What is the genesis of Occupy Wall Street? Perhaps it was the President’s constant demonizing of the wealthy. Perhaps it was his urging others such as the Congressional Black Caucus to put on their marching shoes – although few of the protestors are black. Are what are they protesting? Asking them is not particularly helpful and the media has simply summed it up as “unhappiness”. But why Wall Street? Most of the protestors haven’t a clue as to the function of Wall Street. If they did, they would find somewhere else to protest. So its not Wall Street that they are protesting but rather the achievement of wealth by a talented few. They could be protesting Apple, or Microsoft, or Warren Buffett, or Michael Moore, or Susan Sarandon, or most sports stars. But for whatever reason, these wealthy few are exempt from protestations. So what do the protestors want? There is the famous list of demands posted on their website that they disavow such as forgive all debt worldwide and free college education for all. Then there is the “proposed demands for congress” emanating from the “Sovereign People’s Movement” that reads like an Obama platform such as pass the Buffett rule and revamp the SEC http://coupmedia.org/occupywallstreet/occupy-wall-street-official-demands-2009). Very very few of the Wall Street protestors would have a clue about any of these. It is ironic that when juxtaposed with the Tea Party, this motley crew is lacking. It is also ironic that when the left called the Tea Party racist and nazi, that the nazi party of the US would endorse Occupy Wall Street, along with the socialist party and the communist party. Where is the media outrage about that? So to sum up, these people do not have coherent common demands, they are wildly diverse, they are disaffected, unproductive and reminiscent of the flower children of the 60’s. However, they do have something in common: they hate capitalism and the ability of individuals to make choices via markets. Perhaps this is why their numbers are so small and why without the media coverage they would fade back into the holes that they have come from.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com