You can ask ay number of people what they think of the Occupy Wall Street protest. In doing so you will receive any number of answers, from the sublime to the ridiculous. This protest action taking place in the heart of the world finance has gained the attention and respect of the world over. With such fanfare and serious effects for the future on the line it should come as no surprise that opinion on the protest is divisive.
With all the protesters of various opinions, the media with all its various opinions, and of course the public and its opinions; Its hard to remember who’s opinion matters most of all. There are only two opinions that matter in the long run, the public’s and those of the people who work in and run Wall Street. Perhaps it is those of Wall Street tycoons themselves. After all, these protests are about defeating them are they not?
So two questions remain: how do we get to their opinion, and what is it? My recommendation is to observe the media most closely connected to those Wall Street people, as well as those who are also among the wealthy elite in the country. The best source for elite opinion is “The Economist”. No this, is not not a free advertisement for them, its a statement of fact. There are two classes of mainstream media: one meant for the masses and one meant for the elite. If you want the opinion of the elite, (and we do), then its their media you must go to.
I choose The Economist because it is a remarkably honest publication. As a good example, they will literally say things like “Obama needs to step up combat operations in Afghanistan to protect our investments”. They don’t even try to lie about it and keep screaming that its all about freedom and democracy. It makes sense really, these are the elite economically and politically, they need to know what is really happening if they are going to invest. Its foolish to do so without really knowing what is going on. The price of the magazine alone puts it well out of the budget for most working class people at $138 US for a subscription.
With that said, what is “The Economist”, the elite saying about Occupy Wall Street exactly? A few quotes from their article on it with some explanation will tell us just that. This is what they place as the subtitle to the article about it from October 22nd:
“People are right to be angry. But it is also right to be worried about where populism can take politics.”
These two sentences that make up the opening lines reveal quite a lot in terms of what the elite are really thinking. First, they acknowledge that people are angry and that these people are angry for legitimate reasons. This already a great deal more than we receive from ‘other’ media, the one we’re supposed to be following. They’re usually filled with angry denunciations accusing people of not wanting to work and wanting everything handed to them. Occasionally they’ll give some token mention of the decline in living standards, growing inequality or the inability of wages to keep up with inflation. (Don’t even expect to hear anything about what has happened to the Third World.) The overall message will be “shut up, you live in the best country in the world. You have no right to be angry”. However, those actually running the economy full well know these things are happening, after all, they are the ones causing it.
“…houses are expensive, credit is hard to get and jobs scarce-not just in old manufacturing industries but in the ritzier services that attract increasingly debt-laden graduates. In America 17.1% of those below 25 are without work. Across the European Union, youth unemployment averages 20.9%. In Spain it is a staggering 46.2%.”
They fully acknowledge that this is not just a crisis level among youth, which is mostly ignored. The situation the world is facing is affecting the middle-aged as well, what were usually problems faced by youth are now creeping their way into older workers and elderly as well.
“The middle-aged face falling real wages and diminished pension rights. And the elderly are seeing inflation eat away the value of their savings…”
Second, they are clearly afraid of what the reaction from the public will be. A public’s reaction to wide spread civil unrest can be quite unpredictable. There have been several times where the public’s reaction caught leaders unaware. One need look no further than the “Arab Spring” that occurred earlier this year. They’re right to be worried, there has been a resurgence of the lunatic fringe since the global collapse of capitalism in 2008. (Also its failure to recover from it.) The appearance of market fundamentalism in the Mises Institute, the so-called Ron Paul “Revolutionaries”, as well as the often frightening Tea party.
“The justified fury of America’s striving middle classes against a cumbersome state has in practise translated into a form of obstructive nihilism: nothing to do with taxes can get through Washington, including tax reform.”
The badly controlled and misguided anger of movements like the Tea Party is causing them some concern. The manifestation they are taking is interfering with the operation of Washington. Even the rich elite have a vested interest in the recovery of the economy. If the country finally collapses and the dollar becomes worthless, a billion worthless dollars are still worthless. They’ll be poor too, they don’t want that. Some have suggested that they will just move away from America, but I find that highly doubtful considering the country they move to won’t want billions in worthless currency. The elite are afraid groups like the Tea Party will clog up the political process and make it impossible to fix the economic problems.
Despite all the dialogue about what needs and should happen to begin repairing the economy, the elites already have a plan they are offering. This plan is largely a compromise to prevent any more radical ideas from entering into the public debate that WILL harm their interests.
“More generally, focus on policies that boost economic growth: trade less austerity in the short term for medium-term adjustments, such as a higher retirement age. Make sure the rich pay their share, but in a way that makes economic sense: you can boost the tax take from the wealthy by eliminating loopholes while simultaneously lowering marginal rates. Reform finance vigorously.”
Their over all message to politicians is simple, make some concessions in order to prevent their entire class from being brought down. They don’t see this plan as a way of generating more profits. They see this as an attempt to prevent themselves from being completely destroyed by popular anger. the elites are aware of what a major threat is posed to them by this Occupy Movement and the broader social unrest as well. Besides, any increase in living standards can be undone in due time.
“Move to Base 3 and higher capital requirements” is not a catchy slogan, but it would do far more to shrink bonuses on Wall Street than most of the ideas echoing across from Zuccotti Park.”
Finally, in possibly their own most honest moment in the entire article, they openly state that people either don’t or are beginning lose faith in the capitalist system. Of course they don’t make its so obvious that its capitalism they are talking about, but clearly it is implied. It would be quite difficult to state any different. Genuine real anti-capitalist rightful criticisms and sentiments are making their way to the surface out from under all the propaganda we are fed. Even without knowing it the Tea Party people are sometimes making anti-capitalist statements. (Much to their chagrin if they were to ever realize it.)
“To the man in the street, all this smacks of a system that has failed. Neither of the main Western models has much political credit at the moment. European social democracy promised voters benefits that societies can no longer afford. The Anglo-Saxon model claimed that free markets would create prosperity; many voters feel instead that they got a series of debt-fuelled asset bubbles and an economy that was rigged in favour of a financial elite, who took all the proceeds in the good times and then left everybody else with no alternative other than to bail them out.”
In the end the article does not forget to tell the reader to ignore the protesters suggestions and ideas and opt for more ruling class supported options.
“But by any measure the benefits enormously outweigh those costs, and virtually all the ways to create jobs come from opening up economies, not following the protesters’ instincts.”
They’re also saying that the protesters can’t have ideas or critical thought, or legitimate strategies for change, they only have emotional reactions. Which is insulting to all working class people.