An Occupy Wall Srtreet protestor with placard in Zuccotti Park, New York, October 2, 2011.
Photograph: Andrew Holbrooke/Corbis
"Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations are spreading across the country.
One of the latest is occurring right now in Baltimore. It apparently was planned in a matter of days; spread over the internet sites Google, Twitter and FaceBook and had over 800 people who had RSVP'd their commitment to be there by late afternoon on Monday.
It's a phenomenon that has no end in sight with as many issues as there are people. For the present it's enough just for people to gather, show solidarity, plan logistics i.e. what do about food, sanitation, sleeping etc. and be committed.
But as in New York and starting Thursday in "Freedom Plaza" in Washington, D.C., the protestors are vowing to "stay until things change", a rather nebulous desire which will need to become more focused with demands made more specific if these protests are to have any real impact.
Many of the protestor's issues and what they care about are in fact connected, although not as yet presented as such or even clearly understood by them. Be it Wall Street greed, the bailout of the banksters, unemployment, home foreclosure and bankruptcy, the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bloated defense spending on unnecessary weapons systems, the assault on unions and collective bargaining, environmental degradation and global warming, tax cuts for the rich, the income disparity between the richest 1% and the rest of the people et al. For now it seems an amorphous polyglot of issues and problems that have no clear focus or what's to be done to correct the issues and the inequities inherent in them.
But ah, there is an issue that interconnects all the other issues, cuts across liberal, conservative and progressive lines and is the primary factor driving every major issue in this country and that's the issue of corporate and special interest money that has usurped the electoral process.
Control the electoral process and you control everything of consequence.
Now money in politics didn't begin with the Supreme Court's decision in "Citizens United v/s FEC" which granted corporations 1st Amendment rights just like real people and gave the moneyed and special interests the freedom to spend unlimited amounts in the electoral process. That's something that's been happening for decades. What "citizens" did was to give corporate and special interest largesse a completely free hand to overwhelm and usurp the political process in their favor and control.
This money has completely corrupted the political process determining who is selected to run for office, who gets elected and what agenda gets put on the table, what laws get enacted, what regulations get enforced and what oversight and enforcement takes place; all to serve and benefit those interests.
Take every issue the Wall Street protestors and those in solidarity with them all over the country are decrying and on every issue the source of the problem has the corporate and special interest largesse at its core. That knowledge, that understanding is the connection the people protesting and demonstrating need to see and focus on for them to bring about real change in this country.
Just take for example Wall Street and deep pocketed financial interests. These interests wanted a free hand and complete governmental deregulation of their affairs as much as possible. Their henchmen in Congress (and remember it's Democrats as well as Republicans in the pocket of the moneyed interests) enacted legislation in 1999, the Graham, Leach Bliley Act signed by Bill Clinton that overturned "Glass Steagel", the legislation enacted in the 1930's that separated the activities of the investment banks with the commercial banks. With this legislation all manner of financial institutions from Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Wells Fargo to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG became entwined in derivative schemes, credit default swaps and the packaging of sub-prime mortgages, many of which were sold fraudulently and when the sub-prime mortgage bubble burst with people defaulting on mortgages they couldn't afford (but were enticed to buy by sleazy outfits like "Countrywide Mortgage"), the whole thing began to collapse which is what happened in the fall of 2008.
That financial collapse on Wall Street brought the bailouts, engineered first by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (himself a former CEO of Goldman Sachs) that took the publics money and handed it to the very perpetrators who brought about the collapse (who have since not been held accountable for the financial crisis they created and the subsequent economic great recession that ensued). Paulson of course couldn't act alone so Congress was obliged to provide the legal cover and enacted the legislation for the bailouts to be legal.
Now this is what must be clearly understood. If those elected weren't selected and bankrolled by the moneyed interests there wouldn't have been the deregulations enacted, the excesses committed by the banksters wouldn't have occurred, there wouldn't have been a sub-prime mortgage bubble to burst, the bailouts wouldn't have happened and the economy wouldn't have tanked bringing on the great recession.
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