By Other Words
By William A. Collins
“Change the system,”
What they mean is,
“Throw it out.”
One reason the media can’t quite grasp what the Occupy movement wants is that it’s not really anxious to find out.
Since it’s awkward to report on one’s own shortcomings, journalists have consequently expended countless barrels of ink and oodles of airtime examining peripheral issues, such as: Who started the movement? Who’s in the movement? Who are its leaders? Are they falling in love? What will satisfy them?
Largely unexamined is the occupiers’ actual thrust: They want to overthrow our whole greed-based system. We’re talking revolution here. They don’t just want President Barack Obama or Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell to go. They want the whole system to go.
The core of that system doesn’t happen to lie in Washington. It’s on Wall Street. That’s who really runs the show, with the media often operating as an obedient mouthpiece. Our elected government is subservient as well, along with the military and our allies.
Across the pond, British Prime Minister David Cameron has now revealed to us where the heart of Europe’s real power lies. When the European Union settled in December on a financial plan that might or might not rescue the economies of its members, Cameron replied with a veto. It would compromise the freedom of “The City,” he said, in reference to Britain’s Wall Street.
What candor. The banks come first, before the economy and before the public. Britain readily admits to not producing many goods anymore — it just finances them — and so the financiers have to be protected at all costs.
Nor is their system so different from ours. We still do make some stuff, but it’s increasingly automated. U.S. manufacturing is on the rise again, but this growth isn’t going to make a big dent in the nation’s chronic joblessness and underemployment.
The jobs many Americans might otherwise hold have been shipped overseas or awarded to computers and robots. Hapless individuals have been left to the tender mercies of the banks, but the media seldom examines these structural social deficits.
And, by the way, winter doesn’t mean this conflict is over. Guerilla actions will surely flare in preparation for a spring offensive. D-Day will likely be in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel has inopportunely invited both NATO and the G-8 to convene there in May. Consequently, it’s no surprise that his cops have been some of the harshest in the nation toward the local occupiers. They’re already practicing for the showdown.
It’s not totally clear that Americans are yet ready for a showdown. But our middle class is unraveling fast, the economy is still floundering, and foreclosures are still too common.
We may not yet have reached our Tahrir Square moment, but it’s looming. The army won’t be able to solve it either, any more than it could in Egypt.
Neither would Obama’s defeat cure it. Having Mitt Romney or another Republican in the White House would be even worse. For starters, however, let’s just turn Wall Street over to the National Credit Union Administration.
OtherWords columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative, and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut.