Sunday, October 2, 2011


Occupy Wall Street Revolutionary?


“Banks should not be servicers and they should not be pretending, much less allowed to make decisions on modifications of loans that were irresponsible, dead-beat proposals before any borrower signed for them.”  Neil F Garfield,
EDITOR’S COMMENT: The good news is that the Occupy Wall Street Movement hit the front page and the editorial section with this op-ed piece from Nicholas Kristof. The bad news is that the act of demanding the truth has become a “revolutionary” act. How did that happen? — in the “land of the free” where the very first amendment allows freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which I guess has come to mean the freedom to sell out to big business and big banks.
Kristof is wrong when he says these protesters have no list of demands. Their list is a short list of getting the truth and forcing their government to hold the “banksters” accountable for performing acts that would land any common person in prison. Kristof misses the simplicity of the message. And he misses the simplicity of the solutions that are easily available to our financial system, our society and our standing around the world. If we start from the truth about what happened and account for the money, then we can start the process of reversing what has appeared to be irreversible damage.
It’s not like we have a choice. Either we let the banks have their way and leave them alone to continue the rape and pillage of countries around the world or we don’t. And we need to act while we still have the power to do so. If the banks get their way (and mind you I am only talking about a handful of powerful bankers, since the others were kept out of the “game” or even victimized by it), then we have the virtual certainty of a floundering housing market going further into the abyss dragging the economy, jobs and prospects for any recovery with it. And yes it IS that simple.
The alternative is simple: since we know that the investors had their purse stolen, and the homeowners were used as pawns in a vast game of economic brinkmanship where the “loans” were secretly paid off or settled, let’s get the banks out of the game. Banks should not be servicers and they should not be pretending, much less allowed to make decisions on modifications of loans that were irresponsible, dead-beat proposals before any borrower signed for them.
The opportunities must be created for people of good faith to enter into discussions to settle the matter — the real stakeholders (investors and homeowners). For those who blithely predict that no homeowner will enter into discussions for modifications if they think they can get a free house, my message is “DO THE MATH.” Millions of people have sought modification or settlement of issues with the servicers and banks whereas only 2-3% of those foreclosed upon  have litigated. People would rather settle than fight — they have already proved that.
And for those people who do not act in good faith there can be consequences. But even if collateral benefit arises from addressing this issue with integrity and honesty about how this mess was created, from a practical standpoint, which is better — letting the bankers keep their ill-gotten gains or letting a few people make a little extra money that will be pumped back into the economy as soon as it is received?
Nobody is saying the investors should bear the complete loss or that the homeowners should bear the complete loss — but that is what is happening under the Alice in Wonderland system we now witness: BOTH investors and homeowners have been burdened with the total loss. To make matters worse BOTH insurers AND taxpayers have been burdened with the total loss. So the total loss has been paid four times, so far and it is climbing. Now title insurers and probably rating agencies are going to bear some loss too. Who is collecting all this money? The mega banks and their puppet servicers and puppet trustees (known as SHAM TRUSTEES) are becoming the largest landowners in history and they are the largest holders of cash in the world.
In my world, if you steal a purse, you get caught, return what is recoverable and pay a penalty — loss of freedom. In the world of Wall Street finance, they get to keep the purse, use the ID to make other money, get paid by taxpayers for the loss of the purse, and they get to buy homes with worthless “debt” paper that doesn’t belong to them, which they found in the purse. Some people think this is OK. What is most interesting is the divergent views on this subject have converged geographically on “Wall Street.”
If holding a purse snatcher accountable is a revolutionary act, then count me in.
October 1, 2011

The Bankers and the Revolutionaries

AFTER flying around the world this year to cover street protests from Cairo to Morocco, reporting on the latest “uprising” was easier: I took the subway.
The “Occupy Wall Street” movement has taken over a park in Manhattan’s financial district and turned it into a revolutionary camp. Hundreds of young people chant slogans against “banksters” or corporate tycoons. Occasionally, a few even pull off their clothes, which always draws news cameras.
“Occupy Wall Street” was initially treated as a joke, but after a couple of weeks it’s gaining traction. The crowds are still tiny by protest standards — mostly in the hundreds, swelling during periodic marches — but similar occupations are bubbling up in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. David Paterson, the former New York governor, dropped by, and labor unions are lending increasing support.
I tweeted that the protest reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and that raised eyebrows. True, no bullets are whizzing around, and the movement won’t unseat any dictators. But there is the same cohort of alienated young people, and the same savvy use of Twitter and other social media to recruit more participants. Most of all, there’s a similar tide of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protesters regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable.
“This was absolutely inspired by Tahrir Square, by the Arab Spring movement,” said Tyler Combelic, 27, a Web designer from Brooklyn who is a spokesman for the occupiers. “Enough is enough!”
The protesters are dazzling in their Internet skills, and impressive in their organization. The square is divided into a reception area, a media zone, a medical clinic, a library and a cafeteria. The protesters’ Web site includes links allowing supporters anywhere in the world to go online and order pizzas (vegan preferred) from a local pizzeria that delivers them to the square.
In a tribute to the ingenuity of capitalism, the pizzeria quickly added a new item to its menu: the “OccuPie special.”
Where the movement falters is in its demands: It doesn’t really have any. The participants pursue causes that are sometimes quixotic — like the protester who calls for removing Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill because of his brutality to American Indians. So let me try to help.
I don’t share the antimarket sentiments of many of the protesters. Banks are invaluable institutions that, when functioning properly, move capital to its best use and raise living standards. But it’s also true that soaring leverage not only nurtured soaring bank profits in good years, but also soaring risks for the public in bad years.
In effect, the banks socialized risk and privatized profits. Securitizing mortgages, for example, made many bankers wealthy while ultimately leaving governments indebted and citizens homeless.
We’ve seen that inadequately regulated, too-big-to-fail banks can undermine the public interest rather than serve it — and in the last few years, banks got away with murder. It’s infuriating to see bankers who were rescued by taxpayers now moan about regulations intended to prevent the next bail-out. And it’s important that protesters spotlight rising inequality: does it feel right to anyone that the top 1 percent of Americans now possess a greater collective net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent?
So for those who want to channel their amorphous frustration into practical demands, here are several specific suggestions:
¶Impose a financial transactions tax. This would be a modest tax on financial trades, modeled on the suggestions of James Tobin, an American economist who won a Nobel Prize. The aim is in part to dampen speculative trading that creates dangerous volatility. Europe is moving toward a financial transactions tax, but the Obama administration is resisting — a reflection of its deference to Wall Street.
¶Close the “carried interest” and “founders’ stock” loopholes, which may be the most unconscionable tax breaks in America. They allow our wealthiest citizens to pay very low tax rates by pretending that their labor compensation is a capital gain.
¶Protect big banks from themselves. This means moving ahead with Basel III capital requirements and adopting the Volcker Rule to limit banks’ ability to engage in risky and speculative investments. Another sensible proposal, embraced by President Obama and a number of international experts, is the bank tax. This could be based on an institution’s size and leverage, so that bankers could pay for their cleanups — the finance equivalent of a pollution tax.
Much of the sloganeering at “Occupy Wall Street” is pretty silly — but so is the self-righteous sloganeering of Wall Street itself. And if a ragtag band of youthful protesters can help bring a dose of accountability and equity to our financial system, more power to them.
I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

27 Responses

  1. Occupy WALL STREET – BANKING BASTARDS stealing from misfortunate families and homeowners. Attorneys who defend the banks must be prosecuted. .
    We are here !
    We will be heard
    We will be seen
    We will not be ignored
  2. OCCUPY Wall STREET- Begins in Arizona
  3. from Boston
  5. OCCUPY WALL STREET – Not the size of the but the Dog in the fight !
    Call more Marines !!!!! We need your help !!!!!
  6. OCCUPY WALLSTREET – Message to Obama
  8. Occupy Wall Street – DALLAS TEXAS
  9. OCCUPY WALL STREET across the USA
  11. OCCUPY WALL STREET —- HANG ON NEW YORK more people coming…
  12. OCCUPY WALL STREET remove Obama and his wrecking crew.
  13. Calling All US Marines ! OCCUPY Wall Street
  15. Think of it this way. Obama still can not prove his place of birth. The only proof we have is a fabricated birth certificate. So if the president can fabricate docs and get away with fraud. So can the banks…Just remember Obama can not even prove his SSN. Further Obama challenged McCain’s origin of birth ..but he can not prove his own…
    Corruption in the White House.Get rid of these bastards.
    Occupy Wall Street.
    Remove Obama and his wrecking crew….Occupy Wall Street.
    Call your STATE AG. DEMAND nothing but prosecution for the banking bastards.
    Occupy Wall Street.
  16. JP Morgan supports the NYPD! 4.6 Million to keep the streets safe.
    Special gesture of thanks from Jamie Dimon himself:
    This is the real scoop. Obama was going to use Bill Black to bust the
    mortgage fraud. But after McCain decided to back down during the last few months of the Presidential race and after Obama was elected then he ( Obama) decides not to use Bill Black. Just remember the 1980′s S&L crisis was similar the 2008 housing bust.
    Just a smaller scale. Also remember McCain was part of Keating (5). McCain has done nothing for Arizona Home Owners but blame Mexico. During the housing boom, it was ok for the illegal from Mexico to work in Arizona. They good people were paid nothing and while making big bucks for the banking bastards and the co-conspirators (the builders). Most banks had joint ventures set up with the builders so the bank could use the builders name to originate the loan. They (builder & banks) controlled the prices and the supply. Not to mention created a huge panic amongst those who needed to buy a home before the houses got too expensive. They this buy holding lotteries and restrictive
    releases. Further the building permits were slow to be issues so they were able to control the market and collect the fee once the MBS was created.
    These bastards need to be prosecuted. It was never a free market. Millions have suffered…Not just in the US but around the world.
    Join the Movement Occupy Wall Street in all your States. Call your State AG .
    No settlement for the banks but prosecutions and relief for the home owners and tax payer.
    MCCain has been on the band wagon to get rid of the illegal Mexican.s the Keating (5) Once McCain back down, Obama decided not to use Bill Blak.
    Here’s a guy who just kicked the plastic-banana empty-suit machine politicians right in the chops. I’m telling you guys. THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED! It’s happening NOW.
    All these foreclosed homeowners better start making signs and showing up at the Tea Party rallies.
  19. BSE
    You are right. Obama has done nothing. In fact, he rehired the very same people — who swore that they would blame the people and hold them responsible for Wall Street’s fraud. Obama does not even discuss the mortgage fraud — and what it has done to millions of homes across the country — never mind the economy itself. Obama just steers clear of the subject. What kind of President is that??
    Problem with these protests — is that Wall Street will continue to do nothing. They do not care. Protests need to be ALSO taken to Washington, DC —the “Land of Make Believe.” — to “encourage” Washington to stand firm against Wall Street. If Washington continues to do nothing — vote them out. Vote Obama out — and vote out all the Republican Senators and Congressmen who have been hostage to Wall Street (by campaign donations) — and refused to help the people — and demanded that foreclosures be put through — despite the fraud and despite a REAL investigation into the fraud. .
    Protests on Wall Street — a start — but Washington, DC — just as much to blame. .
    And to NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF — the people know that they are hurting — they know Wall Street does not care — they know that every dime that could be siphoned from the middle/lower class has been siphoned. And, they know that the rich have grown richer. And, they know that those very same “rich” “investors” — are foreclosing upon them- and also sending jobs overseas. (And, Obama — road construction will not help — we are not living in the 1930s — all it does is create traffic jams that prevent people from getting to any job that they may be very lucky to have). And, they know that Wall Street wants them to continue to “spend” — so that they can still make money — because that is all America has left — spending.
    But, there is no more spending to be done. STOP IT – if still doing. Whatever you have — save it —- until Wall Street and Washington understand — we will not be patsies — and we will not continue to be defrauded. Come clean — we want the truth — and we want accountability — we want our homes (taken by fraud) — back, and we want meaningful jobs with stability. We want America back.
    It starts with President Obama — and he has done nothing. And, it starts with states that continue to elect Republican Senators and Congressmen — who are determined to cover-up the fraud. We need to “clean” house — foreclose upon — the enablers. . .
  20. Actually, there is a list of demands. It says a lot.
    They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
    They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
    They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
    They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
    They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
    They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
    They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
    They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
    They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
    They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
    They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
    They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
    They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
    They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
    They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
    They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
    They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
    They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
    They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
    They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
    They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.
  21. This news is blocked by the WS bansta(s)… Jamie has been putting some money where all the activities can be seen….
    It has not been seen much by the WS media, but MS media…
    Keep going.
  22. Don’t need a list.
    Banks declare a default when anyone requests a restructuring of debt.
    Change that one rule to Restructuring a debt is NOT a Default, change the world.
  23. First they ignored the protest. Now they are laughing at it. Next they will fight the protest. Then the protest WILL WIN!
  24. GET Rid of OBAMA and his WRECKING CREW
  25. WHERE WALL STREET has NO NAME – More Inspiration
    – Keep it Going – Never Give UP.
  26. In some parts of the world purse snatchers get their hands chopped off. In 21st century USA how about bringing out the guillotine for the bankers. Believe me I am not a violent person, but at some point you must pour water on the fire to put it out.
    We are here !
    We will be heard
    We will be seen
    We will not be ignored

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