Home > Plutonomy, The Economy > Occupy Wall Street: Getting the Target Right

Occupy Wall Street: Getting the Target Right

from Kevin P. Gallagher and Mark Blyth

Last week we paid a visit to the Occupy Boston outpost of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  The group has pretty much taken over Dewey Square in front of the Federal Reserve.  They had a couple hundred people there, but the numbers seem to be growing by the day. We liked what we felt, though not always what we saw and heard.

What we felt was a brewing angst among activists, working people, and students that something is fundamentally wrong with the way the economy is ‘delivering the goods’ and to whom in the US. They may not know what they are for, but they do know who they are for: who they call the “99 percent”—those of us in the US who are not millionaires, and whose jobs and livelihoods are increasingly threatened.

Also admirable is that they have set up a “Free School University” to educate themselves. And that is where we came in. We were asked to lecture on the “first day of classes.”

Kevin P. Gallagher (left) and Mark Blyth (right) speaking at Occupy Boston’s Free School University

Before our talks we strolled around the tented area viewing the myriad placards. That’s when we scratched our heads a bit. We saw some real good ones like “Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out!” and “Wall Street should be Our Street,” “Demon Brothers,” “Bank of F*CK America,” but also “Down with the Fed” And more than one on the ‘benefits’ of a return to gold.

It is obvious that the anger and concern is rightly placed here, but the target can get a bit blurry. So after our stroll we realized we needed to be clear about some key focal points to suggest to them as targets that manifest their concerns. The list could be longer, and will be the next time we go. But for the time being we focused on a few things:

What we argued was the following:

  • “Austerity economics” is not a solution for a sustainable recovery. While it doesn’t make any sense to cure debt with debt, if we all cut at once all we do is shrink the economy and paradoxically increase the total debt.
  • Inequality is a problem because when one group has so much without incomes growing among the rest, it creates a zero sum society
  • No firm should be “too big to fail” because then we are its insurance policy
  • Reinstating Glass-Steagall is a good idea because it takes away the free option on the public
  • Credit rating agencies stand in the background but should be put under the spotlight because they play a key role in cementing deregulation of financial markets and austerity economics.
  • US trade treaties have a dirty little secret called “financial services” liberalization, which exports the Wall Street model to our trading partners.

Click here to see videos of Gallagher and Blyth speaking at Occupy Boston.

With the crowd of 60 or so people that gathered around our lecture we had a lively discussion afterward.  We heard some “FED-up” push back and replied that the FED is the least of our worries. In fact, as opposed to the Tea Party, the Republican Party, and to the Obama administration at times, the Fed has been a steady (though often misguided) voice for expansionary economic policy in the United States.  And, as fellow Triple Crisis blogger Matias Vernengo has pointed out, if Bernanke learned the lessons from past Fed chair Marriner Eccles, he could do much more for the good with that job.

While the occupiers were inspired by their own momentum and courageousness, they also exude a sense of being overwhelmed by the one percent.  To that, us professors had to do what we do best. Give homework! We suggested they all read Arthur Schlesinger’s The Coming of the New Deal and Karl Polanyi’s the Great Transformation. We’ve been here before we said. We can do it again.

previously posted on http://www.triplecrisis.com

  1. October 14, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Re-install effective financial regulation (Glass-Steagall, Tobin) and create a basic guaranteed income for all. This will create a safety valve against disastrous credit contractions.

  2. Dave Taylor
    October 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Yes, Helge.

    Unfortunately Kevin and Mark are here defending the Fed, showing they haven’t understood a damn thing about the mechanisms of money creation in the Reserve Banking system.

  3. October 15, 2011 at 12:07 am

    OMG… What a pathetic case of bilge washing (cleaning up the ship of state with toxic bilge water). Had I looked deeper into the backgrounds of the Triple Crisis Crew and discovered their professorships, I would never have imagined a ray of hope there. That post is a perfect example of my “Psycho-socioeconomic AIDS Theory” of the decline of modern civilization.

    The institutional auto-immune functions of our culture are all but wiped out, i.e., chock full of the insidious N-CE retro-virus and over-reactive killer cells running amok & amuck, attacking the body they’re meant to protect, causing inflammatory allergic reactions and all the related illnesses of civilization. Somebody should isolate those compromised cells in a padded room, give them a psychotropic sedative and make them watch “The Trap” & “Capitalism: A Love Story” & all those cool animated Youtube videos about the real history of banking & money. It may help to use an MP3 of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Jones” on auto-repeat play as a subliminal reprogramming aid while they sleep.

    Ah… “cause there’s somethin happenin here, but” they don’t know what it is… do they, Mr. Bernanke?

    So, the Big Pimp+Ho Show goes on… for yet awhile longer. But not for long i think. Back in ’86 almost nobody I met could even think about the truth about debt money and crooked banking. By 2010, almost everybody I talk with understands the truth about the Fed and debt money, which is why we can truthfully say that “the Emperor” is naked for all the world to see. Evidently, “the emperor” and their conventionally minded economists are the only ones who can’t see their own nakedness and folly.

    Do you think it’s a side-effect of shock and abject terror at suddenly realizing that they’ve been exposed, are guilty as sin, and have absolutely no where to hide? Hmmm….

    Curiouser & curiouser, eh?

  4. October 15, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Oh, why don’t we just do away with all the other pretenses, and let GDP stand for Grotesque Domestic Poverty, the jewel-studded platinum standard of VRP (virtual reality plutonomics).

    We could then let GDH stand for Greatest Domestic Happiness, the golden standard of ARE (actual reality economics).

    BTW, when will the RWER Blogsite initiate the Green Star credit system (via the WordPress rating/voting function) for posts & comments?

    You can see the Green Star credit system in progress (albeit nascent) at:
    >> EcotectureNOW.wordpress.com

  5. October 15, 2011 at 12:33 am

    FYI: The new Green Star credit system will soon be the new international, nonprofit community credit system that all people and businesses can use for nonmonetary exchange or, simply, to directly reward somebody or some organization for contributing more real, life-enhancing value to civilization, or the environment, or other people and/or future generations.

    As soon as it’s well established by Facebook users, et al, it will be embraced by most businesses off & online for promotions, etc. Then it will be embraced by VISA, etc…

    Soon after that, the 4 billion folks locked out of the debt-money Plutonomy Game will have acquired enough of their national currency (or gold or whatever) that they can open bank accounts for their debt-money transactions.

    That process will probably happen in the more affluent, more web-enabled countries more rapidly. I predict exteremely rapid adoption in California, North Dakota, Wyoming, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Hawaii, among other states.

    Wanna bet?

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