In Paul Krugman’s latest piece for the New York Times, Panic of the Plutocrats , he lays out how the 1% are in panic about the protests, and why they know they must immediately attack the relatively small group of protesters before this thing gets out of hand. Occupy Wall Street “must be demonized and driven from the stage”, or the ruling class’s house of cards will begin to fall apart.
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.
Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.
This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.
Will it work? It is up to the American people, who haven’t shown the best judgement lately. But a vocal minority might still be able to change things. Or at least a vocal 1% of the 99; it won’t take that many if they are out in the streets making their voices heard. With the stagnation our political system is in, the difference makers don’t have a be the largest group (hence the power of the Tea Party). Specifically, I think it is up to the 18 – 27 year olds. If the new generation of voters can stand up and fight for the future the current regime is destroying, we have a chance. I’ll march with them.
Read the rest: Panic of the Plutocrats – NYTimes.com. It’s a must read.