Occupy Wall Street: Day 13
So I went to see the Occupy Wall Street protests this morning before work and this evening after work again. Here are some of my comments and observations.
First, if you are interested in checking it out, know that there are small marches at opening and closing bell for the market.
However, the police have made it basically impossible to walk on Wall Street, due to some incredibly annoying barricades.
So for our march this morning we seemed to just circle the city block where the protest is based, although I didn’t stay til the end so it’s possible they decided to very very slowly march on Wall Street proper.
Second, they have “assemblies” twice a day, with guest speakers sometimes (Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon and Cornel West have visited), and this is where general announcements are made. The crowd was quite large tonight and it was difficult to hear what the speaker and the repeaters were saying, which is frustrating. But maybe it’s easier at the 1pm assembly. Also, it seems to be easier to actually discuss issues in the morning- at night it gets loud and kind of crazy and hard to focus in my opinion.
Next, I’d like to address the issue of the message of the protesters being dismissed as incoherent. For the record, I went to a conference at the end of 2009 at Columbia Business School on the financial crisis and what we should do about it, where the speakers were fancy economists from central banks and CEOs of international banks, and they were about as incoherent as these protesters. There was absolutely no getting them to say anything that was an actual plan or even an attempt at a plan for changing the system so this mess wouldn’t happen again. I should know, because there was a question and answer period and I asked.
Having said that, there have been some pretty unconvincing statements reported from some of the protesters in terms of what they would like to see. For example, some of them seem to think that short selling should be banned. As some of you know, I disagree. In fact there are lots of seriously corrupt and ridiculous things going on in the financial system which they should know about and they should protest, and I’d like to invite them to educate themselves.
In particular, if you are someone interested in knowing stuff about how the financial system works, then please ask! A major part of why I blog is to try to inform people about these things who are interested. Please comment below and ask whatever you want, and if I don’t know the answer I will find someone who does, or I will blog about the question.
Having said that, I’d like to add that it’s on the one hand perfectly reasonable that people don’t understand the financial system, because it has essentially been set up to be too complicated to understand, and on the other hand it’s also reasonable to think of the entire financial system as a black box which can be judged by its outputs.
Finally, if we are going to judge the system by looking at its outputs, then these protesters, who are in general young, with educations, huge students debts, and hopeless outlooks, have a pretty dismal view. In other words they have every right to complain that the system is fucking them, even though they don’t know how the system works. I for one am super proud that they’re out there doing something, even if it’s not obviously organized and polished, rather than passively sitting by.