By BJ Bjornson
A very worthwhile read from Glenn Greenwald on the reason behind the Occupy protests. It isn�t the inequality so much as it is the lack of legitimacy that underwrites the inequality from Wall Street.
We should not, so the thinking went, begrudge the multimillionaire living behind his 15-foot walls for his success; we should admire him. Corporate bosses deserved not our resentment but our gratitude. It was in our own interest not to demand more in taxes from the wealthiest but less, as their enhanced wealth - their pocket change - would trickle down in various ways to all of us.
This is the mentality that enabled massive growth in income and wealth inequality over the past several decades without much at all in the way of citizen protest. And yet something has indeed changed. It�s not that Americans suddenly woke up one day and decided that substantial income and wealth inequality are themselves unfair or intolerable. What changed was the perception of how that wealth was gotten and so of the ensuing inequality as legitimate.
Many Americans who once accepted or even cheered such inequality now see the gains of the richest as ill-gotten, as undeserved, as cheating. Most of all, the legal system that once served as the legitimising anchor for outcome inequality, the rule of law - that most basic of American ideals, that a common set of rules are equally applied to all - has now become irrevocably corrupted and is seen as such.
. . .
It is now clearly understood that, rather than apply the law equally to all, Wall Street tycoons have engaged in egregious criminality - acts which destroyed the economic security of millions of people around the world - without experiencing the slightest legal repercussions. Giant financial institutions were caught red-handed engaging in massive, systematic fraud to foreclose on people�s homes and the reaction of the political class, led by the Obama administration, was to shield them from meaningful consequences. Rather than submit on an equal basis to the rules, through an oligarchical, democracy-subverting control of the political process, they now control the process of writing those rules and how they are applied.
For a more pointed recitation of much the same point, may I recommend Matt Taibbi�s Wall Street Isn�t Winning - It�s Cheating.
This is the basic response to make to those claiming that the rich deserve all that extra income they�ve been hoarding over the last three decades. Quite simply, no they don't. Winning a rigged game doesn't make you deserving. Having said rigged game blow up in your face and getting the government make it all better for you so you continue rigging new games makes you even less so. Anyone who doesn't understand that is probably already working for Wall Street.