Sunday, October 02, 2011

Wall Street Protesters Demand Better Slogans

As you've probably heard, there's a group of people protesting on Wall Street.  What are they protesting for?  The end to greed and inequality, as well as the prosecution of Wall Street fat cats for breaking laws that probably don't exist.

Seriously, TPM had an article about this, which mentioned that the goals of the group weren't really defined, as the protesters themselves disagree about what needs to be done.  Sure, they all agree to a basic level of "greed is bad," but beyond that, there are no actual policies they can agree to.

And many readers took exception to that, condescendingly writing comments like the following:

The aim uncertain? Really, TMP, really?!
The aim is stop the corporate greed, restructure the financial system, hold accountable the crooks who cause the financial meltdown, stop the corporate loop holds, make the 1% pay their responsible share, end BIG money politics.
Now what part of that don't you understand?
Oh, ok.   Stop greed, restructure financial system, and hold people accountable.  Of course, now I know *exactly* what I'd be supporting if I sent them money: Feel good slogans and a general dissatisfaction with the way things are.  Great.  Let me bust out my checkbook.

Slogans v. Policies

Below is a comment I wrote there, which I'm sure the person would disagree with, without being able to explain why it's wrong.
Ok, the part I don't understand is: What the hell does this mean?

Stop corporate greed? That's not a policy, that's a slogan. Restructure the financial system, how? Hold the crooks accountable? How? The ones that obviously broke the law are being prosecuted every day, but most of what went on was legal. End big money politics, how? Seriously, these aren't real goals, these are generic concepts. But unless they have a basic plan for what they want done, this whole endeavor is for nothing.
We're never going to stop greed, though we can certainly bring back laws and regulations we used in the past to prevent the abuses of greed, as well as making our laws more effective. But until these people have a basic idea of what those remedies are, then this whole thing is an exercise in futility. As things stand, I have *NO IDEA* what exactly I'd be supporting if I supported this movement. Are we talking a few tweaks to our laws, as I think we need? Or are we talking about a radical overhaul of our entire system, as many of these people say they want? Because that's something I most definitely would NOT support.

Until some specific goals are outlined, this movement isn't going anywhere.
And what's sad is that the reason these people don't understand why this is a problem is because they don't understand exactly what it is that Wall Street did wrong.  I'll be considered a corporate stooge for not agreeing with them, because they have no idea how vague all this is and don't know enough to realize it.

It's like going to the doctor because you're coughing up blood and his prognosis is that you're sick.  And you'd be like, "Well no fucking shit I'm sick, but what's wrong with me?"  And all he could do is to continue to tell you that you're sick while belittling you for not agreeing with his assessment.

Where's the Crime?

One commenter insisted that the "crime" was in taking our money and denying it for public services, yet I suspect he'd have a hard time finding that law on the books.  And that's one of the problems, in that what most of these bankers and brokers did wasn't illegal; while we already HAVE been prosecuting the ones who broke obvious laws.

And so we'd have a nice policy goal right here by identifying exactly what they did wrong and making it illegal.  But since these people already believe crimes have been committed, that's not a policy goal they can have, because they imagine we already have laws about it.

It's the same as with people who accuse Obama of "war crimes," completely unfamiliar with what a war crime really is, as they imagine every war they don't agree with is criminal.  Needless to say, the Hague has a slightly different standard for these things.

Protesting the Wrong People

Because yeah, greed and inequality are bad, and there certainly ARE many things we should do to fix these things.  But seeing as how all these remedies need to happen in Washington, which Republicans control and who will NEVER agree to ANY of this stuff...what's the point?  When MLK protested, he had a specific goal in mind and addressed it to the people who could do something about it. He didn't go to the KKK headquarters and demand they stop being racist.  He took it to the people and said which things needed to be fixed.

These new protesters, on the other hand, have picked a fairly useless target to protest (Wall Street bankers who will merely laugh at the protesters), instead of picking actual targets who we have leverage on and who have the power to do something about it (elected officials).  In fact, the best use of their energy would be to target Republicans and right-leaning Dems, to put the pressure on them.

But of course, they'd STILL need to know what they wanted these people to do.  They need to identify specific areas that need to be fixed, not make vague demands about changing our entire system from the ground up; as if that really meant anything.  I mean, who exactly would do this, when the main people who understand best how Wall Street works are the very ones screwing us in the first place?  While many of these protesters know they don't like Wall Street, they have never bothered to learn exactly what it does, beyond taking our money and screwing us over.

Reinstating regulations on the size of these banks and the risky activities they engage in is a practical goal; which is acheivable.  Trying to "end greed" is not one.  Nor is demanding that we arrest people for being greedy.  Until these people can give us a better idea of what it is they want us to do, they're unlikely to see much success.

As much as I'd *like* to be able to support them, I can't possibly do so until I know what I'm supporting.  To do otherwise is absurd.  Yes, the patient is sick, but until I'm given some idea of what the doctor wants, I can't possibly know if I support it.

1 comment:

Betsy said...

The chief biological human urge is sex. Nature wants us to reproduce.
The next ones are in the mind, greed and lust for power. It is just the way we are. It needs to be recognized yet again (most religions have noticed--before they are taken over by the same thing) and measures taken to keep it in some kind of bounds. We have always done this, we just need to understand the best way to do it and have the desire to do it.