About the Tea Party: Anger Against an Unfair Economic System. The libertarian Tea Party protests arose, ironically, like the #OccupyWallStreet (#OWS) protests, in part in response to a bailout of Wall Street. Equally ironic is the fact that the Tea Party was initiated in part by stock market insiders who were against the bailout of Wall Street. Initially, at some in the Tea Party appear to have had similar outrage as the #OWS movement. According to the wikipedia entry for the Tea Party:
The founder of market-ticker.org, Karl Denninger (stock trader and former CEO), published his own write-up on the proposed protest, titled "Tea Party February 1st?," which was posted in direct response to President Obama's inauguration occurring on the same day, and railed against the bailouts, the US national debt and "the fraud and abuse in our banking and financial system" which included the predatory lending practices currently at the center of the home mortgage foreclosure crisis.
|You Won't See this on Wall Street...|
Tea Party protests emerged only after Obama took office; the members of the movement conveniently ignore the fact that policies under the new Obama administration largely continued many of the previous administration's policies (including the genesis of the bailout, which was begun by Bush).
The TP platform ignores the truth that the US government has always been involved in the US economy, that this fact doesn't make it a socialist country or undermined it--and, in fact, this involvement has helped make it into a superpower. If you drive on a highway or use the Internet. If you've ever used the US Mail (that's not US Mail Partners, Inc., btw), or enjoyed a national park. If you're pretty sure your drinking water is safe. These are all things that the very flawed, but very required, US Government was directly involved in providing...
|Clinton on the Tea Party's |
The #OccupyWallStreet movement proves that the Tea Party doesn't have a monopoly on anger at the status quo.
#OccupyWallStreet: Tea? No thanks, we Drink Coffee. Any similarity between the Tea Party's outrage and the rage (inrage?) of the #OWS ends decisively with anger at the bailout. For example, when the Tea Party protests took place, there was a lot of shouting, and then people took their incendiary placards back home after the rally. Not so with the #OWS. They're actually camped out on-site, in lower Manhattan, sleeping, eating donated pizza, and live streaming.
If anything, the #OWS protest is a diametrically opposite counterweight to the main message of the Tea Party, which is to basically cut all government spending (except defense, apparently) and eliminate all government regulation of (or involvement in) the economy and allow free market capitalism to run free and unfettered, while refusing any form of taxation, no matter how reasonable. Of course, we know what happens when free market capitalism and an unregulated Wall Street and banking system run wild: the 2008 financial meltdown of the economy.
How did we get here? Mother Jones sums it up well:
In July, Adbusters, the Canadian anti-consumerist magazine, announced an ambitious protest against corporate greed, inviting 20,000 "redeemers, rebels, and revolutionaries" to Occupy Wall Street in mid-September. "Are you ready for a Tahrir moment?" it asked, name-dropping Cairo's Tahrir Square to suggest that this would be the beginning of the American version of the Arab Spring. In response to the call to "occupy Wall Street," 500-750 fed-up Americans descended on Manhattan's Zuccotti Park last week to shake the foundations of market capitalism.Watch the occupation live:
So What's this All About Then? A Reaction to Greed. Unlike the Tea Partiers, #OWS protesters very clearly understand that the policies and the bailout that led worst economic disaster since 1929 have undermined their employment prospects, while protecting the interests of the wealthy minority. They know that those responsible for the current economic downturn have not been held accountable for their actions and, to date, no one has been prosecuted, and no bonuses have been terminated for corporations that received billions in taxpayer bailout money. The #OWS movement has clearly been influenced by the Arab Spring revolts (and like the uprisings of the Arab Spring, #OWS is very tech savvy). As Nicholas Kristoff recently wrote:
I tweeted that the protest reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and that raised eyebrows. True, no bullets are whizzing around and the movement won't unseat any dictators. But there is the same cohort of alienated young people, and the same savvy use of Twitter and other social media to recruit more participants. Most of all, there's a similar tid of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protesters regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive, and unaccountable.
'This is absolutely inspired by Tahrir Square, by the Arab Spring movement,' said Tyler Comblic, 27, a Web designer from Brooklyn who is a spokesman for the occupiers. 'Enough is enough!'#OWS: Anger at Inequality, and a System that Favors the Privileged. The #OWS movement organizers were keenly aware that the bailout provided a very unequal approach to dealing with debt. Amy Goodman explains that their demographic makeup--and message--was clear this past Saturday:
'We are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.' There they were, mostly young, protesting the virtually unregulated speculation of Wall Street that caused the global financial meltdown.And their organizers know what they're talking about, too. Goodman interviewed #OWS organizer David Graeber:
I interviewed one of the "Occupy Wall Street" protest organizers. David Graeber teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and has authored several books, most recently “Debt: The First 5,000 Years.” Graeber points out that, in the midst of the financial crash of 2008, enormous debts between banks were renegotiated. Yet only a fraction of troubled mortgages have gotten the same treatment. He said: “Debts between the very wealthy or between governments can always be renegotiated and always have been throughout world history. ... It’s when you have debts owed by the poor to the rich that suddenly debts become a sacred obligation, more important than anything else. The idea of renegotiating them becomes unthinkable.”
|October 15: Worldwide Occupy|
Here's to hoping that this movement has the depth to effect change. They're certainly off to a good start...
List of useful relevant links, at a glance: