Tom Cordle

Tom Cordle
Location
Beeffee, Tennessee, CSA
Birthday
June 16
Title
Peasant
Company
Pleasant
Bio
"I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence." Frederick Douglass _________________________________ "You can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don't have any boots, and you can't put yourself in another's shoes -- you can't even try on their socks." Soulofhawk _________________________________ "I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue." Albert Einstein _________________________________ Only in silence can your hear the voice of God." Soulofhawk ____________________________________ "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King, Jr" ____________________________________ "Racists can hide in the closet, but the smell usually gives them away." Soulofhawk _________________________________ "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." Mark Twain ____________________________ "When we are young, Death comes as an unwelcome stranger; but as we get nearer the end of our own too-often rocky road, he comes more and more to resemble a long, lost acquaintance." Soulofhawk ____________________________________ “When monetary gain is involved, mans capacity for self-delusion is infinite.” Lord Byron _________________________________ "Where greed is good, need is great." Soulofhawk _________________________________ “And let it be noted that there is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more doubtful in its success, than to set up as a leader in the introduction of change. For he who innovates will have as his enemies all who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new. This lukewarm temper arises partly from the incredulity of mankind, who will never admit the merit of anything new, until they have seen it proven by the event.” Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter VI _________________________________ "if a man falls from a pedestal, who is really to blame -- the man or those who put him up there?" Soulofhawk ____________________________________ "The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners." Howard Zinn _______________________________ "The worst thing to be around a bigot is right." Soulofhawk

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Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 19, 2011 5:28PM

Takin’ it to the Streets

Rate: 40 Flag

Wall Street Protestor“Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo

Occupy Wall Street and it's many off-shoots seem to have taken the power structure in this country completely by surprise. But like the attack on 9-11 and the housing crash, there certainly is no excuse for not having seen this coming.

Only hubris and willful blindness could prevent seeing the approach of a storm that has been brewing for forty years. The only surprise is that it took so long to land.

Though the hand-lettered sign in the accompanying photo is short and sweet, it speaks volumes about the nature of the Occupy Wall Street protest. It reads:

"I won't believe corporations are people until Texas executes one."

By demonstrating an awareness of legal cum political esoterica like the decision in Citizens United, this young woman delivers a message that ought to be perfectly clear: These protestors may be young, but many of them are far more informed and intelligent than the majority of the population.

One lesson that should be learned from revolutions, including our own, is that they begin when an informed intelligentsia and an uniformed but disaffected working class find common cause..

These protestors and disaffected Tea Party protestors have yet to fully understand their common cause. But that day is rapidly approaching; and when it arrives, the revolution will be televised. 

                     

Speaking of television, the mainstream media, that is to say the corporate media, was so painfully slow to cover these protests it exposed the charge of a "liberal media bias" as the canard it has long been. Instead, it added to the growing suspicion that mainstream media has been co-opted by its corporate masters.

Now that the sheer weight of numbers has forced the mainstream media to stop ignoring what is so blatantly obvious, the punditocracy is abuzz with questions: Who are these people? What do they want? Who are their leaders? Who is going to co-opt the movement?

The question they ought to be asking is where do we go from here? The best way to begin to answer that question is to take a look at where we’ve been.

                     

During its formative years, America was largely an agrarian nation with a largely rural population. During this time and under such conditions, America could afford to encourage the myth of rugged individualism and the notion that every person could succeed merely by hard work and persistence.

That notion ended – or at any rate should have ended with the coming of the Industrial Age. In the age of the assembly line, efficient drones replaced experienced craftsmen, and complacent conformity replaced rugged individuality.

The Industrial Age came with the promise of a golden era of peace and prosperity, and for awhile it appeared that promise might be fulfilled. Indeed, it was a very prosperous era for speculators and the robber barons who ran the railroads and banks.

But for ordinary workers, it was quite a different story. Division of labor led to work that turned human beings into little more than automatons. The work was not only dehumanizing, it separated men from their families for much of the daylight hours, with dire consequences for traditional family values.

While productivity increased dramatically, increased profits mostly went to owners, not to workers. One exception was at Ford Motor Company, where Henry Ford doubled the existing wage for workers in his auto plants.

This incurred the wrath of the robber barons,  who called Ford a traitor to his class. Ford answered his critics in his typical terse fashion. “Who the hell do you think is going to buy my cars?”

Today’s robber barons have either forgotten or ignored that lesson.

                      

Hard as it may be to imagine these days, it was actually Republican Progressives who led the way toward a more just and equitable society. Teddy Roosevelt incurred the wrath of the robber barons with his trust-busting and his call for a national healthcare system.

Roosevelt's friend and successor, William Howard Taft, did not pursue those progressive policies and became more or less a tool of the robber barons. Incensed at this betrayal, Roosevelt ran again as the candidate of the Bull Moose Party. His third-party candidacy threw the election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

For all practical purposes, the bitter struggle between the conservative and progressive wings of the Republican Party ended with that election. Conservatives gained the upper hand, and never again would the party be viewed as a champion of progressive causes.

                     

Laissez-faire unfettered capitalism was not sustainable, and eventually the system crashed with an effect that resounded ‘round the world. It was called the Great Depression.

Economic disparity, and accompanying social darwinsim, eventually led to a search for alternatives, and communism began to receive serious consideration in America and much of the rest of the industrialized world, especially among the intelligentsia.

The Great Depression led to the establishment of a social safety net that literally kept millions from starving. In America, it’s taboo – except in the rightwing-nuttery – to speak of Social Security as socialism, but that is in fact what it is.  And the plain truth is some among the rich and powerful instituted it to stave off something they considered far worse.

The Depression also gave rise to increased interest in the union movement. New Deal reforms like Social Security put a floor beneath the poor, but unions provided a firm foundation for the rise of the middle class.

Some conservatives argue that it wasn't New Deal reforms but World War II that ended the Great Depression. That's a hypothetical that can't be proven, but there is an even easier argument to be made that war impedes social and economic progress. More on that in a moment.

More social reforms followed in the wake of World War II, when returning soldiers rightly felt they’d earned a larger portion of the economic pie. In Great Britain, nationalized healthcare was instituted, though the nation was flat-broke and bombed-out. In America, the GI Bill made a college education and home ownership possible for millions who otherwise could have only dreamed of such things..

                     

Obviously, the promise of peace that came with the Industrial Age proved empty as well. Quite the contrary, mechanization made possible wars of unimaginable horror and incalculable cost.

Though it is impossible to calculate exactly how costly were the two world wars – and all the wars before and since, we can gain some small idea by observing how two comparatively small wars in the Mideast created a significant drain on the US treasury and contributed to the wasting away of our infrastructure.

Certainly, no reasonable person would argue that these wars have led to increased employment or increased economic security for millions of Americans. And though those wars are not in the forefront of the present protests, there ought to be no doubt they contributed to a general malaise reflected in those protests.

There is no arguing that the Vietnam War was a root cause of protests in the Sixties. But one could argue the present protests are a long overdue continuation of a protest that ended prematurely.

                     

The Sixties protest movement led to Civil Rights legislation and women’s liberation, but it fell short of addressing already vast economic inequities in the system. One reason it failed to do so was that it suffered from its own excesses.

Those excesses made it easier for purveyors of nefarious divide and conquer politics based on the so-called Southern Strategy to co-opt the movement. I say so-called because that strategy was not confined to the South. It was exploited nationwide by Richard Nixon in 1968, with a thinly-disguised racist appeal to the Silent Majority.

The Southern Strategy sunk to disgusting depths with political operatives like Lee Atwater, who used it to help elect Ronald Reagan. Just in case anyone doubts how vile and racist was that strategy, here’s what Atwater had to say about it:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

Unfortunately for most of America, racist appeals led to the election of an economic illiterate named Ronald Reagan. Reagan actually believed in the infallibility of The Market and in childish economic policies George H.W. Bush rightly characterized as Voodoo Economics.

As a result, deregulation, merger mania, outsourcing, downsizing and union-busting became the policy not only of the corporatocracy, but of the government itself. Thus, Reagan’s asinine rhetoric that “government is evil” became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

                     

The Savings and Loan debacle during Reagan’s reign should have served as an ominous warning of what was to come. Certainly, John McCain, who was badly bruised politically by his association with Charles Keating, should have learned from that experience. Certainly, George W. Bush, whose brother Neil drove Silverado S & L into bankruptcy, should have learned from it.

Then again, Bush should have learned from bankruptcies at several of his own businesses. Instead, he chose to drive the entire nation to the brink of bankruptcy.

The Savings and Loan debacle was a learning experience – for bankers. They learned from that bailout that  profits could be privatized and risk could be socialized thanks to Voodoo Economics. In fact, the Savings and Loan debacle served as a blueprint for how to scam the system, a blueprint exploited and expanded upon by nefarious bankers, slipshod mortgage brokers and others in the financial industry.

Among them was Joseph Cassano, who – along with notorious junk-bond king Michael Milken – made his bones during the Eighties at the infamous financial firm Drexel Burnham. In the years to come, junk bonds were taken to their illogical extreme with deliberately obtuse "investments" like CDO’s and Credit Default Swaps.

Cassano went on to become head of AIG’s Financial Products Division, aka the London Casino. The rest, as the say, is history, a very sad history.

                     

The Dot-com bubble was another sign something was definitely rotten on Wall Street. That rot eventually infected not only individuals and businesses, but whole nations.

But perhaps the most obvious sign that something was amiss and that there was a war on the working class was the fact the minimum wage was not raised for an entire decade. Meanwhile, the cost of gasoline, among other essentials, more than doubled.

As a consequence of this and many other attacks on the working class and the social safety net, conditions for the “beneficiaries” of Trickled-On Economics deteriorated dramatically. These attacks were especially devastating for those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.

The very rich and their paid political stooges were able to get away with this economic infamy by employing divide and conquer politics to demonize welfare recipients and social liberals. And sad to say, a majority of those in the middle were happy to have a scapegoat.

Suffice it to say that never have so many paid so high a price for a goat.

                     

The poor having been reduced to virtual beggary, the rich moved on to their next target, the middle class. Since the minimum wage did not rise, neither did wages up the ladder, even though productivity increased dramatically, mostly as a result of downsizing and outsourcing.  While two could not live cheaply as one, one could be forced, out of desperation, to do the work of two.

The middle-class was forced to borrow to maintain the lifestyle they rightly felt they had earned through increased productivity. In this they were encouraged by nefarious mortgage brokers and duplicitous bankers, who used CDO’s and Credit Default Swaps to pass bad loans onto others.

Sooner or later, the bankster-induced housing bubble had to burst; and when it did, most middle-class citizens lost a substantial portion of their life savings, whether in the form of home equity or pensions or both. Suddenly, the rules that had guided the economic decisions of most average Americans were no longer in effect. Suddenly, one in four homes was under water – and there was no flood insurance to cover a sea of debt. Apparently, that form of insurance was only available to bankers.

The notion that The Market was self-regulating and would weed-out failures had come a cropper, as even a die-hard Freemarketeer and Ayn Rand acolyte like Alan Greenspan had finally to admit. On the contrary, failure resulted in large bonuses and economic windfalls for the very financial executives responsible for the disaster. Instead of going out of business, failed banks – having co-opted the government itself – were about to be bailed-out by the government.

Enter the Tea Party.

                     

Tea Party protests began largely as a reaction to the bank bailout. It may be a stretch, but one could argue those protests – at least in the beginning – were the first sign of America’s Arab Spring.

In the beginning, the Tea Party movement had no leaders and no real agenda other than to rale against bail-outs. But that was before the movement was co-opted by the Koch Brothers and their paid lackey Dick Armey – before it was side-tracked by rightwing gun-nuts in thrall of the NRA – before it degenerated into a racist reaction to a Black Man in the White House.

To be more fair than they probably deserve, the Teapartians were easy pickings because so many were  poorly educated and politically unsophisticated, and thus, easily susceptible to propaganda. They were and are easily distracted with "family values" social issues, while apparently remaining willfully blind to the fact that nothing so destroys families as economic inequity and iniquity.

Then there is the matter of their inherent distrust of government. That people who happily draw Social Security and Medicare benefits should so detest government bespeaks a profound degree of ignorance and self-loathing, but let us save that discussion for another time.

                     

The Occupy Wall Street protests also began as a protest against banks. But  obviously, given the growing number of off-shoot protests around the country, people are upset about more than just Wall Street. They are also clearly upset that the masters of greed who run our largest banks exert undue influence over the rest of the economy – and over the government.

As I pointed out at the outset, that includes undue influence over the courts, especially the Supreme Court. The decision in Citizens United, especially coming as it did on the heels of the bank bail-out, opened a lot of eyes, including my own, to the fact that things have gotten completely out of hand.

Disgust with the courts is yet another area where these protestors and Tea Party protestors have common ground. It hardly needs pointing out that the two sides disagree profoundly on how the courts should rule on things like abortion, gay rights and executions. But at least they can agree that by no stretch of the imagination is General Electric a person.

Many Americans on both ends of the political spectrum are genuinely fearful that unless the Citizens United decision is reversed, this noble experiment in self-government will come to a screeching halt, while those we elect to help us instead continue to grease the skids for those least in need of government help.

While many in the movement are distrustful of government, at least as it is presently constituted, most – it is assumed – continue to believe government does serve a useful purpose. But most seem to believe that at the moment, the government is not serving that purpose.

Truth be told, many of those in the movement are even more incensed because they were led to expect change they could believe in. For whatever reason, that change has not come about. Those in charge should realize that unless it does, change will come about by other means. Of course, they don’t realize that or much of anything else beyond the necessity of building a campaign war chest.

So far, no one in the movement is advocating “second amendment solutions”. But as the protests in the Sixties proved, that could change in an instant. And that is all the more likely if authorities choose to respond with undue force.

There can be no doubt that lack of jobs and lack of faith in the political system were at the root of Arab protests, and the sad truth is that a growing majority of Americans feel the same way about our economic and political systems. That is a very bad sign even in a tyranny, as several Mideast tyrants can attest. But it may be even worse in a democracy, where policies supposedly reflect the will of the majority and decisions supposedly are made with the consent of the governed.

                     

So where do we go from here? The answer is no one knows, least of all those who purport to know. What appears more and more certain, however, is that huge numbers of people on both the Right and the Left are sick and tired of seeing the American Dream sold-out to the highest bidder.

But alas, it’s not likely the rich and powerful and the politically connected will see this movement for what it is; and when winter sets in and protestors, of necessity, must seek shelter, the masters of greed and their lackeys will think they have weathered the storm.

But come next spring, they may well discover the inevitable winter lull was merely the sea receding before the tsunami.

©2011 Tom Cordle

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Applause!
Why is common sense so uncommon Tom? I'd vote for YOU
for president, but know someone of your calibre probably
wouldn't want such a shitty job.
So many of your points I could highlight, paste here, and comment on, but I'm not going to, as I need to read again and absorb fully.
General Electric is not a person, yes I would think we could agree on that... for one. Great post.
Rated for the phrase "Trickled-On Economics". Being from the NW, I'm used to accepting the weather and leaving the umbrella behind.

But this storm is going to soak us either way.
R! Wow Tom - quite the tour de force. thanks for taking the time and energy to pull together all of this history (p.s. come on over and chime in on my new tome on Herman "Bigsby" Cain when you get the chance).

A couple of things from your great piece really caught my attention because of how true they still are in capturing the philosophy guiding the 1% and their political arm, the GOP/TP. The first one is from a placard from the Occupy Wall St. Movement:

"I won't believe corporations are human beings are people until Texas executes one."

And the 2nd are your comments regarding and quote of Lee Atwater in his own words on the Republican "Southern Strategy:"

The Southern Strategy sunk to disgusting depths with political operatives like Lee Atwater, who used it to help elect Ronald Reagan. Just in case anyone doubts how vile and racist was that strategy, here’s what Atwater had to say about it:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."
Tr ig
Thanks for the applause and the endorsement, but you're quite right -- if nominated, I will not run; if elected,I will not serve -- not that I'd have a snowball's chance in hell of getting nominated or elected to any public office -- let alone the Presidency.

I could have picked any corporation, but I chose to pick on GE because of it's association with Ronald Reagan, tho to be perfectly honest, there are lots of other reasons to make an example of GE -- like not paying taxes on billions in profits..
Alsokniownas
I find "trickled-on" to be far more descriptive of the reality of our economic system than is "trickle-down". And "free" is the last word I would use to describe the present marketplace, dominated as it is by a handful of multi-national corporations in every sector of the economy.
PS alsoknownas
And as it is writ, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows".
Ron
Thanks for the high praise, tho I suspect some will see my "tour de force" as a tour de farce, given its inordinate length for these environs.

I have hopes of making it over to your post later today .
Tom, on my Occupational Hazards thread, you said I had provided “impetus” for this piece. If so, I'm quite pleased to have played my part.

I will note that MSNBC was covering it pretty much from the beginning. Rachel Maddow, the Ed Show did a lot of the newsy stuff and Up with Chris Hayes (my new favorite news show) did extensive discussion and analysis. Then again, Chris Hayes also writes for The Nation, whose TV ads boldy advertise that it offers “that liberal media bias you can't get anywhere else.” :) I do wish MSNBC would allow some of its news coverage to overflow to NBC for the sake of people without cable... But you're right, there was a lack of coverage from most other quarters. Keith Olbermann on Current is a possible additional exception, and sight unseen I'll bet Fox was quick to disparage if that counts as coverage.

I've never read Chesapeake but from my wife's description, this piece follows its style, starting way, way back and really building to establish context. And here you are writing about Washington again. Maybe it's something about the area that provokes long-arc storylines...

You're right about the robber barons, though I think they're about to re-learn the lessons they forgot or never learned.

The best definition of a computer I ever heard was a “relentless judge of incompleteness.” That is, you program it to do something and if you didn't include all the information needed, odds are it's going to not work and keep not working until you really do your job. Capitalistic economies are a kind of machine, almost a computer, as you program them in a certain way and then let them go. And I think they're going to relentlessly remind people of what paradigms work and don't. It's just that the way they signal errors is not pretty or graceful, it's harsh and spelled in all manner of human ruination. For all computer program crashes are bad, government program crashes are worse.

One can have the finest spin machine for managing public relations but if the public program doesn't work, it doesn't work. One would rather just examine the code statically and detect the error at program-writing time, but if they insist on playing it out, it will get to the flaw and stop cold. Of course, they'll still use their spin machine to present the bad news and will insist, as they have been doing, that the problem is that we just haven't freed them to have their way enough. But it's just so much fabrication. I think my piece
[Drat. Some of that last comment was lost. I'll just re-paste the remainder.]

... I think my piece Hollow Support sums up the mentality. (You've seen it, but others reading these comments may not have.)

You wrote, “The middle-class was forced to borrow to maintain the lifestyle they rightly felt they had earned through increased productivity.” In fairness, this makes it sounds like they should have known they should cut back and that they were living a lie. A more charitable description is that they assumed the problems were cyclic—people always talk about markets as if they have a natural and righteous state that will be always sought by nature (just like our planet will heal itself from Climate Change without our help), and so they assume the borrowing is just leveling a dip, not trying to keep from sliding down an ever-steeper downhill-sloping mountain.

You said you were going to get back to the issue of whether the world war caused the rebound. I don't know that you did. If you did, I missed it. If it did, then we may be in luck. Climate degrading as it is, we have two chances to win: First, there may be world-wide calamities of huge proportion that could destroy our society but create a ton of probably-permanent jobs trying to rebuild things over and over as the planet's habitability spirals down. Second, if there isn't outright destruction, the failure of the food supply could cause mass famines that lead to resource wars—just what one needs to kickstart an ailing economy. Oh, joy. I can hardly wait for the thrill ride.

All in all, an interesting read. I hope you're right about the tsunami of public opinion. I fear it will go differently, with people finally deciding to take matters into their own hands, only to figure out they don't have the weaponry to do it. As soon as they take even the slightest provocative action, I expect the US government to be forced to act with brutal force and horrible steps backward in social freedoms, tightening the control of the plutocrats. I think there's a real euphoria right now about the coolness of the occupation that is blinding them to the realities of where they can go. I'll be happy to admit I'm wrong if it turns out I am. But I'm not holding my breath.
Masterful summary Tom. One small quibble however. Re the Social Security and Medicare, I don't think there's any self-loathing involved. Ignorance suffices.
Kent
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment thoughtfully on what I feared was a too-lengthy post for this neighborhood. As you observed with Chesapeake, the idea was to try and provide some context for those who might not be aware of some of the events of the 20th Century that brought us to where we are.

I like your analogy of govt programs as computer programs. The only thing I would add is that in the present circumstances, the R programmers seem to be working very much at odds with the stated primary objective which is jobs and economic recovery. It's one thing to fail, it's another to fail for want of trying, and it's another entirely to fail deliberately as a means (hopefully) of achieving your own selfish aims at the expense of every one else.

As for the middle class, I meant no disparagement, which is why I used the term "rightly" to justify their actions in the face of stagnant wages and an increasing cost of living. To expect an increase in wages as a result of increased productivity, thanks largely to your own sacrificial efforts and those of your co-workers -- how many ever remain from downsizing, is not an unreasonable expectation. In fact, that idea lies at the very heart of what capitalism is supposed to be, at least before it devolved into crapitalism.

As for the question of whether war is the answer to depressions, I did return to that subject, tho perhaps not as thoroughly as I would have liked. The numbers may show that is the case, but my gut -- which tends to be much more perceptive of reality than that of Bush the Lesser -- says quite the opposite is true.

As I said, I don't believe anyone can make a reasonable case that ten years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq have improved the American economy. Quite the contrary, those fiascoes helped ruin it. And god knows how much better off the world might be if so much blood and treasure had not been wasted on the wars that have plagued mankind since the dawn of so-called civilization.

As for your doomsday scenarios, time will tell. In the meantime, the OWS protests have given me hope -- however faint -- that the populace has finally had enough with this disastrous experiment in Free Market absolutism.
Abrawang
Thanks, and if I may offer a small re-quibble, I do think there is at least some degree of self-loathing involved in taking a check from an entity you despise. One may reasonably believe they earned it, but still dislike being made subject to an oppressor for sustenance.

Of course, whether the dispenser be a bastard employer or the govt, self-loathing never stopped anyone from taking the check.
"Some conservatives argue that it wasn't New Deal reforms but World War II that ended the Great Depression."

Actually, they are right about that. But they never mention why the war ended the depression: It was a huge government spending program, far greater than anything Roosevelt could get through Congress during the 1930s. The war caused exactly the kind of Keynesian stimulus spending Republicans oppose. Now, a war is obviously not the ideal way to stimulate the economy, but the key here is that government deficit spending worked, just like Keynesians said it would.

Of course, Republicans will never admit that. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. I hope the protests are a sign that American voters are waking up to that fact.
Tom, thanks for the clarification on the effects of war. Up until a dozen years or so ago, I used to not understand why Wall Street feared wars. I understood why regular people didn't like them, but Wall Street, it seemed to me, always dives when there's a war where I was always stunned it wasn't thrilled since it seemed like wars always meant rises in employment both in the military itself and in the military industrial complex. It seemed to me that war was, sadly, great for the economy and that it was no wonder leaders liked to have them. The recent wars, perhaps because the cost was not managed contemporaneously and openly, or perhaps for other reasons, did not work out profitably. It might be that it was profitable (as Blackwater and others probably profited a lot) but that the money was siphoned off shore and otherwise off the books so that we just didn't see the profit. That sounds more likely now that I see about it. But you're right that from the point of view of public “spoils” (if I may use a disquieting metaphor), there just weren't any, making war seem suddenly like more serious business we should perhaps think harder about doing.

By the way, you may have missed my article The Cost where I suggest an accounting in which the true number of deaths due to the war could be viewed conservatively as at least 10,000,000 (though that could be claimed by some to be low by at least a factor of 2 or 3). I'll let the article make its case as to why.
Quite a treatise. Wise and well-written. Hope this goes viral, Tom.
Thank you for this excellent summary of the events leading up to the OWS movement. I have nothing to add but in answer to the question
"Who are these people": Maybe someone should have been paying attention to that a long time ago. "These people" have been right under their noses - and their thumbs - for too long.
Nicely done Tom. The war stimulating the economy phenomenon is nicely summarized by Norwonk’s comment. Also, there was a sense of shared sacrifice (draft, shortages of items) during those times. In the past 20 years it’s all been about self-serving greed from the “haves” without any perceived willingness to make any sacrifices to help. I mean, wars AND tax cuts AND no draft AND voila – an economic mess.

The deregulation of Wall St. (Glass-Steagall) has been disastrous; however, it was a bi-partisan effort and we need to remember that. A grad school prof of mine made us read George Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty (trickle on economics as you like to say) and I remember being stunned with its simplicity and callousness. Reagan promoted this simple idea of “A high tide floats all boats” as if everyone had a boat AND as if there were no holes in the boats and so forth. It’s been sinking pretty much since then.

I like how you are seeing the Occupy energy hibernating a little for the winter and then coming back with a renewed force in the spring. It could get ugly. And the Romney-Obama race is going to be divisive like we’ve never seen before. Class warfare indeed.

Thanks for taking time to write this thoughtful piece.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
--sinclair louis

"One withstands the invasion of armies; one does not withstand the invasion of ideas."
--victor hugo

occupy wall street, my speech to the masses
Norwonk
Thank you making a point I should have made, tho this piece wasn't intended to delve in depth into the question of war as stimulus. Then again, I did raise the question, so let me try to elucidate a bit on a very complex subject I'm not really qualified to discuss.

Yes, spending on a massive scale can lift an economy out of a depression, just as Keynes predicted. My argument is that spending on war is far from the best way to invest in the future, particularly since the primary aim of such expenditures is destruction.

Blowing up factories, roads, railroads, air fields and bridges during a war may contribute to the postwar economy by creating the necessity for their replacement. But that precludes the building of other such infrastructure elsewhere. It also takes limited resources from other much-needed expenditures such as for schools and hospitals.

It's also the case that huge investments in military hardware tend to have little residual value. Witness any number of mothballed fleets of airplanes and ships in this country. Worse yet, witness tons of equipment simply dumped when we left Vietnam, a folly likely to be repeated if and when we ever leave Afghanistan and Iraq.

In my view, war is another sort of economic bubble. It is speculation (on victory) rather than investment. As with any speculative venture, rewards (victory) and risks (defeat) are high. But high as the rewards may be, they are only temporary and cannot be sustained. In fact, like any speculative investment, they may even offer a negative return. For example, the seeming rewards from heavy reparations laid on Germany after WWI were a root cause of WWII.

In short, war may offer a temporary boost to an economy, but it's hard for these old eyes to see it as an investment.
YOU are being heard my friend.
Kent
I believe I've answered, at least to the best of my ability, the question of why war is not a good investment and a piss-poor solution to the problem of a troubled economy. But let me pontificate a bit on why Wall Street, in general, isn't fond of war.

First of all, the term Wall Street is a misnomer. The investor class is made up a wide variety of persons. The old joke is that bulls make money and bears make money, but hogs get slaughtered.

Funny joke, but wrong fauna. To my mind, the stock market consists mostly of a relative handful of wolves and a lot of very nervous sheep. By it's very nature, war creates instability and fear, and sheep are fond of neither.

Normally the stock market operates to mitigate fear, but in time of war, that is all but impossible. So the sheep over-react to the slightest hint of danger or instability.

Wolves, on the other hand, see danger and instability as an advantage, since nervous sheep are likely to do stupid things; and in their panic, fall into the evil clutches of wolves. That has become all the more the case with the advent of computer technology. Computerization enables wolves to turn the slightest hint of trouble into a full-blown panic.

Moral of the story? Unless you're a wolf, Wall Street is no place for you.
Lea
Thanks, and from your lips (fingertips) to Viral's ears (eyes)!
Margaret
You're absolutely right. The quote Willie Loman from Death of a Salesman, "Attention must be paid." As any parent can tell you, children who don't receive positive attention will resort to getting negative attention. Let's pray people in high places start to pay attention to the problems at hand before all this goes negative.
Grif
Thanks for visiting. There's no denying that both parties had a hand in tearing down the Glass-Stegall firewall or that Clinton signed it into law. That said the person I hold most responsible for that outrage is former Senator Phil Gramm, a rather disgusting, mealy-mouth who, like his counterpart Dick Armey, made a career out of denouncing govt -- all the while drawing a govt check.

Phil Gramm, Dick Armey, Junior Bush, Joe Barton, Louie Gohmert -- why are so many clowns from Texas? That's a rhetorical question, given the abundance of bullshit in cattle country.

After devastating the regulatory system, Gramm moved on to a cushy V-P job at UBS. I can't help but wonder if he's still on the payroll, given the bath that bank took as a result of his actions.

As for Reagan's boat metaphor, it strikes me the boy did not have all his oars in the water.
Tom,this should be published in one of the leading newspapers,provided the majority of population gets to read it or spread the news.
Remarkable article.-R-
Great post, great overview, Tom. Nice to see how you wove the thread of the progressive impulse through so many permutations. I might add that the Tea Party movement was also motivated by a reaction against pending health care reform fueled by Fox-style disinformation. And couldn't agree more about the threat posed by Citizen's United. If Romney were to win, it would be all Citizen's United all the time as gummint is sold off to the highest bidder once and for all. As in the Haliburton Energy Dept.
GREAT POST!! congrats on the cover/ep. you're all over big salon too.

I love these children. They do my heart good. I see in them, the determination for possibilities in their lifetimes. We've had ours, our lifetime to fuck it up, it's time for them to take their shot. And they are and I am so proud of them for standing up and focusing on the MONEY.

I love it. If they had "gone to Washington" which is what the Repubs keep pressing, they'd be pigeonholed as the OTHER side. Keeping ALL of US Americans separate.

Instead the organizers are keeping their focus on the money, the big money. The money beat the people to their representation, so it's pointless to go there. No one's got any interest in "the people".

These protestors and disaffected Tea Party protestors have yet to fully understand their common cause. But that day is rapidly approaching; and when it arrives, the revolution will be televised.

It will happen because it can't not happen. We have no where else to go. Every day new unemployed people on the verge of hunger and homelessness are born. People out of work are not going to find new jobs quickly. People with families are scared out of their minds. We're all in the same sad broken down boat. Poor or on our way to it. The bank doesn't give a shit what party you belong to when they slap a foreclosure notice on your door.
Well worth the time spent, Tom; both your writing it and our reading it.
vzn
Thanks for the link -- great minds run in the same channel -- or maybe in our case the same gutter.
Chicago Guy
Better read than dead
Heidi
Thanks -- would you like to be my agent?
Steve
Thanks for visiting, and I quite agree about healthcare reform being big on the Tea Party agenda. But as you say, that element of their protest was co-opted and corrupted by Fux News, et al.

As for the Halliburton Energy Dept under Romney, someone here suggested that rather than suits with American flag pins, DC pols ought to wear NASCAR style racing suits emblazoned with the names of the company sponsors who've bought them off.
Grand slam home run Tom.
Yes. Yes. Yes. How on top of it you R.
OE Dog
Thanks, I chalk this one up to the Blind Squirrel Theory -- even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.
TG within
Thanks, tho I confess I'm not sure I'm all that comfortable being on top. I'm a charter member of the Richard Farina Fan Club -- been down so long it looks like up to me.
Yes, yes, yes.

My parents were born during the Depression, and it comes around again.
Outstanding!

Rated and posted on my FB page.
Are you serious,Tom?

I could give it a try.
Great job of describing what got us to this point, and congratulations on the well-deserved EP.
I've run across that Lee Atwater quote before; it gives us valuable insight into one of the most effective tactics of modern conservatism, i.e., to use a supposed concern for fiscal issues to promote a reactionary social agenda. Since he first said that way back when, we've seen it become the preferred method of corporatists like the Kochs and others who want to impose unalloyed oligarchy on our nation. One of their most faithful allies in promoting that goal is the Supreme Court, which with the Citizen's United decision threw out a century of precedent designed to keep money from being equated with free speech. "Corporations Are Not People" seems obvious to those of us who've watched with dismay as democracy withers in this country, but that simple truth gets drowned out by the Big Lie so many of our fellow citizens seem prepared to swallow hook, line, and sinker. One way of defending the Lie is to attack those who see it for what it is, so it's no surprise that the Republican presidential candidates and rightwing punditocracy are so eager to paint OWS as anything but what it actually is. As I said earlier on Trig's blog, Herman Cain perfectly summed up the corporfascist position, which is also the position taken by the Republican Party and conservatives generally: The banks aren't to blame, government isn't to blame (except of course for Obama), the repeal of Glass-Steagall and deregulation and predatory lending practices and subprime mortgages securitized to the Nth power aren't to blame, oh no, there is only one culprit here: BLAME YOURSELF!

I'll take a pass on the "mea culpa" thing. The Occupy movement is so far just a flickering candle compared to the powerful forces arrayed against it, but change is coming one way or another. I'd rather it was peaceful change, but I have no problem with the other way if that seems necessary.
An amazing timeline/analysis, Tom. I have been very encouraged by this uprising. For so many years it seemed that everyone was buying that our only value to society was as consumers -- and when people began to wake up and question the hollow nature of that existence or were unemployed and unable to consume/purchase -- I was wondering what would happen. Despair, yes, but also this movement.
you don't have a proposal...

waste not, want not
Froggy
Thanks, thanks, thanks
As for your folks, I think we could learn a thing or two from people who survived that -- starting with the advice Ume offered in his comment: Waste not, want not
elsma 03
Thanks for posting this on your Facebook page -- I just hope doing so doesn't cost you some friends ;-)
Heidi
I was kidding, but hey, I do make personal appearances, and I would be happy to pay you a booking fee for anything you can arrange
Nanatehay
Thank you for your thoughtful and thorough response -- exchanges liek that are why I hang around here.

Citizen Cain is unable -- or what's more likely unwilling -- to grasp the truth about the crash (or much of anything else for that matter). I suspect his reluctance has to do with the quote vzn offered in his comment above:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
--sinclair louis

As for blame, I'll accept my share -- after all, I was involved in marketing high-priced property during the boom, so yes, I was guilty, too. However, I never said or did anything I didn't believe was true at the time. I believed that property was one of a kind, and I still do. But of course that matters not a whit to those who overpaid. But whatever my guilt, in the grand scheme of things, it was minimal.

The real culprits are those who knew they were selling shit -- I wasn't. They are still pulling down big incomes knowingly cheating people, and they're still busy trying to figure out new ways to screw people. Wall Street operates with a different set of rules. Here's a few of them:

(1) There's a sucker born every minute
(2) Never give a sucker an even break
(3) If they're stupid enough to be fleeced, they deserve it
(4) When the shit hits the fan, I'll be gone, you'll be gone
(5) I deserve the money, I stole if fair and square

And of course, the Golden Rule: Them that's got the gold rules.
You pretty much summed it up. Great Job!
Bellwether
Thanks for your praise and your thoughtful comment. I, too, have had my spirits lifted by this first flickering light in this long dark tunnel.

I aslo share your concern about the insidious nature of consumerism. One measure of how bad things have gotten is the glut of advertising. It's everywhere and all the time. People say they ignore it and it doesn't affect them, but obviously advertisers, who spend billions and billions to advertise, know otherwise.
Rated, Tom. The challenge I mull over is how to get frightened people out of their dependence on simple-minded, old-familiar slogans and cliches that keep them in chains. How to create the conditions for a "teaching moment" in which people realize the inadequacy of their exisitng maxims. I guess events will do most of the heavy lifting for us when the situation gets even worse. (I am around a lot of people who hate complex explanations and are impatient with anything that isn't a simplistic slogan.) Winter snowstorms will drive most protesters indoors but hopefully they will use that time effectively and emerge in the spring with renewed energy and clear vision.
Tom, this is first-rate. It crystalized some issues for me, and I marvel at the quality of your writing. Bravo.
uwe
Oh, I have a proposal, all right. But I didn't think this wasn't the time or place to go into all that. Hell, this post was already four times as long as I thought I could get away with. But here's a few suggestions, tho I have a sneaking suspicion you're not going to like them.

Medicare for everyone, and to help pay for it, remove the income cap. Lower the retirement age to 60, since most employers are laying off anyone over 55. To pay for it, again, remove the income cap, and establish needs testing for all recipients. That means John McCain and the rest of the Have-Mores couldn't draw any longer.

If additional monies are needed to fund these changes, return tax rates to where they were in America's Golden Era -- the fabulous Fifties?

Ban the sale of cigarettes. Failing that, they should be taxed to cover the massive healthcare burden smoking is responsible for. High-fructose corn syrup? Candied kids cereals? Soft drinks? Fatty snacks like Cheetos? Banned, all banned.

Pharmaceutical companies should be made to fork over a substantial portion of their profits to the NIH and CDC, govt entities that do much of the basic research that makes Big Pharma's over-priced products possible. Ban minor changes in chemical formulations that are currently used to circumvent patent limits.

Demand real-cost accounting for all forms of energy; as it is, massive costs in externalities are not included in the per btu calculations. Nuclear would fail to pass, since no one has the least idea what the cost is to sequester nuclear waste for the next 100,000 years of so.

No more subsidies for oil companies. All companies involved in deepwater drilling should be required to post a $20 billion bond before drilling, since none of them has a clue how to deal with a deepwater spill.

Coal companies should be required to figure in healthcare and environmental costs in the cost of their product, and they should no longer be permitted to advertise "clean" coal. Fracking should be suspended until further testing has been completed.

I'm quite certain if true costs are calculated, renewable energy sources will look a lot more viable.

Immediate withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. It's been a decade, that's five years longer than WWII -- when you're in a hole, quit diggin' -- especially in the desert. Gradual withdrawal of all troops from other foreign bases, starting with Europe. World War II ended 65 years ago -- surely, those folks ought to be able to defend themselves by now. Also -- prosecute those who ordered torture.

On a lighter note ...

Ban "reality" TV. Pull the broadcast license from Fux News. Supply Rush Limbaugh with a lifetime supply of Oxycontin. Send Rand Paul back to practice medical quackery rather than political quackery. Give Mitch McConnell a personality transplant, John Boehner a cure for alcoholism, and Eric Cantor and Dick Cheney a heart -- they forgot to put Dick's back in after his surgery. Buy Tim Geithner a calculator, Donald Trump a decent toupee, and Newt Gingrich a soul -- maybe he can pick one out at Tiffany's. Send Sarah Palin to school in Siberia -- she can still see home from there. Deport Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachmann, and a host of other dingbats to be named later.

I could go on and on and on and on, but I think it's more than apparent, most of my proposal doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting past this Congress..
Tom,

As always, your presentation is among my favorites. I think you go too far, though, by not specifying that only some Teabaggers will recognize a common cause with Occupy Wall Street simply because most Teabaggers simply do not have such a common cause, and also because some are just too stupid to know it if they do.

Your assessment of the slow-as-molasses media coverage of Occupy Wall Street is dead-on. I wondered for a while what was up with that. And I still find the coverage to be very subdued and largely slanted towards oppositional insinuation.

One major and obvious difference between WWII and all the subsequent wars is that the wars after WWII did not tend to protect jobs and progress within our national borders, but have instead led to further international domination by corporations, exploitation of workers and resources in other nations, and betrayal of our own citizenry.

While the post seems long, it thrives in its succinctness in presenting a long and complicated historical timeline of “how we got here”.

In one of your comments you stated:

“Wolves, on the other hand, see danger and instability as an advantage, since nervous sheep are likely to do stupid things; and in their panic, fall into the evil clutches of wolves.”

I like the analogy, although I don’t like the insinuation that wolves ever are capable of evil on any level.
;-)

I don’t think there is a legitimate comparison between the Occupy Wall Street protestors and the Teabaggers. There are some important distinct differences between the motivations of the two, as well as how they came into being. I don’t think the Teabaggers were ever as legitimate of a “grassroots movement” as what we are seeing in the Wall Street protesters.

Wikipedia has a good succinct description of the motivations behind the Teabaggers.

“On February 19, 2009,[52] in a broadcast from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CNBC Business News editor Rick Santelli criticized the government plan to refinance mortgages, which had just been announced the day before. He said that those plans were "promoting bad behavior"[53] by "subsidizing losers' mortgages". He suggested holding a tea party for traders to gather and dump the derivatives in the Chicago River on July 1.[54][55][56] A number of the floor traders around him cheered on his proposal, to the amusement of the hosts in the studio. Santelli's "rant" became a viral videoafter being featured on the Drudge Report.[57]

Overnight, websites such as ChicagoTeaParty.com (registered in August 2008 by Chicagoan Zack Christenson, radio producer for conservative talk show host Milt Rosenberg,) were live within 12 hours.[58] About 10 hours after Santelli's remarks, reTeaParty.com was bought to coordinate Tea Parties scheduled for Independence Day and, as of March 4, was reported to be receiving 11,000 visitors a day.[58]”


I find attempts to compare the two demeaning to the Wall Street occupiers. I know you were not suggesting they are the same. I just don’t think they have much in common as so many seem to think. The Teabaggers were opposed to helping people stay in their homes, while the OWS-ers are diametrically opposed to that inspiration.

I talk daily to right-wing individuals at work who are supportive of Teabaggers but who condemn and demean the OSW-ers without regard for what the OWS-ers are even representing.

Good job!

RATED
My favorite moment from the Boston OWS tent city: Organizers complain that the homeless are stealing the coats that are being donated to the cause. Actual quote: "The homeless bring nothing to the table."
Con: that's a classic Marxist sentiment though. Marx liked the working classes and despised the Lumpenproletariat, which he thought had a very limited revolutionary capacity and would destroy and weaken a workers' movement. The lumpen include the homeless, criminals, vagrants, vagabonds, those permanently on the dole, etc...

I don't agree with him, but the sentiment, among those on the radical left, to ignore the homeless in practice, but to embrace them in theory (and through policy proposals), while not utilizing them strategically in a protest, is nothing new.
In effect, Marx believed the Lumpenproletariat, because it was so poor and destitute, could be easily manipulated and used by the Bourgeoisie as an instrument against the working classes. That their poverty and despair could be used against them, by way of bribes, such that they could be bribed into hurting the working classes. Marx saw how this happened in the Revolutions of 1848 and it influenced him greatly.

Tom: I am still reading your essay and will comment in a very thoughtful manner by the end of the day. Have just been very busy with court and what not. Congrats on the EP!
You explained what I was feeling so eloquently and in detail. For me, it boiled down to:
1. Eight horrible frustrating years of Bush
2. A year of exquisite soaring hope about change we could believe in.
3. No change
4. Straw breaks camel's back
Tom, my friend, I have come late to the party. Work has been getting in the way, but I want to add my voice to the chorus of praise. This is absolutely brilliant. Too long, but you have managed to encapsulate a fair rendition of the economic history of the past 100 years into a single column.

Let me add one salient fact. In 2000 , before the dot.com bubble collapsed, the prime interest rate was 9.5% Bu the end of 2001, in the aftermath of the collapse, the prime interest rate was 4.75%, a 50% reduction in a 12 month period.

Allen Greenspan kept cutting the prime rate in order to drive borrowers into the HELOC market to convert their home equity into cash, which was then sucked into the stock market.

This was an actual collusion between stock brokers and mortgage originators to re-inflate the economy before the collapse of the previous bubble became institutionalized.

The prime interest rate is the primary mechanism the Fed has for warming or cooling the economy short of increasing the money supply which, of course, requires an act of Congress. It has been used in that fashion for decades. Right now, the WSJ is reporting the prime rate at 3.25%. That's the consumer prime rate, the base rate for home equities. The actual federal funds rate is now at .25%, which means that the Fed has depleted its ability to warm up the economy with interest rate cuts. There's nothing left to cut from. With the Federal Discount rate at .75% one wonders what the Fed is going to do next to maintain relevance.
forgot the rating button
Bla, bla, bla, ba-bla...

...Fake history...

...Bla, bla, bla, bla...


Thanks for keeping us informed Tom!
Seer
Thanks, it is reassuring that something this long is deemed readable in this venue.

Scanner
Thanks
Donegal
Thanks for you comment, I share your pain at trying to communicate with those who mouth slogans and deem them wisdom. It's my view that a teaching moment can only occur in a learning environment.

Daniel
Thanks, that was a first-rate compliment
Rick
Thanks for your comment. I had to laugh, tho, at the fact you mentioned (in a complimentary fashion0 the length of my post. That seems a bit likely the pot calling the kettle black, in view of the length of your comment ;-). Actually, I'm flattered when someone cares enough to comment at length.

As for Santelli an his infamous rant, I notice none of the traders followed thru on his suggestion to dump derivatives in the river. Had they done so, we might all be better off now.
Con
Fortunately, hypocrisy is not a capital crime, else there would be no fundamenalists.

Rw
I'm guessing that's the first time Con has ever been compared with Marx. I await your further comments
OWS will still be around come spring, the question is who else will be standing with them? If they end up being the Left reflection of the Right Tea Party, then the best they can hope for is helping get a couple of Reps elected, if that many.
It's not that they ARE that reflection, but once the media casts them that way it fits the Frick-Frack template of the media drivel addiction. They have to transcend that.
let's try democracy. elective oligarchy has had a fair trial and never worked unless you were rich. this was the goal of the sainted founding fathers who were quite frank that the constitution was meant to preserve the power of the rich to run the nation. from their point of view, elective oligarchy worked very well.

a carpenter with no tools is no carpenter, and a citizen with no initiative power is no citizen, but merely a bystander as the rich organize things to their satisfaction. no citizen, just a civilian.
greenheron
I understand how you feel, but forget about that brokeback camel -- just make sure you ride that donkey come November 2012. It may be a slim hope, but it's better than none.
sagemerlin
The Fed of late reminds me of a line from one of my songs -- "at the point I'd finally sell-out, but nobody wants to buy". Strikes me the highly euphemistic "quantitative easing" (aka devaluation) is an accounting dodge to get the effective fed rate below zero.
Chicken Maaaaaaaan
Thanks

Spumey
Your comment was given due consideration
PJ O'
Your quite right about the difficulty of overcoming a mischaracterization by the media. That sort of thing is in part what McLuhan was talking about when he said the medium is the message. Thus the message was delivered that Al Gore was a boastful prevaricator who claimed to have invented the Internet -- when he said no such thing. In the same vein, by giving far more air-time to the Swift-Boaters than that collection of rapscallions deserved, John Kerry was turned into a virtual deserter, while Bush the Lesser was turned into an ace, when the plain truth was Kerry was a warrior, and Bush was an ass.

Time will tell, but I'm betting OWS will not escape being portrayed as merely a bunch of lazy young people out to score some good dope and casual sex. That's how the Sixties protests were finally co-opted, tho as I said, the protestors provided plenty of ammunition for their critics.
Tom,
That will happen without a far more broadly based political component. The problem comes when protest movements forget the real objective and become enamored with being a protest movement. What's the objective? To protest!
I had high hopes for the Tea Party folks. They have been led around by the nose ring to work against their own interests. As long as it's more sporting and entertaining to shout down the liberal point of view than to pay attention to facts, there's little hope they'll see their place among the 99%.
Excellent! This is one of the best concise histories of the roots of economic inequality and OWS that I have ever seen!

There's just one small point that I would quibble on. I don't believe that the Tea Party really started in response to the bank bailout. Digby, who normally blogs over at Hullabaloo, wrote an excellent article on this earlier this week: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/10/2011101883450141716.html . She traces the roots of the Tea Party back to the Santarelli rant on CNBC, when he explicitly called for a "New Tea Party." As you'll recall, that was a rant *by* a Wall Street investment banker *against* average (and mostly lower-income) Americans who were about to lose their homes. He (obviously) had no problem with TARP. Once again, it was a divide-and-conquer initiative to divide the "good" middle- and upper-class from "those guys," the poor "losers" who couldn't pay up.

But, as I said, minor quibble. Excellent post! I'll be sharing this.
I haven't been around OS in quite a long while, and when I went looking for someone to read, I started with you; and was well rewarded, thanks. Excellent piece. I agree it should be published in major newspapers, but as we know, newspapers are owned by the mobsters; and they don't print the truth. The last piece I wrote was a feature article submitted to local newspapers here in SW Oregon, and none published it. The two local papers here are owned by Dow Jones... which explains all.

The real question, as you rightly put it, it 'where do we go from here...?' which is a compelling codicil to 'I think, therefore I am.' Revolt in the classical sense does little lasting good, as we see in Egypt, for instance; with so many other examples, some of them completely hideous; and Libya is now providing a more current example. Suffice it to say we are allowed to see only what the network media wants us to; and nothing more; while that question continues to go unanswered.

Solutions are in short supply. Humanity doesn't seem to have one for itself.
Al
Thanks for visiting. If not democracy, let's at least try something a good deal more democratic than the system the Founders gave us. They were largely men of property, influenced by the English tradition that flowed down from the Magna Carta -- which granted rights only to nobility. Thus, in spite all of their high-blown rhetoric about equality and inalienable rights, they perceived a true democracy was not in their interest -- a perception not without basis in fact.

To be fair, they were also guided by the knowledge that a true democracy can quickly devolve into mob rule -- as was the case with the French Revolution. In fact, that is too often the case in the aftermath of revolutions, as I fear we will witness in some future Arab Autumn.

Still, the massive concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few has led us to the point, I believe, that the system must be reformed in a significant way. To my mind, the institution most in need of reform is the Senate.

The notion that each state deserves two Senators has long since outlived whatever usefulness it may once have had. Throughout our history, the composition of the Senate has enabled small Southern states to hold the rest of the nation hostage on many important matters. One could reasonably argue it was one cause of the Civil War.

The same is true even today of thinly-populated states in the West, states like Wyoming (pop 563,626), North Dakota (pop 672,591), South Dakota (pop 814,180) and Montana (pop 989,415). It is often said that sheep in these states have more representation than citizens in our major cities.

One need only have followed the healthcare debate to saw how negatively this disparity influenced the outcome of that legislation. One of the most hypocritical of these small-state senators is Kent Conrad of ND, who pontificates constantly about federal spending, while his state is by percentages the largest beneficiary of federal largess. ND gets back nearly $2 for every $1 it sends to Washington.

States are too often artificial entities with no real claim on the interests of many of its citizens. For example, citizens of metropolitan areas on either side of a state dividing-line can attest to how arbitrary and inefficient are such arbitrary divisions. One change might be to choose Senators to represent areas on some other basis than artificial state boundaries. Of course, there's little or no chance of such a radical change in the system.

Speaking of artificial boundaries, it's high-time the insidious practice of gerrymandering was ended. The drawing of House districts should be left to academics or statistician; we can no longer afford to let the foxes guard that hen-house.

The DC revolving door must also be nailed shut. Neither Senators nor Representatives should be allowed to go to work as lobbyists after leaving office. Nor should members of their families. Failing that ideal, lobbying should be prohibited for at least five years. Violation should result in a loss of all benefits, including congressional pensions.

Reform is obviously overdue for the Supreme Court, since that once august body has now become so highly politicized. But the best chance of radical reform died with Roosevelt's attempt at packing the Court.

One possible, though not likely, reform would be to hold justices to a vote of confidence, say once every ten years. Then again, that might not be such a good idea, given the tenor of the times.

In the meantime, some form of amendment should be passed to in effect overturn the decision in Citizens United, else any attempt at reform is an exercise in futility. As I suggested in my post, I believe that's something most on the Right and Left can agree on.
Simply masterful, as always. Thank you so much for providing this informative timeline. During my absence, I often thought of you whenever I was debating an issue and wondered, "what would Tom think about this".

I am admittedly still a bit apprehensive about the "occupations". I believe there is a strong need to define a real mission, demands and form a course of action. Otherwise, it's just a big 'ol therapy session.
I thought you might like to see this, Tom. It is entitled 'Where do we go from here...?'

http://vimeo.com/30778727