by Lauren Paulsen
Our eclectic media is puzzled. What is it these people (unwashed rabble) are protesting over there at the financial district of New York City? Longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer provides us with the easy answer. People who are down and out do not raise their voice when they are totally desperate and bereft. I, like millions of others have been down and out, even homeless, for the last three years. This sort of poverty demoralizes folks and they lose their self esteem. When they are down and at the bottom of the well, the only occupation is survival. People are too paranoid to join hands. The last hand they saw wanted money, or was posting eviction notices.
Once there is a glimmer of hope, they start to look around to see if there are any fellow travelers. Even then, they are still fighting among themselves for scraps. In that posture, distrust of everything and everybody runs high. Who are your friends and who simply want what little you have? Everybody is impacted when there is financial foment is of the current magnitude.
What is the answer to the media’s puzzlement? The answer is to be found in TARP and its progeny. TARP is the $700 billion troubled-asset relief program. Its departed inspector general, Neil M. Barofsky, stated the problem succinctly in his New York Times Op/Ed article dated March 30, 2011: as a rescue vehicle for the banks, it was a success, “…by any objective measure”. Its broader goal of “…protecting home values and preserving home-ownership,” was a nonstarter, because after that defined goal for those facing foreclosure was included, the goal of our leaders changed. Politics and lobbyists prevailed. Courage among our leaders vanished. And the Main Street goal was jettisoned in favor of the Wall Street goal. Main Street’s place in line to have their troubles relieved was eliminated. Nada. Gone. No problem, our leaders said. Their weak-kneed, worthless substitute programs went nowhere. Banks get $700 billion, the people, nothing.
That is the overarching problem of our nation. That is why people are waking up. Some self-esteem is returning. That is why people are protesting. There are over 10 million of these folks who have lost home values and their home. That should be enough numbers for a decent rally or maybe even revolution. Mario Savio said it best in 1964:
“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”
So, Wall Street scribes wonder no more; this is what the people are doing.