Forging Pitchforks

“My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” – President Obama, April 2009

First we saw Wisconsin and the movement to save union rights for public service employees, a justified reaction to a gross conservative overreach.  Citizens in Ohio followed soon after in reaction to a gross conservative overreach in that state to enact similar legislation.  Citizens in Michigan reacted strongly to a gross conservative overreach that strips local municipalities of their local governing authority if the municipality, be it city or county, falls into financial turmoil — if that happens, Big Daddy, in the form of an unelected, state-appointed controller, comes in and runs things by fiat.  In olden days they would have called such a person a despot.

Meanwhile, as all this transpires across the country, the financial institutions that precipitated the financial crisis in 2008-9 continue to rake in obscene profits, continue to pay premium salaries and bonuses to those who caused the crisis, and continue to speculate, speculate, speculate, thus ensuring that we’ll have another financial crisis in the near future.  Wall Street is fine.  Main Street, not so much.

Some have complained that Occupy Wall Street is too chaotic, too unfocussed.  They have no coherent message.  Blah, blah.  Really, the message is not too hard to fathom:  the status quo cannot continue.  This is a protest that is long overdue.  Too many have been out of work for too long.  Folks who were doing reasonably well are facing days of reckoning because the once affordable rent or mortgage isn’t, thanks to loss of income.  Nonetheless, there are some who say that there must be shared sacrifice, that everyone must take a haircut to help improve the economy.  Hmmm.

I remember, in my waning days at UCLA, when the tuition was starting its upward climb.  An acquaintance at the time said ‘eh, it’s not that bad.’  Folks didn’t make much of a fuss when $1400 became $1500.  Or when $1500 became $2000 and then $2500 and then $3000 after that.  Today we find that tuition at UCLA has risen over 800% in the past 23 years from about $1400 when I left to over $12,600 today.  800%?  That’s crazy.  Meanwhile, middle class wages have certainly not risen at an analogous rate.  If anything, they’ve remained stagnant, or worse regressed.

Haircut?  These days, its the conservative, moneyed ruling class, and not the hippies, that are the long hairs.  Everyone else is bald.

In the face of a generation’s worth of wealth disparity, it’s little wonder that many are taking to the streets.  The financial crisis put a big fat magnifying glass on the disparity by showing who managed to make it out OK and who didn’t.  And though Mr. Obama rightly stated that his policies were keeping the pitchforks at bay, in the end his administration has done little to reign in the rapaciousness that rules over Wall Street.  What else to do but take to the streets and say enough’s enough?

The days of unchallenged gross overreaches are coming to an end.  And that’s a good thing.

© 2011, gar. All rights reserved.


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