Monday, October 31, 2011

What Occupy Wall Street wants

Matt Taibbi says it better than I can:

Wall Street isn't winning, they're cheating

When was the last time the government stepped into help you "avoid losses you might otherwise suffer?" But that's the reality we live in. When Joe Homeowner bought too much house, essentially betting that home prices would go up, and losing his bet when they dropped, he was an irresponsible putz who shouldn’t whine about being put on the street.

But when banks bet billions on a firm like AIG that was heavily invested in mortgages, they were making the same bet that Joe Homeowner made, leaving themselves hugely exposed to a sudden drop in home prices. But instead of being asked to "suck it in and cope" when that bet failed, the banks instead went straight to Washington for a bailout -- and got it.

The short version: The top 1% own 40% of everything. They didn't use to. WTF is going on, and how do we go back to the way it was?

All OWS is trying to do is get people to talk; to challenge the sacred assumption that wealth is metaphysically a result of hard work and genius, and poverty is metaphysically a result of laziness and stupidity. Because it manifestly isn't.

No one is suggesting that lazy people should live in luxury, but food and medical care are not luxuries. No one is suggesting that successful people should be robbed of the products of their labors, but going from 36% to 39% top marginal tax rate is not robbery. And as Elizabeth Warren recently said, nobody got rich on their own. Nobody.

This bullshit libertarian vibe has been spreading through our society ever since Reagan attacked the dire threat of welfare queens. Our entire economy has been restructured to reward financial speculation instead of production. Not merely reward, but enable: the banks are too big to fail. This means that when they make a profit, they keep it, but when they make a loss, we all bail them out.

And the worst part of it all: the average voter in America doesn't know. The average voter thinks we have the  wealth distribution of Sweden, when in fact we look like Brazil.

OWS "wins" if all it does is make the public aware of the facts.

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