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October 17, 2011

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Paul Krugman: Losing Their Immunity

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 12:24 AM PDT

The wizards of whine street:

Losing Their Immunity, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow, the response from the movement's targets has gradually changed: contemptuous dismissal has been replaced by whining. ... The modern lords of finance look at the protesters and ask, Don't they understand what we've done for the U.S. economy? The answer is: yes, many of the protesters do understand..., that's why they're protesting. ...

My favorite quote came from an unnamed money manager who declared, "Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let's embrace it." ... But ... the financialization of America wasn't dictated by the invisible hand of the market. What caused the financial industry to grow much faster than the rest of the economy starting around 1980 was ... deregulation...

Not coincidentally, the era of an ever-growing financial industry was also an era of ever-growing inequality of income and wealth. ... All of this was supposed to be justified by results: the paychecks of the wizards of Wall Street were appropriate, we were told, because of the wonderful things they did. Somehow, however, that wonderfulness failed to trickle down to the rest of the nation — and that was true even before the crisis. ...

Then came the crisis, which proved that all those claims about how modern finance had reduced risk ... were utter nonsense. Government bailouts were all that saved us from a financial meltdown as bad as or worse than the one that caused the Great Depression. ...

Wall Street pay has rebounded even as ordinary workers continue to suffer from high unemployment and falling real wages. Yet it's harder than ever to see what, if anything, financiers are doing to earn that money. Why, then, does Wall Street expect anyone to take its whining seriously? ...

Wall Street still has plenty of [one thing] thanks to those bailouts...: money. Money talks in American politics, and what the financial industry's money has been saying lately is that it will punish any politician who dares to criticize that industry's behavior, no matter how gently — as evidenced by the way Wall Street money has now abandoned President Obama in favor of Mitt Romney. And this explains the industry's shock over recent events.

You see, until a few weeks ago it seemed as if Wall Street had effectively bribed and bullied our political system into forgetting about that whole drawing lavish paychecks while destroying the world economy thing. Then, all of a sudden, some people insisted on bringing the subject up again.

And their outrage has found resonance with millions of Americans. No wonder Wall Street is whining.

links for 2011-10-17

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 12:06 AM PDT

"Stop Dehumanizing the Protestors"

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 10:17 AM PDT

Andrew Samwick:

A note to Nelson D. Schwartz and Eric Dash of The New York Times.  If you are going to put this in your article, put it in quotes and attribute it properly or keep it out of the news section of the paper:

Without a coherent message, the crowds will ultimately thin out, Wall Street types insist — especially when the weather turns colder. They see the protesters as an entertaining sideshow, little more than flash mobs of slackers, seeking to lock arms with Kanye West or get a whiff of the antiestablishment politics that defined their parents' generation.

I don't think it is incumbent on #OWS to have a coherent message.  They are people who feel that their freedoms are being constricted due to the corruptness of others.  They are joining together to push back against that feeling.  They win just by showing up and eschewing violence.  If the NYPD and branch managers at Citibank can't figure that out and stop dehumanizing the protestors, then #OWS will win even more. ...

The use of the term "slackers" is telling. You see, there's plenty of work for the industrious, our unemployment problem is due to laziness. There are plenty of jobs -- pay no attention to the fact that the number of unemployed is far, far greater than the number of jobs -- people don't really want to work. It has nothing to do with the crash of Wall Street destroying the economy, and the bounce back and present good fortune on Wall Street has nothing to do with the government bailing them out -- it was their hard work that fixed the problems. For the little people to expect the government to treat them similarly -- to bail them out during tough times -- is just plain anti-capitalist. If you are wealthy, a government handout that preserves your wealth is necessary, but to expect the government to provide jobs -- not Wall Street type handouts but the opportunity to work -- is "antiestablishment" and a threat to our way of life.

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