Sunday, September 18, 2011


I'm feeling uncharacteristically optimistic about the juxtaposition of this...

President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials.

... and this:

People from all over the country gathered in Lower Manhattan Saturday to voice their frustration with both the economy and Wall Street.

Thousands marched....

Word of the “Occupy Wall Street” protest spread over the Internet....

At one point, CBS 2 we caught a glimpse of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly driving through the controlled chaos....

With all the pressure there is on political figures to avoid what's always sneeringly called "class warfare," the fact that the president -- the fact that this president -- is increasingly acknowledging the vast difference between the rich and the rest of us is a hopeful sign. I know this proposal can't get passed. I know it's mostly an attempt to draw a line in the sand as his reelection campaign gets under way. But I like the fact that he thinks this is a political winner. I like the fact that it puts a question back on the table that the right and center thought had been asked and answered: no, perhaps we Americans haven't all decided that we really, really like the rich and regard them as heroes and "job creators" and people who need to be cosseted and coddled because if we don't cater to their every whim they'll be too weak and wounded and sickly and depressed ever to get out of bed and try to make even more money by building businesses and hiring people to do jobs.

The protests were organized by Anonymous, among other groups, and I'm just happy to see Anonymous branch out from an emphasis on information-wants-to-be-free-ism to a broader focus on the basic power structure of the world -- secrecy is a symptom (and I happen to think it's not always a symptom); it's not the disease. The disease is abuse of power. I'm also happy to see a protest focused on big issues rather than on candidates we hope will resolve all the big issues for us. The electoral system doesn't offer much hope right now -- at best, a hope for slower decay (which is why it's still worthwhile to vote Democrat).

Something has to give the powerful a reason to think that they need to worry about the anger of ordinary citizens who aren't right-wing. Maybe this is a start.


And yes, I realize I've written as if the labor protests in Wisconsin and elsewhere never took place. So I'll call this protest the next step -- a protest not against a specific set of abuses but against systemic acceleration of inequality in general. That's really what's needed now.