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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Days of Rage, Hours of Opportunism

The last time I passed the Days of Rage protesters in downtown Manhattan, amid their litter of expensive camping equipment, iPhone chargers, mobile hotspots and handwritten cardboard signs, they reminded me of people who walk up to you in bars pretending that they just discovered a new brand of beer they want to share with you. Those people are plants, so are the people with torn cardboard signs surrounded by a few thousand dollars of equipment.

There are people who have reason to be enraged at Wall Street, but they rarely show up at rallies. They are too busy working a second job in their seventies or sitting outside a factory that was shipped off to China. And the people who do show up at rallies invariably have nothing to do with Wall Street and are financed by billionaires who made their money, directly or indirectly, in the stock market.

The paradox of Wall Street financed radicals protesting against the Street makes as much sense as a dose of class warfare from Warren Buffett. But the Street is a devious place, which makes money by betting against itself, and whose favorite politicians denounce it around election time. The cynical game of broken expectations is played here like nowhere else and the entire economy is on the table.

Obama poured money into Wall Street before denouncing it, and like Kerry, he was against Wall Street, before he was for it, before he was against it. At luncheons in exclusive restaurants, his allies are still explaining to hedge fund managers that Barry doesn't really mean it. He's just trying to get elected.

Democrats sometimes like to take off their Harvard jackets, loosen their club ties and try on a little populism, but it never sticks. They're always against NAFTA, before they're elected, and for it once they do. At towns with the rusted steel of lost manufacturing, they pledge to stand up for American industry, and then fly off to a fundraiser thrown by the outsourcing firms who have the actual money.

The belated crusade against Wall Street is even more pathetic as it is coordinated by groups who wouldn't exist without men like Soros, who made their money from deals that make the Street look sparkling clean. It's class warfare as a cynical jab at the populist center, the people who mutter to themselves that the Street is full of crooks and so is Congress.

They're right and the Days of Rage protesters, who usually have a trust fund at their back and a degree in creative arts on their shelf, would never admit it. They're not here to protest against power, but for those in power. Or else why target Wall Street now, long after the bailouts and the fizzing outrage over Corporate Personhood.

The Days of Rage are an Obama election rally, coordinated ahead of time to coincide with Obama's own descent into class warfare. Which makes them a pro-government rally.

The yuppie ragers may try for comparisons to Tahrir Square, but they're more like if Mubarak had thrown a rally blaming the whole thing on international bankers. It's equally pathetic and desperate. And if the media had any credibility or ethics left, they would be doing something other than covering a disguised election rally as if it were the new Battle of Seattle.

Desperation is the only tactic here. Obama has lost on every issue and so the same fake "grass roots" plants who dialed up the social media during his last campaign, are sending the zombies into the streets to pretend to be leading a revolution. But if these are popular protests, then why do they look so much like an Abercrombie and Fitch take on the Battle of Algiers?

Where are the unemployed cannery workers, the bilked Madoff investors, the homeowners used as fronts for the massive Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac swindle by progressive billionaires like the Sandlers? Where are the victims of Buffett's insurance companies and the ordinary taxpayers who show up to Tea Party rallies, who are paying for all the crony capitalism?

They're absent because the Days of Rage are more like a temper tantrum meant to manufacture the perception of public outrage, while lying about the things that the public should be outraged about.

The sheer cost of HUD's scams, the money diverted to friends of politicians, and the entire edifice of a corrupted capitalism where money is made by failing and then getting bailed out by the government deserves a real day of rage-- but it's not one that people from organizations funded by all that stolen money are going to express. You might as well ask members of the Communist Youth Movement to denounce the Politburo.

As Social Security swirls down the drain and millions of Americans eat paste out of a can, there's lots of money available to pay photogentic young people to hand-letter cardboard signs, put on their costumes and pretend to be angry about something other than a Defense of Marriage amendment or a supermarket that still uses plastic shopping bags.

People who are as detached from the economic turmoils of a sinking economy as possible are the worst possible representatives of populist outrage. And why should they worry, as long as rogue billionaires like George Soros or Warren Buffett keep trying to run the country to suit their own interests and agendas-- then they can expect a steady paycheck.

The exploitation of outrage is always an exercise in hypocrisy. But it's a particularly pungent odor when the upper class mimes revolution, when they really mean status quo. This isn't 2008, it's 2011. These aren't rallies meant to bring down a government they oppose, but to keep a government they support, with some bottom line differences, in power. To divert attention from its failures by resorting to a wholly phony populism that's little more than a subway stop game of three-card monte.

Hate the Street or not, the problems we face didn't begin there. They began in Washington D.C. It wasn't the Street that squandered the Social Security Trust Fund or decided that the economy would look better with a 15 trillion dollar deficit. The Street certainly played its role in suggesting to the politicians which side of the river to throw the money in, but it was at best a bagman. And the robbers are still off the Potomac, smirking their way through Senate sessions, and trading email notes with the organizations behind the populist protests.

Wall Street isn't the cause of our economic problems, it's the patsy for them. Bankers are always there to invest the loot when a government robs its own people blind. But unlike the leaders of so many Banana Republics, ours aren't piling money in suitcases and flying on the next four engine prop plane out of a dusty tarmac surrounded by palms. They're staying behind and running for reelection.

The Obama Administration is not the first government to pile up a huge deficit and treat the treasury like its own cash machine. It is not the first government to try and tough it out, by finding a villain to throw to the wolves and pledging to make them pay. These are all antics so outdated that you can read about them in the original Latin. Greek if you're willing to dig deeper. Phoenician and Hebrew if you've got an excellent dictionary.

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" Casablanca's Captain Renault says. We have no shortage of Captain Renaults who show up at Wall Street to display their shock that the national economy is little more than a bunch of roulette tables, a few thousand pinball machines and a game that only exists so long as people have enough faith to keep throwing money into the pot.

But the Renaults know all about it, because they not only get their weekly cut, but because the entire system works only because the Renaults funnel money to the tables and then take their cut. And when the bubbles die, the jobs go down the chute and voters look for a scapegoat-- the Renaults put on their best self-righteous faces and burst into the establishments to knock the cards out of the players' hands. Shocked, shocked. This time they're really going to regulate those naughty brokers.

We've played this game long enough that the Renaults and the players have gotten cynical, but the public still hasn't quite caught on. When people mutter that Social Security is in trouble because there are thieves on Wall Street, they tragically miss the point.

Social Security is in trouble, because like everything else from D.C. to Wall Street, it was built for the interests of those in power, not for its supposed beneficiaries. Which was all-right when the men in the big chairs knew what they were doing, could count to ten, and understood that the system worked so long as you kept on top of it. When those men were replaced by overgrown boys and girls with Harvard degrees and blackberries and all the sense of responsibility of a crackhead with a bladder problem on the Number 2 train, then what we have is universal bankruptcy while the people responsible stuff bonds into their pants and try to distract us with a Day of Rage by the employees of their paid political movements.

This game can only go on for so long, as the numbers rise into the trillions. And where then? Debt is fine as a commodity until it comes time to cash the checks. It's fine to point the fingers at Wall Street before hitting them up for a donation, but that won't solve the problem either. Nor will rearranging the tax code to benefit Warren Buffett's financial interests. You can raise taxes on some of the rich some of the time, while the others will be buying stocks in solar companies and bailed out banks right before a government bailout.

For Halloween, the people behind the mess have decided to send their kids to Wall Street dressed as grass roots protesters. As Elizabeth Warren says, no one got rich on their own. The solar panel factory had government grants. The Harvard lawyers had consultancy fees. The unions had their own politicians. The politicians had book deals. The billionaires have trust fund zombies with cardboard signs. The question is what do we have?

18 comments:

Lemon said...

It seems that the vultures increase whenever the nation is in trouble.
They all just come storming out to do their worst.

mindRider said...

When Glenn Beck was still working at FOX he already did a show which reported the coming of this "Demolish Wall street" action by playing sound tapes of the organizers sating their plans. At the time GB phrased this action as being "Economic terrorism" against which an American DA should take legal action, but not one did and see the results: massive disruptions and the media giving this hoax based action international coverage as if it where a spontaneous protest instead of treating it for what it is: An other left-winged liberal step in the direction of national anarchy.

Kristin Solo said...

It seems we have the elite illusionists sowing disinformation to reap delusion
in order to practise organised corruption ... or in simpler terms, the equivalent of the lunatics running the asylum!

Halycon said...

I don't know if you saw that trader on the BBC, but he says Goldman Sachs controls the world not the government.

What about the Fed and it's link to the big banks?

This is a new age where protests are no longer passed to state actors but to the puppet-master corporations who have multinational power.

Yes the government has neglected it's responsibilities and it isn't blameless. But people are aware that in a capitalist system, there are problems that originate from outside the government.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

the trader was a fake, it was another Yes Men hoax, a left-wing protest group

Keli Ata said...

I hope this isn't offensive to anyone in Manhatten since I've only seen brief coverage on the news here.


But when I think of social outrage and stuff I tend to get an image of On The Waterfront--people in jeans, the working class (lower middle class, people living on incomes under $30K).

It was pretty hard to take the socia outrage seriously based strictly on the appearance of the people who are enraged.


They don't look very grassroots. not undermining their causes, but they'd make a bigger impact if they looked the part.

Halycon said...

Mr Knish could you show me proof that the trader was fake?

It has been discussed but verifiable proof would be welcome.

Anonymous said...

If you can't even get the name of the protest right, why should we believe the rest of your analysis?

careyrowland said...

Well this is a welcome new venue for the Knish--eyewitness news!
Film at 11?
In other news, the bladder-challenged crackhead--he really gets around. I saw him in July on a train in Seattle. I wonder who's subsidizing his fare.

Curtis said...

It is all fine and dandy to point the finger. But, what is the Tea Party doing but gyrating their loins in anticipation of voting for either Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and that unmentionable? And what is FreeFor doing but supposedly preparing for an economic collapse... that might not happen, and/or the government finally going completely stupid... that might not happen? Okay, then what? Just keep on doing what we have been doing and hoping for the best? Or the worst? The way I see it, we are hedging our bets that the voters will "finally get it right," or the termites will take down the house finally and "then we can act". And if neither one of those requisites do not happen ... well, we can sit around and keep on hoping that is does.

Anonymous said...

These are Trustafarians from across the US - they are not New Yorkers, you're not offending any Manhattanites.

The same left refers to the Tea Party as racist - how much diversity do you see amongst the protesters?

Dedicated_Dad said...

Without doubt, the "rage" bunch has a distinct leftish bent.

Personally, I'm inclined to agree with Denninger http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?singlepost=2732819

The Tea Party should take this damn thing over! We have the numbers - after all, we're the ones being hurt the MOST by this sick mess - and we have the message that resonates with the most American people!
I'd go - but I don't want to be alone!

Dedicated_Dad said...

careyrowland said...
"... In other news, the bladder-challenged crackhead--he really gets around. I saw him in July on a train in Seattle. I wonder who's subsidizing his fare."

Who?

Wha?

Dedicated_Dad said...

Oh...
Since I'm apparently suffering from post-tourettes, let me add this one more thought...

I knew this was a suspicious situation when I saw the amount of coverage it's gotten in the lap-dog media.

I remember a while back when the biggest "protest" in DC history was utterly ignored, but now a few trust-fund kiddies show up and it's almost wall-to-wall?

Sure - SOME of it is that they're fellow com-symp travellers, but... the disparity is too over-the-top to be FULLY explained by that!

Likewise the pseudo-violent police-response...

Am I the only one who wondered why it was only the "white-shirts" who seemed to be getting carried away with the pepper-spray, and why there wasn't any REAL brutality of the sort that risks permanent harm?

Is the suspicion that the police -- (all 100% Dem/Unionists in NYFC, FTR) would help create the illusion of "brutality" to feed the news-cycle as part of the whole charade but let the "bosses" do the questionable stuff rather than ask the front-line troops to risk their career -- Is that REALLY too "tin-foil-hattish" for our current regime to pull off?

I've also read of some bunch of NYFC cops who refused to participate -- was that out of sympathy for the "protesters" or refusal to help enable the propaganda-machine?

Always On Watch said...

Excellent delineation of what's really going on.

It's 1917 again -- this time manipulated by trustfundistas.

Anonymous said...

Too many cops on the NYPD getting jammed up for doing their jobs - might be part of the reason you don't see them more active.

How many here remember the last time hippies descended on Wall Street (in the 70s?) and the Iron/Steel Workers came down from building the WTC to throw them a beating while the NYPD watched.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Hat_Riot

Hopeless in America said...

These protesters are the useful idiots who will bring a tyranical dictator to power, when those of us who work ask the police and army to clear the streets. They think they are for freedom and democracy and they will bring the opposite to power. Just like Tahir Square brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power, they will bring something similar to power here, or maybe even the same thing (how many Muslims has Obama named to sensitive posts?) It's not an accident this is happening under Obama, the new world orderers want chaos, war and a dictators they can control and Obama is as good a choice for them as anyone. The protesters are the puppets of those they claim to oppose.

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