Monday, 3 October 2011

They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more

There is an interesting “peoples’ protest” growing in the US called “Occupy Wallstreet”. It was started in July on the Adbusters website (click here for the origin of the idea), and seems to be exponentially growing. New groups are forming rapidly across the States and, having spread across America, it is starting to crossover to Europe, Australia, Central America and Asia.

Taking their cue from the “Arab Spring” movement, which started in Tunisia then exploded when Egyptians occupied Tahrir Square in the  2011 “Egyptian Revolution”, the idea is just to occupy an area associated with bankers and sing, chant etc. The new bit is that it is not just for one day but just carries on, possibly indefinitely.

The basis of Occupy Wallstreet is that “the 99%” of ordinary people in the USA who are losing their jobs, healthcare and getting their homes foreclosed by the “1%” of bankers and financiers, have had enough - they’re mad as hell and their not going to take it any more – the previous words borrowed from the classic 1976 film Network (excerpt of the famous bit follows). It’s interesting to contrast what was worrying people back then in 1976 with today…

The  Wallstreet occupiers are mad as hell that the “1%” are getting bailed out while the “99%” are getting screwed. Here is a link to the facebook page organising the Occupy the London Stock Exchange action. Click this link for the worldwide actions page.

Here is the introduction from the  “We are the 99%” site

Who are we? Well, who are you? If you’re reading this, there’s a 99 percent chance that you’re one of us.

You’re someone who doesn’t know whether there’s going to be enough money to make this month’s rent. You’re someone who gets sick and toughs it out because you’ll never afford the hospital bills. You’re someone who’s trying to move a mountain of debt that never seems to get any smaller no matter how hard you try. You do all the things you’re supposed to do. You buy store brands. You get a second job. You take classes to improve your skills. But it’s not enough. It’s never enough. The anxiety, the frustration, the powerlessness is still there, hovering like a storm crow. Every month you make it is a victory, but a Pyrrhic one — once you’re over the hump, all you can do is think about the next one and how much harder it’s all going to be.

They say it’s because you’re lazy. They say it’s because you make poor choices. They say it’s because you’re spoiled. If you’d only apply yourself a little more, worked a little harder, planned a little better, things would go well for you. Why do you need more help? Haven’t they helped you enough? They say you have no one to blame but yourself. They say it’s all your fault.

They are the 1 percent. They are the banks, the mortgage industry, the insurance industry. They are the important ones. They need help and get bailed out and are praised as job creators. We need help and get nothing and are called entitled. We live in a society made for them, not for us. It’s their world, not ours. If we’re lucky, they’ll let us work in it so long as we don’t question the extent of their charity.

We are the 99 percent. We are everyone else. And we will no longer be silent. It’s time the 1 percent got to know us a little better. On Sept. 17, 2011, the 99 percent will converge on Wall Street to let the 1 percent know just how frustrated they are with living in a world made for someone else. Let us know why you’ll be there. Let us know how you are the 99 percent.”

Bankers and international financiers are set to get a whole lot more unpopular shortly as the run on French banks that are exposed to Greek debt continues, which is likely to take down Morgan Stanley in due course which might then set off an avalanche of finance institution failures like the one that started in 2008 with Lehman Brothers. This time, governments have got little or no ammunition left to do bailouts by expanding debt yet further and putting the burden on to taxpayer’s shoulders.

As I’ve said before, the normal response of conventional economists, which is to attempt to restart business-as-usual “growth”, is like the problem with trying to kill the Alien, who’s blood is so acid that it is a danger to anyone trying to kill it.

It's got a wonderful defense mechanism. You don't dare kill it.

Similarly, this recession/depression has a great defence mechanism that should cause governments in general and, as far as we are concerned, Philip Ozouf’s Treasury Ministry in particular, to ponder the wisdom of trying conventional remedies.

Trying to solve the current global economic problems with more of the economic expansionism that caused the problems in the first place is just barking. Included within this are the problems of attempting to restore the type of economic growth that has led to us using planetary resources up almost 50% faster than the planet can supply them, and destabilising the climate faster than has ever been done before by Nature. This is not a rational option because it was the previous economic expansion that caused the mountains of debt that is likely to take down the whole system when the cracks proliferate.


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