Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Apr 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

A Righteous Display of Anger

tom_honig_sThe “Occupy” political movement is one of the most fascinating developments in recent years, as frustrated, self-described regular folks are stepping up to demonstrate just how furious they are with Wall Street.

They’re calling themselves the “99 percenters” and they’re focusing their antipathy towards the “1 percent” that they see as nearly taking down our economic system.

The anger stretches nationwide, even here in Santa Cruz, where it would be hard to argue that even a single “1 percenter” is living in our midst.

Which brings up only one of a number of questions that “Occupy Santa Cruz” will face in coming weeks and months.

Among them:

What is it that they want?

Who are they demonstrating against?

What are they occupying?

If they raise money, what financial institution will handle thelr affairs?

Beyond gathering and marching, what activities will they organize?

But asking those questions implies opposition to the cause. And at least in my case, that’s not true.

There’s little question that corporate corruption mixed with governmental incompetence and societal greed all conspired to nearly bring down the entire world economy in 2008. The federal treasury bailed out several financial institutions, removing any sense of consequences for their CEOs bad decisions.  Now, three years later, things have only improved marginally for most people.

But the privileged few on Wall Street are doing fine. Even after the near-collapse, they still get their bonuses. Even those who lost their jobs got golden parachutes sometimes exceeding $100 million.

Can you blame the protesters? What other strategy do they have?

The sad reality is that the U.S. government really had no choice but to bail out the banks. But the chosen few on Wall Street could have refused the bonuses and showed a modicum of selflessness.

They didn’t—and finally an unruly throng descended on the financial district of New York City. And then others did the same around the country—even here in Santa Cruz, where it’s difficult to find someone to target.

Some say that the “Occupy” movement is far different from last year’s “Tea Party” movement that swept through the right wing. I think they’re bookends.

Those on the left and those on the right are both reacting to what appears to be a Wall Street-D.C. Beltway nexus that appears oblivious to the needs of most people in the country.

Most people see that their public officials respond more to special interests than they do to voters. Just take a look at Washington’s abysmal track record in responding to the crisis: a 2,300-page Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Few, if any, in Congress have even read it. What drives such a complex bill? Special interests.

(As a comparison—the legislation that established the Federal Reserve system was 31 pages. The Glass –Steagall Act of 1933, which prevented 2008-style collapses until it was repealed during the Clinton Administration, was 37 pages.)

So with bad actors on Wall Street, and compliant incompetence in Washington, what are normal folks expected to do?

Don’t expect miracles coming out of the Occupy movement. Organized political entities—MoveOn.org, labor unions and even the Democratic party —will try to swoop in and take advantage of the discontent. And already Republicans are vilifying it, even while cheering on the Tea Party on their side of the divide.

Those of us not joining the movement nevertheless ought to understand it. We also ought to understand the Tea Party as well.

Unfortunately, these populist movements rarely result in the kind of effective legislation that’s probably needed; rather, we’ll likely end up with more convoluted, 2,000-page documents that just add to red tape.

Instead, the best solutions available won’t fit on a picket sign. A more equitable society will require better education of its people and a better sense of duty. It seems like a long time ago that President Kennedy reminded us to ask ourselves what we can do for our country.

Those qualities don’t come from legislation. And maybe that’s, really, what the protesters are asking for: openness, equality and a lot more honesty than we’ve been getting from our financial and governmental institutions.

Who can blame these folks for getting out and expressing their anger? Not me.


Tom Honig’s online website, The Santa Cruz Observer, is available at tomhonig.com.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Dark Magic

40 years on the movie beat in Santa Cruz
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

If you could live in Santa Cruz in any era besides now, which would you choose?

Probably the ’70s, because Santa Cruz is such a fly-your-freak-flag place. That was when free love and hippiness was in vogue. Shane Reber, Santa Cruz, Caretaker

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise