Who Is Winning The War on Wall Street? Making It Personal Is One Way To Seize The Initiative.
By Danny Schechter, Author of The Crime Of Our Time
Wall Street has become a battleground, defended by a battalion of New York Cops, and under surveillance around the clock. There's a war under way after months of protests and assaults by the non-violent warriors of Occupy Wall Street.
So, who's winning?
On the surface, despite major layoffs and economic setbacks,
you would have to say that the epicenter of our financial markets is alive, if
not well. The exchanges and banks remain open for business, even if their costs
for security are up, and their long-term optimism is way down.
Attempts by occupiers and activists to "shut it down" have so far failed, but they have slowed it down and forced its defenders on the defensive. A sharp critique of out of control capitalism that was barely heard in the media before the movement began. It is now everywhere. The Movement has changed the national conversation.
The gluttons of greed are, at least temporarily, on the defensive.
But, is the movement forcing reforms or restraint?. Not yet. Europe's pain so far seems to be America's gain, as bailouts there drive stock prices here higher.
Also, as we are learning, there is not much that the Federal Reserve won't do behind the scenes to keep big banks flourishing. We just found out, 3 years after the fact, that they pumped a whopping $17.7 TRILLION in no interest money into the coffers of financial institutions whose lobbyists and media decry big government intervention and Socialism.
Down, the street, the Occupiers are winning a moral victory just by surviving. Their slogan dejure is now "It's So Not Over," even as they lost the Park that was their base and have suffered setbacks across the country by what seems like a coordinated Municipal counter-offensive.
Public opinion seems to turn against protesters when there's violence or conduct considered outrageous, but the New York Times reports, " The Occupy Wall Street protests continue to spread around the country, highlighting grievances some Americans have about banks, income inequality and a sense that the poor and middle class have been disenfranchised. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that almost half of the public thinks the sentiments at the root of the movement generally reflect the views of most Americans."
So, on one level, Wall Street is losing whatever positive reputation in may have enjoyed, even if the Movement challenging it still lacks a specific program.
What would winning consist of in this context?
For the financiers and the investors, it's all about money and they are still making it, even if bonuses go down for a while. They continue to deepen inequality by transferring wealth from the rest of us into their pockets. The 1% is hardly hurting the way the 99% is
Their lobbyists and the politicians that follow their lead have managed to thwart any real financial reforms, mild as they were. Risky derivatives remain risky. The Industry has succeeded in keeping a shadowy banking system none---transparent, despite the agencies that are lowering their credit ratings and the State Attorney Generals that are beginning to summon up the courage to file lawsuits.
Sustaining the movement into Spring is Occupy's main challenge so it can grow. Can the movement handle and allocate the funds they raised, and can they raise more? Can hey manage and resolve the internal conflicts between cities and activists with differing ideas and physical needs.