their reaction to proposals to close a loophole that lets some of them pay remarkably low taxes — well, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, compared it to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
And then there’s the campaign of character assassination against Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer now running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Not long ago a YouTube video of Ms. Warren making an eloquent, down-to-earth case for taxes on the rich went viral. Nothing about what she said was radical — it was no more than a modern riff on Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous dictum that “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”
But listening to the reliable defenders of the wealthy, you’d think that Ms. Warren was the second coming of Leon Trotsky. George Will declared that she has a “collectivist agenda,” that she believes that “individualism is a chimera.” And Rush Limbaugh called her “a parasite who hates her host. Willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life out of it.”
What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.
I’m looking at you, Tea Party.
My aunts response to this was “Well I might as well just get a poor persons job then if they’re going to steal all of my hard earned money!”
You sit on a computer and type in words. You have complimentary all expenses paid fine dining outings and an office massage therapist (also free). You went on a fucking cruise last year. You constantly are on a (Paid) vacation.
I can’t afford to go to school or pay my rent or get food and I work my ass off on the midnight shift with no compensation for gas for my newspaper route that adds up to 70 - 90 miles a week. I get paid only 30 cents for my delivery, I run to every single one of my almost 200 customers, I don’t get paid to assemble and roll the papers, and I am not allowed to call off a single night of work. Even if, say, I was in the hospital after getting into a car accident that destroyed my car (True story).
I make $120 (if I am lucky) a week.
FUCK your couple grand paychecks you didn’t WORK HARD for. You are lucky simply because you work for a corporate powerhouse.
Reblogging for awesome commentary.
I’m looking at you, Tea Party.
The small text:
Last year Verizon made $6 billion in profits. Now it’s using some of those profits to pay for ads attacking Verizon workers who work hard for customers every day. Verizon is refusing to bargain, pushing a contract that will push workers out of the middle class and roll back more than 50 years of gains for working families. Verizon wants to eliminate benefits for workers who get hurt on the job, make it easier to send more jobs over seas and out of our communities. Even cut healthcare promised to retirees.
Apparently the company intends to implement:
- A freeze in all pensions for existing workers and eliminating them completely for new workers
- An increase in health insurance premiums
- Elimination of all job security provisions and any restrictions on outsourcing
- Reducing paid sick days
- Eliminating four vacation days, including King Day and Veterans DayEliminating supplemental disability benefits
So, in other words, undoing decades’ worth of advances for working families is no exaggeration - this during a time when being a member of the class not on the receiving end of a $10 billion shareholder dividend is as hard as it has been in decades.
Common Dreams (and others, I think) is (are) right in saying this is no ordinary strike. This is another front of the massive class war currently being waged by oligarchs. Between this, the problems in Wisconsin and elsewhere, and the constant onslaught by austerity-hungry, objectivist politicians and their astro-turf cohorts so willing to hold the entire country hostage, I think it is abundantly clear what the oligarchs are after.
On the bright side, we won’t have to worry about outsourcing to third world countries when we’re living in a third world country.