Monday, October 03, 2011

We Need More George Baileys

Robert Kuttner writes, in today's Huffington Post, that the Occupy Wall Street protests are a sign of what is to come:

For three years, we have been wondering, where is the outrage? For a time, it was co-opted by the Tea Parties -- a faux populism, attacking government, financed by billionaires, delivering nothing to the 99 percent of Americans not represented by Wall Street. Now authentic protest directed against the real villains is finally here.

As heartening as the protests are, the villains still rule the roost:

The depth of the continuing recession can be traced back to the failure to radically reform the banks in the spring of 2009. Interest rates today are at record lows, but Wall Street banks still make their money from merger deals, complex securitization packages, and trading for their own accounts, while community banks are too traumatized to make loans to any but blue-chip customers.

Meanwhile, nobody has gone to prison for the systematic frauds that brought down the economy, consumers are getting gouged by new fees that the banks dream up to compensate for their own losses. And the mortgage foreclosure crisis continues to fester and drag down the rest of the economy

Kuttner reminds his readers that the two great reform movements of the 1960's -- ending the Vietnam War  and the Civil Rights Movement -- took a long while to get started and a long while to accomplish their objectives. And, Kuttner writes, there is no guarantee that the protests against a financial establishment which has wrecked the lives of millions will end as well as those earlier movements did:

Bankers have immense power, until public opinion turns decisively against them and democratically-elected leaders decide to lead. These protests were a long time coming; I fear that it will take far longer for the system to deliver the drastic reforms that we need.

George Bailey was an appealing figure. Unfortunately, the Henry F. Potters have been winning for a long time.


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

For about a month I have been thinking of writing a blog entry about "Where are the American Mass Protests?" I have followed the efforts in the Arab World with interest. There have also been protest in Greece, Spain in Europe.
With little publicity in these parts there have been massive student protests in Chile. The most interesting have been the massive protests in Israel where protesters have camped out in large numbers and had rallies so large and so representative of the people that not even the right wing government can dismiss them. The cost of living, education, food and accommodation has gotten so high the working middle class cannot afford it. Well finally the Americans are protesting in several cities over the state of the economy and against those who have contributed to the problem and are not doing much to solve it. I read such a movement might show up in Canada next. At last!

Owen Gray said...

The longer those reforms are put off, Philip, the angrier people will get.

That is the lesson of the Arab Spring.