US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Wall Street Riot--of Rhetoric

Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

The appearance of a brigade of the out-of-work and nouveau crunchy outside the temples and corridors of money and power along Wall Street in New York was enough to drive many of mainstream media’s talking heads and Washington’s bought-and-paid-for politicians into a frenzy of fear-mongering and demagogy this week. Cries of class warfare filled the airwaves; the Occupy Wall Street protestors were dismissed as a mob of lazy malcontents, losers, the easily duped. When these milder descriptives weren’t enough to dispel the crowd or discredit the growing movement of young people wondering if the American dream were a lie, the rhetorical big guns were rolled out and the protestors were denounced as Troskyites, Leninists and worse: smelly hippies.

You would think the barbarians at the gate weren’t already inside, pillaging not America’s mansions and monied interests but the collective wealth of millions in looted retirement accounts and 401ks. No, they weren’t robbed Pretty Boy Floyd style, with a six gun. They were drained with a fountain pen by incomprehensible financial instruments, lapsed or repealed regulatory controls and reckless and bonus-addled bankers who drove the economy over the cliff in 2008.

Paul Krugman has a field day with this "Panic of the Plutocrats":


What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.

This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. 


Also not to be missed is one time Florida Rep. Alan Grayson explaining the meaning of the Occupy Wall Street movement to a condescending P.J. O'Rourke (Hmm. That could be redundant.)