I was stuck by the diversity of causes and messages I've seen over the past week - in person and in photos and videos. There have been some compelling messages - and many far too many that are seemingly unrelated to the cause at hand or outright incoherent.
The "99%" label used by the Occupy Wall Street movement is something that resonates - It is a good summary in some ways:
The majority getting poorer as the minority gets richer.
may be one way of looking at it but "What do the Protestors Want?" is a question I've heard from others. I haven't seen a short coherent answer to that question, but I think I've found it.
Follow me after the fold
If I am held accountable for being unable to pay my mortgage.....
If I am held accountable for being unable to pay my bills - credit card, student loans, whatever.....
If I am held accountable if I do a bad job at work and am fired......
If I am held accountable when I break the law - be it running a stop sign or robbing a store.....
If I am held accountable for ANY crime I commit.....
Why isn't EVERYBODY held to the same standard?
Why was it OK for a mortgage broker to lie to me about the terms of my mortgage?
Why was it OK for a bank to foreclose on my mortgage when it didn't own the mortgage?
Why was it OK for a Wall Street firm to package that mortgage into a security and lie about it's value and safety?
Why was it OK for that same firm to place a 'bet' AGAINST that very same security with a Credit Default Swap that would pay off if that SECURITY defaulted?
Why was it OK for my bank to ask for - and GET - millions of dollars in 0% 'loans' from the government when it turns out that THEY couldn't pay THEIR bills?..... when THEY were far more in debt than me without any means to pay that debt?
Why was it OK for banks and brokerage firms to sell worthless - or near worthless - securities, 'assets' they could NOT sell elsewhere for ANY price, to the government or Federal Reserve for far more than they were worth?
Why are firms 'too big to fail'?
If capitalism rewards those who make profits it also penalizes those who LOSE money.
But this hasn't happened.
I am held accountable if I make bad decisions (or even through simple 'bad luck') and go bankrupt. Why aren't banks and Wall Street Firms?
Why are executives who headed companies that did so poorly left in their jobs?
Why are people that were paid huge salaries and bonuses based on fraudulent performance allowed to keep that money?
The '99%' knows that they WILL be held accountable if they do something wrong.
Hell, 700 people were arrested for not staying on the sidewalk Saturday.
Why aren't people arrested for stealing millions of dollars through outright fraud?
But people like Angelo Mozilla - former CEO of Countrywide Mortgage - walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars even though it is on record that he thought what his company was doing was wrong in writing mortgages it should not have been. He knew that the mortgages being written were based on fraudulent information. He KNEW what his company was doing was wrong but he got to pay a (relatively) small fine and kept the majority of what he earned running that company. Government did not hold him accountable.
Government did not hold firms that committed fraud accountable.
Government did not hold firms that were bankrupt accountable - it kept them from going broke with OUR tax money (does government really have any other sources of income?) It did so WITHOUT asking our - the people's - permission.
Government allows firms that manipulate markets, violate rules and regulations and otherwise 'cheat' to do so without accountability.
You have had massive manipulation in oil markets, metals markets, the regular stock market. High frequency trading makes sure that you will pay the most possible when buying and get the least possible when selling. Even when regulations ARE mandated by law their implementation is put off. But no matter. Existing laws and regulations are not enforced.
People and companies that violated the law, ignored regulations and created a financial mess that has affected the whole world have NOT been held accountable.
I suspect that 'the 99%' believe that EVERYONE (people, companies, everyone) should be held accountable for their actions.
This concept goes far beyond our current financial mess - and indeed perhaps goes farther back into American politics. Pardoning a President for clear violations of law, never fully investigating and making public the extent of those violations has led to a mindset that some truly ARE above the law.
After all we pardoned people selling drugs to fund efforts that Congress specifically REFUSED to fund with Iran-Contra.
We have not even seen fit to investigate how this nation went to war in violation of International Law - based on fictional justifications.
We have refused to investigate how and why national leaders approved the use of torture, indefinite detention and other in clear violations of International Law - things we tried and CONVICTED and IMPRISONED others for after WWII.
The rule of law exists only when it applies to ALL equally.
It exists or it does not.
Engraved on the Department of Justice is :
WHERE LAW ENDS TYRANNY BEGINS
If only 99% of the population are accountable for their actions, if laws only apply to 99% of the population, then there is no law. There is only the pretense of law and all that exists in Anglo-Saxon law from the MagnaCarta through to the US Constitution has become moot.
"Equality Under the Law" is a fundamental and inviolate part of our legal system.
You have it or you do not.
I postulate that we do not and people know it.
Their government refuses to enforce the law and is complicit in its violation.
The people simply want the government to do what it is supposed to do:
UPHOLD THE LAW - for everyone
The people want government to hold EVERYONE equally accountable under the law.
It's really a simple message.