My dad was a broker, banker, and investment strategist who spent much of his career on Wall Street. Each night I watched him return from work, worn down, chipped away, defeated. Each night I heard the stories of uninventive and greedy men who stole his ideas. Men who jerked clients in and out of stocks just to make a quick commission. Men who profited from inside information. Opportunists, liars, thieves. Since his death in 1979, I wager things have worsened.
Since the OCCUPY movement has entered its third week and finally earned some attention from the mainstream media, the criticism has arrived by the truckload. The most popular is an unfounded idea that OCCUPY supporters are saying "Down with Products." Not so. Nobody is suggesting that we take to the woods, hunt our own game, weave our clothes from homegrown cotton, or abandon technology. What I HAVE heard is a general dissatisfaction with the erosion of protections--protections that have served us well for decades--and that Wall Street should accept some (if not all) responsibility for the subprime scandal and the economic collapse of 2008.
OCCUPY, sadly, isn't perfect. Its message is unfocused. Its voices draw from every marginalized group imaginable, from Hare Krishnas to Anarchists, to devoteees of Louis Farakhan. But it's the first time anyone has suggested on a populist scale that Wall Street take any responsibility for anything. And that, I believe, is long overdue.
Here are the issues that I, personally, would like to see addressed.
• Restore Glass-Steagall
• Grant Mortgage Amnesty
• Scrap Corporate Personhood.
Today I photographed the rally, along with a portion of the march to Independence Square from City Hall. I was gratified to see people of all races, faiths, and ages participating. Will any of it change anything? I'm not sure. Since the Supreme Court endorsed Corporate Personhood--a con devised by the Railroads in the 1880s and rejected by every Supreme Court until this one--it seems harder than ever to reverse this trend toward corporate stewardship of society. But at least someone is willing to try.