Barry Ritholtz Figures It Out

Another “I see light” moment in print….

Like the Tea Party, OWS began as a loose collection of people who knew they were getting a raw economic deal — but were unsure as to precisely why. They both started with a surge of grassroots politics. Both tapped into the national zeitgeist, feeding on an unfocused economic angst. When the Tea Party first burst onto the national stage, I had high hopes they might address some of the persistent economic problems our two-party political system was ignoring. But the Tea Party tilted to the right, shifting from the economic to the partisan. Obamacare and taxes – neither of which were responsible for a laundry list of economic woes facing the nation – became their focus.

That move created a vacuum. Since then, we have been waiting for a group of angry Americans to fill the void. It did not look like OWS was going to be the ones to do so. Especially with the way the Media was either ignoring them, or portraying them as a group of slacker hippies, fringe dwellers and kooks.

Yep.  Barry continues..

Credit the Daily Show with changing all that. Jon Stewart’s team surfaced a video of a senior NYPD officer pepper-spraying some young girls for no apparent reason. NYC may not be Libya, but that clip of abusive police behavior – and the young women collapsing in obvious agony – ramped up the mainstream coverage. What Rick Santelli’s infamous rant on CNBC did for the Tea Party, the NYPD pepper spray video did for the Wall Street protesters.

I don’t know if the Daily Show was the spark or not.  Certainly this much is without dispute: The people have had it with the two-faced “standard” for law enforcement.

There’s nothing illegal about waving signs and protesting.  Oh sure, this is one of the mantras about the protests: They’re “illegal”.  Oh really?  I seem to remember a thing called The First Amendment, which the Tea Partiers love to wave when it suits them.

But the test for belief in the First Amendment (or any other fundamental liberty interest for that matter) is not whether it operates to serve you.  The fact of the matter is that nobody ever tries to censor unoffensive speech (to them) – it’s always the offensive speech that people try to silence!

As such the point is simple: To believe in the First Amendment you must support the right of people to speak who piss you off!

There are those who argue that the OWS people “took over” the park they base at.  Wrong again.  That park is privately owned but the owner got that park property by offering consideration of permitting 24×7 use by the public. This was imposed upon them so they could have the right to own and develop other property.  So unlike a private residential or office building, there was a quid-pro-quo and they made their bargain at the time of acquisition.  Further, the recent claims of “sanitation” problems were false and the company backed down when it was pointed out that legal process would be initiated if they tried to evict the protesters.  That’s called the rule of law.

Likewise, the sidewalks are public property.  You have a right to be there and to speak while standing upon them.  Again, the rule of law.

But when you start macing people for speech while at the same time the banksters just a block over have been literally ripping people off for a decade or more, you’re going to piss off anyone who has an ounce of fairness in their body.  It is not “riot control” when the people demonstrating are not rioting!  It’s pure jackbooted thuggery and in a less-polite society would be met with immediate (and justified) retributive violence.  Kudos to the protesters for withholding what that police officer deserved and by doing refusing to play their game of attempting to goad them into a violent confrontation so they could lie, point fingers and say “see, I told you they were dangerous!”

Barry goes on to recommend the following policy goals:

1. No more bailouts: Bring back real capitalism
2. End TBTF banks
3. Get Wall Street Money out of legislative process

I agree.  But as I pointed out this morning in my piece on student loans and other forms of abuse, the ending of bailouts and real capitalism means that the strictures that allow “some animals” to declare bankruptcy but not the common animal known as “the people” must end right now.

No, there should NOT be “loan forgiveness.”  But access to the bankruptcy process and enforcement of that same punishment on the lender for making stupid loans must be both available and enforced.

THAT is the key item.  Enforcing that stricture above all others will immediately and automatically end TBTF.  Getting money out of legislation is tougher to do without destroying the people’s ability to speak, and must be looked at carefully, not in a scattershot fashion.  For example, you could end all lobbying money tomorrow with a law, but doing so is dangeorus.

Let’s say I run a business.  Joe and Jane are running for the House.  I believe Joe will cause me harm and Jane will help my company.  I call an all-employee meeting and say the following:

I know that you have a choice to make at the polls tomorrow, and being that we have a secret ballot in this country I can neither control nor would I try to control your vote.  But I will tell you what the consequences of you vote are likely to be.

If Joe is elected I expect the policies he promotes to cost this company $500,000 next year and every year beyond.  That cost will have to come from employee wages.  Since I cannot cut your wages by this amount, I will be forced to lay off 100 people should these legislative changes come to pass.

If Jane is elected, she has promised to do things that I believe will cause the company to earn an additional $500,000 every year.  If this comes to pass I would of course need to hire more people, but in addition I would expect to be able to offer everyone here a 10% raise.

Have a good day tomorrow and please remember to vote.

How do you stop that from happening?  You can’t!

But if you “get all money out of politics” you just gave the businessowner (who has a nice captive audience) the ability to do this without the right of the people to form into a group and buy advertising to counteract this inevitable and expected effect.

Be careful what you wish for, in short.  I’m not saying that what we have now is good, but I am saying that many of the so-called “remedies” being bandied about will in fact do you more harm than they will help.

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