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November 17, 2011


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You're still profoundly wrong, but since, like Bloomberg, you've forbidden discourse, I'll leave you to your illusions.

Forbidden Discourse... might make a catchy magazine title, I think.

As for me, I don't "forbid" things (heaven forfend), but I knew before I hit publish that you and I will just never, ever agree on this. And yelling back and forth about that disagreement isn't "discourse". And even then, knowing that, I wouldn't forbid it... I just don't think either one of us will change our respective minds as a result. Do ewe?

As an aside, and even an attempt at discourse, I don't think Bloomberg has "forbidden discourse" either, and while I don't think his justifications for raiding the park were more than a fig leaf over "because we could", I do think the police going in was an inevitability that was simply a matter of time. Did this week make more sense than, say, the first week of December? Probably not, but the idea that city officials were just going to watch this thing drag on indefinitely was unrealistic. And "unrealistic" does strike me as a hallmark of OWS generally. Removing an encampment, while leaving opportunities for people to gather, doesn't strike me as "forbidding", and if OWS does fizzle in the next few months, blaming Bloomberg solely for its failure strikes me as a stretch. But then, I keep being told that OWS will never die... so that's not a worry either, is it?

meh...I ask you to cite evidence to prove your assertions...you lash out instead, but I'll give it one more whirl:

Millions of bank accounts are still at the largest (and worst run) banks. I don't love Chase, I think Jamie Dimon is part of the problem... but my checking account is still with them. And a Credit Union is no answer for me, though I still ponder the possibility.

If we're going on personal experience as argument, I can tell you that I'd not considered a credit union before OWS, so yes, that is a positive effect. You ask for a clear message. I say there have been MANY.

There's no way to say, apparently, still, that one cares deeply about economic justice and economic reforms, bank regulation and reduction of debt... but doesn't see the point of people camped out in parks, or swarming the streets turning a protest against banks into confrontations with police and local authority. Because, clearly, they're all the same. That kind of undifferentiated, nonspecific nature to the Occupy protests is the real and continuing indication that a leaderless mob is no answer to the problems we face.

Very disingenuous to state that the protesters confronted the police (or were concerned about "reducing debt" for that matter, but that's a minor quibble here). The protesters were peaceful; it was the local authority (coordinated by mayors on conference call by the way) that made it about them and escalated and rerouted the confrontations. OWS targeted Wall Street and Banks, and local authority targeted, instead of supported, OWS.

And again I ask, then, what is the answer? You've made it clear that you don't believe in 3rd party candidates; and you don't believe in write-ins or indies; you're not pro repub...and when asked to defend your blind fealty to the democrats, when all evidence - there's that pesky word again - shows them as beholden to Big Corp as the repubs, we get either crickets, homages to past good deeds, or, alas, more lashing out and shutting down of conversations.

Effective Writing 101: Prove your case or save your nay in case you meet a horse one day.

Meh, as well. You spend a great deal of time parsing my every sentence, but rarely offer a full argument of your own. That's not "discourse"; it's nitpicking.

I've been in a Credit Union, and I'd have been happy to tell you of my experience at the time; in one sense, I regret my decision to move my money from that CU to a bank when I did, but in the long run, I would have done it at some point, mostly because branch access was so limited. And I'm not trying to rely so much on anecdote as analysis, but, extrapolating from my own experience, I think the Move Your Money protest has that built-in problem: the major banks have glutted the field with branches, ATMs and other forms of easy access. That's a huge hurdle for a mass demonstration of people taking money away to smaller, less convenient, less accessible options. Where I work, just as an example, I am surrounded by the three majors (B of A, Chase, Citi), with few other options in walking distance. That ease and convenience appeals to people. That said, I think the combination of outrage over their proposed ATM fee, and the sense that Move Your Money would have an impact is what caused B of A and several others (including Chase) to drop the idea of debit card usage fees. And, anecdotally, if Chase had instituted a debit card fee, I would have moved my account.

But, to your other question, about what can be done, I do think, yes, there's a real problem with OWS in that the things that are being taken on are probably too big to ever change in the way many people say they want (although, I'd throw back at you... just what is it OWS people want, anyway?). I've said in my writings all along, that real change is slow and often incremental, and rarely will people who want whole sale change ever be completely satisfied. Which means... one can spend a lot of time being really dissatisfied, depending on the change one wants to see happen.

Finally, I think we could have a healthy debate about what constitutes "peaceful" (for instance, I don't think Oakland, or Berkeley, could be called entirely non-confrontational). I think OWS in New York has, actually, been largely very peaceful, as far as that goes... but there's clearly an element in these protests (its more anarchic participants) that wants to turn this into a confrontation with police, law enforcement and local governments. And that, it strikes me, does take away from the overall message of confronting corporate finance and banks... if that's the goal. As I've said all along, I have a hard tie sussing out just what the goals are here.

I'm not trying to "prove a case" here; all of what I write should, I think, come with the obvious caveat that these are my impressions, my opinions. I don't insist - despite your impression to the contrary - that everyone agree, or see what I see. I think Thursday's "Day of Protest" will turn out to be of limited long term effectiveness because I think all the marching and shouting did not leave much, if any, impression, on people watching from outside. Vaguely, I think, many people agree with statements like "our financial system is bad", "The big banks are a problem" and on and on. I've said all along that "raising awareness" - which appears to be the claimed effectiveness of OWS protests - is neither the problem we have when it comes to banking and finance, nor does it offer much in the way of solutions (which, you say, I should provide). I get it, the current system we have is terrible. It's unlikely to change in a major way. Banks and big corporations have enormous influence over our government. Really, I get that. You'll have to either forgive or accept the fact that I don't see camping out and marching around as the way to address those problems. I think there's no replacement for the hard, painful, frustrating slog of dealing with the realities we have, working to change the systems we have as best we can, and advocating strongly for change with concrete proposals and demands for actual results. OWS - my impression - doesn't do those things. Your opinion differs. I respect that... but I don;t think we're ever going to agree about it.

Regarding credit union vs bank and ATM access, of course the issue is convenience; but the fault isn't with the idea; it's with the consumer (me, in this case) for the laziness.

Will add only that somebody thought OWS enough of a threat to spend quite a bit of money in an attempt to discredit it. Is it possible your opinion has been influenced by their work and the work of others like them?


Yes, clearly, when I say repeatedly that "I find OWS ill defined, not especially well organized and short on specific, actionable plans" I am simply parroting easily digested public relations messages aimed at gullible people, like myself. Might I gently suggest that your movement will have a harder time winning people over by arguing that they are mindless sheep, incapable of independently developing opinions of one's own? Also... Chris Hayes? Seriously?

And along similar lines - you also manage to blame the lack of action to take on the banks on the consumer? That's also not an exactly winning strategy. Or, perhaps this would be a good time to advocate for wider, easier access to credit unions, and further regulation of big banks that would either rein in their reach (remember, Citi exists in its enormity because Glass-Stegall was repealed; previously a consumer bank of that size was illegal. Which, at this point, I believe is also true of B of A), or increase the limitations on their ability to charge small customers excessively for access to their own funds. I'm not even Occupying anything... and I get that much. The consumer is really not the one at fault here. And it's why Move Your Money is potent, dangerous... but more especially if it were tied to further demands about increased supervision of big banks.

your admission of both faults is adequate...thanks

p.s. I'll take Chris Hayes over David Brooks any day, thanks.

We aren't talking about tea partners anymore, which is a start.

Tea PARTIERS. Damn phone. Anyway, they, and their corporate sponsored demands have been swept off the Zeitgeist. I would prefer talking about what the hell OWS wants over the Tea Party. I assume you do too.

Absolutely. I would rather talk about what OWS wants than the Tea Party... but I do think both movements struggle with being built primarily on anger, and suffer from a similar incoherence. I've said several times that the left could use more "Tea Party angst" - that is, a real movement to change the Democratic Party by challenging established candidates and local committees; I don't think OWS, with its talk of "leaderless" and governance by consensus, is really equipped to be that. But yes, I think Tea Partiers, especially having been warped by major conservative money interests, have become the thoughtless enforcers of extremism on the right, rather than an unexpected voice for the forgotten needs of the working class. I don't think it's at all clear that OWS can become more than a left-side mirror image, full of sound and fury, but unable to alter the current political landscape, or really serve, either, as the voice of poor people. Because the real voice of poorer, working class people would, I think, be more focused on practical needs and immediate solutions.

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