Many parallels have been drawn between the Tea Party people and the Occupy Wall Streeters, such as their leaderlessness, their truly grassroots nature, and the fact that they’re both upset about powerful forces running rampant and trampling everyone else in the process. Meanwhile, the professional misdirectors have gone out of their way to keep the two apart by setting up straw men and pretending that they represent the cores of the two movements.
Nevertheless, one thing that upsets both groups is the way that the big banks and other monied interests brought about the current financial debacle we’re still facing, got bailed out with taxpayer money, and now are back to their same old business as usual, including paying themselves massive bonuses for . . . what? Certainly not for work well done.
Both groups want to rock the boat, and there is no question they have common ground. There are numerous proposals out there for where they might find that common ground and I want to direct your attention to the ideas presented by Matt Taibbi, who writes for Rolling Stone. Taibbi has followed the doings on Wall Street and in Washington for some years now and again and again has published articles detailing the scandalous practices going on in both places.
In a piece entitled “My Advice to the Occupy Wall Street Protestors,” Taibbi listed five demands he would like to see receive OWS focus. I won’t simply copy/paste them in here but I suggest you go read his piece for youself. In case Rolling Stone removes the piece from free availability, just search for that title because numerous websites have reposted it in full.
1. Break up the monopolies — There are financial institutions today that are considered to be “too big to fail.” That is a danger to us all. As Taibbi says, “They are above the law and above market consequence, making them more dangerous and unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined.”
2. Pay for your own bailouts — A simple proposal: collect a tiny fee on all stock and bond trades and use that money to repay the American public for saving the banks from their own misadventures.
3. No public money for private lobbying — If you’re taking public money you’ve got no business using that money to try to influence regulators, much less elections.
4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers — Can anyone make a valid case for allowing hedge fund managers to pay only 15 percent tax on their billions in “earnings” while the rest of us pay twice that on our meagre thousands?
5. Change the way bankers get paid — Do a big deal, rake in the big bucks, and walk away. So what if the deal blows up and costs shareholders everything. Says Taibbi, “It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now.”
The Tea Party has already had a large impact on the Republican party, although their origin was not Republican. Likewise, OWS may well have a major impact on the Democratic party, though its origin is not Democratic. Both are seeking fundamental change, and both have worthwhile ideas. And the two parties are petrified that the two groups might meet in the middle.
But from both so-called fringe groups, there is one phrase from the ’60s that is once again becoming current: Power to the people!