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The New Progressive Movement: #OWS signals the end of the Reagan era


 
In an inspiring Op Ed piece in today’s New York Times, Columbia University’s Jeffrey D. Sachs takes but a few paragraphs to thoroughly demolish the dominant ur-myths of the past three decades of Republican politics, and to illustrate how the New Progressive Era is already upon us.

Both clueless Democrats and ignorant, rightwing assholes like Frank Miller should read this short essay very carefully:

Occupy Wall Street and its allied movements around the country are more than a walk in the park. They are most likely the start of a new era in America. Historians have noted that American politics moves in long swings. We are at the end of the 30-year Reagan era, a period that has culminated in soaring income for the top 1 percent and crushing unemployment or income stagnation for much of the rest. The overarching challenge of the coming years is to restore prosperity and power for the 99 percent.

Thirty years ago, a newly elected Ronald Reagan made a fateful judgment: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Taxes for the rich were slashed, as were outlays on public services and investments as a share of national income. Only the military and a few big transfer programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits were exempted from the squeeze.

Reagan’s was a fateful misdiagnosis. He completely overlooked the real issue — the rise of global competition in the information age — and fought a bogeyman, the government. Decades on, America pays the price of that misdiagnosis, with a nation singularly unprepared to face the global economic, energy and environmental challenges of our time.

Washington still channels Reaganomics. The federal budget for nonsecurity discretionary outlays — categories like highways and rail, education, job training, research and development, the judiciary, NASA, environmental protection, energy, the I.R.S. and more — was cut from more than 5 percent of gross domestic product at the end of the 1970s to around half of that today. With the budget caps enacted in the August agreement, domestic discretionary spending would decline to less than 2 percent of G.D.P. by the end of the decade, according to the White House. Government would die by fiscal asphyxiation.

Both parties have joined in crippling the government in response to the demands of their wealthy campaign contributors, who above all else insist on keeping low tax rates on capital gains, top incomes, estates and corporate profits. Corporate taxes as a share of national income are at the lowest levels in recent history. Rich households take home the greatest share of income since the Great Depression. Twice before in American history, powerful corporate interests dominated Washington and brought America to a state of unacceptable inequality, instability and corruption. Both times a social and political movement arose to restore democracy and shared prosperity.

Sachs goes on to state what already seems self-evident to many of us:

This is just the beginning.

The young people in Zuccotti Park and more than 1,000 cities have started America on a path to renewal. The movement, still in its first days,  will have to expand in several strategic ways. Activists are needed among shareholders, consumers and students to hold corporations and politicians to account. Shareholders, for example, should pressure companies to get out of politics. Consumers should take their money and purchasing power away from companies that confuse business and political power. The whole range of other actions — shareholder and consumer activism, policy formulation, and running of candidates — will not happen in the park.

The New Progressive Movement (The New York Times)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Frank Miller posts idiotic, reactionary rant about Occupy Wall Street


 
In an effort to, uh, I dunno, maybe make a bid to become the Al Capp of his generation, (or follow in the footsteps of Ayn Rand-worshiping Steve Ditko?) comics writer, illustrator and film director Frank Miller vented his cranky, bitter, reactionary “opinions” (if you can call them that) regarding Occupy Wall Street on his blog:

The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached - is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.

This is no popular uprising. This is garbage. And goodness knows they’re spewing their garbage – both politically and physically – every which way they can find.

Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy.

Yeah, and that enemy is called the capitalist system, Frankie boy… and people LIKE YOU

This creep is supposed to be a celebrated writer? His dumbass screed reads like it was written by Michele Bachmann or Michael Savage! (“Frank Miller, the Michele Bachmann of comic books” is a shitty way to brand yourself, Frank-a-dank. Really.)

I’d like to spit right in Frank Miller’s fucking face. You can let Miller know how you feel about the idiotic bile he puked up in the comments section of his blog. Many people already have!

Below, the Frank Miller of the 1960s, Al Capp confronts John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the Montreal Bed-In and makes a complete and utter ass of himself.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Christian groups ask God to make Occupy Wall Street GO AWAY


 
First you had Lloyd Phillips calling the Occupy Wall Street movement the “Flea Party” at Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative blog and now those nice Christian folk at the Family Research Council are asking their “prayer team” to petition God hisself to make these crazy Nazis ACORN-sponsored communist pinkos GO AWAY. For the good of America!

The expanded Wall Street Occupation is endorsed by labor unions, liberal mayors, governors, the White House, the American Nazi and Communist parties, ACORN, Hollywood enertainers [sic] and a long list of supra-liberal and liberal groups, not the least of which is the liberal media.

Encampments in major cities, including Washington, DC, are not only a nuisance, a health hazard and an embarrassment [sic] to thinking Americans, they are increasingly becoming violent. Ideological anarchists intimidate and abuse bystanders, damage automobiles, jump on and in front of moving vehicles, urinate and defacate [sic] on private and public property, go naked and perform sex acts in public, produce tons of garbage that taxpayers have to collect and haul away, etc.

Yet the mainstream press, which villainized [sic] the Tea Party movement, after long ignoring it, flagrantly idealizes the Occupiers and ignores the damage and ugly crimes happening in most places where an occupation is in progress. Fortunately the movement is “losing its bloom,” and beginning to die out. The honeymoon among these diverse activists may be coming to an end.

May the movement simply fizzle. May God protect those who live nearby and must encounter these raucus [sic] groups. May God harvest souls for Christ from among them just as He did discontented youth in the Jesus Movment of the 60’s and 70’s (1 Sam 22:1-2; 2 Chr 15:4-7; Ps 18:40-50; Is 42:14-18; Lk 19:39-40; Rom 8:15-16; 10:20).

Sorry folks, praying the Occupy Wall Street movement fades away will probably be as about effective as praying for rain. Ask your boy Rick Perry how that worked out for him.

Why not pray for God to teach you how to fucking use spell check or something?

In case you’re hungry for more non sequitur nonsense from a Christian idiot, here’s the one and only Cindy Jacobs to oblige, talking about evil spirits at Occupy Wall Street and some other stuff:
 

 
Via Right Wing Watch

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Inside Occupy Wall Street


 
“The anti-globalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then, our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people.” —Raimundo Viejo

The “story” of Occupy Wall Street has been in small chunks via thousands of articles, news reports, viral videos and blog posts—my personal account of what I saw is here—but this in-depth report from Jeff Sharlet at Rolling Stone is a particularly insightful look at the movement from the earliest days (ahem, STILL less than two months ago!). Sharlet actually slept in Zuccotti Park himself, one of the first journalists I’ve read who has done so. I didn’t find anything in this article that didn’t jibe with my own direct experiences of what I saw at OWS myself. This is some good journalism:

On August 2nd, the New York City General Assembly convened for the first time in Lower Manhattan, right by the market’s bronze icon, “Charging Bull,” snorting in perpetuity. It wasn’t the usual protest crowd. “The traditional left – the unions, the progressive academics, the community organizations – wanted nothing to do with this in the beginning,” says Marisa Holmes, a 25-year-old filmmaker from Columbus, Ohio, who was working on a BBC documentary called Creating Freedom, about why people rebel. “I think it’s telling that, of the early participants, so many were artists and media makers.”

Even the instigators and architects present at the creation marvel at how things just happened. “It was a magic moment,” says Kalle Lasn, Adbusters’ 69-year-old co-founder. “After that, things took on a life of their own, and then it was out of our hands.”

Adbusters’ call to arms had been timid by the standards of the movement quickly taking form. The magazine had proposed a “worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics,” but their big ideas went no further than pressuring Obama to appoint a presidential commission on the role of money in politics. In Lasn’s imagination, though, that would be just the start. “We knew, of course, that Egypt had a hard regime change where a torturous dictator was removed,” he says, “but many of us felt that in America, a soft regime change was possible.”

Possible, but not likely. They were still thinking in inches. “To be perfectly honest, we thought it might be a steppingstone, not the establishment of a whole thing,” says David Graeber, a 50-year-old anthropologist and anarchist whose teaching gig at Yale was not renewed, some suspect, because he took part in radical actions. It was Graeber who gave the movement its theme: “We are the 99 percent.” He also helped rescue it from the usual sorry fate of the left in America, the schisms and infighting over who’s in charge. He had shown up at the August 2nd meeting thinking it was an Adbusters thing; he was surprised to find a rally dominated by the antiquated ideas of the Cold War left. “This is bullshit,” Graeber thought. He recognized a Greek anarchist organizer, Georgia Sagri, and with her help identified kindred spirits. “We looked around. I didn’t recognize faces, everybody was so young. I went by T-shirts – Zapatistas, Food Not Bombs.” Anarchists in name or inclination. He calls them the “horizontal crowd” because they loathe hierarchy. “It was really just tapping on shoulders. And a lot of people said, ‘Shit, yeah.’”

Inside Occupy Wall Street: How a bunch of anarchists and radicals with nothing but sleeping bags launched a nationwide movement (Rolling Stone)

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David Crosby and Graham Nash at Occupy Wall Street


 
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Teach Your Children,” released 41 years ago, was one of those tunes that seemed hopelessly corny when I first heard it, preachy in the worst hippie fashion.

As an 18-year-old flower child, CSN&Y’s Deja Vu was supposed to resonate with me—it did for most of my generation ( the album’s tracks wafted from open windows throughout Berkeley). But I was a flower child about to go to seed and their musical macramé left rope burns on what was left of my hippie dippy sensibility. I understand deja vu as a kind of compression of space and time, but when things move swiftly, stopping in your tracks to observe frozen, insistent memories is the very antithesis of what made the youth movement so vital—we were moving forward not looking back and certainly not letting deja vu trip us up. Had we been here before? No. It just feels familiar because it feels so fucking right.

CSN&Y seemed like a bunch of rich hipsters whose biggest concerns revolved around whether to cut their hair and self-doubt about their parenting skills. My hair was still long, would remain so, and all I cared about was screwing the chicks hanging out in Ho Chi Min Park.

Looking back, I figure CSN&Y, along with the wave of Topanga Canyon and Malibu longhair country-rock bands that followed in their wake, factored into why I was driven in the direction of Iggy And The Stooges and the MC5. For me, CSN&Y marked the point when the Sixties became too hopelessly self-referential, choking on its own patchouli scented vomit.

But fuck the past, right now this song and these guys seem very real and soulful to me thanks to this video. David Crosby and Graham Nash are looking forward and deja vu is now the middle space between what was and what is going to be.

Brothers, I salute you.

Still waiting for the “Street Fighting Men” and Mr. “Born To Run” to make the scene. Where’s the rock and roll 1% when we need ‘em?

The fact that you can’t have electronic pubic public address systems in Zuccotti Park results in an amplification system that is flesh, bone, blood and communal.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Generation Gap: Tea party olds take on Occupy Wall Street
11.10.2011
03:34 pm

Topics:

Tags:
Tea party
Occupy Wall Street
old people


 
Uh oh! As if this picture ain’t worth a thousand words, the video below is pretty revealing of a certain mindset, uh, brewing, I guess you’d say, in the feeble little minds of the Tea party faithful.

Since Occupy Wall Street started, as far as I’m concerned, it’s like everything is getting kicked up a notch… Dig the comedic horn o’ plenty that was last night’s GOP debate, the Cain train-wreck and Michele Bachmann getting “mic-checked” in South Carolina today. This shit is the fuckin’ best!

As you might suspect, the comments thread at YouTube is pretty brutal, but quite funny…
 

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Occupy Wall Street teach-in with Douglas Rushkoff


 
“They say the Occupy movement has no leaders. They are wrong. YOU are the leaders! The rest of us are your followers! What you do here shows us what we can do out there.”

A history lesson about a 500-year old operating program that’s cramping our style in the 21st century delivered at Zuccotti Park today in downtown Manhattan by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff.

“If you can sleep under tarps, the rest of us can tell your story to our children at bedtime…”

Beautiful. I love it. Please spread this message far and wide. Shot by Janine Saunders.
 

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Occupy Fox News


 
This commercial ran three times during Wednesday night’s episode of The O’Reilly Factor. It’s also aired on Bloomberg, ESPN, the History Channel and elsewhere

If you’d like to chip in to buy more national media time for this Occupy Wall Street ad and others, you can do so via Loudsauce.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Next for the Occupy movement: Debt strikes?


 

“If you owe the bank $1000, you’re at the mercy of the bank, if you owe the bank $1,000,000,000 the bank is at your mercy.”

A few weeks back, I attended an extraordinary event in New York organized by my longtime friend Douglas Rushkoff called “Contact.” It was a fascinating symposium about fighting corporate influence online and how to affect societal change using social media tools (more or less). The object of the day was to tease out four projects from the participants (a mix of 300 activists, tech entrepreneurs, intellectuals and media types) which could be practically realized, not just “pie in the sky” stuff. Four finalists got $10,000 awards from Pepsi to assist in concretizing these ideas.

At first, the conference, which took place at a stunning former synagogue on the Lower East Side known as The Angel Orensanz Center, got off to a bumpy start. Whenever someone would raise their hand and say something too fuzzy like “I’d like to start an online forum for people to discuss social issues” this got back a politely, yet dismissive “Uh, what, specifically, do you mean by that?” response from Rushkoff, who led the sessions. His firm conceptual herding caused a rapid focusing of the group mind into projects that had not just viability—and utility, of course—but that could actually be manifested within days or weeks.

There were a lot of worthy, even brilliant, ideas kicked around that day, but the first one that really caused me to take notice was when one of the participants stood up and said he’d like to create an online tool to facilitate and organize a mass debt strike against the banks and the government. There was an immediate “x factor” that this notion tapped into (my guess is that Occupy Wall Street was supported by 100% of the room) and “Kick-Stopper,” as the project was dubbed, became one of the four finalists.

When the conference broke down into smaller discussion groups—I was one of the judges of who would get the Pepsi cash—I silently observed the debt strike enthusiasts’ conversation with interest. I was somewhat less enamored of the concept when Thomas Gokey, an adjunct professor at Syracuse University who proposed the idea, said that maybe the money owed to the banks could be held in escrow accounts, eventually getting paid to the banks, but only after they’d agreed to certain demands and reforms. To some of the people seated on pillows in the venue’s balcony, this seemed like a reasonable approach, but at least half the group groaned and expressed the more punk rock sentiment of “fuck the banks, they’ll get NONE of it” which seemed like a much better position to take, to my mind.

Stiffing the fuckers is something they’ll understand…

I’m not sure where they got with it in the end with the escrow vs. the fuck the banks question, but Kick-Stopper, as I mentioned, was one of the four finalists and you can follow the progress they are making here. Sarah Jaffe, who was at the Contact event, wrote about the debt strike concept at length at AlterNet:

“I wanted to do this project because I kept having the same basic conversation with everyone at Zuccotti and everywhere else,” Gokey told me. “When I talk to people about what we could do that would really compel Congress and Wall Street to meet our demands or really alter the current system, we inevitably start discussing what non-cooperation with our own oppression would look like. What does it mean to stop cooperating with the banks? What we inevitably end up describing is some variation of a debt strike, simply ending our own participation in a system that exploits us.”

—snip—

“The problem is that a debt-strike will take a lot of coordination to make it work,” Thomas Gokey points out, “It can’t just be one person who is willing to risk their financial life, it only works when there are millions of people who are willing to take that risk together, and they are only going to take that risk if they can feel confident that everyone else has got their back.”

That in part is what Gokey hoped to solve by bringing the debt strike idea to ContactCon, but it’s not the only one. Lerner points out that the debt strike also needs targets, demands and an answer to the question, “Who pays?”

“There should be debt forgiveness, but these guys—the student loan profiteers—should eat it, not the government and taxpayers,” he points out. “The banks should pay because they destroyed the economy, they sucked 18-year-olds into predatory loans they are stuck with for life.”

Hear, hear! Imagine the indignity of graduating from college with $100,000 of student loan debt nipping at your heels and today’s nearly non-existent job prospects. It’s absurd.

I’m not an expert in this sort of thing, but apparently you can’t charge off student loans in bankruptcy, they’ll just attach your wages, so a collective action to withhold student loan payments (and credit card debt) at a time when half the country is skint could gather critical mass rather quickly, I’d imagine. Everyone else got a bail-out, why shouldn’t you?

My prediction: You’re going to be hearing the term “debt strike” used a lot in the coming months.

(For the record, I have not a single cent of student loan debt. I didn’t go to college and I have no skin in this game. Education should be free for anyone who wants to learn and better themselves.)

Debtor’s Revolution: Are Debt Strikes Another Possible Tactic in the Fight Against the Big Banks? (AlterNet)

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Joe Rogan: Police & Occupy Wall Street


 
Comedian Joe Rogan rants with some serious observations on what’s going down.

“Is this fuckin’ Chicago in the sixties? What the fuck is this?

Audio excerpt from The Joe Rogan Experience podcast put to some appropriate visuals.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
How to cripple Wall Street with a simple three-Item agenda


 
A guest editorial from our super smart pal, Charles Hugh Smith, cross-posted from his essential Of Two Minds blog.

There are really only three ways to cripple Wall Street’s democracy-killing concentration of wealth and power: take our money out of Wall Street and the TBTF banks, eliminate private money from elections and abolish Wall Street’s dealer, the Federal Reserve.

There are only three things—and only these three—that will cripple Wall Street’s democracy-killing concentration of wealth and power:

1. Transfer the 99%‘s money out of Wall Street and the Too Big To Fail Banks

2. Remove campaign contributions from our democracy in a way that the corporate legalist lackeys in the Supreme Court cannot overturn, i.e. entirely publicly financed elections

3. Abolish Wall Street’s dealer, pusher and protector, the Federal Reserve.

My reasoning is very simple:

Everything else people want to see happen cannot happen if:

1) Wall Street and the SDI (systemically dangerous institutions) a.k.a. too big to fail banks, control most Americans’ financial assets and debts

2) The Federal Reserve exists to enable and protect the SDI’s wealth and power via Primary Dealers, the discount window and other pusher/dealer mechanisms

3) Wall Street and the other SDIs can use the billions of dollars they skim from our accounts, IRAs, 401Ks and pensions to buy political influence and protection from regulation and competition.

Therefore these are the necessary foundations of any real change.

As long as Wall Street and the other SDIs control much of the nation’s financial markets, assets and debts, and the Federal Reserve exists to protect and enable their predation and parasitic skimming, they will have the means to reap billions in profits which can then be funneled into our cash-corrupted political system of for-sale toadies and apparatchiks.

The only real leverage we have is our money and our compliance. Leaving our money in Wall Street and the Too Big to fail banks enables their dominance. Leaving our money in checking accounts, money market funds, savings accounts and brokerage accounts, and then using credit and debit cards issued by the SDIs, is to remain deeply complicit in their dominance.

This concept is now entering the cultural dialog, for example this recent entry on Zero Hedge: Want To Defeat The Banks? Stop Participating In The System!

Frequent Of Two Minds contributor Harun I. summed the argument up even more forcefully:

I applaud this movement only if people are coming to the recognition that, collectively, we as a nation have been wrong and now need to move in a different direction. We must now engage in discussing how best to do so.
However, I remain skeptical. Why are the TBTF banks still operating? From fraud to extortion to money laundering for drug cartels, the list of crimes against humanity is quite clear and long. Exactly what does it take before people will stop doing business with demonstrably corrupt entities?

And now there is a General Strike scheduled. I am all for it. But understand that our government will borrow the shortfall and nothing meaningful other than an increase in public debt will occur.

However, if you want to see an instantaneous and dramatic effect, every person close every account they have with all the TBTF banks and their subsidiaries on the same day.

Immediately or almost immediately they would have to be taken into receivership, their assets marked to market and sold off. The End.

Why destroy the TBTF banks? Most of them are Primary Dealers. The Fed then comes under pressure as it becomes the only lender of resort.

Then, once we have gotten their attention we tackle monetary reform, lobbying, and term limit in Congress and the Supreme Court.

It is time for government to “fear the people”. Rest assured that if government does not fear the people, nothing will change.

As for the Supreme Court’s legalist worship of the Corporate State: I believe this court will be remembered by history as the court which veered close enough to Corporate-State fascism to give it a big wet kiss. Corporate “rights” of personhood? No problem, you got it! The “right” to fund unlimited campaign contributions? No problem, you got it!

“Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” Benito Mussolini

We might profitably ask how the Founding Fathers would have responded to calls that the U.S. Constitution should contain a clause granting the East India Company the same rights of personhood as U.S. citizens, and then further granting it the unlimited right to buy political favors as a function of “free speech.”

One wonders how any of the Revolutionary War veterans among the Founding Fathers might have responded to such toadying claptrap. Yet this is precisely what the corporate toadies in the flowing black robes claim is “defended” by the U.S. Constitution.

A close reading of the Constitution reveals no amendments or clauses granting private corporations personhood, or granting them the right to inject unlimited sums of money to sway elections. If we turn to the Federalist Papers, we find fear of a “tyranny of the minority”—and what is a private corporation but an extreme minority bent on purchasing a limited but oppressive, exploitative and parasitical tyranny?

The legalist lackeys on the Supreme Court have hidden far too long behind the reputation of the Court—a reputation punctured by history, we might note—as a forum of disinterested legal debate. Rather, the court is nothing but another collection of imperfect human beings who are easily swayed by the tenor of the times and the ideological agendas of the wealthy and powerful. (“These are not the campaign reforms you’re looking for. Move along.”)

Given that we have a court that worships Corporate-State fascism slicked over with a thin veneer of democracy for public relations purposes—every single attempt to limit corporate campaign contributions has been struck down by the court—then our only choice as a people is to ban all private money contributions and institute a system of 100% publicly financed elections. Yes, it’s imperfect, and yes, it’s messy and costly, but nowhere near as corrupting and costly to liberty as the Corporate-State fascism we now endure.

Libertarians may be aghast at this option, but we have been reduced by the legalist lackeys in the Supreme Court to this choice: either we continue to be ruled by the corrupting corporate-State nexis of unlimited corporate/private Elites funding of elections, or we go with public financing. Thanks to the Supreme Court, there is no other choice.

As a lagniappe thought: one of the primary concerns of many “OWS/we are the 99” supporters is rising income disparity. That is a legitimate concern in any nation claiming to be a democracy with a free-market economy. Yet a close examination of the roots of income disparity and rising poverty leads straight to the Federal Reserve.

Winners And Losers: The New Economy (Zero Hedge)

What Mr. Gross and Mr. Frank and many others don’t see is that it is the creation of fiat money that destroys wealth and misdirects the investment of capital into less productive assets. That is, monetary inflation destroys capital (wealth). The reason why the production of goods and services do not bear higher yields than financial assets is that the production of goods and services suffers from a lack of real capital. Remember that real capital comes only from the saved profits of production and from the savings of workers from wages earned in production.

You obviously cannot print wealth, but if you try that fiat money distorts the entire economy by directing investment to things which appear to appreciate but what is really happening is that the dollar is depreciating. As a result, fiat money and real capital are invested in financial assets because they appear to have greater yields than returns from the production of goods. Prices rise (price inflation) and it creates the inevitable boom which always busts. The fall out is that we are stuck with things people don’t want (in the present re/depression it is housing). And we fall for it every time.

Allow me to simplify the argument:

1. The Federal Reserve has financialized the economy as an intrinsic expression of its reason for being.

2. Financialization necessarily creates systemically rising income disparity.

I think that’s all we need to understand to grasp the utmost importance of abolishing the Federal Reserve, a private banking monopoly created and protected by our Congress. Limiting Wall Street and the TBTF banks is structurally impossible as long as the Federal Reserve exists.

Written by Charles Hugh Smith, cross-posted from Of Two Minds.

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Occupy Wall Street vs The Tea Party


 
Infographic courtesy of Accelerated Degree

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Occupy Oakland General Strike much larger than they told us


 
Zennie Abraham, a blogger at Veterans Today, has lived in Oakland since 1974 and believes that the crowd estimate of the Occupy Oakland General Strike provided by Oakland police is way off. Abraham claims the crowd was much closer to 100,000 than the official count of 7000.

You can’t take a snapshot of an event like this, because of its time length; you have to think of it as a dynamic. In any population there are births, deaths, in-migration, and out-migration. For the Occupy Oakland General Strike, there were no births, thankfully no deaths, but a lot of in-migration and out-migration.

What was so amazing about the size of the crowd both inside the plaza and just outside of it, then marching to the Port of Oakland, was that it did not decrease in size; it increased. And that was with some people leaving it, and others coming in from BART and from around Oakland via foot or other parts of the Bay by car.

For that to happen all day long and considering the capacity of the plaza and the crowds outside of it points to 100,000 people. I’ve never seen anything like that in the entire history of this city.

And that is why it must be said that much of the media should be drawn and quartered for the most irresponsible coverage I’ve ever seen. Many outlets just waited for something bad to happen, or looked for it. But there were so many people more having a great time, that whatever happened was far away from downtown Oakland.

The Whole Foods Oakland Facility is on 27th and Harrison and outside of downtown Oakland, and a good mile away from City Hall Plaza. But to the media eye, the vandalism that happened there made headlines. Let’s just get this out of the way: it should not have happened, but that’s no excuse to get the whole story wrong.

The video below is all the proof anyone would need that the official numbers were way, way off, but 100,000? Oakland’s population is around 300,000, even accounting for the folks who came in from the rest of the Bay area (population 4.5 million) to march, that’s still probably too high a number to be realistic. Still, I’m willing to go along with a tally that’s several times higher than what the Oakland police—and the mainstream media—told us.

What’s important to remember as you watch the size of these marching masses, is that less than two months have passed since Occupy Wall Street began. It’s only going to get more interesting from here on out.
 

 
Above, a bird’s eye view of a static crowd of 90,000 people at the Rose Bowl posted by redditter BdotTS.
 

 
Via reddit

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Irishman’s blunt view of Wall Street (NSFW)


 
Remember the straight-talking gentlemen whose rant ”Irish Wanking Bankers” went viral a few months back?

Here’s the sequel, his take on Wall Street shenanigans and the financial system in general. Delightful!
 

 
Via Cynical-C

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Foil the Evil Empire: Today is Bank Transfer Day


Take your money out of the Evil Empire today! Image via @SKYENICOLAS

Today is Bank Transfer Day, the day to take your money (should you still be lucky enough to have any), transfer it to a credit union, close down your accounts with the big banks and starve them of the oxygen they need to survive: YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY.

Not everyone can be in Zuccotti Park, but YOU CAN DO THIS!

It’s Saturday. Do you honestly have something better to do than fucking over the big banks? I didn’t think so…

DailyKos blogger frustrated1 told a tale of closing his or her bank accounts, along with her sister under the title “The bank said ‘You’ll Be Back.’” I encourage any of you who are doing this today to post your own first person stories in the comments.

One thing I should probably mention is that my sister is a very successful medical doctor.  She makes a ton of money.  She also had a ton of money in each of these banks.  She decided to close these accounts out of solidarity with OWS protesters.  

At Wells Fargo, my sister walked up to the teller and politely asked to close her account.  The teller said, “No problem.”  She pulled up her account and saw the balance and told her that due to the amount she had to speak with the branch manager.  The branch manager came out.  He was probably 30 years old and was very arrogant.  He asked my sister why she wanted to close her account and my sister told him she thought Wells Fargo was part of the problem with the economy.  He went thru some talking points about why she shouldn’t move her money, but my sister didn’t back down.  When he asked her where she was going she told him that she would be banking at the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union.  She isn’t a state employee, but anyone can join if you are related to a state employee.  It turns out her husband is.  Anyway, the bankster told her “You’ll be back.  Credit unions can’t provide the services you need.”  We’ll see about that.  She withdrew over $200k from Wells Fargo.

Next we went to Bank of America.  I closed my last account with hardly any questions asked.  Of course, I had taken most of my money out so there wasn’t much left to take.  My sister on the other hand had a large balance in multiple accounts.  They actually refused to cut her a check for the full amounts.  They only gave her 1/3 of her money and told her she’d have to come back to withdraw the rest.  They claimed they were only allowed to make checks for a certain amount, and that they had no authority to cut additional checks on the same day.  Stupid BofA.   She had her check in hand and politely told off the branch manager when he told her she had to come back another day or two to withdraw the rest.  

At BofA, we weren’t the only ones closing accounts.  There was a line of people.  Most had small accounts because they weren’t even being challenged, but she actually had to wait in line to speak with a branch manager.

At SunTrust, the branch manager went off his rocker.  He just kept asking her “is there anything I can do or anything I can say to change your mind?”  He asked probably twenty times.  He even offered to have the market executive meet with her and hear out her concerns. She told him she wasn’t interested.  He really looked nervous about it.  

We then took the deposits we had to NCSECU.  The people there were busy.  There were 5 people in front of us in the line to open an account.  When my sister got to the front she learned that the credit union actually has a trust company and wealth management services. Neither of us knew that.  She is now considering moving her Merrill Lynch (owned by BofA) accounts to the credit union as well.  She’s been with her financial advisor for 15 years, so that’s the biggest reason she hesitates. 

Here’s a link to some helpful Bank Transfer Day resources at AlterNet and Move Your Money

How do I move my money out of a big bank? (Mother Jones)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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