For over a month now protesters have taken over Wall Street in New York, apparently to voice their outrage over the financial sector’s part in the current economic crisis. There has been a lot of police action, governmental attempts at intercession, and criticism that the protesters have no real agenda and are more upset they can’t buy the latest iPhone than having any real problems.
Is this true?
The current economic crisis has left many people feeling like they’ve been lied to. The banks were too big to fail so we had to bail them out, but then we find out they still have private corporate jets and cars. Large companies are laying off employees and telling the ones they keep that they have to make sacrifices, like no raises this year, only to discover those bosses have not only gotten raises but some as high as 76 percent. There is being glad to have a job and then there is feeling like you’ve been betrayed.
Young people are told over and over that if they want to have a good paying career they have to go to college, and hey, go ahead and take out those loans because once you get that good paying job you can pay those loans off. Except more and more graduates are not getting those careers and find themselves with an essentially useless degree and a large debt that just keeps growing the longer they cannot pay it off.
Then there is the job situation over all. More and more people are finding themselves out of work for a year or more, unable to even get a part time job at a fast food counter.
People are scared. The American dream has eluded them as they hear stories about oil companies not paying any taxes at all, or corporations reporting large profits as they lay off thousands of workers. Other corporations are refusing to hire more employees as a protest against the government. A study has shown that 1 percent of the American population controls 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. Why wouldn’t people take to the street?
While bankers claim to understand what the protest is about The New York Times revealed in an article on October 14, this may not be so.
“Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll,” said one top hedge fund manager.
“It’s not a middle-class uprising,” adds another veteran bank executive. “It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.”
These quotes from Wall Street bankers make it clear, they do not take the protests seriously.
Are the protesters really just a bunch of young people with nothing else to do and a desire to re-enact the 60’s. According to a recent survey in Zucotti Park conducted by a researcher sent by Douglas Schoen, a veteran Democratic Party pollster, while 49 percent of the protesters are under 30 years of age, 28 percent are 40 years or older. It is interesting to note that only one third of the participants consider themselves to be Democrats, though this survey found no Republicans present. Also the vast majority of participants are employed. However 15 percent were unemployed and 18 percent are underemployed putting 33 percent who are struggling with the job market double the percentage indicated by the U.S. Department of Labor measurements.
Another survey conducted by Héctor Codero-Guzmán, PhD, a sociology professor at the City University of New York using visitors to the Occupy Wall Street’s website (www.occupywallst.org) for its sampling found that 92.1 percent of the visitors were college educated.
The attitudes of bankers are the most revealing. In fact they still think the country should be grateful for all they’ve done. Another quote from The New York Times piece.
“Who do you think pays the taxes?” said one longtime money manager. “Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it. If you want to keep having jobs outsourced, keep attacking financial services. This is just disgruntled people.”
He added that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. “They need to understand who their constituency is,” he said. Evidently he has forgotten it was the taxpayers who bailed out the banks after their irresponsible lending practices threatened their existence.
If we follow this money manager’s logic the protesters are not constituency because they do not have the money to bribe politicians..
It’s an attitude that Americans in general are getting more and more tired of hearing. The government is by the people and for the people, all the people, not just the ones with the fattest wallets. The big question should be not if the banks are too big to fail, but is America too big to fail. Or does the one percent believe they alone can make a country succeed?
If you are interested in learning more about Occupy Wall Street or want to participate locally check these links.
www.occupysf.org -San Francisco
and Occupy Chico State has a facebook page.