It’s the same state! The one that is arresting [the Wall Street protestors] is the same one that they’re asking to solve all of these financial predations … Once the people see the state as a unified entity rather than some fragmented disco ball of wishful projection, they will understand that begging the mafia to solve the problem of crime is a futile and ridiculously embarrassing thing to do.

Because Tumblr user PoetFire asked: Most media outlets are reporting “hundreds” of protesters (or “more than 1,000”) at today’s Occupy Wall Street event. However, a Twitter meme going around today puts that number at closer to 50,000. Above is said tweet, via @AnonOps. Below is a fairly representative crowd shot of the protests, via Twitter user @EgyptEagle, a screenshot from a video of the protests, and (for comparison) an aerial screenshot from a video that showed the crowds at the Tea Party Express protest in Harry Reid’s hometown of Searchlight, Nev. The Searchlight protest had a crowd of about 9,000 people. Do you see 50,000 people at today’s protests? We don’t. (BTW: If anyone has an aerial shot of today’s protests, please send it along.)

Most of these wall street protesters are just shits who worry about america’s money and american pay yet sit around all day on wall street, not at work, on fucking 4000 dollar laptops. 

I have to pay for all luxuries myself at my house. I don’t even have a laptop, I don’t have a car, I have to pay for clothes myself for the most part, I have to pay for everything I do “out,” I don’t have an expensive mp3 player and I can’t afford clothes from topshop or acne so i’m content spending my money on classics from H&M and XXI so that when I splurge on a store like that, I’m way more appreciative of it. I don’t have birthday parties or throw parties or really get many gifts for holidays because I’d rather have money placed in savings or get a new sweater because my old one has a hole in it. I will have to pay for college myself in 2 years and compromise the school I would like for a cheaper one and I’m content with making the best of that. I’m working my ass off in all honors/gifted classes so I can try get a great scholarship somewhere. I volunteer and do community service pretty much every weekend for applications and for the people who I’m working for who probably are working their asses off way harder than I am here, safe in my upper middle class family. I’m looking to get a job this summer as a lifeguard and I hope that turns out well. Sure, I might not live the life of luxury, but I know the value of hard work. My money is mine. I get 60 dollars every month for things I need which I’m very appreciative of and I put 1/3 or ½ in my savings account, which means I might not be able to go out to dinner that night or go to the movies the other night. I’m fine with it. 

I know how to handle money responsibly and I will earn my way through life. It’s just how I was taught, and it’s just right. It doesn’t matter how much someone else makes, I’m not worried about how much Joe the Banker makes. I’m focusing on how I’m going to, with hard work, earn things for myself, instead of sitting on my ass bitching that I’m unfortunate.

Coming soon to a city near you… here’s a list of confirmed #OccupyWallStreet events in other cities…

The big March of Washington, DC October 6th 2011 - http://october2011.org/

Occupy Dallas - http://www.facebook.com/OccupyDallas

Occupy Houston - http://twitter.com/#!/OccupyHouston

Occupy Chicago - http://twitter.com/#!/OccupyChicago

Occupy Cleveland - http://occupycleveland.tumblr.com/

Occupy LA - https://www.facebook.com/occupyLA

Occupy California - http://occupyca.wordpress.com/

Occupy San Francisco - http://twitter.com/#!/OccupyFDSF 

Occupy Florida - http://pastebin.com/f2sy9FqY

Occupy Portland - http://www.facebook.com/groups/284344344909229

Occupy Minnesota - http://twitter.com/#!/OccupyMN

Occupy St. Louis - http://twitter.com/#!/OccupySTL

Occupy Boston - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-Boston

Occupy Seattle - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-Seattle/254620607914006

And here is a list of more http://occupytogether.org/

a simple flyer to help spread the word in your city, for those who want to do something to help but can’t make it to New York. Print as many as you can [i will be using my job’s printers, you can also go to a FedEx Kinko’s or any type of place, it’s usually cheap to print & make copies] and post them, or if you are afraid you can’t post them, just leave them in places. On bus stop benches and in the seats when you get up to leave, in restaurants, around your school. Anywhere people will find them. People will pick them up.

Are You Kidding?

Trying to get the images of street violence in Oakland out of my mind today, with little success. As a practicing Buddhist for more than 15 years now, I see why people need to take to the streets to express their frustrations, and why police may feel threatened by their actions. But brutal shows of force have little place in practice, or in the world at large. Most of the time they just come off as exaggerated and fear based, not real solutions in any sense of the word – especially if you end up in the hospital, I suppose. 

Sometimes when I watch the news, or the Internet, where most people actually get their news these days, I often find myself saying, “Are you kidding? You really want me to believe that a few rocks (while wearing riot gear and carrying shields, mind you) justifies throwing people to the ground, firing beanbags at body parts, and forcefully dispersing peaceful protesters?”

You really expect me to believe that? 

Over time, activists have gotten smarter. And now, in the age of of the constantly churning news cycle and ubiquitous cell phone cameras, you can’t get away with stuff you used to do. So the reframe for me today involves seeing, hearing, and witnessing. It involves watching those shaky videos posted online, and feeling in some way connected to these people who are trying to express themselves, and really the majority of us as well. It’s about seeing how just watching, seeing, and validating reveals the truth. 

Little by little, frame by frame, this process shows what’s actually happening in the world. When each one of us is frustrated that nothing is being done, we can click a link and see that yes there is, right there, at this very moment. 

My heart and my thoughts are with you, wherever you are, if you want to slay ignorance and greed. Next step is to create a series of action steps to get there, yes? 


Notes from a visit to the occupation today at Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street.

1) The confrontation with police didn’t happen today because the city called off cleaning the park, which would have required removing the protestors.

2) The park is not that dirty, nor is it smelly or a health hazard as some media reports had it.  The only thing I smelled today was barbecue.

3) I saw a few homeless, a fair share of freaks, LOTS of young people, quite a few elderly folks, two Buddhist monks, two Episcopal priests, several guys in business suits (one of them playing drums with the percussion band).

4) There was a lot of discussion and debate among the occupiers about politics and the corporate economy.  The whole scene looked and sounded like democracy.

5) NYPD officers were there on the perimeter and as friendly as could be.  Easy to converse with.  Heard two cops discussing the merits of Wall Street capitalism (ditto for the two priests).  One officer said he was getting time-and-a-half in response to my question but still wished be could be home ‘cause it was his day off.  Mostly he was just glad that everyone was getting along.

If this is not much like the news media reports you’ve heard, seen and read, well… you surely aren’t surprised.  

Instructions in Butchery

Watching history play itself out again is far less intriguing and exciting as university made me believe it would be. It’s actually quite horrifying. We all know what comes next.

Peasant Revolts, French Revolution, Peasant Revolts. Peasant Revolts (all 1 billion of them).

Peasant Revolts.

Bloody Sunday led to The November Revolution, and we’d be fools to think it wont come here, too.

Here's What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About...

Henry Blodget, Business Insider, Oct. 11, 2011
The “Occupy Wall Street” protests are gaining momentum, having spread from a small park in New York to marches around the city to other cities across the country.

So far, the protests seem fueled by a collective sense that things in our economy are not fair or right. But the protesters have not done a good job of focusing their complaints–and thus have been skewered for not knowing what they stand for or want.

(An early list of “grievances” included some legitimate beefs, but was otherwise just a vague attack on “corporations.” Given that these are the same corporations that employ more than 100 million Americans and make the products we all use every day and, this broadside did not resonate with most Americans).

So, what are the protesters so upset about, really?

Do they have legitimate gripes?

To answer the latter question first, yes, they do.

They have very legitimate gripes.

And if America cannot figure out a way to address these gripes, the country will likely become increasingly “destabilized,” as sociologists might say. And in that scenario, the current protests will likely be only the beginning.

The problem in a nutshell is this: Inequality in this country has hit a level that has been seen only once in the nation’s history–at the end of the 1920s. Unemployment has also reached a level that has been seen only once since the Great Depression.

In other words, in the never-ending tug-of-war between “labor” and “capital,” there has rarely–if ever–been a time when “capital” was so clearly winning.

Let’s start with the obvious one: Unemployment. Three years after the financial crisis, the unemployment rate is still at the highest level since the Great Depression (except for a brief blip in the early 1980s)

Jobs are scarce, so many adults have given up looking for them. And it’s not like unemployment is some quick, painful jolt: A record percentage of unemployed people have been unemployed for longer than 6 months.

And it’s not just construction workers. The average duration of all unemployment is also near an all-time high.

That 9% rate, by the way, equates to 14 million Americans–people who want to work but can’t find a job.

And that’s just people who meet the strict criteria for “unemployed.” Include people working part-time who want to work full-time, plus some people who haven’t looked for a job in a while, and unemployment’s at 17%

Put differently, this is the lowest percentage of Americans with jobs since the early 1980s (And the boom prior to that, by the way, was from women entering the workforce).

So that’s the jobs picture. Not pretty.

And now we turn to the other side of this issue… the Americans for whom life has never been better. The OWNERS.

Corporate profits just hit another all-time high.

Corporate profits as a percent of the economy are near a record all-time high. With the exception of a brief happy period in 2007 (just before the crash), profits are higher than they’ve been since the 1950s. And they are VASTLY higher than they’ve been for most of the intervening half-century.

CEO pay is now 350X the average worker’s, up from 50X from 1960-1985.

CEO pay has skyrocketed 300% since 1990. Corporate profits have doubled. Average “production worker” pay has increased 4%. The minimum wage has dropped. (All numbers adjusted for inflation).

After adjusting for inflation, average hourly earnings haven’t increased in 50 years.

In short… while CEOs and shareholders have been cashing in, wages as a percent of the economy have dropped to an all-time low.

In other words, in the struggle between “labor” and “capital,” capital has basically won.

Of course, life is great if you’re in the top 1% of American wage earners. You’re hauling in a bigger percentage of the country’s total pre-tax income than you have at any time since the late 1920s. Your share of the national income, in fact, is almost 2X the long-term average!

And the top 0.1% in America are doing way better than the top 0.1% in other first-world countries.

In fact, income inequality has gotten so extreme here that the US now ranks 93rd in the world in “income equality.” China’s ahead of us. So is India. So is Iran.

And, by the way, few people would have a problem with inequality if the American Dream were still fully intact–if it were easy to work your way into that top 1%. But, unfortunately, social mobility in this country is also near an all-time low.

So what does all this mean in terms of net worth? Well, for starters, it means that the top 1% of Americans own 42% of the financial wealth in this country. The top 5%, meanwhile, own nearly 70%. That’s about 60% of the net worth of the country held by the top 5%.

And remember that huge debt problem we have–with hundreds of millions of Americans indebted up to their eyeballs? Well, the top 1% doesn’t have that problem. They only own 5% of the country’s debt.

And then there are taxes… It’s a great time to make a boatload of money in America, because taxes on the nation’s highest-earners are close to the lowest they’ve ever been.

The aggregate tax rate for the top 1% is lower than for the next 9%–and not much higher than it is for pretty much everyone else.

As the nation’s richest people often point out, they do pay the lion’s share of taxes in the country: The richest 20% pay 64% of the total taxes. Of course, that’s because they also make most of the money.

And now we come to the type of American corporation that gets–and deserves–a big share of the blame: The banks. Willie Sutton once explained that the reason he robbed banks was because “that’s where the money is.” The man knew what he was talking about.

Remember back in the financial crisis, when we bailed out the banks? Yes, and remember the REASON we bailed out the banks? The REASON we had to bail out the banks was so that they could keep lending to American businesses. Without that lending, we were told, society would collapse. So, did the banks keep lending?

Um, no. Bank lending dropped sharply, and it has yet to recover.

So, what have banks been doing since 2007 if not lending money to American companies? Lending money to America’s government! By buying risk-free Treasury bonds and other government-guaranteed securities.

And, remarkably, they’ve also been collecting interest on money they are NOT lending–the “excess reserves” they have at the Fed. Back in the financial crisis, the Fed decided to help bail out the banks by paying them interest on this money that they’re not lending. And they’re happily still collecting it. (It’s AWESOME to be a bank.)

Meanwhile, of course, the banks are able to borrow money FOR FREE. Because the Fed has slashed rates to basically zero. And the banks have slashed the rates they pay on deposits to basically zero. So they can have all the money they want–for nearly free!

When you can borrow money for nothing, and lend it back to the government risk-free for a few percentage points, you can COIN MONEY. And the banks are doing that. According to IRA, the “net interest margin” made by US banks in the first six months of this year is $211 Billion. Nice!

And that has helped produce $58 billion of profit in the first six months of the year.

And it has helped generate near-record financial sector profits–while the rest of the country struggles with its 9% unemployment rate.

And these profits are getting back toward a record as a percentage of all corporate profits.

And those profits, of course, are AFTER the banks have paid their bankers. And it’s still great to be a banker. The average banker in New York City made $361,330 in 2010. Not bad!

This average Wall Street salary was 6X the average private-sector salary (which, in turn, is actually lower than the average government salary, but that’s a different issue).

So it REALLY doesn’t suck to be a banker.

And so, in conclusion, we’ll end with another look at the “money shot”–the one overarching reason the Wall Street protesters are so upset: Wages as a percent of the economy. Again, it’s basically the lowest it has ever been.

So now you know!

Panic of the Plutocrats

It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America’s direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent.

What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.