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OCTOBER 7, 2011 9:48PM

Occupy Wall Street, West Coast Style

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Those of you who are familiar with San Diego know that the Gaslamp Quarter is one of the busiest areas in the city.  People who live around it get used to large crowds.  We're used to a typical Saturday night when the crowds spill off the sidewalk into the streets.  And then we get street festivals and large conventions like Comic Con, which make it even worse.  Generally, our reaction is, oh, man, how am I going to get home in this mess.

So what could get someone who's jaded and cynical about big crowds to pay attention?

When Occupy Wall Street travels about as far as it can come from New York without crossing an ocean.

I heard the whistles, drums, and chants this afternoon.  Knowing that Occupy Wall Street was coming to San Diego, I grabbed my camera and headed up to the roof to take some pictures.

The crowd started to cross Fifth and Market at 4:31 Pacific time according to the timestamp on my camera.

You can see that San Diego's finest are escorting the march.  So anyone who says they were doing this illegally is lying.

The people mocking this movement -- and it is a movement at this point -- will tell you that it's a bunch of burned out hippies and students.  Wrong again.

Yes, there are students.  But there is also an older individual in a striped shirt and a child who is on her parent's shoulders.

The other lie is that these protestors are violent and breaking the law.  Really?  Then why are two people in wheelchairs bringing up the rear of the march?

And why are the police escorting them instead of arresting them?  By the way, San Diego's finest deserve a lot of credit for ensuring these guys could exercise their first amendment rights to peaceful protest.

The time stamp on that last picture was 4:37 Pacific.  As you can see, Fifth Avenue is a three lane road, and it took six minutes for the marchers to pass by.

As many of you know, I use the same tools the one percent uses.  I blog about how to use those to boost your investing returns.

So why would I support the marchers?  Because it's ridiculous that I clicked on a mouse six times, and in 45 minutes, my options trades netted me the same amount of money as it takes a minimum wage worker 20 hours to earn.  I clicked a mouse.  He spent it mopping floors or stocking shelves.

And because the social contract has been shredded by the one percent.

When my father came here in the 1950s, the social contract was that if you were willing to work hard, you could live a middle class life.  You could put a roof over your head, food on the table, and go to the doctor when you got sick.  And you could do this on one income.

That's not the case anymore.  The minimum wage in California is $8 an hour, or $16,000 a year.  Yes, these are low skill jobs, but they simply do not provide people with a way to live that middle class life.

So the social contract has been shredded, but not just for low skill workers.  Engineers can see their jobs vanish when one of the one percent decides that he wants to cut costs, so he'll send those jobs to India.  A computer scientist can see his job sent to Poland when an exec decides to goose earnings by a couple of pennies a share.  And a biotech researcher may see his job vanish if a Carly Fiorina type decides to send it to China.

We need to bring the social contract back. There is no reason why anyone who is willing to work hard should have to decide whether he should pay the rent or the doctor.

And that's why someone who uses the tools of Wall Street supports those who want to occupy it.

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Thanks for this report. I have no answers. But I live in San Diego too and you really captured the flavor of what is going on.
Thank you for writing this.
A successful business in our area making energy-efficient electric motorcycles just moved all their factory and available jobs to Hungary to reduce the carbon footprint of shipping to their largest customer.
Now there are even less job opportunities for anyone at any age, here, and this business makes a much higher profit. The owners drive several very large SUVs, just for a little personal hypocrisy thrown in.
Excellent post, and thank you.
OSW has also come to San Jose and San Francisco, and I'm so glad to see this spread. It would appear a tipping point has been reached.

I'm not against wealth--don't we all secretly dream of achieving it? I'm definitely against people being repeatedly screwed. And I'm against the people getting millions in bonuses paid with the tax dollars of those they've screwed.

How about a bit less "talent" on Wall Street, and a whole lot more ethical accounting?

And I assume you saw the new report last week that it takes over $60,000 a year in the San Diego area for a family to "make ends meet". I think that's a bit high but that's a horrible indictment of this area, our economy and our society.
interesting dude, I just heard you offer an apology for the inexpensive, bargain Geithner bailout a few posts back.

"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
Thanks for all the feedback. I may wander on over to where the protestors are camping and do a follow up.

vzn, I still think the bailout of the banks was necessary, as disgusted as I was. There isn't a bank in the world with enough money to pay all the money it owes its depositors. The only reason the financial system operates is because of trust. In the fall of 2008, that trust was about to evaporate. The world's financial system would have fallen apart and that is something that would have hurt all of us.

Just thinking, I'm with you. We need to try to keep as many jobs as we can here.

Shiral, your thinking matches mine. I care about the middle class being able to make ends meet. As long as that social contract is honored, I don't care if the wealthy do very well. And both the middle class and the wealthy did well in the 1990s. There's no reason that can't happen again.

Walter, it doesn't surprise me that you need that kind of money in order to make ends meet here.
Good coverage here.
I do not apoligize for my trading income. I do not trade options, I risk my own money - and so can any one working for 8 dollars an hour - I started trading when I was making far less than that - even adjusted for inflation.

But this is not a pick yer selves up by your boot straps comment - hell no - but what social contract? There never was one. When this country gets near democracy - smoke and mirrors appear until we return to this - this is the norm - not the exception.

So lets stay real! The ideal may or may not be possible - but you won't find it Ameircan history. Mass prosperity is a myth - and the genocide, slavery, expansionism and now internal state sponsored terrorism that maintain the imbalance that waned only when a massive body count was required to protect the empire - until recent decades - when lives and treasure have been squandered to merely to strengthen the stranglehold on the nations institutions the elite traditonally maintain . I believe the math has already been done. Get used to the fact that Americans are just not as important to the elite as they used to be. The deal is, as always, for the great unwashed -take it or leave it. Recent changes in law -supported by a supreme court that has been totally corrupted by the elite - have made it even more difficult for the long awaited arrival of democracy to the US - that we got close to in the latter half of the last century - but fell short of before our eyes - while the middle class hid out in fha funded suburbia - convinced that the destruction of thier cites was not terrorism but ethnic cleansing that would rid them of the mongrel race that they believed were not their equals . The children of the middle class will pay the price for their parents actions and inaction. Until we learn our history - we will not recover from it.
Thanks for the update. It'll be interesting to compare the development of the West Coast movements with the one in NY-- and the reactions of the police.
when they stop marching and start voting, then change becomes possible.
Snowden, without a social contract, no government is legitimate. And I disagree with your view that there never was one. As I noted, in the 1950s, it was possible for someone who wasn't a skilled worker to create a middle class life for himself if he was willing to work hard. Now, even a highly skilled, highly trained, and highly educated person can find himself out of a job in a heartbeat.

That's just not right.

Written by an American, you'll love this comment from the assistant chief of police of the San Diego Police Department.

"these are folks that are out protesting and exercising their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and we're going to treat them like they're exercising their First Amendment right and we're going to make sure they have a safe protest. "

The police in New York and Boston sure could learn a lesson from San Diego's police. The cops are willing to let them camp out at the Civic Center as long as they are peaceably assembled.
Thanks for this report! As a San Diegan and a New Yorker - now living in Germany - it pains me not to be able to march, but it warms my heart to see that the movement is growing so peacefully.

"There is no reason why anyone who is willing to work hard should have to decide whether he should pay the rent or the doctor." amen.
Tony- the fifties sucked worse than this. there was no social contract then and there is none now - educated, highly trained people who refuse to accept the status quo got fired then and now.
All demonstrators everywhere should do the following if arrested or touched in any manner by police or any authority.Remember Patrick Henry, "If this be treason let us make the most of it." 1. Try to get the incident recorded. 2.Immediately after the incident find a good civil rights lawyer (better to find one BEFORE the incident).3. File a civil rights action/complaint in federal court against the municipality, state and the individual policeman.5. File a complaint in state civil court against the same entities for damages for false arrest and assault and battery. 4. Flood them with paper. They all have to answer the complaint in some fashion, all of the complaints that are filed. They have their remedies and you and your fellow demonstrators have yours. Actually it is probably unAmerican to not file an action. Follow up on these actions with requests for documents, etc. You will have to assist the attorney. No one attorney can handle all of the these actions but I bet she/he can get help. Go get 'em all of you
rlthorn, I don't think that will be an issue here. I walked there today and there was mutual respect between the police and protestors. The police needed a tent moved, and instead of being confrontational, the officer asked around to see whose tent it was. When he was told, I don't know, he said, okay, guys, we need you to move this so it doesn't interfere with people.

This took place when I was walking in with water and food for the protestors. By the time I left, about five minutes later, the tent was down and nobody was in cuffs.

The mutual respect between the police and the protestors is something to be noted. I think it's because some of the cops side with the protestors. After all, there are many who want to take pensions away from cops.
Who are the parties to the 'social contract'?
The Constitution is a social contract. Explicitly, not implied. The implicit social contract of the post WW2 New Deal economy was a cooperation between government, our biggest industries and labor. As GDP rose, do did wages.
It was at that time the Conservative Movement began, aiming to "save" America by destroying that contract. It took 25 years and plenty of race politics and religious corruption to get Reagan elected, and 30 years of conservative policies, but at last Conservatism prevailed by destroying the contract and the economy.
P.J. thank you for putting it so eloquently.

Uncle, in case P.J. didn't clear it up for you, no government can be legitimate without a social contract. In exchange for giving up some freedom, the governed consent to operate under this contract. It's not something that's written down on paper, but it's the foundation of any legitimate government.