What if they had a protest that was getting world-wide attention literally across the street from your office building... and, by and large... you mostly thought you didn't care too much...? Until lately, that is.
Thus goes "Occupy Wall Street" in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. Ezra comments on it... but I don't find much value-added there. Ezra seizes on a few protestors who lament that they have incurred massive student loan debt (conveniently non-dischargeable in bankruptcy) and nothing much to show for it (including and especially a job.) This is interesting... no, who am I kidding... this isn't that interesting. And where in God's name is Ezra getting his statistics on income percentiles?... I get mine from Wikipedia! Anyway... there does seem to be a lot more going on than a rehash of the 60's protests which were all, you know, all too frequently just about not being sent to 'Nam. These Occupy Wall Street protestors... are more... complicated... these protests will eventually be seen to be precursors to the coming American food riots, and much more analogous to the "Arab Spring" protests. (We might note record high levels of youth unemployment globally.) Just saying. Somebody knows the system is out of wack... indeed... I'll say it: THE. SYSTEM. IS. CORRUPT. TO. ITS. CORE. That the national catastrophe of under- and unemployment, especially of the young... continues to take a back seat in the national attention to... just about everything... tells you just HOW corrupt. And a few more tax breaks and temporary jobs fixing roads... ain't gonna do squat.
The O.W.S. protest, by my observation, started off as a non-descript, ill-attended sit-in by an odd-ball assortment of people. Tonight, it was wall-to-wall people, with media coverage, performers, etc.(and of course... lots of police!) And, possibly, for the first time I'm aware of, a protest movement that was pretty much unable to define why it was there... allowed circumstances to describe it better... to wit, inane, heavy-handed jack-booted counter-attacks from New York's Finest, and voila! Mike Bloomberg and Ray Kelly have now given the protests legs: the gestalt has been established. We now couldn't be clearer about the sinister connection between the power of money and its ability to invoke the heavy-hand of the statenot to insure a level-playing-field and a fair system to all and so that the financially powerful don't run roughshod over the rest... but the state (at least its offically-sancitoned-violence wing, the police) exists to protect the powerful from the people, and NOT to protect the defenseless people from the powerful! THAT is what these protests are about: to try to call out the power on the utter failure of concepts of American civics! Just as the GTMO fiasco [and the Obama Administration's "look forward not backward at both war criminals and banking criminals" policy] ended up showing the fundamentally feckless nature of "American justice," and just how little the Constitution means when it gets in Money's way... the pictures were worth all the words in the world: the power felt it needed physical violence to protect money from mere SHAMING... and out came the clubs and pepper spray!
THAT is why Money's Man in Washington (that would be my college classmate, Barack H. Obama) has been such a disappointment to those who voted for him, but not to those who BOUGHT AND PAID FOR him (that would be "the 1%" on Wall Street.) Obama's concerns to date have been the interests of banks, and oil companies, and health insurers... he too, now that he ain't in the "99%"... knows that... you have your haves and have nots... but the ones who matter pay for 30-second spots!
The original "demand" of O.W.S. as I understand it was to de-couple the insidious influence of money from American politics... long-winded, and hard to "wrap your mind around"... until you see police pepper-spraying and plastic-cuffing seemingly well-educated, well behaved WHITE PEOPLE [disabusing all who foolishly believe that the police exist ONLY to maintain our current de facto Neo-Jim Crow situation] because they have the audacity to just question the social order... and as necessary, hog-tie and billy-club what money sees as another group of peasants (albeit, in this case, often ones with degrees and large debts to show for it).
Well... the battle lines have been drawn, and they are playing out on a street near you... or near me, anyway. The Arab Spring has given way to... Autumn in New York. Fight the Power, guys and gals...