The Occupy Wall Street protestors’ validity has been enhanced just this week by an SEC settlement with Citigroup. Citigroup settled a one BILLION dollar fraud suit for a mere $285,000,000. That’s astounding! Let’s check the numbers on that;
1,000,000,000 - 285,000,000 = 715,000,000
American society loses $715,000,000 and Citigroup profits by the same amount – over twice what they paid. And let’s not forget that much of that $715,000,000 is represented by people losing their homes, their pensions, their children’s college education, and all kinds of other important assets. If I could rob a bank and end up paying back roughly less than a third of what I stole and keep the other two thirds of my theft, I think I would not be dissuaded from committing more bank robberies. How ‘bout you? Not much of a deterrent there.
Some will naturally argue that Citigroup had a responsibility to its “shareholders”. Frankly, I think if shareholders are willing to gamble with their money by trusting Citigroup’s investors with it, and those shareholders lose their money because of Citigroup’s illegitimate endeavors, then those shareholders deserve to lose their investments certainly more than average taxpayers deserve to pay to keep Citigroup in business while simultaneously losing their pensions, their children’s college education, and all kinds of other important assets.
People who ponder what exactly the motivation of the Occupy Wall Street protests is baffle me. What they are protesting is obvious and simple to understand, despite the complexities of the system that has led to the current problems. The gradual erosion of protections against such abuses as those that have recently been exposed over a period of decades contains within it the solution; reinstate and strengthen those protections.
Quite possibly one of the most idiotic questions recently considered among the various media is this; “What are the protestors’ demands?” You need to ask? Really? The recent economic collapse and its revealed causes, along with the recent barrage of right-wing attacks on the general economic safety nets for average citizens don’t make obvious what they are demanding? Really???
Attempts to reduce the motivations of the Occupy Wall Street protests to simple political agendas within the constraints of the current system and its corrupt machinations is the result of misunderstanding the humanness of the motivations and demeans the entire human aspect; especially once it is recognized that these protests are spreading on a global level.
Teabaggers worried about tax increases that would not affect most of them and railed against concepts like what they called “socialized medicine” – even as many of them benefited from Medicare and Medicaid – based on their complete misunderstanding of all the concepts they were using, such as communism, socialism, and capitalism. Occupy Wall Street goes so far beyond the trivialities of the Teabaggers that the Tea Party becomes even more laughable than it already was all along. (Laughter; perhaps the Tea Party does have value, afterall.) As corporate corruption and dominance has gone global, so Occupy Wall Street has gone global.
Some suggest fear is the motivation behind Occupy Wall Street. There may have been an aspect of foundational fear initializing the motivations of Occupy Wall Street. Having said that, I think the motivation has moved beyond fear to the experience of pain and the emotion that leads more often to action; anger:
…the refrain "anger won't help" is misleading. It does seem to help people in one profoundly important way: it helps them connect. Anger is a most powerful connector between people, perhaps even more so than sex.
I believe that for good reason the country exhorts the President to be "angry." The country senses the President is "off" -- off of his true feelings. People have a nose for feelings because it is feelings that are what allows for progress between people. "Thinking" as opposed to "feeling" is a paraylzer. Despite all this our longing for an angry more feelingful president is likely a waste of time. It is we who most profit from when we cultivate the crop of anger rightly fermented. Anger born of legitimate discontent will yield more progress than a thousand congressional hearings and legislative panels.
It is worth remembering that once upon a time about 240 years ago, a group of 13 colonies got angry and produced the United States of America - the greatest country on earth.
Anger is a healthy response to attacks that threaten a person’s livelihood. Much as the immune system rises up to respond to internal bodily attacks, the limbic system employs anger to defend against outward attacks against the person.
Remove ideology and ideologues from the global economy; let scientific analysis of the stability (and instability) of particular economic systems guide us past the backward ideologies and darkened beliefs that persist in the light of clear evidence proving them obsolete. Allow enlightened non-partisan science to take us beyond the religiosity of dogmatic antiquated approaches that continue to fail and damage society.
Anyone who questions the motivations and validity and attempts to constrain the bounds of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which have now spread far beyond national borders, is either willfully blind, or stupid. There is no reasonable explanation for the greed and corruption that led to such abuse, nor for the inexplicable defense of the very institutions that created the recent global economic collapse, being levied by so many average right-wing Americans, some of whom I speak with almost daily, and who also are now carrying the burden for these abuses of greed. I am daily confused by the level of ignorance and willful blindness required by these individuals to continually delude their selves into maintaining their beliefs in the face of so much overwhelming evidence that refutes them.
Willful blindness in such a scenario is only explained by a failure of mental faculties; an inability to suspend belief in the face of overwhelming evidence that the belief is wrong. To support the kind of greed that creates Citigroup’s level of malfeasance and condemn those who protest against it is to be less than human. These events and their consequences must be understood on a human level and the corporate profits-over-people mentality must be subjugated to the human aspects of society; that is the overriding demand of the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Just connect the dots ...
Judge Jed Rakoff agreed that Citigroup had gotten a free pass and disallowed the "settlement" the SEC had allowed: