Paul Krugman looks at why Wall Street is suddenly feeling so put-upon.
As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow, the response from the movement’s targets has gradually changed: contemptuous dismissal has been replaced by whining. (A reader of my blog suggests that we start calling our ruling class the “kvetchocracy.”) The modern lords of finance look at the protesters and ask, Don’t they understand what we’ve done for the U.S. economy?
The answer is: yes, many of the protesters do understand what Wall Street and more generally the nation’s economic elite have done for us. And that’s why they’re protesting.
Money talks in American politics, and what the financial industry’s money has been saying lately is that it will punish any politician who dares to criticize that industry’s behavior, no matter how gently — as evidenced by the way Wall Street money has now abandoned President Obama in favor of Mitt Romney. And this explains the industry’s shock over recent events.
You see, until a few weeks ago it seemed as if Wall Street had effectively bribed and bullied our political system into forgetting about that whole drawing lavish paychecks while destroying the world economy thing. Then, all of a sudden, some people insisted on bringing the subject up again.
And their outrage has found resonance with millions of Americans. No wonder Wall Street is whining.
This seems to be a problem with a lot of people in powerful positions, especially those on the more conservative side of the aisle. They took a budget surplus in 2001 and not only spent it on tax cuts, but started two wars without paying for them. They allowed the banking system to sell mortgages that a loan shark wouldn’t make and then flooded the market with worthless securities to back them up. And when it all collapsed and nearly wiped out the savings of millions of the middle class, they looked around and said, “Hey, who did this?” and then blamed the next president for trying to fix it. And they have the nerve to get their tails all puffed up when they’re called out on it.
From my perspective, OWS does not want to destroy the financial system or bring capitalism to its knees; they’re demonstrating against the people that did a pretty good job of that already. What they want is accountability and people taking responsibility for what happened.
But apparently that’s DFH Woodstock Nation socialism.