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"What if" is a game for suckers.

What if you'd bought Apple stock when it was $20 a share? What if you'd majored in engineering instead of English? What if we'd known what those men were up to when they walked onto planes the morning of September 11. Whether it's something small or something very large, playing the what if game just invites useless regret and pointless woolgathering. It leads to fantasies of what might have been, rather than dealing with what is.

On the other hand, there's more to history than just a catalog of dead facts. Or at least, there should be. If we don't look to the past for examples, if we don't extrapolate, if we don't learn, then it's not just the past that's dead. It's us. We need to study those points where decisions were made for good or ill, where history took a turn. We need to understand how things went wrong if we ever expect to set them right.

There are many who are still intent on forcing Occupy Wall Street to cough up a list of demands and a set of leaders to present them. But Occupy Wall Street isn't about demands, it's about making a statement. It's a statement that the current system isn't working for the average American (and based on the the worldwide events this weekend, it's not working for a lot of people in a lot of places). It's a statement that the common people seem to have been abandoned by a government that cares more for corporations than for workers, more for the rich than the poor, more for the powerful than the weak.

The system as it stands is definitively broken. We've so wrecked the balance between workers and corporations that many people are willing to accept anything, anything, if they're told that it means a pay check. So how did we get there? Where was the crossroads where we hooked right when we might have gone straight or taken a left? Is it capitalism itself that's at fault? No... and yes.

It's only relatively recently that people began to think of capitalism as something that didn't include the government; that it was somehow preferable to have a "pure" market, and that this represented some more American system (though it is nothing like the system on which the nation was founded). This may be the most cancerous idea to take root in in a century.

Take a look on the field this week as baseball finishes up league play and heads into the World Series. In addition to the two teams, there are also a handful of umpires on the grass and behind the plate. There's also a lengthy set of rules that define balls and strikes, outs, balks, and such arcana as the infield fly rule. Do you think the game would function without those men and without the rules? Would it be better if innings went as many outs as the batting team desired? If the pitcher could throw at the batters without consequence? If plays could be settled by swinging a bat at other players? Would it still be baseball?

The rules aren't just a part of baseball, they are baseball. Executing those rules under those supervision of the umpires is what it means to play the game.

Functional capitalism has always required the same thing: rules and people to enforce those rules. Regulation isn't external to the system. The government's role in capitalism isn't one of an outsider placing restrictions on the market. The government makes the market. It shapes it and enables it, allows the market to function. A good government controls the market so that the market serves the citizens. It uses that market to set the price of goods, provide capital for new industry, and offer opportunities for investment. When the market doesn't handle those tasks well, government adjusts the regulations so that it can. When someone finds a loophole, government sews it shut. The regulations aren't an imposition on the market, they are the market, they define it, just as the rules define baseball.

It's just as ridiculous to expect the market to police itself as it would be to expect a baserunner to walk off the field if no one is calling outs. Games, and markets, are made to work through rules. Rules only work if they are enforced. If the game no longer serves the fans, or the market no longer serves the citizens, then the rules need to change.

When we look back over the last half century, we see a market that increasingly veers away from its role of serving the citizenry. Especially in the last three decades, the market has moved form being a vehicle designed to allow investment in companies that create goods and services, and become the target of its own interest. It's turned into a banquet of fiscal self-cannibalism. It does not serve the citizens, and in fact represents perhaps as great a risk as any enemy extant.

Without engaging in a lot of what if and if only, is it still possible to see where we went wrong and understand how we might set things back on course? How did we lose the market as a tool of the government, and instead turn the government into a servant of the market?

One way was in an increasing push for deregulation. Broad calls for weakening the government's role in policing the market—closely tied to the idea that markets were somehow more effective in the absence of government—has been the harbinger of downfall again and again. In particular the destruction of the Glass–Steagall Act, was directly responsible for eroding the boundaries that allowed the most recent fiscal collapse to become more massive. Deregulation was the first strike.

Another way in which markets ceased to serve the nation was in becoming engines of wealth concentration rather than means of wealth creation. There are several factors involved, including the creation of unregulated instruments that allowed trading in complex derivatives. However, even more important in this change was the reduction of top income tax rates and capital gains taxes. With no bounds at the top and no penalty for accuring more and more wealth, the system lost all incentives for creating investments and rewarding workers. Effects as diverse as sending jobs overseas and draining pension funds are directly attributable to massive reductions in taxes that allowed this wealth to pass into much fewer hands. Wealth concentration was the second strike.

This final way in which this market has turned against the public, is in declaring that it is the public; that corporations are not just citizens, but super-citizens privileged to levels of leverage and political favoritism well beyond that enjoyed by flesh-and-blood citizens. Corporate citizenship has such powerful implications in both the short and long term, that unless it is swiftly addressed, the whole idea of market and state will be perverted. It's the third strike, and it's a big one.

If we hadn't deregulated banks and markets, we wouldn't be facing the kind of disaster that we've seen over the last three years. If we hadn't drastically reduced tax rates for the wealthy, we wouldn't have seen pension funds dry up and middle class wages stagnate. If we hadn't given corporations more and more political clout, we wouldn't be where we are—in a broken system that serves them, not us.

But what if is a game for suckers. The question isn't where we went wrong, it's what we do about it.

The occupy movement is a withdrawal of consent. It's not a war on capitalism. It's an acknowledgement that we are doing capitalism badly, and in a way that does not serve to help real people in their real lives. To repair the system will require government to step up and take action.

A good first step might be remembering that the market belongs to them, and not the other way around.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Then it would be Calvin ball (44+ / 0-)
    In addition to the two teams, there are also a handful of umpires on the grass and behind the plate. There's also a lengthy set of rules that define balls and strikes, outs, balks, and such arcana as the infield fly rule. Do you think the game would function without those men and without the rules?

    "Remember Bob. No fear, no envy, no meanness" Liam Clancy to Bob Dylan

    by BOHICA on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:06:26 AM PDT

    •  or TEGWAR - (12+ / 0-)

      The Exciting Game Without Any Rules

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:08:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, FIRE is the ballplayers in the hotel lobby (16+ / 0-)

        we're the marks who want to be able to play cards w/ the ballplayers, and our $ end up in their wallets at the end of the game.  While the parallels to "Bang the Drum Slowly" aren't exact, they're close enough.

        Our economic system is a scam.  It has been one since early 80's, if not sooner.  It is, sadly, at least as big of a scam now as it was on 1/20/09.

        Reading this diary and watching the video of a BoA branch mgr calling the cops when 2 young women came to close their accounts is scary stuff.  What's scariest about it is that the mgr was clearly trained to do so as a matter of corporate policy.  The only reason why BoA exists is b/c we bailed them out, yet, when depositors peacefully come to close their accounts, they're treated like criminals.

        To make matters worse, the cops are, in essence, being used as private security guards in this scenario.  To a certain extent, the NYPD is being used as a private security force on a much larger scale in Manhattan now.   Obviously, we need law enforcement to protect us from violent predators in our communities (we could use it to protect us from white collar crooks, too).  Why, however, should a bank mgr automatically be able to expect cops to be at her beck and call to handle a situation that's not remotely threatening to public safety?  Why should the 1% automatically be able to expect NY's Finest to quell non-violent protests by people who are finally fed up about getting scammed?

        Things are totally upside down in terms of how our society is governed.  We still have "umpires," to use the key term in this diary.  Those umpires, however, are bought and paid for by one of the contestants.   It's really scary to consider how thoroughly captured and thoroughly compromised a nominally majoritarian system of govt has become in 1 generation.

        God help us all if these protests don't help turn that tide.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:00:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The whole idea of "Wealth Creation" (21+ / 0-)

          by Wall Street has to go . . . the one error of this diary is to accept it even as a concept.  "Derivatives" are not "wealth".  Bankers and Brokers lending money (or simply paper with numbers on it) back and forth to each other does not "create wealth" (except for the Bankers and Brokers, if we're dumb enough to play their game).

          Wealth is the tangible and enduring stuff that labor (and working managment) creates out of raw material . . . it is not the frivolous stuff that "financial capitalism" invents with ever new and ever more-distant-from-reality "financial instruments".  Your house is "wealth", and the deed says who "owns" it.  Your mortage, tranched, derivatized, leveraged and parceled out to "investors" all over the world is not worth the paper the MBSs and CDOs and CDSs are written on . . . and it's time we tell them so, and stop playing the "Wealth Creation" game . . . that game is rigged, and it's rigged to benefit them what rigged it.

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:39:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Bubbles are not wealth (13+ / 0-)

            They're weren't during Holland's Tulip Mania, they weren't in 1929, they weren't during the tech boom of the late 1990's, and they sure as hell weren't during the r/e boom of the past decade.  It's amazing how people fail to learn the lessons of history.

            It's even more amazing that everyone but those who created the latest bust have suffered as a result.  They wrecked the economy, they were bailed out by those whose futures they wrecked, and now they've gone on just as before.  To add insult to injury, as I've noted above, they use govt as their private security force.

            I don't think that any of them realize that, if OWS fails, the next phase could be worse for them.  OTOH, I'm not sure the rest of us realize that, if OWS fails, the next phase could be a form of fascism for us.

            Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

            by RFK Lives on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 08:02:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  or FEAR . . . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dixiedemocrat, enhydra lutris

        remember "FEAR" ? ? ? "Figure Eight Auto Racing" ? ? ?

        The good news is that the more risk averse win in the end . . .

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:23:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I've always thought conservative thought (15+ / 0-)

      was much like that anyway ("Calvin ball").

      Sean Hannity, for instance, always reminded me of the kid who brought the ball, or who provided the back yard for the game, but he's losing so he angrily starts demanding rule changes ("From now on, this doesn't count, and second base is over there instead of over there...") but enforces those rules without exception to the other side.

      I always thought that's what the OWS 99% movement was entire class of a nation, saying they don't want to be treated that way anymore.

      A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. - Edward R. Murrow

      by dwayne on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:36:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent comparison. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mark Sumner, m00finsan

      Calvinball perfectly describes how Wall St. wants to operate.

    •  Mark Sumner then asks only part of the right Q... (0+ / 0-)


      If plays could be settled by swinging a bat at other players?

      Even a bat fight contains more fundamental fairness than a "pure market" does because, there, only one team has bats.

      It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

      by Murphoney on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 10:45:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If Wall Street wants to play Calvinball, then (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      … only on the condition that someone like Elizabeth Warren gets to wield the babysitter flag.

      48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

      by lotlizard on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:24:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "free marketers" don't want capitalism (48+ / 0-)

    they think that a Hobbesian state of nature would be to their benefit.   But they forget what Hobbes had to say about man in a state of nature, that it would be the war of everyman against every other man, and would not allow for development or economic activity of any kind.

    Allow me to quote two paragraphs from Chapter XIII of Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil, the chapter itself titled "OF THE NATURAL CONDITION OF MANKIND AS CONCERNING THEIR FELICITY AND MISERY" -

    Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is peace.

    Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

    and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

    Perhaps they think their wealth will protect them should society break down.  Lessons around the world currently and the history of revolutions should warn them that there is no guarantee that their wealth can protect them or itself.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:07:42 AM PDT

  •  What if Bad Government Is A (10+ / 0-)

    disease caused by malfunctioning microbes:

    "Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on — and for what purposes we cannot yet say" ... "Our results suggest that during evolution, the colonization of gut microbiota has become integrated into the programming of brain development, affecting motor control and anxiety-like behavior"

    (The Germ Theory of Government). Wall Street is so tied into government it makes the OWS movement look like antitoxins.

  •  adjust rules as necessary (14+ / 0-)

    In the NBA we have a perfect example. Wilt Chamberlain was known as one of the most dominant players in the league but he had an Achilles Heel - he could not shoot free throws very well.

    A rumor started that he had been seen practicing free throw dunks. Start at half court, run up and launch at the foul line and dunk. Instant change form 50% to 100% free throws.

    Before he even tried it in a game, if in fact he intended to, they changed the rules by adding a circle at the top of the foul line and making a rule that you could not start from outside the circle.

    Loophole closed. is America's Blog of Record

    by WI Deadhead on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:09:30 AM PDT

  •  What's the difference? (19+ / 0-)

    What's the difference between American capitalism as it exists now and the schemes of Tony Soprano and his crew?  Please help me, I can't think of even one.

    "To know what is right and to do it are two different things." - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin "It was like that when I got here." - Homer Simpson

    by rbird on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:13:42 AM PDT

  •  The baseball analogy (35+ / 0-)

    is pure genius, something every single person in this country can understand. Remarkable, thoughtful diary. Thank you.

    "Live right. Think left." Gregory Peck

    by bookwoman on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:16:51 AM PDT

  •  I've felt since day one (34+ / 0-)

    that the demands for OWS to provide a policy manifesto was essentially those who want to destroy OWS (before it gets too influential and starts resulting in any significant part of the nation that doesn't pay attention to politics start to collectively take a look the status-quo) demanding that some part of the OWS movement give them a weapon to pound them all down with.

    The first thing the Village would have done with a manifesto would have been to try and pit parts of OWS crowds against it each other, all while painting the whole as full of naive Pollyannas who wanted the impossible. I'm glad that OWS didn't take the bait and that they have refused to allow those operating in bad faith manipulate them with concern trolling, threats, and smears. The Democratic Party could learn a lot from them.

    •  Yes, and right now the demand-free OWS... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stivo, enhydra lutris

      ...can't be divided, can't be co-opted....and can't do much of anything viz. what it's correctly indignant about.  I don't think the no-demands strategy is clever, I think it's a road no nowhere.

      But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

      by Rich in PA on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:23:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you're right (5+ / 0-)

        Ultimately, this movement will have to have some political thrust.  I'm not saying it should shift gears to registering voters for Obama or anything that lame, but it will eventually have to demand something or wither.

        The Tea Party had a thrust.  Probably its biggest issue was opposing "Obamacare".  But it was not limited to that.

        What is OWS thrust?  It's not at all clear.

        However, I remain optimistic.  The key word is eventually.  As long as they're growing, they can continue thrustless for some period.  But movements grow and then peter out.  This continued growth rate cannot simply be assumed.   Demand-free cannot be a permanent attribute of a political movement.  Sooner or later the powers that be will settle on a strategy for containing this movement.  Then things will look different.

        sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

        by stivo on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:50:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here's one possible "thrust" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          arlene, enhydra lutris

          Not my favorite website and I'm not saying this is the only possible target, but ya gotta have some targets.  This is a pretty good one.  It hits right at the heart of both parties being subsidiary to Wall St.  As Alan Grayson put it, one party is a wholly-owned subidiary and the other is at least partially owned.

          sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

          by stivo on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:09:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The demands are implicit (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phonegery, Laconic Lib

        to the Occupation itself if you've been paying attention for the last 10 to 30 years.  If one has not been paying attention, they should be now, depending on their circumstances.
        The remedies will come about from the "occupiers" indirectly through the fear they instill in the power structure, for they are the ones who have to make the changes, by definition.  The effects of appropriate change will become manifest in the behavior of the "occupiers".  Occupation will continue until the appropriate changes are affected.
        The alternative is violent anarchy in which nobody wins and all suffer.

        Well, I guess I don't know what you mean by "equal justice under the law." - Bushy McSpokesperson

        by gatorcog on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 09:12:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Anarchy. (0+ / 0-)

          I've been looking for that word, that idea.

          That's what I think the OWS movement is today.

          To a Democrat, "democracy" means "free elections." To a Republican, "free markets."

          by XOVER on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 09:35:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Merriam-Webster defines Anarchy (0+ / 0-)


            Definition of ANARCHY
            a : absence of government
            b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority
            c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government
            a : absence or denial of any authority or established order
            b : absence of order : disorder

            Doesn't seem to me that OWS fits any of the above definitions.

        •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          When you have a system (machine, economy, whatever) and a set of "experts" (mechanics, economists, politicians) that are in charge of organizing/fixing it, it should be enough for those on the receiving end of what the system produces to simply say "It's not working because of the observed results (car doesn't stop when brake pedal pressed /high unemployment /whatever)".

          The "experts" should then try to do something about it, and if they fail (as measured by the results), or insist on repeating failed strategies, the owners fire them and get new "experts".

          We shouldn't have to be experts ourselves or know what to do to fix the system to note that something isn't working.    

    •  absolutely correct (11+ / 0-)

      If there is a "list" then there is suddenly a static target. Generalizations can be interpreted negatively, awkward phrasing can be ridiculed, factions can be made to fight amongst themselves, any additional "demands" can be dismissed as irrelevant.

      You have this exactly right. is America's Blog of Record

      by WI Deadhead on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:23:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Then how is change to be implemented? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      At some point, people in the movement are going to have to strap on the pads and take the playing field. If we are going to change how our government is run, people who believe in what Occupy stands for will have to run for office.

      I think if OWS just stuck with the concept of the 1% v. the 99% and targeted specific issues that reflect that dynamic (for example the proposed corporate "tax holiday," it could achieve some actual change without becoming fragmented.

      I am awestruck at how quickly and widespread OWS has grown in the past 4 weeks, and the "horizontal government" model has been critical in re-energizing people through giving everyone a voice. But at some point, this incredible mass of energy needs to be focused on a target, like this "tax holiday" that is nothing but institutionalized theft by the 1%.

      •  I don't assume (8+ / 0-)

        that the people in OWS are going to do nothing beyond what they are doing now, nor do I assume that all they are going to do is protest in the streets indefinitely. I hear what you are saying, and it resonates, but I would say that we all need to be a lot more patient and willing to see where this goes before we start second guessing, assuming anything, or projecting policy positions onto it.

        This is incredibly frustrating, and potentially transformative, because it's not something that is evolving and growing on anybodies schedule and to anybodies carefully plotted out choreography. But that doesn't mean it's going nowhere.

        Why would I assume that people in OWS wouldn't run for office later? Or give birth to sub-groups with specific focus on specific areas of policy? It's going to keep evolving and things are going to grow out of this that are going to have an effect on non-Movement Conservative circles for years to come.

        There are lots of ideas being tossed around, but there is no manifesto, because this is not a small angry movement engineered into a fake larger movement like the Tea Party was. A lot of the demands for specifics are coming from areas of bad faith in our politics. CNBC doesn't want a policy outline from a centralized OWS central command for reasons of debate and good faith, they want a weapon.

        This is going to effect non-Rove Atwater conservatives as well. Non-glibertarian libertarians. I think that the Village has tried to spin this as the Democratic Tea Party because this is a movement that isn't easy to nail down for a reason.  

        For all the attention that is given to the idiotic idea from the apologists for Oligarchy that this is a bunch of listless people who have gotten off mommy and daddy's couch, there are a lot of people from a lot of diverse backgrounds in every protest. I'm not pre-limiting how far this could go, because it's still growing and evolving. Because it's not moving fast enough for me? Because I don't see the endgame? That doesn't make any sense to me.

        Why would I assume that the OWS movement isn't going to take a next step, or that leaders who will help to transform the opposition to our current state of affairs wouldn't rise up from this?

        One of the things that is frustrating to me about criticism of the OWS movement is that looking for a timeline and monday morning quarterbacking or shouting demands of it from the sidelines because it's not moving as fast or as concisely as some would like is not allowing for the movement to evolve into other things.

        "I think this is a road to nowhere." The criticism that was posited in the first response to my comment, is duly noted and, while I respect the opinion I don't think there is much to comment on because the sentiments and the opinions expressed at every OWS gathering shows that there are lots of ideas and positions in the pot. Demand free, or manifesto free, isn't idea or agenda free.

        You ask a far more interesting question: How?

        My answer to that is... we'll see.

        I don't think anything is going to go down on either DC's nor the Village's schedule, and they resent non-Movement Conservative activism because the status quo is good for rich conservatives and rich news anchors and executives alike.

        The viceral response of most of the media and political establishment was to immediately rush to marginalize and tear it down. Lots of bad faith permiate our politics and our discourse. A recognition that this is so is not something that I am going to mistake for aimlessness or formlessness or a lack of pathways to future growth.

        OWS is navigating a minefield and swimming with sharks who are not acting in good faith for a second in regards to it and it's heartening to see that a lot of the rank and file recognize this.

        Part of the biggest reason the Democratic Party is so utterly fucked-up and so easily rolled is that there is an institutional resistance to opening their eyes and collectively recognizing how much bad faith is motiving their opposition. The Democrats don't seem to get a chance at having a clue until they are lying in electoral ruins... and even then they just might double down on the epic fail that wrecked them to begin with.

      •  Yesterdays thinking doesn't solve todays ... (0+ / 0-)


        "If we are going to change how our government is run, people who believe in what Occupy stands for will have to run for office."

        Sorry, wrong answer!!! OWS (and the problems that need to be cured) can't wait that long. Politics is the problem -- not the answer.

    •  On Day 1 many folks brought a pet concern, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phonegery, brein

      mostly justified.
      The genius of OWS-99%  lies in resisting particularizations, tending by its growing strength to force an evolution in the overall political configuration rather than to self-promote as a new organization or formula rivaling with existing ones.
      Over time, we'll see.

      •  It is those who are OWS and those of us who are (0+ / 0-)

        cheering them on.  They are the flag, the drummers who are leading.  We are the ones joining the still invisible army. army.  Sit down and negotiate?  Stop the forward motion?

        As seriously70 said above,

         Over time, we'll see.

        Democrats - We represent America!

        by phonegery on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 11:11:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It would have ended (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hillbilly Dem, phonegery, brein

      up being a 'victory for compromise'. It would have been  regurgitated and parsed back to the people in memes of double speak. We would be told once again that somehow day is night and ignorance is strength, bi-partisanly.

  •  Since We Already Have All the Answers in Our (16+ / 0-)

    history, the question isn't even what we should do about it.

    The only question is how to make what we know fixed all these problems the last time, happen.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:17:32 AM PDT

  •  Capital always overcomes regulation (10+ / 0-)

    As long as wealth is concentrated, that wealth will be used to corrupt, subvert, overturn, or ignore anything that stands between the bourgeoisie and profit.

    If there's one lesson of the late 20th century, that's it.

    And this will always keep happening as long as property ownership is based on title rather than use.

    •  I wish I could recommend this 1,000 times (6+ / 0-)

      You have put your finger on the problem: wealth begets wealth. That is a positive feedback loop that inevitably leads to the 99% and the 1%, and which subverts efforts at redistribution through regulatory capture.

      The problem is that human financial wealth is not based on use: unlike natural biological "wealth" - the sort that supports living organisms -- financial wealth has no "use by" date. It does not expire. Consequently it can be accumulated ad infinum, which is a mismatch to the biophysical reality which it is supposed to commandeer.

      We need to begin thinking about post-monetary allocation systems, systems in which "wealth" has an expiration date and is really more like biological signalling systems, not a  univalant universal equivalent like money, but highly multivalent, indentifying time-bound allocations of non-interchangeable resources.

      I know that is a very tall order, but nothing less will fix the nherent instability that brings down empire after empire as their middle classes are destroyed by "greed" and "corruption". Merely appealing to virtue has never worked in the long run.

      •  more than that (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mimi, atana, jarbyus, Laconic Lib, mightymouse

        Who owns a rental property?  A landlord, because they hold the title.  Who owns a factory?  The stockholders and corporation, because they hold the title.  Who owns any plot of land?  Whoever hold the title.

        This is antithetical to human nature, in which ownership is determined by use rather than fiat.

        Who should own an apartment building?  The tenants, because they use it.  Who should own a factory?  The workers.  Who should own anything?  Whoever uses it.

        That's a revolution.

        •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RanDomino, brein

          it's a "revolution" back towards a pre-capitalist property system. You can point to examples of such systems in traditional agrarian economies, e.g. in parts of the Indian state Kerala, where all property, including business property, is owned by matriclans and formally descends only mother-to-daughter. Something like that may well be part of the types of reform needed.

          But it's at least a question mark whether anything larger and more complex than an agrarian economy and a very small global population could exist with nothing more. I'm simply advocating that it's time for some serious thinking about post-monetary economic systems. The subject is usually dismissed as "contrary to human nature" -- though the "human nature" we take for granted today has existed for only perhaps three centuries.

        •  Ownership doesn't equal control (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mark Sumner

          never has. It's always been more important to control something than own it.

          Power comes through control not ownership.

          •  IMHO, what OWS is attempting to do is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            wrest control of our government and economy from Wall St and put it with the people.

            Wall St. doesn't own our government, but it does control it. OWS wants to reimpose rules to the game. Rules are the last thing Wall St wants. Rules dampen their ability to control.

            Mark's analogy to baseball is excellent and BOHICA's counter of Cavinball perfectly explains how Wall St wants to keep things. Baseball vs Calvinball. Which game gives society the best chance at an even chance?

          •  The government enforces titles (0+ / 0-)

            and ensures that those who hold them have control

            •  All sorts of ways to control things without (0+ / 0-)

              owning them.

              One that many might be acquainted with is a POA.

              Also, title doesn't always equal control, however it does equal responsibility. Which is why it's better to control an asset than it is to own it.

              Contracts are another way to control something (or someone) without owning it.

  •  Reiterating Van Jones: Why We Are Here (18+ / 0-)

    This is new for me
    I am used to having a real mike
    And then being attacked by Fox

    They say our message
    Is not clear
    We tell them
    Our morals are

    These banksters
    Look down on us
    They say that we
    Should be rich like them
    But everyone
    Would be broke and homeless
    If we had not
    Bailed them out

    So now we're here
    To bail ourselves out
    To bail out the teachers
    To bail out the children
    To bail out the farmers
    To bail out the incarcerated
    To bail out the nurses
    To bail out the librarians
    To bail out the veterans
    To bail out all the people
    That the politicans have sold out

    People are asking
    What we're here to get
    They don't understand
    We're not here to get anything
    We're here to give everything
    We're here to give everything
    We're here to give everything
    We're here to give everything
    For the people from whom you stole everything

    #OccupyWallStreet ~ Close the ca$ino that
    CONTINUES to gamble away our future!
    MY country is the one that cares.

    by OleHippieChick on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:20:20 AM PDT

  •  The hypocrites who cry free market and (12+ / 0-)

    hands off from the government had their big hands out to take  bailout money and then put them around the throat of the 99%

    It’s called the American Dream cause you have to be asleep to believe it " ~George Carlin

    by nipit on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:20:46 AM PDT

  •  I still am too uncreative to understand this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Superpole, Jagger
    But Occupy Wall Street isn't about demands, it's about making a statement.

    What the heck does the System care about our statement?

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:21:36 AM PDT

    •  BEENGO!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jagger, brein

      The diarist misses the boat on several fronts; the "making a statement" is one example.

      Apparently some here have forgotten that nationwide polling the past what?- four years indicate the people want the Bullcrap wars of choice to STOP. Have the wars stopped?

      Where is Jesse? I'm more interested in reading what he has to say about OWS, where it is now and where it is going.

      "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

      by Superpole on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:16:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe if you think of it as (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      betson08, mightymouse

      creating an environment for change.  Look at the TV coverage.  There is more coverage now than I've seen in a long time.  That is what makes it grow and that will be what causes politicians to fear us more than their big money contributors.  That is the end game, for us to have more power than big money.

    •  The statement is now carried by enough (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      people that it HAS to care because this will translate into votes.

      The first step is consciousness, as embodied by the statement, which, as Mark says, is a withdrawl of consent.
      I'd bet that the people who make up the scaffolding of the system are starting to get worried. For evidence, see Fox News and how it frames this.

    •  the truth sets people free (0+ / 0-)

      stating the truth is the beginning of shaking off the shackles of peasantry that the wealthy have with their lies enslaved us all

      Rage at the Washing Machine

      by Anton Bursch on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 11:07:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent analogy, Mark (12+ / 0-)

    Loved the baseball game analogy.  It's just so damn dead on.  I also loved this about the OWS movement:  

    It's a statement that the current system isn't working for the average American (and based on the the worldwide events this weekend, it's not working for a lot of people in a lot of places). It's a statement that the common people seem to have been abandoned by a government that cares more for corporations than for workers, more for the rich than the poor, more for the powerful than the weak.

    It looks like OWS has become so big and so much in the news that it's now one of the chief topics of conversation today just between friends, relatives and associates.  I am constantly asked why the OWS goers don't have a specific set of "demands" and aren't offering up any solutions to their stated grievances....which are many.  As I tell those asking that, this is more about shining a light on things going on in America (and, as you said, all across the globe) that have been conveniently kept in the dark.  And, now those that have benefitted from these clandestine economic strategies know WE know, they can expect this growing movement to continue to see the changes necessary to see economic justice in America.

    Thanks, Mark.

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:23:59 AM PDT

  •  don't harsh on the English major (7+ / 0-)

    Enough with this Keillor-esque mocking of the allegedly less useful English major. In an era where Content is King, yet persuasive analytical and writing skills are in decline for many, I'll take my English major over your engineering degree any day. Add in website development tools and a compelling message and English majors are even more powerful. Engineers get laid off, too, but the nimble, competent English major will always find work helping those who wish to communicate.

    •  I wish I had an English major... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mimi, shaharazade, luckylizard

      for my own selfish reasons. I've been invited to teach creative writing at a couple of community colleges, but because my degrees are in aquatic biology, geology, and information science, I always end up with a single class conducted under close scrutiny. I'd very much like to teach a broader range of classes and maybe even do so for a living.

      You know what's really hard to get in this world of technical schools on every corner, "distance learning," and Executive MBA courses? A masters in English.

      •  get the most out of an English major (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mark Sumner

        Not only have I had the opportunity (with a Masters/ABD) to teach great books courses, composition, argument, and technical writing, but teaching all these courses helped me improve in all areas of my writing (um, except for the PhD--still working on it). I did veer off from grad school teaching obligations during the tech boom and worked as an editor and eventually an instructional designer for online educational products. THAT was another great move, with the English major.

        When the CA budget crisis ate my job in 2008, I started refining my website development skills with Google Sites and WordPress. This year, I've been refining my business skills (never having attended business school) with an array of free counseling funded by the SBA. With a foundation and training in writing, analysis, and argument, I can pick up what I need to know about finance, marketing, etc. That's pretty easy to pick up. Communicating with a foundation in centuries of literature? That takes more work (and why a distance learning Masters in English is rare).

        My new business http// is really taking off. Thanks English major!

    •  Communicate about what? (0+ / 0-)

      That's essentially the problem with getting a four year degree in English. English is a tool and a means to an end, not an end in itself. Speaking English well will make you a better doctor, but it is the medical side that actually adds value. Ditto engineering, sales, etc.

      In corporate America, the difference in value between being Shakespeare and just being able to write a competent email is close to zero.

      Again, I'm not knocking English, but in today's economy it appears to be foolish to get such a degree when there are other more applicable options that cost the same price. Certainly, an OWS protestor who has an English degree, lots of student loan debt, and no job has someone else to blame than just Wall Street for his situation...

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:49:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Aerospace Engineering grad of 2011 here (11+ / 0-)

        I'm someone who is $50k in debt and currently unemployed.

        My program was also top 10 in the nation (state school, too). So it's clearly not working for engineers either. Except the military. Apparently they're really short on people with engineering degrees. But I'm not fucking joining the military.

        •  One anecdote... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...proves that the system is 'clearly not working'?

          My point was mainly a recommendation not to major in English, not to say that all engineers have it hunky dory, because we don't. It is likely that had you majored in English you'd still be unemployed and with fewer and certainly less remunerative job prospects when you finally do get a job.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:02:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sometimes it's not what you want to do (0+ / 0-)

          You sound like my grandson that told me: "I'm not taking a job for less than $14/hr., Pops".  So, Pops stopped handing out money for gasoline and other things.  

          Young folks either forget or don't know that many of the folks in the generation before them that are now successful people did what they HAD to do to get started in their careers....and didn't just wait around for what they WANT to do.  That "Want-to-do" job very often just wasn't there.  And, that's the case today.  

          I'm really not being condescending, although it sounds that way.  I am just being realistic.  

          - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

          by r2did2 on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:03:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not joining the military (5+ / 0-)

            Sorry. I'd rather be homeless.

            •  I understand that choice (0+ / 0-)

              I'm not so sure the military is the best fit for many today if for no other reason than our government's insistence on getting us involved in armed conflict.  My main point is that hopefully you're not looking for just that "perfect" job...that "ideal" position and will turn down anything but that.  Not sayin' you're gonna do that...just some advice from an old bird that had a lot of employment difficulties along life's way because of my stubbornness.

              I'm curious about your profile name .... I guess because of the fact that you don't want any involvement in the military.  The CEE BEE's are a well known military entity.


              - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

              by r2did2 on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:14:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Not quite the same... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, Jagger

   not being willing to join the military.

            The military, unlike that minimum wage job, is a multi-year committment.  Take a job at Walmart and you can leave in six months when something better comes along, but join the military and you're stuck for four years (or whatever the current term of enlistment is).

            Even more importantly, joining the military is also signing up for a certain type of environment and mindset that just doesn't work for everyone.  That's not a criticism of the military or those who do join -- it's a needed function, and I respect those who have the ability to do it.  However, for many of us, joining the military is going to be a severe case of square peg/round hole syndrome...and when you're stuck in it for four years, that's really a problem.

            So if CeeBee isn't willing to join the military, there could be some very good reasons that he (or she) isn't willing to do so...and not an entitlement mentality at all.

            Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

            by TexasTom on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:50:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  maintaining your integrity (0+ / 0-)

          Thank you for refusing to turn over your conscience to someone else, which is what I consider the real problem with enlisting in the military. One can quibble about the legitimacy of specific military duties, such as piloting armed drones, but the real issue is about giving up one's right to make moral and ethical decisions for oneself.

      •  Do you make as much money as Seth Godin??? (0+ / 0-)

        Mr Godin is a blogger who writes books. Changing times = changing job opportunities.

  •  Gladstone has an analogy . . . (15+ / 0-)

    . . . in an article over at called "The Three Types of OWS Protesters that are Hurting Their Cause" that I quite like.

    He points out that calling for the end of "capitalism" is a doomed idea; this is the USA, after all. We love capitalism and, in fact, capitalism has done some really good things.  But it is also a soulless beast, intent on rapine and destruction if left untended.  So we'd better be tending it.

    Gladstone suggests that if you took your family to the zoo to see the tigers (because the tigers are a big draw) and the tigers strolled through the open doors of their cages and mauled your family to death . . . you wouldn't travel to Indonesia to protest the existence of tigers.  You'd sue the crap out of the zookeepers who let the beasts loose in the first place.

    I think this analogy makes a lot of sense.  Capitalism is a hugely powerful system, and it has been harnessed to good effect in the past.  But the gov't's willingness recently to just let it run amok is the equivalent of feckless zookeepers deciding the tigers should have the run of the zoo.

    Politics is the neverending story we tell ourselves about who we are as a people.

    by swellsman on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:34:07 AM PDT

  •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tb mare, ohmyheck

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:34:50 AM PDT

  •  It's not capitalism, it's the way it's FINANCED. (5+ / 0-)

    That is the difference. Capitalism could be a "viable" economic system but the way it is currently financed and then how it's allowed to control our political system, Democracy, is the problem.

    If Kasich says State Troopers are assholes, What does that make me?

    by buckshot face on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:35:43 AM PDT

    •  If we had a Glass-Steagal for our political system (8+ / 0-)

      and didn't allow our economic system to influence our political system would be a good start toward fairness. We need 2 Glass-Steagall's. One to guard our finance system and he other to guard out political system.

      If Kasich says State Troopers are assholes, What does that make me?

      by buckshot face on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:37:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good Point- But Forget Glass-Steagall (4+ / 0-)

        We'll be lucky to get the financial Glass-Steagall back in place.

        Helloooooooooooo? Most of the bankster servants in congress who assisted with getting rid of Glass-Steagall back in 1999 are still there.

        WE HAVE NOT removed these buffoons from office; why is that?

        Reinstituting Glass-Steagall must be one of the top five demands put forth by the OWS movement.

        "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

        by Superpole on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:05:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We also need (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        some good old fashioned trust busting. I believe there are anti-trust laws still on the books. Thing is that those who are elected to represent us, the government, are all true believers in disaster free market global capitalism. Freedom and representational democracy have been substituted with capitalism.

        Remember Bush's 'They hate you for your freedom'? Clinton proclaimed this new world order was 'inevitable' and all boats would rise. The nasty ass, want to rule the world regimes, always say they are inevitable. Withdrawing consent and getting past fear is the best antidote that people have. Humans through out history have stopped them they are not inevitable, quite the opposite. They are too top heavy not to fail and fall.  

  •  My father, who lived thru the Great Depression, (18+ / 0-)

    told me that many people in the 1930's felt that capitalism had failed and were open to the possibly of socialism. I never understood why until now. The more I listen to Bernie Sanders, the more his socialism makes sense.

    I'm a life long Democrat, but am feeling that if they can't get their shit together soon and win enough popular support it's time to consider another alternative. It's becoming clear that the present corrupt system will not endure.

    The Declaration of Independence states:

    That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    Truer words were never spoken!

    "Democrats treat dogs like people and Republicans treat people like dogs."

    by Templar on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:35:56 AM PDT

    •  Socialism... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Templar, lobbygow, cdembrey a very broad term, and it's worth noting that what Bernie Saunders advocates today is a much more moderate version of socialism than what was embraced by millions of disaffected Americans during the depression.  

      In particular, the 30s were the heydey of the US branch of the Communist Party.

      So my point is that for the most part we're still not embracing anything anywhere near as radical as what was gaining support in the 30s.  But if things don't start changing significantly, we could yet see more people getting to exactly that point.  

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:53:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Words have different meanings to different... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        Teddy Roosevelt call himself a Progressive and Joseph Stalin called himself a Progressive. I think it's safe to says that their definition of Progressive was slightly different.

        Don't get hung-up on names.

  •  While I dislike Wall Street to a degree as well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...I also think that Wall Street is being scapegoated somewhat. It is far easier to point fingers at them than to recognize the fact that what is going on now is the result of years of deeply unsustainable (ecologically and fiscally) policies and activities coming to roost, policies that the average American has benefited from in the past. Wall Street is an easy target, much easier to throw rocks at them than to realize that the top 1% of global income is around $50k/year and that the average American consumes multiple times the natural resources of the average African.

    I don't know what the solution is, but on a planet of 7 billion people and growing against a flat natural resource base, expect more and more rage, protests, and instability as a stagnant or shrinking pie is divided up among ever more people.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:37:22 AM PDT

    •  Well, yes and no. Wall Street lobbied hard in the (9+ / 0-)

      late 90's to get the regulations repealed which allowed them to gamble with bank (our) money and then require a massive bailout. We continue to suffer from their excesses to this day.

      "Democrats treat dogs like people and Republicans treat people like dogs."

      by Templar on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:42:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well sure (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Not saying that wasn't a problem because it was. But it also allowed a debt bubble to form which staved off years of grinding deflation post-tech crash (staved it off until now, that is), something that benefited most Americans (sort of, imagine the howls of anger at GWB if post tech crash unemployment had been allowed to get to 10%).

        Americans are dumb and short sighted and will always want something that helps now at the expense of pain later. Look at Obama today. He is desperately trying to keep the bubble inflated with massive deficit spending, far more than GWB ever did. Mainly because he knows that if he ever stops, he's toast. But it will stop eventually, because it must. It's always a hot potato, no one wants to take the pain on their watch, which just makes it bigger later...

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:57:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree that many, many others are also to blame. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TexasTom, Sparhawk

          D. R. Horton, a national builder, "qualified" my brother-in-law for a low-down interest only mortgage 7x his annual salary in 2005. Naturally, he's now "underwater" big time. The mortgage originated in Horton's wholly owned mortgage unit and was bundled off to Wall Street.

          Horton could never done this without Wall Street clamoring for more and more mortgages. So there's plenty of "egg" (or should I say "shit") on everyones face including my brother-in-law who has no children and wanted a big house (2600 sq. ft) to "show off". It's BS that we have had to pay for what best can be called pure greed on the part of all involved parties.

          BTW We're still in the same modest home we bought many years ago and fortunately have a low mortgage.

          "Democrats treat dogs like people and Republicans treat people like dogs."

          by Templar on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:28:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your bil should walk away from that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, Templar

            the terrible deal he got himself into.

            I sure hope I don't have to pay for his hubris. The banks also offered me loans that I could not afford. So I declined the crazy offers and went for a much smaller loan and cheaper home.

        •  No sorry, deficit spending (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maryabein, Laconic Lib

          doesn't keep the bubble inflated. Deficit spending did NOT cause the housing bubble, which crashed our economy. Deregulation did. The housing and debt bubbles were codependent, and nothing to do with government debt. Greenspan helped it inflate but because of monetary policies, not debt.

          •  it became about government debt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            When TARP and the other programs were started and Obama/Congress started massive deficit spending to cover the damage. Now what used to be a private sector problem is a government problem.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 08:01:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Totally disagree (0+ / 0-)

      You can't have a movement without a focal point for reform.

      How did the average American benefit from the housing bubble in the long term?
      How did too easy credit benefit the average American in the long term?

      Lets not buy into trickle down theory. It has never been proven to work.

      •  The average American didn't benefit... (0+ / 0-) the long term, but they sure as hell benefited in the short term, or at least thought they did. Lots of $8/hour hairdressers were allowed to buy big expensive houses on financing. It was a bad idea in retrospect, but try being the politician that shuts that down and instead starts a period of 10% unemployment getting over the bubble. (You know, like now).

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 08:08:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The operative phrase here... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laconic Lib "in the past":

      what is going on now is the result of years of deeply unsustainable (ecologically and fiscally) policies and activities coming to roost, policies that the average American has benefited from in the past.

      The cold reality is that when you look at changes in income for the top 1% of Americans versus the bottom 90%, you see that virtually all the economic growth of the past 30 years has been captured by those at the top.  So for the past 30 years, the average American has seen all the benefits go to someone else.

      While that doesn't invalidate your point about how we live versus the rest of the world, it is fair to note that it's more a reflection of the world of 30 years ago than it is a reflection on what's going on today.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:57:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The 99% Are Not Innocent (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Imagine if tomorrow every human being on the planet consumed non-essential products, services and the associated energy as Americans do and you'll see the elephant in the room beyond the failures of Wall Street (which are intolerable).

      We need to decide what is required and what is optional. I think basic  needs (food, shelter, security), basic health care and access to education are required. Everything else is not required for human happiness or advancement.

      I would go on, but I've got to go look at iPads.

    •  WS Rape by Leveraged Buyouts and Hostile Takeovers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jagger, cdembrey, Laconic Lib

      The Wall Street Gang has been a predator for 40 years.

      Imagine the power to sell more shares of stock in a company than the company has issued, to sell stock that you do not own and that does not exist, and you have two weeks to buy the stock to fill the order. That is the power the Specialists on Wall Street used to have. In addition they had leverage. 1 dollar controlled 30 dollars of stock. They could take a company that would normally trade a million shares a day, and slowly build a private position of shorts (which they now have the money from) and then start selling just over a million shares every day.

      The thing about the stock market is barring news, when the price of a stock is falling, demand slackens, so it is pretty easy to take the price of the stock down.

      (assume the underlying company is the sound and has the same financial profile it had last week and last month, and is really anxious about what is going on with their stock for no apparent reason)

      Now the Specialist or prime broker could buy the stock to fill the orders that he previously sold at a lower price and make a tidy profit.  Or if he does not buy the stock and just makes a notation in his books (the investor or beneficial owner usually does not take possession of the stock certificates) the Specialist or Prime Broker would keep track of the sham stock he had sold and pay dividends on it as if it were not basically a kited check. Once a quarter they had to make a report to the SEC on their "fails to deliver".  This is naked short selling, and has been around on Wall Street for at least 60 years.

      During Reagan's Reign it became, along with leverage a tool to facilitate the takeover of companies, who were bought and taken Private, then stripped of their retained earnings and pension funds and then sold again into the stock market in IPOs, OVer and OVER again, until the companies were left in such a weakened condition that they went bankrupt and unions could be broken so the new owners could ship the build procedures, and the jobs to China for the 47% cut of export profits that the Chinese government(through proxies) offers to owners who have to put nothing down but the IP.

      This is what Goldman Sachs and the rest of Wall Street has facilitated.

      To Goldman Sachs in according to their desires, From us in accordance with the IRS.

      by Bluehawk on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 09:06:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  not just de-regulation, but the whole mindset (12+ / 0-)

    that markets are inherently good, and government inherently bad. In other words, an easily disprovable fiction came to dominate the national narrative around finance. One that was advanced by centrist Democrats as well as Reagan et al. Another victory for the GOP propaganda machine. Another failure by by the big Democrats.

    Here I am! I'm up here! Where are you? - the Red-eyed Vireo

    by mightymouse on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:38:02 AM PDT

  •  You hit it out of the park! (10+ / 0-)

    The fact that our system and many systems around the world are closed to the public and the power elite have lost touch with things and have created a system that exploits rather than nourishes.  Huge multinational companies do things that the public is simply not aware of and everyone feels good that they conform to corruption.  This movement is more than a single message or list of demands, it is the canary in the coal mine.  The outcome of this world movement will impact how long the future remains peaceful.

  •  As good an essay on where we are as any I've (7+ / 0-)

    read of late, and one of the best on DK.

    "Slip now and you'll fall the rest of your life" Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:39:37 AM PDT

  •  Middle class not a normal thing (15+ / 0-)

    Many don't realize that a middle class is not a normal thing, it is brought about by direct intervention in the marketplace by government, including laws protecting labor, defining minimum wages, and taxing great wealth. Without these progressive foundations, America would revert to what it looked like during the era of the Robber Barons, with the average worker earning the equivalent of around $9,000 a year in today's dollars, and a wealthy elite so rich and powerful that every branch of government was under their direct or indirect control.

    America's first middle class was based on land and the family farm, the agricultural nation that Jefferson idealized. That began to disintegrate after the Civil War when the railroads were so omnipresent that they made it possible for large corporations to drive small farmers out of business.

    In response, the Progressive movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought us the direct election of the Senate, the right of women to vote, laws protecting the right to unionize, the estate tax, the  G.I. Bill, and a progressive income tax. These all set the stage for the emergence of the second American middle class, which only began to decay with the "Reagan Revolution" in the 1980s when Reagan declared war on organized labor, and conservatives in Congress began to systematically dismantle progressive taxes and laws responsible and necessary for the existence of a thriving middle class.

  •  Even gangs and mobsters have rules... (11+ / 0-)

    enforced by their rivals. What the corporations are demanding is not the absence of rules...for they are behind many of the regulations that exist...but a proliferation of rules that give them unfair advantages over customers (for example, forced mediation) and competitors (licensing laws, for example) while turning a blind eye to their abuses of workers, customers and the environment.

    •  Yes, corporations lobby for protective regulations (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Palafox, VClib, Deep Harm

      and against restrictive ones. This is the very reason they have been careful not to openly support the teabagger "do away with all regulation" clamor.

      "Democrats treat dogs like people and Republicans treat people like dogs."

      by Templar on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:50:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I went down to the demo yesterday. Here are some (10+ / 0-)

    observations from my perspective.  Drove into Manhattan and left my car on 88th street and Amsterdam ( found a free parking place that someone was pulling out of! Always a good sign from the gods.). Then we took the subway to Times Square about 4:30pm. We walked down and met the group as it was coming north at about 26th street. Lots of people. very good vibes, very peaceful, nice subtle routines have been developed to calm and move the crowd in a safe way by the folks who have been living downtown in the park for the past weeks. Great signs, home made and some professional. a very diverse group in any dimension you could think of. Great chanting We are the 99%" and to onlookers "You are the 99%" and just a nice feel.

    That said there were a bazillion cops on hand. As we walked uptown they were doing sane stuff and seemed to have some sense of how to keep the peace at the same time allowing for the intense need for expression in the group of protestors ( which had to  be in the thousands. I was at a support of Wisconsin workers rally in downtown last winter and it was no where near the number of people in this crowd). However once we turned west on 46th street and into the actual Times Square area they began acting like morons. Giving the crowd contradictory messages about where to walk, lining up in street clearing type formations and so forth was totally inappropriate for the nature of the crowd they were confronting. I can only think that the NYC cops who are really good at some stuff have no clue as to how to manage this type of evolving mass movement which is made up of people who want to change the world but not roll around on the ground with cops many of whom really need to get to the gym.

    Final evaluation. a powerful, exhilarating experience that gives me hope that the forces of good might just get their message out finally.

    •  Obviously, the "control freak" senior officers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Palafox, singe

      like "Lt. Pepperspray" stationed themselves closer to Times Square. They would not want to miss any "action" even if they had to cause it.

      "Democrats treat dogs like people and Republicans treat people like dogs."

      by Templar on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:08:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  if you're looking to get silly you better go back (0+ / 0-)

        to from where you came because the cops don't need and man they expect the same---bob dylan

        •  I happen to be very serious. Much of what I have (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          singe, koosah

          seen in videos these past two weeks clearly show much of the "action" was police provoked.

          With all the "instant video" I-phones in use, it's going to become much harder for the police to lie about their actions. While MSM may have "edited" their footage in the past, no such control exists over You-tube.

          Power to the people!

          "Democrats treat dogs like people and Republicans treat people like dogs."

          by Templar on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:36:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Mea culpa. I didn't initially "get Dylan"! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            koosah, singe

            "Democrats treat dogs like people and Republicans treat people like dogs."

            by Templar on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 08:12:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  relax. that was not intended to insult you or mean (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that you were being silly. just an old sixties guy doing a bob dylan quote that seems related to the police's from a tune called just like tom thumb's blues...

            I started out on burgundy
            But soon hit the harder stuff
            Everybody said they'd stand behind me
            When the game got rough
            But the joke was on me
            There was nobody even there to bluff
            I'm going back to New York City
            I do believe I've had enough.

            my guess is we are on the team. get down to the demonstration if you can and "get your fair share of abuse" :)

  •  Tavis Smiley said it best, with link (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ohmyheck, betson08

    Tavis Smiley had the BEST come-back for each objection raised by Wall Street executives. I have to dash or I'd try making a transcript (any volunteers?):

     Listen online:

    The Tavis Smiley Show, October 14, 2011

     Also on his website:

    The segment after it was about the religious/moral side.

  •  OWS does have a set of demands, they are the ... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ohmyheck, Palafox, betson08, kmbaya, tofumagoo

    demands of all humanity: fairness, justice, mercy, equality of opportunity and an opportunity to live in peace with no one left out of the equation because of the actions of a few to disadvantage the many. The status quo wants to pay lip service to these demands, while maintaining their own power and wealth, as history demonstrates quite clearly, this won't stand under pressure from an aroused people who want change. Let's stop pretending that OWS doesn't have demands and recognize that the staus quo simply can't acknowledge these demands without knowing that acceding to these demands will lessen their hold on power.

    This silly denial that we don't know what the OWS protestors are protesting about is laughable. Oppressive unemployment, debt, lack of opportunity, the cost of education, unending war, the total unresponsiveness of the status quo to the needs of the people, the lack of common justice and accountability in the finanacial sector, big business and government to the people they are supposedly serving, these are the things that OWS is protesting.

    You may say that they are just protesting "reality as it is" and that would be incorrect, for we have created this reality and we can change it.


    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:45:08 AM PDT

  •  What if you majored in Eng instead of English? (7+ / 0-)

    Well if you graduated in 2011, you'd be unemployed like me. Majored in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Mathematics, and I'm currently unemployed because most employers say I don't have enough experience. Well no fucking shit...I just graduated.

  •  excellent diary and an embarrassment (7+ / 0-)

    that it needs to be written. Too many people believing in magic, no other way to put it.

  •  Another analogy (9+ / 0-)

    I like to use is our traffic system.

    Tea Party, Libertarian, etc., demands to "get government out of the way" is like calling to dismantle all traffic signs, lights, and rules so that I can just get the hell where I'm going without "government" interference.  Of course in that world, only Hummers, trucks, and SUVs have the right of way, and "freedom" means I grab whatever piece of the road I can while dismantling the functioning systems within which a majority of people can move (and work and prosper).

    I've been watching this kind of back and forth on HuffPo this morning.  Seems the debate has crystallized into a disagreement about causes.  Right-wing posters still insist all evil stems from government, where left-oriented posters argue that, yes, the government we have now is hopelessly corrupted, but that corporations and our other wealthy "owners" are largely the source.  Lop off one politician and another rises to take his place--with perks, power, and corporate bags of money lurking ever in the background.

    Amazes me, how all the evidence doesn't matter to people who don't see that government, done right, is the only thing standing between them and oligarchy.  Sometimes I think they're still stuck in the toddler years, rebelling at being told no, you can't have that right now, you have to wait your turn.  Or--another analogy I saw in one of the threads here this morning--they're like the children of alcoholics: I had to go without shoes, why should anyone else get shoes?

    "If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of life." — Albert Schweitzer

    by mozartssister on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:48:54 AM PDT

  •  Kauffman's Rules vs. the Kvetchigarchs (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KJG52, ohmyheck, Mark Sumner, tofumagoo

    The conservative fetish for deregulation doesn't bear close examination. They claim markets self regulate, that government interference impedes the efficient allocation of resources. What it amounts to in practice is, to use a phrase Paul Krugman just selected from reader submissions: kvetchigarchy, rule by spoiled brats. What they're really saying is: "No one tells ME what to do."

    Sara Robinson wrote up a series some time back on Kauffman's Rules, 28 rules of thumb at the meta level for thinking about government and human behavior. Here's 2 from part 4 of the series that seem relevant, with Robinson's commentary.

    25. Competition is often cooperation in disguise. A chess player may push himself to the limit in his desire to defeat his opponent, and yet be very upset if he finds out that his opponent deliberately let him win. What appears to be a fierce competition on one level is actually part of a larger system in which both players cooperate in a ritual that gives both of them pleasure. Not "doing your best" is a violation of that cooperative agreement. Similarly, the competitions between two lawyers in a courtroom is an essential part of a larger process in which lawyers, judge, and jury cooperate in a search for just answers. Businesses cooperate to keep the economy running efficiently by competing with each other in the marketplace. Political parties cooperate in running a democracy by competing with each other at the polls. And so on.

    How do you tell cooperative competition from destructive competition? In cooperative competition, the opponents are willing to fight by the rules and accept the outcome of a fair contest, even if it goes against them.' One reason extremist or totalitarian movements are dangerous in a democracy is that they turn politics into destructive competition.

    Kauffman wrote this upwards of 30 years ago -- but was prescient about the way in which the right wing has decimated our ability to engage with the right on the same field, under the same rules, for cooperative control of our government. They took their ball, went home, and came back with guns. And, at that moment, any possibility of democracy as usual vanished.

    27. Beware the Tragedy of the Commons. A "commons" problem occurs when subsystems in a competitive relationship with each other are forced to act in ways that are destructive of the whole system. Usually, the source of the problem is the right of a subsystem to receive the whole benefit from using a resource while paying only a small part of the cost for it. The solution is either to divide the common resource up (not always possible) or limit access to it.

    The only real solution to a commons problem is to form a government to regulate access to the shared resource. Much of the violence that the GOP has done to the American body politic over the past 30 years has resulted from the fact that the right wing a) does not recognize the concept of the commons in any way, shape or form (that's what all their talk about privatization is about -- eliminating any commons, anywhere); and b) does not recognize the legitimate right of government to regulate the commons that do exist. These people want to privatize our air and water, and sell it back to us for a price. For them, the only valid function of government is to protect the property rights that allow them to own things, and charge for access to them.

    Of course, the Earth is reminding us that this is wrong-headed: nobody can possibly own the atmosphere and the oceans, unless we all do -- and manage them accordingly. It's coming clear now that our very survival depends on creating institutions that are big enough and credible enough to handle this job.

    The whole series is one of those basic resources that could and should serve to organize thinking about the problems we face. We'd save ourselves an awful lot of grief if we didn't spend so much time ignoring the painful lessons we've learned as a society and as a species in favor of the bright shiny rationalizations that give us an excuse for doing things that gratify us now but come with a high price later.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:49:25 AM PDT

  •  Love the Baseball analogy! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Palafox, ohmyheck, Alice Olson

    As a baseball fan, I appreciate the analogy between the rules of baseball, without which baseball would no longer be baseball. Wall Street used to be constrained by such rules - and now, largely without them, we have seen the results. And yet those same financial empires, so recently aided by billions of taxpayer dollars, now want no restraints or regulations at all.

    Three strikes - your'e out!

    "I think 2008 is going to be a good year." Senator Barack Obama - Des Moines, Iowa, January 1st, 2008

    by PoconoPCDoctor on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:53:01 AM PDT

  •  Wall Street and Las Vegas are almost the same (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Palafox, ohmyheck

    the House always gets their cut, but Las Vegas has not been bailed out and Wall Street has.

    "The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to its culture" -- Thomas Jefferson

    by tommurphy on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:53:31 AM PDT

  •  Let's be honest (11+ / 0-)

    We need to also acknowledge the role many leading Democrats such as Clinton, Dodd and others played in all of this. The ruination of capitalism has been a truly bipartisan effort. The OWS protests I believe are our only hope for change but they must continue to grow to a point where politicians fear us more than corporations.

  •  "OWS is About Making a Statement". (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner, BeeDeeS
    But Occupy Wall Street isn't about demands, it's about making a statement. It's a statement that the current system isn't working for the average American (and based on the the worldwide events this weekend, it's not working for a lot of people in a lot of places). It's a statement that the common people seem to have been abandoned by a government that cares more for corporations than for workers, more for the rich than the poor, more for the powerful than the weak.

    #1: Who made you the spokesperson for OWS?

    #2: You're kidding, right? The goal of the movement is merely to "make a statement"?

    The "common people seem to have been abandoned by a government that cares more for corporations than for workers...".


    That statement indicates you don't get it; you appear to be a spokesperson for something else, something other than the OWS movement.

    Is there some reason you can't admit the obvious? How does ignoring the obvioius lead to progressive change??

    It doesn't.

    "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

    by Superpole on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:59:05 AM PDT

  •  We are not talking about capitalism here. (9+ / 0-)

    We're talking about corporatism. A whole different beast.

    Classic capitalism works on a system of checks and balances. First, those who invest their capital--time, money and work--should control the business venture. In the 17th and 18th century, when capitalism began, this was true, because, by and large, the owner of a shop or a factory ran it, making both the day-to-day and long term decisions that meant success or failure.  

    Secondly, risk is a vital component of capitalism, because the possibility of losing either business or the entire business venture itself tends to encourage prudent, carefully thought out decisions and also tends to put a check on greed. When everything you own is riding on your business decisions, you tend to think twice about those decisions....and if you're foolish or reckless, you tend to go out of business pretty quickly.  There is no "too big to fail" in classic capitalism.

    What we have now, world-wide, is corporatism. The actual capitalists--the stockholders--have little or no control over the running of the business. Boards of directors, who should be concerned with the long-term good of the company, are now largely made up of "professional" executives, who serve on each other's boards and write each others employment contracts, complete with "golden parachute" clauses that insure that they profit even if the company doesn't.

    Instead of long-term growth and stability, these executives are concerned with short-term profits, since they tie their own compensations to such profits. So we now have a travesty of true capitalism; companies run for the benefit, not of the capitalists, but for the executives, who make money even if they quite literally run the company into the ground.

    Don't get me wrong; because of the human tendency to try to game a system,  any economic system needs to be subject to sensible regulation. But do understand that capitalism, true capitalism, is not the enemy; corporatism is.  As is the idea that "capitalism" is simply a matter of the right of anyone to make as much money as they possibly can, any way they can. In true capitalism, workers are seen as partners, not slaves, and as essential to the working of the system as any billionaire CEO....and embued with the right to work wherever they want at the best wage they can obtain.

    So let's call the problem by it's true name. Corporatism.  Capitalism twisted and distorted by sheer greed and size into something that Adam Smith would never recognize.

    Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

    by Sirenus on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:59:42 AM PDT

    •  thank you Sirenus... (0+ / 0-)

      ... a very interesting distinction between those two "-isms".

      Right on point...

      For a better America, vote the GOP out of office whenever and wherever possible and as soon (and as often) as possible!

      by dagnome on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 09:14:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  OPM addiction (0+ / 0-)

      Capitalism was never supposed to be about using Other People's Money to make a killing. That's called "gambling", not "production". While I don't consider gambling inherently harmful in and of itself, you simply can't use it as the basis of an economy (well, you can but the results aren't going to be something anybody will like; even the ones who seem to be doing well will eventually get hurt).

      Banksters are harmful for the same reason neutrinos are harmless: neither are inclined to share what they've got (wealth and energy, respectively)

      by ebohlman on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 03:41:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Best explanation ever (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Palafox, betson08

    government makes markets possible.  what we have now is a shark feeding frenzy.

    Which side are you on?

    by wiseacre on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:05:42 AM PDT

  •  Engineering affords NO job security either. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Palafox, ebohlman

    The middle aged engineers are being discarded as one contract ends after another.  New hires are younger and cheaper.
    I regret not being an attorney.  Middle aged attorneys have established themselves while it is the young attorneys that are being worked to death if they can find work at all.  

  •  Excellent analogy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I might use it to explain OWS to my friends.

    Great post!

    15 years old and a proud progressive and Phillies phan.

    by vidanto on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:09:38 AM PDT

  •  The Baseball Analogy and Campaign Finance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, shaharazade

    I think the "rules" analogy also works with campaign finance reform.

    Campaigns are political contests, created by and overseen by our government, to execute the primary function of a democratic society in determining the will of the majority.

    As a contest with rules, there is absolutely NOTHING that prevents the majority from establishing an electoral infrastructure that gives everyone an equal footing without any need for private financing. OWS has already shown that we have the technology to provide everyone a platform to express their views. Once someone has garnered a consensus (as defined by the rules), they can run for office and be on the ballot. Online and televised debates would be publicly sponsored WITHOUT ADVERTISING. The microscopic minority of citizens who don't use computers could access all information through funding a library network with a campaign information center. Or they can request materials in the mail.

    All this would cost a fraction of what is spend on political advertising today (which, BTW, would be outlawed much as smoking ads were abolished as being against the public interest).

    There is nothing unconstitutional from what I have described above in that everyone's free speech rights are preserved. It's just that a rich person's ability to talk over everyone else is taken from them.

    The only thing preventing us from establishing these rules is political will.

  •  Mahalos for this Mark. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    If we hadn't deregulated banks and markets, we wouldn't be facing the kind of disaster that we've seen over the last three years. If we hadn't drastically reduced tax rates for the wealthy, we wouldn't have seen pension funds dry up and middle class wages stagnate. If we hadn't given corporations more and more political clout, we wouldn't be where we are—in a broken system that serves them, not us.
  •  on the nose! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, dagnome
    Games, and markets, are made to work through rules. Rules only work if they are enforced. If the game no longer serves the fans, or the market no longer serves the citizens, then the rules need to change.

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:18:34 AM PDT

  •  What Baseball (& Football) Can Teach Conservatives (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Occupy Wall Street made my conservative friend and me break our peaceful co-existence rule (don’t discuss politics) when he started attacking OWS as simultaneously directionless and “anti-capitalist.” (Simultaneous holding of two inherently inconsistent ideas not a problem for him.)  I couldn’t help responding that it seemed to me that the OWS demonstrators by and large were not anti-capitalist.  Instead, they wanted the capitalist system to WORK.  And of course reinstating Glass-Steagall, taxing the wealth hoarders at fair rates, and putting people back to work are three of the puzzle pieces.  (As is overturning Citizens United which enables corporations to buy elections without restraint from either shareholders or the government that often provides subsidies and other benefits.)  That’s why your diary is so helpful-- because it makes explicit that for capitalism to work, the government has to have a role. I’m glad you articulated it that way.  It’s not that government is a pernicious nuisance artificially grafted onto the economic system. It’s an inherent part of the system that allows the system to succeed without destroying itself and its participants. No other area of human life I can think of, from raising children to driving on the freeway, succeeds by abolishing all the rules and trusting that each person pursuing individual self-interest will result in good outcomes for all.  Ironically, some of the people I know with the most stringent “rules” for their own and other people’s conduct suddenly lose sight of the benefit of mutually-agreed limits and restraints when it comes to government and the economy.  And your sports analogy is perfect.  Baseball works because of rules. Football works, too.  I was watching a college game last night and marveling at the esoteric reasons for officials to throw down a yellow penalty flag.  Football remains both a popular sport and a powerful metaphor for our culture, and it could not be played without the rules of the game.  

    "Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance." Samuel Johnson

    by Rona on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:20:47 AM PDT

  •  If Only... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, pwn3rship society

    If only we could eliminate all government oversight and regulations, then we would have more jobs.

    If only government would provide endless tax breaks and loopholes to businesses and the wealthy, then the economy would improve and the benefits would trickle-down to the poorer members of society.

    If only government would remove Glass-Steagall.  If only they would repeal Dodd-Frank.  Then businesses would feel comfortable investing in America.

    If only government would dismantle unions and eliminate collective bargaining, then the job creators would create jobs.

    If only we could do away with a mininum wage, then businesses would hire more people.

    If only government would bail out the banks, then the banks would have the capital to offer loans.

    If only government would do away with the estate tax, then the job creators wouldn't feel infringed upon.

    If only government would dismantle Social Security and Medicare completely, then businesses would consider it a welcomed business environment.

    If only...

    The 99% are on to you.

  •  Humanity has been here before (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I consider the goal of all that Mark described is to reinstate a form of feudalism, retrofitted to modern culture. Yep. Neo-feudalism.

    Catch St. Louis' progressive talk show, The Murdock Report, every Tuesday @ noon! Stream or download it: I do the twit thing too @Smokin'JoeWGNU

    by Da Rat Bastid on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:22:58 AM PDT

  •  Money isn't REAL (0+ / 0-)

    It is just a bunch of dirty pieces of paper we carry around in our pockets, or pixels on a screen.  Money was created because it was a useful fiction.  Exchanging goods through barter alone has many disadvantages.  Banks, the stock markets--all of that was created because it was useful to society.  When these institutions are harmful to society they should be changed or abolished.  Baseball is not real in the same sense.  It was created to entertain us.   If baseball turns out to be damaging to people (the way American football is being shown to be to some players) it should be changed or abolished.

    All these people worshiping the free market remind me of members of a cargo cult.  The free market is not a force of nature, it is a human invention.  It is ridiculous to make it the center of your world view.

    "I don't want to blame anyone. I just want to know how lowering taxes on the rich creates jobs" --Informed citizen at Congressional town hall

    by Time Waits for no Woman on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:24:16 AM PDT

  •  We bought Apple stock at $14/share (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Right when Jobs came back in.  People told me Apple was done for, but we loved our computer and wanted to support the company.  It was the only smart financial move my husband and I have ever made.

  •  Actually this is a "political economy" [long] (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kmbaya, ebohlman, BeeDeeS

    I found your essay quite profound using the metaphor of baseball as a guide for many who have thought little about what actually is an economy or capitalist system or marketplace.

    The reality is that all economies are "political economies" once the formal term used for what we call "Economics" but through the years that term became shortened because it was assumed then forgotten.

    John Friedman wrote a similar essay to a different audience, (the investor class) back in 2010 discussing similar veins though placing what OWS is beginning to demonstrate at a grass roots or street level.

    Financial panics are an integral part of capitalism. So are economic recessions. The system generates them and it becomes stronger because of them. Like forest fires, they are painful when they occur, yet without them, the forest could not survive. They impose discipline, punishing the reckless, rewarding the cautious. They do so imperfectly, of course, as at times the reckless are rewarded and the cautious penalized. Political crises - as opposed to normal financial panics - emerge when the reckless appear to be the beneficiaries of the crisis they have caused, while the rest of society bears the burdens of their recklessness. At that point, the crisis ceases to be financial or economic. It becomes political. [emphasis added]

    Understand that this Great Recession, what some describe as a global deleveraging process, (meaning the value of assets and commodities, labor and other resources) have less value than before and since there was leverage value (loans) placed against those assets (et cetera) there is a crisis.

    But back to what capitalism and the political economy is: Government makes the rules...REPEAT...Government makes the rules, therefore economies are neither organic (like a biosystem let us say the Amazon Rain Forest or the Mongolian Desert) nor divinely created (as in some magic invisible hand~Adam Smith), it is purely the creation of humans, engaged in human activity---ALA Baseball.

    Back to Friedman (author of the book, Next 100 Years, may I suggest that many of you read this, nor for his flawed predictions or miscalculation or at least what we are fighting for right now, but for the Corporate Global Imperial mindset---oh you didn't know we are some Economic Global Empire or at least Wall Street is?):

    The financial and economic systems are subsystems of the broader political system. More precisely, think of nations as consisting of three basic systems: political, economic and military. Each of these systems has elites that manage it. The three systems are constantly interacting - and in a healthy polity, balancing each other, compensating for failures in one as well as taking advantage of success. Every nation has a different configuration within and between these systems. The relative weight of each system differs, as does the importance of its elites. But each nation contains these systems, and no system exists without the other two.

    Fine, most people don't think in these prisms, but let me underscore the concept that the financial and economic systems are supposed to be a SUBSYSTEM (meaning subservient) of the broader POLITICAL system, not the other way around.  Now you might be jumping forward or back what Friedman described as:

    [...]when the reckless appear to be the beneficiaries of the crisis they have caused [...]

    This is what happened, the financial elites have flipped the tables and forced government to be subservient to them. Look back to October 2008 and the oft-mentioned TARP Bailout Bill;

    On October 3, 2008, the Senate passed the $700 billion bank bailout bill. The guts of the bill was the same as the three page document submitted on September 21, 2008, by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Paulson had asked Congress to approve a $700 billion bailout to buy mortgage-backed securities that were in danger of defaulting.  

    Now recall when the House of Representatives originally rejected the bill: (I am using as neutral sources as possible)

    The $700 billion bank bailout bill failed in the U.S. House of Representatives on September 30, 2008. Why did the bank bailout bill implode? Opponents were rightly concerned their constituents saw the bill as bailing out Wall Street at the expense of taxpayers.

    I can't find the link right now but I recall a few obscure Congressman (and women) discussing how suddenly the government was moved in the dead of the night after rejecting the first TARP Bill where one expressed who actually ruled the country. Back to Friedman:

    Consider the capitalist economic system. The concept of the corporation provides its modern foundation. The corporation is built around the idea of limited liability for investors, [...] In other words, you may own all or part of a company, but you are not responsible for what it does beyond your investment. Whereas supply and demand exist in all times and places, the notion of limited liability investing is unique to modern capitalism and reshapes the dynamic of supply and demand.
    It is also a political invention and not an economic one. The decision to create corporations that limit liability flows from political decisions implemented through the legal subsystem of politics. [...] the principle that the state and politics define the structure of corporate risk remains constant.

    In a more natural organization of the marketplace, the owners are entirely responsible for the debts and liabilities of the entity they own. That, of course, would create excessive risk, suppressing economic activity. So the political system over time has reallocated risk away from the owners of companies to the companies' creditors and customers by allowing corporations to become bankrupt without pulling in the owners.

    Ahh, bankruptcy, the orderly dissolution of assets and liabilities of a failed business (personal) entity. But then we didn't allow bankruptcy for these banks we bailed them out! Friedman continues:

    The precise distribution of risk within an economic system is a political matter expressed through the law; it differs from nation to nation and over time. [...] In the precise and complex allocation of risk and immunity, we find the origins of the modern market. Among other reasons, this is why classical economists never spoke of "economics" but always of "political economy."

    So when you see media heads, partisan apologists and corporate knights attempting to express something other than the political system sets the rules of the marketplace know they are either totally ignorant, poorly educated or simply liars and cheats. Friedman continues:

    The state both invents the principle of the corporation and defines the conditions in which the corporation is able to arise. The state defines the structure of risk and liabilities and assures that the laws are enforced. Emerging out of this complexity - and justifying it - is a moral regime. Protection from liability comes with a burden: Poor decisions will be penalized by losses, while wise decisions are rewarded by greater wealth. Because of this, society as a whole will benefit. But the measure of the system is not whether individuals benefit, but whether in benefiting they enhance the wealth of the nation.

    Now comes the punchline and why the justification for "direct action" meaning going to the streets and protesting: Friedman again:

    The greatest systemic risk, therefore, is not an economic concept but a political one. The greatest systemic risk, therefore, is not an economic concept but a political one. Systemic risk emerges when it appears that the political and legal protections given to economic actors, and particularly to members of the economic elite, have been used to subvert the intent of the system. In other words, the crisis occurs when it appears that the economic elite used the law's allocation of risk to enrich themselves in ways that undermined the wealth of the nation. Put another way, the crisis occurs when it appears that the financial elite used the politico-legal structure to enrich themselves through systematically imprudent behavior while those engaged in prudent behavior were harmed, with the political elite apparently taking no action to protect the victims.

    All this is a fancy way of saying we got screwed, we continue to get screwed and that the leaders in the political system are unresponsive and unable (for whatever reason, belief, sold out, extorted, or merely totally stupid) it doesn't matter what their underlying intentions are-----WE ARE GETTING SCREWED because the financial elites gamed the system.

    •  Excellent (0+ / 0-)

      I'll be reading 'The Next 100 Years.' And could I suggest that you post this comment as a diary, in and of itself?

      •  I am going to do thanks (0+ / 0-)

        As for Friedman I will give you another paraphrase quote: Friedman in his book "The Next Decade" and "Next 100 Years" discusses that the US is actually a reluctant and inevitable global empire at the future cost will be the republic which he regrets.

        Regrets...Let me say that this 99% revolt is about that.

  •  It started with St. Ronnie & PATCO (0+ / 0-)

    And the anti-worker agenda has flourished ever since.

  •  Regulations were preceded by liability. . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in a court of law. The wealthy - whether human or corporate - hate to be held liable for the fallout of their business actions.

    Regulations were a compromise, usualy granted for corporations, in return for limited liability in court. They agree to be regulated. We agree that their liability will be limited if they comply with those regulations.

    Think about worker compensation laws, for a minute.

    If a worker, or worse, multiple workers, was injured in a workplace accident that resulted from negligence or wronddoing of the employer, damages awarded by a jury in a lawsuit could wipe out the company. To prevent that from happening, employers were granted specified limits on what they would have to pay for such injuries. Lawsuits in court with the potential for unlimited damages were replaced by administrative hearings with damages set by law. Lose your arm in the employer's machine, and you get $x for "x" number of weeks, and no more. Limited liablity. But to hear corporations rail about it, they have been subjected to horrible laws that require them to pay huge amounts of money for having unsafe work environments that result in injuring their employees.

    It's the liability that companies and corporations want to avoid. Regulations have given those entities a way of limiting their liability. But that is not enough.

    These entities want to be relieved of liability altogether.

    That is not a free market.

    The courts were the last bastion for the injured. They were a crucial part of the checks and balances system. I'm not so sure that is true any more.

  •  Toxic ideological cocktail. (4+ / 0-)

    Mixing minimal regulation on industry with unlimited corporate money in elections takes us from libertarianism to fascism.  It's death to democracy.

  •  What a Perfect Time for Republicans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to nominate an investment banker who insists that corporations are people, who is raking in contributions from Wall St. fat cats, who regards any questioning of tax privileges for the rich as "class warfare", and who is choosing this time to enlarge his La Jolla estate.

    If I were a Republican I would worry about nominating someone who is 180 degrees out of phase with the spirit of the age.

  •  I agree... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Occupy Wall Street isn't about demands, it's about making a statement.

    I went to the WTO protests in Seattle, in 1999, and the amazing thing was how many different groups, and how many different causes were represented. You had the labor union people, environmentalists (including scores of people in turtle costumes), human rights advocates, and so on. I imagine it is the same with the OWS crowds - if you asked each person, everyone would have a unique list of demands. Instead, everyone is coming together because of the recognition that the game is rigged - a small minority of people are controlling all the wealth and power in this world, at the expense of everyone else's freedom, health and well being.

  •  Toquelville Said Americans Are Slow To Anger (0+ / 0-)

    ....and their enemies mistake that for weakness.

    But threaten their security and comfort and they will be roused to a remorseless fury.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 08:09:45 AM PDT

  •  The problem is not Capitalism... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeeDeeS, Amber6541, ebohlman

    it is Corporatism.  Businesses that function as a basis for gaining reasonable wealth (I don't mean billions) by producing a good product or service for a fair price are the backbone of a free economy.  However when the business becomes a world-wide conglomerate its owners and directors have no loyalty to any nation, let along the public or their workers.  They become "too big to fail."   They also become the enemy of all, including in the long run themselves!

  •  Baseball is the the Great American Metaphor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, Mark Sumner

    I like to ask people if they'd like to participate in a game where the team with more runs gets an extra turn at bat each inning... Then I tell them why that's the way politics  works in America today.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 08:23:54 AM PDT

  •  "No, it is not simply capitalism done badly" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that implies "capitalism done well" is the answer.

    We have an elite that believes in deepening and creating new problems, and profiting from them.

    We have technocrats and specialists in culture, media, technology, the military doing things and executing a strategy to keep this system growing, keep the wealth flowing to the fraction of 1% to absorb beyond all reason.

    The challenge is not to send in a new class of servants to the elite, the gospel carriers of the good capitalism to drive away the bad capitalism. It is to renew, rebuild, start from a new paradigm and new form of organizing to oppose and bring a healthy new system of economics and governance out of the carcass of the dying old one.

        That is what the #OccupyWS has started, initiated, and how far it gets to that goal is going to be seen by those joining and participating.  Not easy in the least.

    Look at the kinds of resistance and reporting so far.

              With the controls in place already, the elites can beat back efforts to defeat them, prolong their system. It may take years to come up with and create a new alternative out of the dying old system.

               And capitalism, raised to its furthest development  and to its most extreme and brutal form , has caused world wars and immense suffering as the price for great wealth for a tiny few and lesser wealth for a subset serving devotedly that tiny few.  We have seen it even in junior wars for profit like Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan.

             That must start to change, there is nothing coming except more misery unless we come up with the forms, the organization and the spirit to carry through a genuine living and healthy alternative to this corrupted and deadly system.

    If you think that you and a bunch of other people can just show up on Wall St, camp out and have any effect whatsoever, you're dreaming. *YUP!* h/t Hamden Rice

    by BeeDeeS on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 08:24:12 AM PDT

  •  This is an interesting intellectual exercise, but (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kmbaya, Mark Sumner, tofumagoo

    it glides over the fact that capitalism, or the government regulated version, is a "game" that masks a brutal reality.  Two points you make highlight this.  One is about the necessity of enforcements, which implies intervention, arrest, due process and perhaps incarceration or other restriction of rights for the wrong-doers.  That is a brutal business.   The other is about the idea that the "occupiers" are withdrawing consent, which I think is a great way of describing what is happening.  Withdrawing consent is a pretty serious step and if that is what is happening, which I think may be right, should be  a sobering moment for all of us to contemplate.

    This morning on Amanpour, George will said calls for inflation amount to a "civilized" process of debt reduction.  ~pause~

    Let that sink in.

    Implied is that there is an "uncivilized" process of reducing one's debts, which would be . . .  not pleasant.  For the creditors, at least, but also for the (former) debtors, who would have to take actual steps to make that happen and make it stick.  We're not talking about quant programs that slip this line of code over and around that line of code.  We are talking about a big FU to the banks, and all those who have invested in debt. Which is most of us, if we have any kind of investment including participation in retirement programs.  So it would be a big step indeed for some kind of refusal to pay debts were to spread--it is happening already, which is why the banks are so freaked out--beyond those walking away from mortgages, or defaulting on student loans.

    I think you points about capitalism are good, and the analogy with baseball is very helpful in painting a picture that is understandable.  But it is much more dangerous game, and people should realize this.   I like the idea that it is a "primal scream" that Al Gore has supposedly said.  I completely agree with that.  Another way to say it is the lion's roar, which comes from buddhism.  The lion's roar just is what it is.  It comes from a place deep in the belly. And no one can ignore it.    

  •  Here's what I posted yesterday on a WaPo board (0+ / 0-)

    in response to a column by Ignatius, "Around the World, rage against the elites".

    Let's look at a little bit of US history. Since the Great Depression, regulations were put in place to avoid the bank crashes and panics that until the 1930s were a regular feature of our economy. Between the 1930's and 1980's there were none of these events, just garden variety recessions. Starting in the 80's when regulations started to be gutted and ignored, and regulatory agencies funding was cut, we have again had a series of crashes, but now with massive bailouts to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression, starting with the Savings and Loan bailout, and ending up with where we are now. Investments that used to go into something tangible now are diverted to churning money around, and creating one scandal after another. After all, why do research on investing for productive purposes, when instead you can just take the short cut, bribe a few politicians, and swindle the rest of us?

    Republicans would have you believe that the fact that we avoided panics and collapses for more than 50 years was just a coincidence. Now you can yell and scream "Fannie and Freddie and (Barney) Frank" all you want" but the fact is that it is the Republicans right now who are pulling out all the stops to ensure that we will not return to the type of regulation that kept the economy relatively tranquil for all of those years, including the most prosperous years the nation has ever seen. It is their resistance to regulation that is causing the "too big to fails" to get even bigger. And I know, we can't go back to that, all of the money will flee the country, etc. I call BS, this is by far still the biggest market in the world, and if all these Galts want to leave, let them - maybe the rest will then be able to earn an honest living.

    Our capitalist economy is rotting from within. Transparency and a modicum of regulation is absolutely required for a free market to function. OccupyWallStreet, if nothing else, will hopefully make it safe for the termite inspectors to get in there before its too late.  

    I have nothing against the free market - it is the scammers and the short cut taking termites who have to go.

    10/15/2011 10:29:21 AM EDT

    Recommended by 6 readers

    It is amazing to me, that the myth that "regulations are strangling the job market" could take hold, given the absolutely overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    It's just as amazing that the goopers are able to get away with calling Democrats and progressives socialists.  The "socialist" charge had become laughable and shorthand for one who's argument is thin to non-existent, yet somehow now it has revived.

    I guess it can all be blamed on the infantilization produced by Fox News?

    "The only thing we have to fear - is fear itself." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    by orrg1 on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 08:36:56 AM PDT

  •  Brilliant essay. Thanks, Mark Sumner. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The rules aren't just a part of baseball, they are baseball. [...]

    The regulations aren't an imposition on the market, they are the market, they define it.

    I am a sucker for baseball analogies (because to me they can be used for every life situation).

    This essay hits a home run.

  •  This is an FP piece (0+ / 0-)

    I wish were on the wreck list, because as an FP piece it will fall down the page too quickly.  Mr Sumner, this is perhaps the most concise, eloquent answer to the idiotic media meme on OWS---"What do they want?!".  It's as if they're saying, "What could possibly be going so wrong to equal this?  Unbelievable, but that is their mentality.

    This essay answers what's going so wrong, and I think most correctly defines OWS in a single phrase---"It is the withdrawal of consent."  Brilliant.

    I intend to send this to many people today, and desktop it so that I can reread it often enough to commit  to memory its succinct points and repeat them with brevity to those who ask me "What do they want?!"

    Is it kosher for you to repeat this as a diary so that more would read it, and spread its wisdom to those who don't get it?  

    In any case, THANK YOU.

  •  Thank you for this article. (0+ / 0-)

    I think this is an excellent analysis of what is going on.

    I also appreciate your prescient analogy to baseball, and your "three strikes" with respect to "free markets" are spot on target.

    Great job.

    To a Democrat, "democracy" means "free elections." To a Republican, "free markets."

    by XOVER on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 09:17:46 AM PDT

  •  Actually, I did buy Apple at less than 20/share (0+ / 0-)

    and watched it grow and split twice....  :-)  but then I also sold half of what I had after each split, and eventually got out at 200.  But I also owned some real losers too...... so you are right, no "what ifs" and no regrets.

    Bulls make money.  Bears make money, and pigs go to slaughter ....

    And speaking of pigs .... maybe its that time for the 1%ers that don't get that they need the 99% to grow and prosper to go to slaughter (figuratively only, of course)

    The Elephant. The Rider. The Path. Figure those out and change will come.

    by Denver11 on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 09:52:52 AM PDT

  •  Actually, I had Apple stock at $23 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner

    100 shares, bought back in the mid-90s.

    What did I do with it, you ask? I sold it at $27 in order to pay for a medical procedure for my wife which wasn't covered by insurance (which was over $23,000 at the time anyway). Yes, she had employer-provided health insurance at the time, and we had the most expensive option with the most coverage.

    True story.

    This is why the middle class is're either a winner (my $40,000 of Apple stock if I hadn't sold it) or a loser (SOL on your corrective surgeries) in the current system.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 10:00:44 AM PDT

  •  WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  There is the phrase..... (0+ / 0-)

    The sytem is not working for the average American.  I just joined one of the many South FL Groups.  

  •  My Dad Was A Retail Store Owner In The 50's... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner, ebohlman

    ...and the 60's. Times were good and he did so well that he was at the top percentile of income tax payers. I recall, as a boy, discussions he had with his partners where they decided to increase salaries, rather than pay 90% tax on what these wages would cause if not given to the workers. It was almost a no-brained. If we pay a worker an extra $1000 a year, Uncle Sam pays $900 of the raise. Not only do we help our employees, who are bringing in the profits, they'll appreciate us as bosses, work harder, and increase their loyalty that much more. That was certainly be worth the measly $100 raise in my example.

    You are absolutely right on, then, that decreasing marginal tax rates actually increases wealth disparity.

    "I never met a man I didn't like." Will Rogers - American Redneck

    by chuco35 on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 11:49:46 AM PDT

  •  Capitalism as power (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner, ebohlman

    In principle, capitalism is a economic system that is assumed to be a separate phase of our society, co-existing with democratic principles. In reality however, capitalism is more than just the details of business. It is a basis of tangible power.

    Power is in the ability to allocate resources.  The concentration of capital is inevitably a concentration of power. The transition of resources from govenrnment to the private sector is in reality a transfer of power from a system with mandated transparency to one of trade secrecy.  

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