It seems like those in power think they’ve won. Their media campaign of misinformation, lies and propaganda about the Occupy Movement has worked its magic. The majority of Americans have been convinced that the Occupy people are nothing but lazy bums. The real message about Wall Street and Washington DC criminality has been obscured by a blizzard of talking points about socialism, communism, drug usage, trash, law breaking, urination and feces. The Department of Homeland Security coordinated destruction of encampments across the country has eliminated the daily reminder of the ongoing looting and pillaging of the country by the ruling oligarchy of bankers, mega-corporations, and politicians.
OWS is like the Big Lebowski. The rich guy is yelling him – “the bums will always lose.”
“The Revolution is Over!!!!”
Or is it?
What if occupiers aped Wall Street?
If the protesters had wanted to hit the banks where it hurts, they could have given them a dose of their own medicine.
It’s a lucky thing these kids tried only to “occupy” Wall Street.
If they’d been really radical they would have done something much more dangerous.
They would have just imitated Wall Street.
Everyone now knows the rules down on America’s Street of Shame. These are almost the exact opposite of the rules in the real, normal, moral economy the rest of us inhabit.
On Wall Street, you take every nickel and dime you can get your hands on. If it’s not nailed down, it’s yours. You take without conscience or shame. If you see a blind man selling pencils on the street, steal the pencils. Steal his pennies. Steal his dog.
On Wall Street, you gamble. You gamble big. But you gamble with other people’s money.
Borrow as much as you can. If it doesn’t work out, too bad — for someone else. Heads you win, tails they lose.
MF Global, anyone?
There is no limit to how much money you should take. As P.T. Barnum might have said, if he had had the benefit of an MBA, “there’s an investor born every minute.”
And “never give a bondholder an even break.”
After all, it’s not stealing if you get away with it. And because you — or your cronies — write the laws, you get away with everything.
You think I’m exaggerating. But reflect that the top 10 people at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers walked away with nearly $1 billion before those banks collapsed. A billion dollars. That money went to yachts and mansions and mink coats. The people who ran subprime firms like Countrywide Financial walked away with fortunes. Ditto all those mortgage brokers who got paid to sucker people into dangerous loans.
Do you think they’re giving back a nickel or a dime? Do you think they are staying awake at nights? Lehman Brothers creditors lost their shirts. Little old ladies who had been sold Lehman Brothers “principal protection notes” as “safe” investments for their life savings lost everything. They’re eating cat food, while the former honchos eat foie gras. Do you think those honchos could care less? And do you think they look at this economy as a “recession”?
You dummy. They’re laughing into their martinis. Ha, ha! Yes, let the good times roll.
Reflect, too, that the bonus bonanza has been back on Wall Street for at least two years now.
Meanwhile, if you’re waiting for politicians to get tough on the bankers, you will wait in vain. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign contributions, Big Finance has already given $122 million to the candidates for the 2011-’12 races. That’s with a year still to go.
That’s more than any other group. It’s three times as much as the entire health care industry has given, and six times as much as labor. These candidates are bought and paid for. They know who they work for, and it isn’t you.
“The banking lobbyist is on line two, Senator. He says it’s urgent.”
Which brings us to “Occupy Wall Street,” and the protest movement.
Wall Street couldn’t care less about this nonsense. The really rich and powerful aren’t commuting in to offices every day on the subway. This doesn’t affect them at all. They’re riding into work in heated limousines, laughing at the cold, damp kids in the park.
There’s only one thing that terrifies these people. Only one thing that keeps them up at night.
Riots? Revolution? Nah.
The banks may be greedy. But they are also really, really stupid. They will send out credit cards to anyone, based only on a “credit score” that’s easy to manipulate.
(The credit scores are a joke. Mine isn’t perfect, a bank told me, because I “haven’t borrowed enough.” In other words, they’d prefer I owed more money before they lent to me. Really, you couldn’t make these clowns up.)
If OWS really wanted to hit the banks where it hurts, they wouldn’t have wasted their time camping out in the cold and holding up signs till their fingers turned blue.
They’ve have taken out every new credit card they could get. Lots of them. Card after card.
They would have done what Wall Street does. They would have borrowed every nickel they could.
And then they would have high-tailed it to the Bahamas.
Mai-tais in the Jacuzzi. The presidential suite. These kids are 26 and unemployed. How good does this sound?
And when the money was gone, they’d have said to the banks, “Too bad, suckers. Sue us!”
Good luck with that.
America’s bankruptcy laws are crazy. You can shelter all sorts of money in things like 401k plans and still walk away. By the standards of the real, “moral” economy they are unconscionable.
They are, in a word, as immoral as Wall Street. They let borrowers treat Wall Street the way Wall Street treats everyone else. Look at the behavior on the Street of Shame and tell me I’m wrong.
Actually, maybe the real way to imitate Wall Street would be to borrow every nickel on these credit cards, head to Vegas, and wager the money on black.
Yes, if the protesters did this, there would be chaos. Mayhem. A new financial crisis. Heavens, we might even have to change the system.
(You can bet our politicians would lose this bankruptcy loophole faster than they’d change the law against insider dealing by members of Congress).
All in all, it’s a lucky thing this strategy didn’t occur to the protesters. Or, just as likely, it probably did occur to some of them — but they considered it grossly immoral.
Instead they spent two months camping out in the cold, eating lentil curry, while the bankers got fatter and fatter. Ha, ha!
As the rich man shouts to The Dude in “The Big Lebowski,” “Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski! Condolences. The bums lost. . . . The bums will always lose!”
And so they do.