Why ‘we are the 99 percent’ has got it wrong

In the comments to a previous post, Permantexpat asked for my opinion on the burgeoning ‘we are the 99 percent‘ movement in the US.  I say the US because the UK boasts an altogether more positive 99 percent organisation with a different agenda.

In the US, ‘We are the 99 percent’ has emerged from the leftist agitprop of the Occupy Wall Street foolishness.  There are many tragic stories of misfortune among those who are now identifying with the 99 percent movement, but there are also many people who are involved for no more reason than they embody the politics of envy, the politics of entitlement, the politics of something for nothing.

There is a peculiar mindset among many on the left.  It leads them to argue that if someone has wealth the state should take a slice of it and give it to others who are less wealthy. Never mind that many of those people with wealth have earned it through hard work, long hours, risk taking, personal and emotional commitment and a determination to succeed; they have it and the Wall Street occupiers believe that without putting in the same effort they are entitled to some of it.

I am part of the 99 percent whose costs are increasing, income is falling and for whom the economic mess is proving harmful.  But I do not endorse or support the insipid, big state, authoritarian rent seekers who are leading desperate people down a dead end path.

The decent people who are suffering in the current economic situation, and through desperation are climbing aboard the leftist bandwagon, are right to protest.  However they are protesting against the wrong people.  The focus of their anger should not be Wall Street, it should be the White House and Congress. The root cause of what angers them is not those in the financial sector, regardless of the way many of them operated.  No, the root cause is a combination of themselves and the government.

  • Themselves because they allowed the politicians to con them into believing the state has all the answers and could be relied upon to throw a never ending stream of money at various agencies they could milk
  • The government because successive administrations have gradually made millions more people dependent on the state for assistance and handouts, while pursuing policies that have driven up the costs of essentials

What has been lost on too many people is the adage that a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.  The consequences of allowing this to happen are now coming back a vengeance.  Now the handout tap has been turned down a large number of people are finding they have been living beyond their means.  No one denies the difficulty this causes for many decent people, but demanding the handouts continue by taking money from those who are more fortunate is not the answer.

Occupying Wall Street will change nothing.  Sleeping outside St Paul’s Cathedral will change nothing.  The first thing to do is focus a campaign on the politicians – because it is they who have encouraged and embedded this situation – and demand a change in the scandalous government spending priorities and regressive policies which are driving up the cost of food and energy, hitting the poorest hardest.

What is required is an end to the corporatism that masquerades as democratic government. It won’t happen by protesting outside the offices of bankers and financiers.  It won’t happen via movements which are steered by those who want to replace the damaging corporatist system with a damaging socialist system.

But when the decent majority wake up, stop being manipulated by the Marxists and leftists and demand action on their terms and focus on the political class, it will create the conditions for government in the people’s interest – where policies do not impoverish and the power games of the politicians are pushed out to the margins.  We might at last get proper representative democracy.

22 Responses to “Why ‘we are the 99 percent’ has got it wrong”

  1. 1 permantexpat 16/10/2011 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for that, AM……….I wanted to see it articulated with the flair of which I am not capable.
    Misdirected though the movements are, they are a further reminder that the state of things is anything but good….if only a few bubbles are burst as a result, some small good may have been achieved, or?

  2. 2 Trooper Thompson 16/10/2011 at 4:06 pm

    The flaw in what you’re saying, I believe, is the concept of a decent majority waking up. The people (decent and indecent) are awake, they recognise something is wrong, and they will be lured onto the rocks by the siren song of socialist demagogy, unless great effort is expended to spread a better understanding of economics, politics and the blessings of liberty.

    I feel a responsibility to try and achieve that. It is not an easy task, neither is it a new one. The situation is not unlike that faced by Bastiat, trying to steer a course through the leftist revolutionaries and the forces of reaction in 19th century France.

  3. 3 john in cheshire 16/10/2011 at 7:41 pm

    I would say that we have to be on perpetual guard against socialists and their manipulation of situations to try to gain an advantage. Unless their machinations are quickly broadcast to the greater populace, we the normal people are in danger of sinking back into a passive wait and see mode, which allows all the bad forces in the country to continue with their agendas to disenfranchise us of our God given rights and responsibilities.

  4. 4 The Gray Monk 16/10/2011 at 8:13 pm

    Very well said, corporatism and socialism are equally damaging to society. Only by targetting the politicians can we drive them into changing it.

  5. 5 A Nonny Mouse 16/10/2011 at 9:24 pm

    So are the politicians in hock to the bankers or the bankers in hock to the politicians? I think I know which is which – show me an honest politician and I’ll show you my b@lls.
    I consider the bankers to be pulling the strings – the politicians are mere puppets.

  6. 6 john in cheshire 16/10/2011 at 9:32 pm

    The danger is to think that there cannot be a socialist banker. I think that most of the bad in our world is due to socialist thinking and that applies to just about every aspect of public life; politician, banker, civil servant, priest and vicar, police, military, corporate board executives; everyone in a position of power. If one believes there is a body in our country that stands for the citizen and against anti-democratic forces, then one needs to be disabused of this belief. There are none. Until new democratic forces are established, then it’s every man for himself.

  7. 7 ProgContra 17/10/2011 at 12:10 pm

    Good post, AM. Ahead of the curve again, I think…

    My response here: http://progcontra.blogspot.com/2011/10/occupy-wall-st-vs-stop-city.html

  8. 8 TomTom 17/10/2011 at 12:36 pm

    You would do well to read up on Repossessions in the USA before being too confident in your assertions. Not only did Mortgage Lenders bundle and sell Mortgages as CMOs but they left a very messy situation as regards Documentation. Operating a Pass-Thru System of Interest Payments to the Bondholders, the stupid Bankers did not take account of what happened if Borrowers defaulted.

    The normal system of repossession could not function because the originating mortgage company had transferred the Bond to a foreign Bank or Investment Fund and so had no title. The Foreign Investment Fund could not sue for repossession as it had only a Bond and could not go through the 50,000 pages of documentation plus to find each individual LOAN and TITLE.

    So the Banks have been FORGING Loan Documentation to enforce Repossessions. They do NOT have the documentation so are fabricating it.

    These are thousands of cases in Florida, California and elsewhere with banks like Bank of America falsifying documentation for Court Repossessions.

    The British are simply too stupid to realise just what is going on, they have a Soviet slave mentality. There is FRAUD writ through the FIRE Sector

  9. 10 thespecialone 17/10/2011 at 1:56 pm

    TomTom – Forgive me if I am wrong, but wasn’t it the Clinton administration that virtually ordered the mortgage lenders to start lending money to those who had no hope of paying it back? Of course the banks were not going to do this and lose out themselves. Therefore, were there not guarantees from the government of the day that their loans would be insured? Of course further down the line it all caught up (as debts always do); but at the time it was a political decision because the Clinton administration wanted to show the populace how wonderful to poor people they were.
    I agree with AM in so much as people in the UK for instance were willing to take on huge mortgages, even for 2nd “investment” properties. This was under the Labour (socialist) government of course and it pushed prices of houses to ridiculously high values. That bubble has burst as well (surprise surprise). Again, this was all encouraged by the Labour government. But now we are in a situation whereby young people can barely afford the deposit for a mortgage. My own eldest daughter is 29 yrs old, works full time but is unmarried and doesn’t have a partner. Because even rents are too high for her wage, she has had to move back in with my ex-wife after splitting up with her boyfriend.
    So I agree with AM. People for willing to take the money they couldn’t afford to pay back and also to the politicians who allowed it to happen.

  10. 11 ProgContra 17/10/2011 at 2:46 pm

    @thespecialone – look also to the activities of a certain Barack Obama who was deeply involved in the process of getting mortages to ‘disadvantaged communities’ in Chicago. Essentially hoping to buy votes by getting mortgages to those in no position to ever pay for them. The activities of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were instrumental in all of this.

  11. 12 TomTom 17/10/2011 at 3:08 pm

    thespecialone makes an irrelevant point. You do not fraudulently manufacture documents for court cases – or do you ?

    CARTER passed Community Reinvestment Act (CRA, Pub. L. No. 95-128, title VIII of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977, 91 Stat. 1147, 12 U.S.C. § 2901

    CLINTON passed Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act. This law repealed the part of the Glass–Steagall Act

    In conjunction with the above Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act changes, smaller banks would be reviewed less frequently for CRA compliance by the addition of §2908. (Small Bank Regulatory Relief) directly to Chapter 30, (the existing CRA laws), itself. The 1999 Act also mandated two studies to be conducted in connection with the “Community Reinvestment Act”:[60]

    * the first report by the Federal Reserve, to be delivered to Congress by March 15, 2000, is a comprehensive study of CRA to focus on default and delinquency rates, and the profitability of loans made in connection with CRA;[61]
    * the second report to be conducted by the Treasury Department over the next two years, is intended to determine the impact of the Act on the provision of services to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and people, as intended by CRA.[62]

    On signing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, President Clinton said that it, “establishes the principles that, as we expand the powers of banks, we will expand the reach of the [Community Reinvestment] Act”.

    This does NOT change the fact that MORTGAGES no longer relate to SPECIFIC PROPERTIES once SECURITISED and that Banks are fraudulently creating Documentation that DOES NOT EXIST in Law

  12. 13 TomTom 17/10/2011 at 3:14 pm

    Actually thespecualone, Wall Street ran out of Mortgages for CMOs which is why some CMOs are synthetic and contain no real mortgages.

    The shrinkage of the Government Bond Market under Clinton who reduced the US deficit led to a demand for analogous Bonds so Wall Street set up factories to make CMOs. Go and look at the Countrywide Financial Scandal and how Bank of America got into a deep hole and bankruptcy

    It is clear that people posting here have no financial understanding of capital markets and are clueless when it comes to major systemic fraud

  13. 14 thespecialone 17/10/2011 at 6:02 pm

    So TomTom are you saying that nothing is the politicians fault at all? Yes the banks have behaved appallingly, but the fact is they were allowed to get away with it. At the end of the day, if you lend money to those that haven’t a hope of paying it back, trouble is ahead. That applies to mortgages and to a loan for a car.

    And no I do not know how the markets work obviously like you do; but I do know about the mortgages being bundled up and bought by other banks. I also know I would never lend any money to anybody who cannot pay it back. And I would never borrow money that I couldn’t pay back. Some people were sucked into the easy credit that was available. 100%+ mortgages. 7 x salary etc etc. The banks were stupid to offer them. People were stupid taking up the offer. And politicians were stupid allowing the banks to offer such easy credit. That is my point.

  14. 15 TomTom 17/10/2011 at 8:02 pm

    So TomTom are you saying that nothing is the politicians fault at all?

    Not as much as Central Bankers like Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the INDEPENDENT Federal Reserve or Mervyn King, Governor of the INDEPENDENT (as from 1998) Bank of England.

    Mortgages were extended to people who LOST THEIR JOBS but paid their mortgages when they had jobs. So thespecialone, how often have you lost your job ? In Britain it is 6 months that mortgages are covered at basic level then repossession. You are clearly one of those who think Unemployment is a Well-Deserved Affliction.

  15. 16 TomTom 17/10/2011 at 8:06 pm

    And politicians were stupid allowing the banks to offer such easy credit.

    Yes, clearly so….since Bank Officers and Directors were incompetent and took stupid risks just as Barclays is by lending $11.5 billion to a junk company today.

    Politicians might not be the best people to run Banks but you clearly think they are responsible for clowns like Goodwin, Applegarth, Crawshaw, Hornby, Varley, Daniels – all of whom ran supposedly private banks as free enterprise businesses………..that obviously cannot happen again !

  16. 17 Bruce 18/10/2011 at 1:11 am

    This isn’t about left or right and nothing good will come of it until we jetison that political paradigm. The international banking families pull most of the strings attached to the political puppets of all parties. Why do you think Obama pledged to keep bank lobbyists out of the Whitehouse and then filled his executive with bankers?

    I’m broadly in agreement with most of what AM normally discusses but I think he’s failed to see what I believe is in the minds of at least some of the Wall Street protestors. It’s not just that bankers were greedy and unjustly rewarded but that their actions in many cases were criminal and have gone unpunished. There should be hundreds of them now getting a good rogering in high security prisons. Instead, they’re preparing to resume their life of rape and pillage at our expense. Much as I dislike politicians, I save my real contempt for there financial vampires and parasites.

  17. 18 Janet James 18/10/2011 at 7:20 am

    It is being said the OWS in America is being financed by George Soros, that says it all I think.

  18. 19 TomTom 18/10/2011 at 8:23 am

    It is being said the Conservative Party is being financed by Michael Hintze, that says it all I think.

  19. 20 jameshigham 18/10/2011 at 3:32 pm

    To be specific, the 99% over there are around the 45% in reality.

  20. 21 Rick Wells 19/10/2011 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks for ALL posts. I have worked since 1961 at 25 cents per hour to 2009 buyout at 26.36 per hour. I saved, had defined but lightweight pension and now work part-time. My wife and me pay 44% to some tax-body. Sounds like a GOOD retirement to me. People: the “Great Society” does not exist or, the FREELUNCH.

  21. 22 Ian Grantham 08/01/2013 at 4:19 pm

    We rarerly seem to bring morality into debates these days, but then of course since the moral freedom that we all so desperately wanted led us to throw away any notions of God or a ‘greater good’ so we could get on with our selfishness, why would we.

    As is usual for humanity, we want to think in balck and white, and in so doing we run the risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Capitalism itself is not some evil force. But history has consistently shown us that selfishness and greed are, whether that be the greed of the rich and powerful who focus on short termism and capital hoarding, refusing to invest in the well being of society; or the greed of the entitled victim, who stands on the sidelines and throws rocks at a society which he refuses to engage with unless he gets something for nothing.

    We first need to accept our responsibilities as members of society first, move through anger and blame to a point where we start to develop solutions rather than continously reworking the problem hoping that a better past will be found.

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