Panic of the plutocrats as Occupy Wall Street heads for their castles

Paul Krugman writes: It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America’s direction. Yet the protests have 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.

And this reaction tells you something important — namely, that the extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called “economic royalists,” not the people camping in Zuccotti Park.

Consider first how Republican politicians have portrayed the modest-sized if growing demonstrations, which have involved some confrontations with the police — confrontations that seem to have involved a lot of police overreaction — but nothing one could call a riot. And there has in fact been nothing so far to match the behavior of Tea Party crowds in the summer of 2009.

Nonetheless, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced “mobs” and “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” The G.O.P. presidential candidates have weighed in, with Mitt Romney accusing the protesters of waging “class warfare,” while Herman Cain calls them “anti-American.” My favorite, however, is Senator Rand Paul, who for some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads, because they believe rich people don’t deserve to have them.

Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor and a financial-industry titan in his own right, was a bit more moderate, but still accused the protesters of trying to “take the jobs away from people working in this city,” a statement that bears no resemblance to the movement’s actual goals.

And if you were listening to talking heads on CNBC, you learned that the protesters “let their freak flags fly,” and are “aligned with Lenin.”

The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.

The New York Daily News reports: Occupy Wall Street protesters are heading uptown Tuesday to get in the face of some of New York’s richest tycoons.

A “Millionaires March” will visit the homes – or, more realistically, the gleaming marble lobbies – of five of the city’s wealthiest residents, including News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and conservative billionaire David Koch.

Marchers want to present the moguls with oversize checks to dramatize how much less they will pay when New York State’s 2% tax on millionaires expires in December.

“Ninety-nine percent of the residents of New York are going to suffer from this tax giveaway so the 1% who already live in absolute luxury can put more money in their pockets,” said Doug Forand, one of the march organizers.

“This is fiscally, economically and morally wrong.”

Gov. Cuomo staunchly opposes calls from his fellow Democrats to renew the tax, which generates up to $5 billion per year in much-needed revenue. He says he fears the rich will move away.

Day 24 of the chaotic, festive protest in Zuccotti Park saw a demonstration by schoolchildren who sang songs and waved signs saying “Money for Schools Not War,” a Native American protest against Columbus Day and a brief frenzy over the arrival of hip-hop icons Kanye West and Russell Simmons.

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One thought on “Panic of the plutocrats as Occupy Wall Street heads for their castles

  1. WiseFather

    The “Millionaires March” shows a positive increase in action by the “Occupy Wall Street” groups, as opposed to standing around shouting and waving signs. I have a suggestion for more (and more creative) action.

    One of the flaws of the “Occupy Wall Street” protest is that corporations pay more attention to consumer activity than citizen activity. In an era when money equal speech, it was only a matter of time before someone developed the idea of using shopping as a form of protest. A buy-mob combines the principle of a computer hacker’s Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack with the social media-sparked, mass participation of a flash mob. Instead of trying to disrupt normal business activities, participate in them. The buy-mob is the consumer’s filibuster of the shopping experience.

    I explain more on how “Occupy Wall Street” could occupy Main Street in a recent blog post at

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