If 2,000 Tea Party activists descended on Wall Street, you would probably have an equal number of reporters there covering them. Yet 2,000 people did occupy Wall Street last Saturday. They weren’t carrying the banner of the Tea Party, the Gadsden flag with its coiled snake and the threat ‘Don’t Tread on Me’. Yet their message was clear: ‘We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.’ They were there, mostly young, protesting the virtually unregulated speculation of Wall Street that caused the global financial meltdown.
One of New York’s better-known billionaires, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, commented on the protests: ‘You have a lot of kids graduating college, can’t find jobs. That’s what happened in Cairo. That’s what happened in Madrid. You don’t want those kinds of riots here.’
Riots? Is that really what the Arab Spring and the European protests are about? […]
I interviewed one of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest organisers. David Graeber teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and has authored several books – most recently, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Graeber points out that, in the midst of the financial crash of 2008, enormous debts between banks were renegotiated. Yet only a fraction of troubled mortgages have gotten the same treatment. He said:
‘Debts between the very wealthy or between governments can always be renegotiated and always have been throughout world history. … It’s when you have debts owed by the poor to the rich that suddenly debts become a sacred obligation, more important than anything else. The idea of renegotiating them becomes unthinkable.’
The Constitution gives Congress primary power over taxes and spending. Congress gives money to the executive branch designated for specific purposes. The president isn’t empowered to take money appropriated for, say, the Pentagon, and spend it instead on a new jobs program of his own design. When past presidents have tried to exert economic powers beyond what’s given to them by Congress and the Constitution, they’ve gotten slapped down.
President Harry Truman tried to take over the steel industry, citing a national emergency, but the Supreme Court ruled the action unconstitutional, Galston noted. Richard Nixon tried to “impound” money that Congress had appropriated rather than spend it as intended, but Congress struck back with a budget act that constrained him and effectively denied him the power.
[Former policy advisor William] Galston suggested that 90 to 95 percent of what Obama will recommend next week “will require someone else’s consent,” namely Congress.
Republicans say there’s plenty Obama could do, beginning with embracing tax cuts, revoking federal regulations that they say handcuff business — and abandoning any push for more federal spending to spark job creation.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Friday blamed sluggish private-sector job growth on the “triple threat of higher taxes, more failed ‘stimulus’ spending and excessive federal regulations.
I’ve spent a chunk of summer vacation visiting old friends here [in Yamhill, Oregon], and I can’t help feeling that national politicians and national journalists alike have dropped the ball on jobs. Some 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed — that’s more than 16 percent of the work force — but jobs haven’t been nearly high enough on the national agenda.
When Americans are polled about the issue they care most about, the answer by a two-to-one margin is jobs. The Boston Globe found that during President Obama’s Twitter “town hall” last month, the issue that the public most wanted to ask about was, by far, jobs. Yet during the previous two weeks of White House news briefings, reporters were far more likely to ask about political warfare with Republicans.
(I’m an offender, too: I asked President Obama a question at the Twitter town hall, and it was a gotcha query about his negotiations with Republicans. I’m sorry that I missed the chance to push him on the issue that Americans care most about.)
A study by National Journal in May found something similar: newspaper articles about “unemployment” apparently fell over the last two years, while references to the “deficit” soared.
When I’m back on the family farm in Yamhill, our very closest neighbor is one of those 25 million. Terry Maggard worked on a crew detecting underground gas, electrical or cable lines, and after 15 years on the job he was earning $20 an hour. Then at the outset of the recession in late 2008 his employer fired him and the other old-timers, and hired younger workers — who earned only $9 or $10 an hour.
Terry has been knocking on doors everywhere, including at McDonald’s, but nobody wants a 56-year-old man. “The only call I got in two years was one asking if I could be a French chef,” he recalled, laughing. “I said ‘Oui.’ ”
How is “did we drop the ball on unemployment?” even a QUESTION???
Essentially, all of the economic gains made by people of color since the Civil Rights Movement have been erased in a few years by the Long Recession. Whites experienced a net wealth loss of 16 percent from 2005 to 2009, while blacks lost about half of their wealth (53 percent) and Latinos lost two-thirds of their wealth.
Media outlets reporting on the Pew study point to housing loss as the primary culprit, since the net worth of blacks and Latinos is heavily reliant on home ownership, while whites are more likely to have retirement accounts and stock.
Rampant–and racist–fraud in the home loan industry was a primary contributor to the collapse, with 61 percent of sub-prime loan holders actually qualifying for prime loans that would have been easier to maintain. Blacks and Latinos were especially targeted for sub-prime loans, a practice called “reverse redlining.” Wells Fargo loan officer-turned-whistle blower Elizabeth Jacobson admitted that her company specifically went after African Americans for sub-prime loans through “wealth building” conferences hosted in black churches.
The employment gap between whites and blacks is also a contributor to the wealth gap. While white American are suffering through the Long Recession with 7.9 percent unemployment, blacks are experiencing Great Depression-like figures of 16.1 percent unemployment. This figure jumps to 31.4 percent for blacks ages 16 to 24, and black Americans have consistently had the higher rate of unemployment compared to white Americans since 2007.
Not surprisingly, the employment gap, too, has racist origins. The Center for American Progress analyzed unemployment data from the last three recessions and found that black unemployment starts earlier, rises faster and lingers longer. Explanations include the concentration of black workers in the stumbling manufacturing sector, the cutting of public sector jobs–and racial discrimination. This last finding is no shock given that employers are more likely to call back a white job applicant with a criminal record than a similarly qualified black man without a record.
The role of racism in poverty is important to keep in mind at a time Washington politicians are manufacturing crises that will slash the entitlement programs that 1 in 6 Americans rely on. It’s ironic that we’re cutting safety nets for the poor just as we’re experiencing the highest poverty rate since 1960, with blacks and Latinos three times as likely to live in poverty. Public policy is supposed to knock down racial and other non-meritorious barriers to pursuing life, liberty, and happiness, not jack them higher.
But white privilege doesn’t exist and racism is long gone, right post-racial America?
yes. reblogging for obvious lack of white privilege.
This right here is why i have a really hard time about thinking of this as a calss thing.
Not that class isn’t important but the actual ramifications and removal of access and services WITHIN classes is coming up SOLIDLY race based and people’s blind prejuidices and ACTIVE ones are denying people food within classes
Why am I surprised that these young people behave destructively, “mindlessly”, motivated only by self-interest? How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that’s why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few fucking pairs of trainers.”
It’s criminal that so little is asked of people who are getting so much. I don’t mind paying more. I really don’t mind paying more taxes. I’d rather pay for taxes than cut ‘Reading is Fundamental’ or Head Start or some of these programs that are really helping kids. This is the greatest country in the world; is it really that much worse if you pay 6% more in taxes? Give me a break. Look at what you get for it: you get to be American.”
Matt Damon (via lonelywerewolfgirl)
Matt Damon is the hero of the day.
Matt Damon for everything.
The more this guy talks the more I like him (Well, besides being Jason Bourne which is BA enough). Even when he got punked a few years ago, he was still only trying to do the right thing. Keep this up Matt & you might find yourself in politics. Good for us, but maybe not so much for you.
Matt… oh Matt stop it! I have to change my knickers now. He’s on FIYAH at the moment.
(via sleepydumpling) Everyone knows by now that Matt Damon makes me feel funny in my pants. It seems that today Matt Damon makes Tumblr feel funny in its collective pants. This is a good thing. (via mymilkspilt)
The millions of college educated young people who cannot get jobs or who take work that does not require a college education are in danger of losing their faith in the future. They are indefinitely postponing the life they wanted and prepared for; all that matters is finding rent money. Even if the job market becomes as robust as it was in 2007 — something economists say could take more than a decade — my generation will have lost years of career-building experience.”
So this quotation is clearly coming from a place of significant class privilege. But despite that, and despite my skepticism with respect to ~careers~ and the current system of USian capitalism in general, it’s a good point.