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.