Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 5, 2011

The People Cry Out Against The New Great Depression

Filed under: economics,financial crisis,Occupy Wall Street — louisproyect @ 5:44 pm

(Guest post by Manuel Garcia Jr.)

The People Cry Out Against The New Great Depression, Three Articles on the Protests Against a Failed Economy

Manuel Garcia, Jr.
4 October 2011

These are three separate yet overlapping articles that are in response to the public demonstrations in cities across the United States, and which were sparked by the feisty assembly in New York City’s financial district, calling itself Occupy Wall Street. The instigators of the NYC protest are a small anarchist group; they have done very well. At left-wing internet sites, discussions of OWS are limited to arguments over: socialist versus anarchist leadership, leaderless participation versus shades-of-stalinist authoritarianism, not setting specific goals so as to embrace the widest number of people, and avoiding reformism: not allowing goal-setting by liberals to throttle the energy of the movement and drain it into bourgeois “politics”. Though limited, this range of discussion is yet the most intelligent going on about the Occupy Movement. The mainstream media focus on public disturbances like arrests for blocking traffic, show pictures of the shades-ofhippy carnival atmosphere, and briefly mention that the demonstrators are upset about economic conditions. Commentary from further to the right is unlikely to be useful. My articles are “reformist” because it is psychologically impossible for a revolution to occur in the United States, despite the examples of the Arab Spring, or Global Intifada, and despite the most cherished dreams of those starry-eyed incurable romantics known as Marxists. I, too, wish for the revolutionary goals, but see any potential for socialism barred from the American public mind, and I fear that any attempt to force that mind to change would only bring tragedy. As I’m dissonant with all the choirs, these articles are unpublishable. So, I’m sending these off like a message in an electronic bottle thrown into a cyber sea. Share them any way you like.

— MG, Jr.

Occupy Everywhere: Movements and Goals

Manuel Garcia, Jr.

4 October 2011

If you want a popular movement, then eschew demands and goals (Beat Zen: “How can I fail when I have no goals?”), and welcome everyone’s venting on anything. If you want an effective movement, define a few clear goals that can focus whatever independent action a participant might choose to take. It is possible to have goal-oriented leaderless movements.

That specific goals may dissuade portions of the public from joining a focused movement does not imply that this movement is necessarily weakened by their absence. Clearly, any goalless movement would lose many of its participants if it ever tried to focus its people-power into specific work (e.g., political) for specific ends (e.g., a legislative agenda).

If the Occupy Everywhere movement relaxes into just public tantrum crowd scenes, unhappy with everything and wanting it all fixed, somehow, right away — “back to the way I imagine now it should have been” — then all we have is a fuzzy leftward reflection of the Tea Party. It is a pipe dream to imagine such an eruption of individual frustrations en masse to alter relationships of power defining the U.S. government and U.S. social structure. “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” was effortlessly co-opted, remember?

I realize what a seductive dream the dream of revolution is. The revolutions in the Arab Spring of 2011 were goal oriented movements. The goal was always some national variation of: get rid of our dictator, his repressive government and his corrupt cronies, and make a government of our own people. Legitimate successor governments would necessarily be democratic, because the revolutionary movements were broad-based, so a wide variety of “our people” would be in them. The liberation movements between Tunisia and Syria each advanced its revolution differently, because different national circumstances dictated different tactics. The people in all those countries certainly recognize that they share a common goal. Tactics are simply practicality responding to localized necessity, to advance a vision.

For the Occupy movement to accomplish anything lasting, it will have to filament into goal oriented projects running in parallel; it will have to get political. It is not as exciting or romantic to think about morphing the big demonstration into a Public Citizen (the Ralph Nader network), and/or an ACLU (civil rights), and/or a Planned Parenthood (reproductive rights), etcetera multi-pronged goal oriented “Popular Front”, instead of recreating another “ten days that shook the world” you personally are swept into as the next John Reed (or Yavgrev Zhivago,… or Strelnikov).

The goalless “gathering of the tribes” is fine for raising consciousness. But actual social, economic and political change can only occur when that consciousness is directed into disciplined action.

Social issues can be addressed most effectively when the economics of the country are repaired so people have employment, and from that (family income) a sense of security.

Our problem is that the U.S. financial system is skewed to enable high stakes gambling by plutocrats, which disables this system from financing a people-oriented economy. In addition, our mechanism for political succession is corrupted by the influence of money; voting is bought, and government is skewed toward the interests of the plutocrats. So the overall goal is: devise a stable full employment economy, and minimize social inequities within it.

To do that we have to:

— reform the financial industry (to serve a people’s democracy), and

— reform the financing of political campaigns (so people have equal votes, and capital has none).

If you accept these generalities, then we ask: what specific actions have the greatest potential to produce the desired effects?

I see four:

1) Repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (return the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 to its pre-1999 completeness),

2) Vigorous prosecutions (in the finance industry) by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild),

3) Enact a financial transaction tax (financial industry payback to the public for the unnecessary long-term “austerity” it caused)

4) Overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, (remove corporate personhood, which allows unlimited corporate funding of political campaigns).

Item 1 would create jobs by preventing a speculation-fueled banking collapse, as happened in 1929-32 and 2007-2008. The Glass-Steagall Act was passed in 1933, requiring that commercial banks, which finance job creation by financing people and businesses locally with loans fully backed by real collateral and adequate reserves, could not loan its funds to any investment bank a.k.a stock speculator and/or venture capitalist. So, commercial banks could not be busted by the bursting of speculative bubbles. Also, any government stimulus that is funneled through commercial banks only, would necessarily create jobs.Without Glass-Steagall, the TARP stimulus was kept by the “investment” part of banking corporations, and not passed along as “consumer credit”. (for more on Item 1 see “Creating Jobs by Renewing Glass-Steagall”)

Item 2 is an obvious “bring in the outlaws” goal.

Item 3 is a simple sales tax on stock trading. Since trading is now all on-line, this would be an automatic internet tax. Such a tax was proposed for the Euro zone last week by Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission: “It’s a question of fairness. It is time for the financial sector to make a contribution back to society.” This is a mechanism for returning public “bail outs” of (and bonuses for) the speculation industry (e.g., TARP) back to the public, which has been saddled with the fiscal and social costs of the financial system collapse.

Item 4 is the obvious fix of government necessary to enable uncorrupted politics to take place. Politics is hostage today.

The four items address the overall goal as follows.

Item 1 addresses: devising a stable full employment economy.

Items 1, 2 and 3 address: reforming the financial industry (to serve a people’s democracy).

Item 4 addresses: reforming the financing of political campaigns (so people have equal votes, and capital has none).

Specific goals stated as I have, may seem narrow. But they are key points that branch off with many implications. Do you think so many kinds of people would be gathering in so many cities, as “occupiers” distressed by the outlook in 2011 (our time’s melancholy inversion of Woodstock) if Glass-Steagall had never been repealed in 1999?

In the 3rd year of the Great Depression, 1932, Americans elected Franklin Roosevelt, by 1933 the Glass-Steagall Act reforming banking was law, and Prohibition was repealed.

In the 3rd year of the New Great Depression, 2011, our finance industry continues unrestricted by Glass-Steagall, Republicans have a good chance of gaining more control of government, and Tea Parties are brewing a batch of new social prohibitions for us all. Blogging in private, and venting pointlessly in public will not do anything lasting. Disciplined action in organized movements can. “Don’t mourn, organize.”

Creating Jobs by Renewing Glass-Steagall

Manuel Garcia, Jr. 2 October 2011 In a previous article (“Reform Wall Street in Four Strokes”) I argued that the first demand of any populist movement for the reform of the American financial industry (e.g., Occupy Wall Street) should be the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which had been largely repealed by the Gramm-Leach- Bliley Act of 1999. Why?

The Glass-Steagall Act split the finance industry into “commercial” banks and “investment” banks. Commercial banks sell credit (make loans) to individuals and businesses whose collateral is real (money, government bonds, land, property, durable goods, valuables, industrial plant and equipment). Investment banks “play the market” (stocks, commodities, currency, derivatives, unsecured “paper” and “virtual” assets) and extend venture capital (gamble on “start-ups”, e.g., the “next Apple”, currently just a hobby corner in a dreamer’s garage).

Prior to November 12, 1999, no banking unit, whether an independent business or a division of a larger corporation, could engage in both commercial and investment banking. Glass- Steagall imposed a firewall that prevented the flow of commercial bank funds into investment bank loans. Deposits in commercial banks — but not investment banks — are insured (up to $250,000) by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which was created as part of the Glass-Steagall Act.

The intent of the Glass-Steagall Act was to protect “the people’s money” on deposit in their “local banks” from being siphoned into gambling pools and lost, as in 1929-1932 and 2007-2008, by investment banking “big players” who pissed away “other people’s money” in the Wall Street casino. The crash of 2008 proves that human nature has not changed since 1933, and that the Glass- Steagall regulation of banking psychology is as necessary today as it was in 1933, and earlier!

Because commercial banks could not invest in the bull (rising) stock market of the 1990s, avarice-inflated political pressure built to repeal Glass-Steagall, and “benefit” commercial bank depositors by allowing the banking industry to use depositor funds “more productively”, by investing in the ever growing financial markets, instead of the same old slow-growth petit bourgeois bricks-and-mortar businesses of everyday life. Investment bankers salivated at the prospect of adding the virgin wealth of commercial deposits to their piles of gambling chips: “it takes money to make money.” So, with promises of greater wealth for the greatest number, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed in 1999, repealing the Glass-Steagall banking firewall.

The fundamental economic problem today is the same as during the Great Depression: jobs. A return to Glass-Steagall would create a sound commercial banking system, which could only lend for popular, as opposed to elite or insider, economic growth (loans for: cars, homes, business expansion a.k.a. “construction”), and this would mushroom jobs locally, not offshore.

Since banking is the business of making money by selling credit, commercial banks restricted from speculating in stocks would return to traditional lending backed by real collateral. They would have no other choice, since just sitting on their reserves would not generate profits.

Commercial bank income including any government “bail outs”, recycled into loans as described, would fuel job creation and be seen as an acceptable form of relief, by the entire political spectrum. When the government bypasses the banks to put relief checks directly into the hands of people (negative taxes), even if in the form of “pay” for “public jobs” the recipients perform, it is seen as “welfare” in the most parasitic sense. So, for most Americans to see government sponsored/stimulated job creation as “real”, the government has to launder its money through a sound commercial banking system. Job creation can be just as immediate either way, but to do it as “economic stimulus” instead of “welfare”, it is necessary to have a Glass-Steagall regulated commercial banking system in place.

As one — admittedly quite imperfect — indicator of national economic strength, consider the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) during the last 17 years. The value of the stock market (New York Stock Exchange, NYSE) as measured by the DJIA increased by a factor of 3 between 1994 and the end of 1999 (DJIA from 3700 to 11,100 in 5 years), during which commercial banking was regulated by Glass-Steagall. Repeal of Glass- Steagall was signed into law on November 12, 1999.

The market today is about 5% to 10% below its level of January 2000 (the “Clinton bull high”, CBH; DJIA at 11,723), 11 and 3/4 years ago. During that interval, we experienced: some market ups and downs post 9-11, a historic peak in October 2007 (DJIA at 14,164, the housing bubble) at 20% above the January 2000 level (CBH), the NYSE crash of 2008-2009 (down to 57% of CBH), a two year rally peaking at 9% above the CBH (May-July 2011), then an 18% drop in mid-summer 2011 to 9% below the CBH, and dribbling about that same level since. Repeal of Glass- Steagall has not brought greater wealth to the greatest number these nearly 12 years.

The many gifts from the Federal Reserve to the “big banks” a.k.a. investment banks, in addition to the TARP money they received (up to $700B allowed by the Troubled Asset Relief Program law) was not recycled into commercial banking, but instead held in readiness for continued speculating (investment banking without Glass-Steagall restrictions), and of course bonuses.

I have suggested before that the US Treasury could have just cut each of 300,000,000 Americans a $2300 tax-free check (the total equals the TARP hit) and we would certainly stimulate the economy and create jobs. But, of course, this is odious “welfare”. It would be fragrant and orthodox if instead one were getting a fair interest loan from a neighborhood bank, to put a toolbox in your pickup truck and start a handyman business.

Reinstating Glass-Steagall would cut through all the disingenuous Republican bullshit about “government handouts” and “socialism” as regards any Keynesian kick to the economy to generate jobs.

Such a job-creating surge could be started as quickly as any direct welfare — if we had a sound commercial banking system. And that could be produced immediately once the Glass-Steagall law was renewed.

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Reform Wall Street in Four Strokes

Manuel Garcia, Jr.

30 September 2011

Outraged by the economic carnage inflicted since the crash of 2008 because of the fraud and rapacious piracy of big Wall Street investment banks, the “global financial terrorists” as Max Keiser characterizes them today, the “banksters” as Franklin Roosevelt jibed in 1932, a protest movement called Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has constituted itself as a volunteer militia deployed at the ground zero of the financial war on terror (and suffering unprovoked harassment and brutality by the NYPD).

Pham Binh has described the statics and dynamics of developing a set of OWS goals, or “demands” (http://www.indypendent.org/ 2011/09/29/participatory-democracy-engaged/), to help focus the attention of both the protesters and that of the public captured by their movement. While some OWS participants prefer not stating demands, I think it better to articulate a small number of clear, succinct and technically specific goals. My suggestions follow.

The essential demand must be to implement the recommendations of Elizabeth Warren, by new legislation in addition to vigorous enforcement of existing law and regulations. (Quote from wikipedia article on Elizabeth Warren):

In an interview at Newsweek, December 7, 2009, titled “Reining in, and Reigning Over, Wall Street” Elizabeth Warren was asked: “Congress is trying to reform financial regulation, and it can get a little abstract. Where should people focus?”

She responded: “To restore some basic sanity to the financial system, we need two central changes: fix broken consumer-credit markets and end guarantees for the big players that threaten our entire economic system. If we get those two key parts right, we can still dial the rest of the regulation up and down as needed. But if we don’t get those two right, I think the game is over. I hate to sound alarmist, but that’s how I feel about this.”

One could boil down this demand into the following:

–- Repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (of November 12, 1999),

–- And/or: restore the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 to it’s pre-1999 completeness.

Why? The Glass-Steagall Act came out of the congressional Pecora Commission of 1932-1934, which investigated the causes of the 1929 crash. This commission developed legislation to reform and regulate the banking and finance industry. The Glass- Steagall Act segmented banking into commercial or (not “and”) investment banks.

Commercial banks make credit available for consumers (individuals, small businesses, even some big businesses), investment banks play the markets (stocks, currency, venture enterprises a.k.a. “start ups”, and today’s arcane forms of computer-game gambling, e.g., “derivatives”, “hedge funds”).

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures bank deposits in commercial banks only (up to $250,000 today). The FDIC was also created by Pecora-spawned law in 1933. ALL of this can be summarize by “repeal Gramm-Leach-Bliley.” The GLB Act is named for its three Republican authors/sponsors, and was signed into law by Democrat Bill Clinton.

One can add to the basic demand with:

–- Have the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Elizabeth Warren’s idea, to which she was not appointed head by Obama) act vigorously.

Also, to regulate speculative markets (derivatives, etc.) and effortlessly recapture public wealth wasted on bank bailouts (and not recycled into consumer credit, and thus job creation):

–- Enact a financial transaction tax.

For every “trade” so easily initiated by a few keystrokes, add a XX% federal tax, exactly like any sales tax. Just such a tax was proposed last week by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, in response to the global financial crisis in the European theater.

(Quote from the Financial Times, September 28):

The president argued that the public sector had contributed more than €4,000bn in guarantees to the banking sector to support it through the crisis, and that it was now time for the industry to repay its debt.

“It’s a question of fairness,” Mr Barroso said. “It is time for the financial sector to make a contribution back to society.”

A summary of proposed OWS demands so far:

–- Repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

–- Vigorous prosecutions by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

–- Enact a financial transaction tax.

Occupy Wall Street brings welcome public attention to the issue of the human cost of the global financial crisis, but there will NEVER be a voluntary reform by the financial industry prompted solely by moral force. Look at how slavery was abolished in the United States. Legislation (re-segmenting banking), enforcement of existing laws and regulations (by CFPB), and finance transaction taxes are required (un-TARPing public wealth). The reform of the financial industry must originate in Washington D.C., not Wall Street, and for THAT to occur it will also be necessary to have campaign finance reform in parallel, or even before.

So, a fourth demand that should be added to our list is:

–- Overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

That is, have congress pass legislation that overturns the Supreme Court God-the-Father-act-of-creation of bestowing “personhood” to corporations, thus allowing them the First Amendment right to spend to their heart’s content on “political free speech”, that is to say “campaign contributions”, or just simply: payoffs.

Legislate, enforce, tax, objectify.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Manuel Garcia, Jr. had an engineering physics career and is now unproductively over-experienced. mangogarcia@att.net

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19 Comments »

  1. Campaign contributions in exchange for the bourgeois contributors getting what they want once the candidate assumes office.

    I think this is a form of legalized bribery and a big part of our filthy and corrupt system of government that they claim is a free election democracy.

    Manuel, your comments are very real and thought provoking.

    A person with your education and intellect should have people breaking down your door with career offers.

    I gather by your writing that you, like myself, are among the nation’s many unemployed.

    I am hopeful that if the protesters take your advice and recommendations, things will begin to improve and we will all be productive once again.

    Good work comrade.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 5, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

  2. Great depression? lol these people aren’t scrambling for cabbages in churches, they are munching on delicious foods and talking on cell phones. Talk about abstract petty-bourgeois “suffering”.

    Comment by Marcell Rodden — October 5, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

  3. For reasons separate from yours, I don’t consider the “reformist” versus “revolutionary” distinction particularly meaningful. I do, however, believe that there is a distinction between “legalistic” and “social welfare” proposals. While I believe your recommendations are good ones, they are not going to get money into the hands of people very quickly. In that respect, because they are regulatory, they are, essentially, “legalistic”, which is not meant to be pejorative, but descriptive. They also have a nostalgic quality, a tendency to characterize the period before this rapacious one in idealistic terms, but that is a discussion for another day. I am more concerned about the urgency of getting help to people who are in dire economic distress. They are becoming terrified, rightfully so, at the prospect of another recession? depression? and need immediate assistance. Brecht’s emphasis upon the material is apposite here: “First the grub, then the morality.” Someone looking at getting foreclosed out of their house because of a medical bill for one of their children may or may not understand Glass-Steagal, but they will definitely understand help that will keep them in their house.

    Comment by Richard Estes — October 5, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

  4. I don’t believe in Garcia’s magic “barriers against socialism in the American mind”, clearly no sense of historical dialectic here, where barriers exist to be overcome, as any capitalist will tell you.

    The really interesting thing, besides the rise of this movement itself, and particularly its hostility to the reformist politics of the Democratic Party progressive left – an absolutely precious attitude at this conjuncture – has been the mainstream bourgeois reception, which has shown an anxiety to handle this very gingerly.

    It is as if they realize they are sitting on a tinderbox.

    Comment by Matt — October 5, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

  5. Marcell, I can assure you that the homeless population in my community which has grown significantly since 2008 with rising unemployment, are not eating the best foods and talking on cell phones.

    Most of them live out of cars if they’re lucky to have one or a park bench and eat at the soup kitchen and food bank.

    This is not only going on in my community, but is a national problem.

    Food banks where I live are running out of food because demand is high and donations are low.

    If that’s not what the definition of a Depressed economy is, please tell me what is?

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 5, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

  6. There is a lot of support for these goals. I am glad to see someone (Garcia) decided to actually respond on and engage with OWS terminology instead of whining about semantics and focusing on where the movements goals, demands, politics, organizing falls short.

    One thing that really came through to me at the debate I got into yesterday with a 1%er (see: http://www.indypendent.org/2011/10/05/ninety-nine-percent-occupiers/) was that everyone at OWS really, really, really wants to end corporate personhood. This is a topic I have never given much thought to. My instinct says this hasn’t done much to help countries with a different legal tradition — the entire capitalist world has corporations that run roughshod over people. However, perhaps overturning this particular piece of American jurisprudence would actually make a difference? Corporations in the U.S. have all the rights people do with none of the obligations. In yesterday’s debate, someone asked, “if a corporation is a person, why can’t we put one in jail?” I added, “or execute one?” (Troy Davis is still very much in people’s mind’s. The topic generated a very intense, passionate surge of anger/interest.

    After spending a lot of time at OWS, I am not sure it is right to push for goals right now. One organizer told me, “we’ll settle on those once the movement stops growing,” a wise sentiment I think. People have to understand and feel the need for such a step themselves. Right now, people are coming in and celebrating, speaking out for the first time, just finding their voices. The movement’s very diffuseness is its strength. Of course, at a certain point, it will become its weakness as well (dialectics 101). Repression and stagnation will probably do a lot to trigger this process or push it along organically.

    There is still a lot of goodwill towards the cops, although a certain wariness and skepticism as well. Someone asked me and a guy manning the kitchen if he could have a plastic knife to cut some duct tape with, and the kitchen guy (a newcomer to OWS) said, “you can have my switchblade.” Both me and the guy who asked got alarmed and explained how the cops would periodically walk through the encampment and harass people over petty shit and something like that would basically invite arrest. The kitchen guy was a bit surprised and mentioned that this would never be a problem in North Carolina.

    In any case, there is a lot of support for what you put forward Manuel. Basically the two things OWS seems to want is 1) accountability and 2) fairness, economic and political. So much garbage has accumulated after four decades of ruling class attacks that it is very difficult at this time to narrow our goals down into anything like a 10 point program. Minimum wage, Glass Steagall, corporate personhood, campaign finance, budget cuts, student loans, foreclosures, financial transaction tax, stricter regulation of the “free market” in general are all things quite a lot of people at OWS support. Right now it is pretty much impossible to narrow it down because this thing is turning into a festival of the oppressed where people are bringing in all kinds of grievances, and we still have a ways to go. I have yet to see left-wing church groups, homelessness advocates, tenants’ rights people, etc. link up with this, although I think that will come in time. We are just at the very beginning of a process here.

    The main thing is that this thing has legs, as Dan Dimaggio put it. Once you have legs, you get pretty far, provided you don’t trip yourself up with stupid inane sectarian bullshit and hairsplitting.

    Comment by Binh — October 5, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

  7. A festival of the oppressed. I like that Binh it really is short and sweet, but speaks volumes.

    I really like Manuel’s comments and how engaged he is.

    Perhaps it’s too early in the movement to
    set specific goals or demands, I’m just elated at the fact that finally the people of America are speaking out against the corporate dictatorship that has ruled for far too long.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 5, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

  8. #3 is a variation of the Tobin Tax, which has been on the table for 3 decades.

    Comment by purple — October 6, 2011 @ 3:51 am

  9. Thanks Deborah. Lenin came up with that line, not me. Speaking of Russia, I was kind of floored to hear students trying to create a “spark” that would create a wildfire in Boston: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOhfIzSq00I It brought to mind what was on the newspaper Lenin founded, Iskra, had on its masthead: “The spark will kindle a flame.” They also discussed setting their student loan bills on fire in a conscious evocation of draft card burning in the 60s. Things are moving fast and furious.

    Comment by Binh — October 6, 2011 @ 4:30 am

  10. I know that Mao may not be the best example to use but to borrow his words A Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire, that title is very descriptive of today’s events.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 6, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  11. Comrades, I’m watching Obama’s press conference about his jobs bill. It’s about 11:55 am EDT.

    He said something that just made me want to SCREAM.

    He was naturally questioned by a New York Times reporter about the protests and came up with a generic answer that people are upset by the failure to police Wall Street.

    It was what he said a few minutes later when questioned about bipartisan cooperation on the bill that infuriated me.

    He said Republicans should realize that the wealthy has struggled greatly in this economy.

    When it’s bad for the people at the bottom, the people at the top don’t make as much as they could.

    When the people at the bottom are doing well, the people at the top can make even more.

    Is he kidding? He looks at the class struggle as being the wealthy having to cut back?

    And CPUSA endorses him as a man with marxist ideals.

    So many liberals think that Democrats represent average, working class people.

    President Obama’s remarks about the struggle of the wealthy prove that he’s only on a hunt for their campaign dollars.

    He’s a player on team bourgeois like the rest of them.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 6, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

  12. So much of the e-discussion about OWS is barren. Manuel’s piece is sadly a rare exception.

    Comment by Binh — October 7, 2011 @ 3:06 am

  13. 1) Repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (return the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 to its pre-1999 completeness)

    Even progressive economists (e.g. Paul Krugman) don’t see the repeal of Glass-Steagall as an important factor in the financial collapse. It was more about the lack of regulation of the derivatives market and other such issues.

    2) Vigorous prosecutions (in the finance industry) by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild)

    Prosecutions on what ground? The financiers did bad things but they were mostly legal.

    3) Enact a financial transaction tax (financial industry payback to the public for the unnecessary long-term “austerity” it caused)

    Yes, but if we don’t have social policy as a core demand, where would the money actually go? (A: Paying off the national debt to the financiers who own treasury bonds and the like.)

    Comment by justin — October 7, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  14. Herman Cain who’s a Republican running for the presidential nomination in the GOP primary, is currently tied with Mitt Romney as a frontrunner.

    Mr. Cain’s comments about the unemployed were documented in the Chicago Tribune.

    During a televised interview, he said that if you’re unemployed and not rich, blame yourself.

    Nice to know that apparently this man is oblivious to the economic collapse and would rather blame the victims then offer ideas on how to fix it.

    People aren’t unemployed by choice.
    It’s easy for him to say from his vantage point because he’s a super entrepreneur.

    Also he was interviewed on MSNBC and the interviewer had grilled him on his book where he admits to having no involvement in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.

    It appeared that he didn’t seem to think it was of importance nor did he give the movement credit for enabling him to achieve his monumental success as an African American businessman.

    This man is a prime example of the class struggle at its worst.

    Not only does he look down on the unemployed and less fortunate, he looks down on the people who fought so hard for civil rights and equality for all that greatly enriched him.

    He’s the epitome of bourgeois with the I am socially superior than the less privileged class mentality.

    If he gets the nomination, pretty much guarantees a second term for Obama.

    If Cain wins the general election, we’re all in trouble deep.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 7, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  15. “Yes, but if we don’t have social policy as a core demand, where would the money actually go?”

    —–

    OWS is a demonstration of a popular desire for a different kind of American society. What would that be? Obviously, a new economy that supports an all-are-included social contract. A starting point for envisioning such a new economy would be to first understand the assumptions underlying this one, and then consider alternatives. Here are some comments on that, of a generalized nature, which in retrospect suggest why an OWS-type social phenomenon has appeared.

    American Decline
    21 January 2011
    http://www.counterpunch.org/garcia01212011.html

    A “social policy as a core” is implied in this article.

    Comment by Manuel Garcia, Jr. — October 8, 2011 @ 7:46 am

  16. I think that most of the anger people have, myself included, is how poorer Americans have become with job losses, exhausting benefits, going through savings, foreclosures.

    The result is increased homelessness and hunger while the wealthy get richer because of the unfair tax system.

    I don’t have all the answers but things cannot remain the same because the suffering is so great and affects so many people and our numbers continue to grow.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 8, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  17. i’m not expecting “Revolution”, but if these pitiful “Reforms” are all we can get from OWS, then no wonder that guy in Vermont blew his brains out–fuck, “Reform” doesn’t get the working poor like me Shit these days—the good ole days of Reform seem gone

    Comment by Joseph — November 19, 2011 @ 5:32 am

  18. […] The ideal follow-on political movement to OWS would combine the energy of moral outrage with a utilitarian specificity on financial reform (e.g., financial market taxes, banking reform, consumer & student debt relief, much more legal prosecution of fraud related to the 2008 financial collapse), similar to the reform movement represented by the Pecora Commission in 1932-1934. (My initial comments along these lines appeared in the UM blog at: https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/the-people-cry-out-against-the-new-great-depression/) […]

    Pingback by The 50% US GDP Heist, OWS and GIABO | manuelgarciajr — December 2, 2011 @ 7:20 am

  19. […] the New Great Depression, Three Articles on the Protests Against a Failed Economy: 4 October 2011 https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/the-people-cry-out-against-the-new-great-depression/ (sendoff — Occupy Everywhere: Movements & Goals — Creating Jobs by Renewing […]

    Pingback by Social Democracy: Political Movement from Personal Fulfillment | manuelgarciajr — June 2, 2013 @ 4:27 am


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