Thursday, May 10, 2012

#OWS—have they figured it out, yet?

There's this incredible scene in Apollo 13 where it dawns on the stressed-out crew that the folks on the ground have NOT figured out how to power-up the frozen capsule they are going to need to re-enter earth's atmosphere.  And while the crews on the ground have been working round the clock to create the start-up sequence, the guys in space are right—they don't have it figured out.

I feel a little the same way about the #OWS movement this spring.  Yes it is hard to get the band back together after time off.  Yes, the cops have probably infiltrated every meeting with more than five participants to disrupt and suggest the preposterous.  But #OWS cannot seem to come up with what to do next because it suffers from some structural problems.  They obviously have NOT figured it out.

Petitioning a bunch of arrogant and powerful private banksters is a quite different problem that petitioning one's own government—so the tactics of the 60s won't be of much help.  The "revolutionary" ideas from the Marxist left won't help much because Marx barely wrote about the problems of lending and monetary policy.  And the history of the movements against the money centers such as the Greenback Party, the Peoples Party, etc has been buried under such a steaming pile of horseshit over the years that it takes years of digging to find the relevant nuggets of truth.

Fortunately, there are literally billions of people who want #OWS and its sister movements to succeed and thrive.  One such person is Michael Lewis—a man who has been observing the follies of Wall Street for a very long time.  Listen up kids—the man knows what he is talking about.

Boycott the Big Greeders

Michael Lewis Advises Occupy


The concept is somewhat egotistical. But if you believe that what you have to offer is valuable, the published self-interview is an attention getter.

Recently, Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, used the device and cornered my vision field when he wrote an article about the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) and proposed suggestions for its improvement.

Lewis admitted, “I think it [OWS] is a bigger deal than I did when it first started.” He continued with an important observation–that people didn’t like the occupiers living on their streets, “but they liked what they stood for.”

Precisely. The 99 percent not present at an occupy site, yet watching from wherever, applauded the condemnation of economic injustice created by the exploiter/capitalist class.

Many people, though, have expressed frustration and criticism that the movement lacks focus. “It needs a concise list of demands,” a friend wrote in an email.

In cities and communities throughout the country, the young, old, and in-between have gathered to discuss grievances, cutting through a thicket of outrages to agree on an agenda that includes education reform, universal healthcare, jobs creation, immigration rights, repeal of the Patriot Act, overturning Citizens United, abolishing student debt, an end to home foreclosures, and saying no to war. Most groups focus on broad issues as well as those impacting their particular locales.

Many tactics have been conceived to denounce Wall Street crime and the awarding of trillions of dollars in bailout money paid by taxpayers.

But what is accomplished when demonstrators prevent tourists from entering an attraction like the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum? Answer: The tourists get really pissed.

And what is accomplished when protesters stand in front of the White House? Answer: Nothing.

And what is accomplished when volunteers sign petitions, make phone calls to their representatives, or walk the halls of Congress to engage staffers? Answer: A little bit of nada.

Michael Lewis’ guidance to advance OWS will deliver:
… if I were in charge I would probably reorganize the movement around a single, achievable goal: a financial boycott of the six “too big to fail ” Wall Street firms: Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo. We would encourage people who had deposits in these firms to withdraw them, and put them in smaller, not “too big to fail” banks. We would stigmatize anyone who invested, in any way, in any of these banks. I’d try to organize college students to protest on campuses. Their first goal would be to force the university endowments to divest themselves of shares in these banks. more


  1. That list of greivances needs to include food sovereignty, by which I mean the ongoing effort to rebuild our communities at the ground level, literally, by growing and distributing nutrient dense, sustainably produced food uncontaminated by chemical or GE intervention, in our communities. That can happen by means of small farms, community gardens, back or front yard gardens, or even rooftop urban farming. The occupy movement, so far as I was aware, has been steadfast in its support of the organic and sustainable farming and gardening movement, and of the non-GMO movement in particular. So, I am wondering why Ms. Beattie chose to omit any mention of food sovereignty among her list of greivances.

  2. As one myself, I believe that the self-absorbed Baby Boomers have to accept that they rate a massive "FAIL" for this country and its place in the world. All the advice I have heard from the Boomer's plays into the successful strategy of the .1%. As for some examples of appointing leaders with a discreet set of objectives:

    How has the Sierra Club & The Nature Conservancy done protecting the environment?
    How has the American Cancer Society done curing cancer?
    How has the American Red Cross done solving NOLA and Haiti?

    We should move aside and hang our heads in abject shame, letting the youth try to accomplish what we have completely failed to do. OWS has a clear objective - Occupy Wall Street. They are going back to the basics of what we have been taught works by Gandhi & MLK. Operating on the premise that the only power they have is their powerlessness, they are increasingly prepared to get arrested, assaulted, and abused in a coordinated fashion by the 21st Century Pinkerton's across the USA.

    OWS vaulted to national attention thanks to Tony Bologna. The entire New World Order is freaking and if OWS sticks to their maddeningly amorphous strategy, TPTB will sooner or later throw the whole deli platter of abuse at OWS. It's not for OWS to act, it is for OWS to persevere and force the NWO to show its real face. This has to ultimately be about the great ignorant masses understanding the brutality of the future the .1% wishes to impose on them.

    The Baby Boomer's inability to hold their attention longer than the average SitCom not only disqualifies their advice, but is a harbinger of not having much of a contribution to saving our future. If I had to place a bet, our generation is likely to hamper, not help, getting our country back to health.

    1. I absolutely agree that the younger generation shouldn't listen too carefully to the boomers. But I certainly do NOT agree that we shouldn't learn from the past. After all, the financial regulations our grandparents' generation put in place worked very well for at least 40 years. They knew how to take on Wall Street. They knew what needed regulating. It was their good sense we abandoned when we threw out rules like Glass-Steagall. So my advice is: Don't listen to the boomers—listen to the generation that rethought economics in the 20s and 30s. And by suggesting we attack the too big to fail banks, I think Lewis is suggesting much the same thing.