The Occupy Wall Street movement may or may not change America, but it has "already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent," says Paul Krugman in The New York Times. In attacking and trying to undermine the modest-but-growing movement — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, for instance, called them "mobs" — these "economic royalists" are showing they understand that their "morally indefensible... game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose" can't withstand close scrutiny, Krugman says. Are the rich and powerful really scared of a rag-tag bunch of protesters?
Yes. The oligarchs are scared: "Trust me on this one," the bankers are terrified — "as well they should be," says John Thorpe at Benzinga. America is waking up to the fact that the super-rich have been vacuuming up our ever-declining wages for 30 years, and using some spare cash to buy "the entire political system." Americans don't like being screwed over, "and we do not suffer fascism quietly." Remember, "we went to war for independence over a tax on tea."
"Why Occupy Wall Street?"
No. Bankers need not fear the hapless Left: "The Occupy Wall Street activists are on the edge of building a movement centered on economic populist issues that polls say most Americans support," says Barbara O'Brien at The Mahablog. But they're already blowing it. Instead of focusing on "kitchen-table economic issues," the Left, true to form, is opening the protest to all-comers — just this weekend, Occupiers joined forces with liberal opponents of unmanned drone strikes overseas. Soon, most of the 99 Percent will tune out "if they whiff a bunch of leftist issues they are not ready to embrace" — and that would mean Wall Street has nothing to fear.
"Clowns to the Left of me, Jokers to the Right ..."
The anti-rich fervor is misguided anyway: Americans don't hate all rich people, just the "undeserving" rich, says Robert Samuelson at The Washington Post. But as the middle class really starts to feel the pain of the 2008 collapse, "more rich are being disparaged as 'undeserving.'" That's unfortunate. There are plenty of "deserving" rich people who "pioneer technologies, manage vibrant businesses or excel at something (law, entertainment, sports)." But today, whether through Occupy Wall Street or proposals for new taxes on millionaires, "the rich are besieged; the attacks almost certainly will intensify"; and many job-creating small-business owners will get unfairly snared.
"The backlash against the rich"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2014
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- The next pandemic
- The elusive 'It factor' in presidential politics
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
Subscribe to the Week