Occupy Wall Street; Woes and Words


copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

Occupy Wall Street?  I will not.  However, I am there in spirit.  I believe in the cause, the many grounds protesters have posited.  Countless Grievances, One Thread Howard Zinn stated this shared truth ever so succinctly years earlier, “It is not only Iraq that is occupied. America is too.”  Wall Street,Schools, Classrooms, Hospitals, and Banks, these “Occupations” have gone on for far too long. People in Zuccotti Park and at the Chase Manhattan Plaza understand as most Americans do.  The myriad movement reflects the ninety-niners thirst for dignity.  The cravings are deep.  

I  am one with the unemployed, the scholars, skilled, and service workers who only seek a job.  Independent Laborers and Union folks, your pain is mine. Private Industry and public institutions converted to corporate holdings have hurt me as they have you.  I too, have countless tales to tell.  Consultants, your woes are mine.  Gone are the days of companies being loyal to the workforce.  Pensions went with the wind.

401ks have replaced these for some.  More are less fortunate.  The statistics are startling.  What has occurred in the last year is more astounding. States Cut Public Pension Benefits In Massive Funding Shortfall.  Personal dollar deficits, I have known more than a few, as have those who physically Occupy Wall Street.

In spirit, I am you “Occupiers” of Wall Street.  Homeowners, Renters, and those who have lost a place to live, let alone the will to live, I relate. After a score and eleven years, I purchased my first home. I did so during the boom. The cost was great, the interest high.  I thought I could make do.  Times changed and so too did my circumstances.  Nonetheless, I soon discovered the Banks did not care.  Even employees of financial institutions chose not to lend a friendly ear.

I hear you “Occupiers.”  In many ways, on countless occasions, since Middle School, I have stood against the absurdity of Capitalism out of control.  The Military Industrial Complex is as the Privatization craze.  Each permeates and punishes society.  The powerful have used our nations as their playgrounds.  We see it in policies and practices.  Political realities only further the reason for your, my, our rants and rage.

Indeed, Corporate and Civic Complexes have brought about fear and loathing. Conjoined, these have left our nation’s people poorer.  Over and over again, Americans have done as President Eisenhower warned us against.  We did not “peer into society’s future” when we acted on greed and immediate gain.  When we allowed the affluent and those of authority to divest and divert funds necessary for the common good, we — you and I, and our government – did not “avoid the impulse to live only for today.” We plundered “for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.”

Contrary to Eisenhower’s cautions, Americans “mortgage[d] the material assets of our grandchildren.” We did more than risk the loss of our “political and spiritual heritage.” We successfully vanquished what was ours, a “democracy” thought strong enough “to survive for all generations to come.”  Our country has “become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

The gloom and sense of doom felt by the masses who speak out is one I share, only the words differ.  We did not “avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate.”  That is why I ask for a reality once yearned for.  May we be “a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.”

Rather than “occupy” might we integrate ideas on an American Avenue, two or three; perhaps more.  Let us “Tear Down Wall Streets.” We need not infiltrate, invade, or emulate the ways of Wall Street.  There has been too much of this.  Internationally, monetary and military Industrial complexes “Occupy.”  We do not liberate, as is evidenced by Iraq.  Nor will we bring freedom to Afghanistan or Wall Street. We occupy.  

United States citizens speak of the German occupation of France, or of Europe. After World War II we spoke of Soviet-occupied Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and eastern Europe. It was the Nazis, and the Soviets, who occupied countries. The United States liberates all others from occupation. Indeed, today we are the occupiers.  The number of small, medium and large oversea military installations combined, as documented in the Department of Defense Base Structure Report (BSR) 2003 Report, totals at least 702. Bases, buildings owned and leased, as stated a decade ago . . .”Ongoing additions to the base structure, including in- transfers, are often not officially recorded until well after the decision.”

Indeed, in recent years alone, the number of occupations has grown substantially.  Some may say, we have been occupiers since settlers first colonized this land.  Tim Wise spoke of this “truth” only days ago.  Wise injects linguistics into the debate.   Language, the use and abuse, or might I say manipulation of a message, looms large in our lives.  I think of DoubleSpeak

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. ~ George Orwell. [Author of 1984]

Be it Corporate Doublespeak, political, or philosophical jargon. Euphemisms expand. This land is your land. This land is my land?  What might the natives of this or any other territory think?

Might we reflect on the words, the wisdom, and our adopted ways?  “Occupy” Wall Street.  Instead, may we “Tear Down Wall Streets.” These exist everywhere in our country and outside our borders.  It is mused worldwide we live within an oligarchy.  Government Establishments and Corporate Enterprises, each and either, have been “Occupied” or “Liberated” [you choose] by an ideology that insists control must be granted to the few, the proud, the elite.  

The notion of all, equality, and as a collective, is void. Equality has been marked “canceled” on bills of fare. Fairness is far from our reality, for worldwide, the rich rule.

We see this in our schools. Privatization has long been in progress.  In 1995, the title appeared prominently, Public Schools: Make Them Private. Domination, the deed done, began decades ago in health care.  “Markets” are closed.  Economic and war policies are not “democratic.”  The question is, has democracy ever been in action. Certainly, Main Street attempted to bring social equality about.  However, classlessness has long been a cause never fully realized.

Thus, “Occupy” Wall Street, I rather not, thank you.  Oh, I intend to travel to the location, from New York to New Jersey.  I will stand on the streets and express my serious disco9ntnt.  From Connecticut to California, I will walk, fly, drive . . . I will strive to speak in support of our shared contentions.  North or South, I will be there.  Midwestern missions will be, is as mine.  

Indeed, I even now sit and take vigil.  I “Tear Down Wall Streets.” Still, I desire to do other than was done to me.  I will not “occupy.”  “occupations” are all that I disdain.  I would not wish to repeat the rape that is America’s history.  Violent destructive doings, be these in words, or in deed, are not me!

Thus, I invite you to do other than inhabit an institution or an ideology that had destroyed democracy.   “Democratization” might be nice; however, that word too has come to mean an occupation.  Integrate, perhaps?  Yet, to assimilate by force, or with the use of forceful language, is but an invasion. “Decolonize” what was captured, possibly?  Yet, I ask, can we grant independence to what never was truly ours . . . Wall Street, Schools, Medical Services, Banks?  

I will “Tear Down Wall Streets” regardless of the configuration.   Please join me; expand horizons so that all might see a glorious vision. . Together, we can and will reach beyond the sky.  

References and Resources . . .


Geithner; Gold on the Hill


copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Today, Timothy Geithner garners much attention.  Initially, when introduced on the national scene, people pondered; “Who is he?” The former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has an impeccable résumé.  Some said his record speaks for itself.  Average Americans might have admired his ascendancy. Taxpayers could have appreciated that a man of his age would wish to manage the complexity of the United States coffers.   Countless may have considered the enormous challenge he accepted; yet, not comprehend, for Secretary Geithner, this may have been the plan.

Early on, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner had his sights set high.  As a child, born to an affluent, and influential family, he learned that all he desired could be his.  He saw the potential for power in political prospects.  The practicality of a profitable purpose also was apparent to Tim.  When a lad, there was no reason for Timothy to reflect on the concrete pavements beneath his feet.  Geithner would not have supposed he would work as a laborer.  Nor had he likely seen himself as one among the swarms of ordinary citizens.   His personal history may have helped him to know, he would not have to pound the streets to seek pennies for his pocket.  Unconventional as his life had been, Timothy Geithner might have imagined as others did; he was destined for greatness.

Maternal grandfather, Charles F. Moore, was an adviser to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Through his elder, young Tim became attuned to the Capitol.  He also grew to understand the capital that could be accrued away from the Hill.  Grandpop Moore also served as a Vice President of Ford Motor Company.  “Public Relations” was his claim to fame.  

“Dad,” Peter F. Geithner, did well independently of his father-in-law.  He acquired and distributed much wealth in his work with the Ford Foundation.  Granted, the company connection may have served to benefit Peter.  Nonetheless, had the legal association been absent, an emotional bond born from friendship would have helped clinch a deal.  Networks we fashion, as Timmy might have realized at an early age, can be a force to be reckoned with.

As a tot, Timothy Geithner absorbed lessons as we all do.  Perchance, he had higher aspirations than most.  He hoped to meld the muscle of money with the clout of civil service.  Mister Geithner, throughout his life saw effective ways in which to maneuver.  Likely he heard tales that taught him the nuance of negotiation, and tasted the nectar of success.  

In college, and later in his professional career, Mister Geithner achieved much.  Still, the former New York Federal Reserve Chair, understood, he could accomplish more.  At June 2008 conference he spoke of what might reap greater rewards for those in the banking industry.   Former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Junior convened an economic summit.  Financially, the country was in a fiscal crisis.  Indeed, the United States was well on its way to a monetary collapse; however, only the few economic “experts” know of the impending doom.  The dollar was of little value.  It was predicted soon, American currency would be virtually worthless.

Thus, Secretary Paulson sought advice from his fellow fiscal stewards.  As the man who oversaw the most powerful and prominent banks in the nation, Mister Geithner was among these.  In response to a query from the then Head of Treasury, what emergency controls could the government employ, in an attempt to confront the tumultuous economic crisis?  The fine fellow, confident in his well-established connections, spoke with the lack of temerity exuded by one who savored many triumphs.   Geithner stated; “There is gold in them there hills.”  The gelt Tim Geithner knew would be available if only he asked for it was in the pockets and purses of the taxpayers.

As the supreme authority for the most formidable Federal Reserve, Timothy Geithner felt he could assert what other Administrators might not imagine feasible.  Mister Geithner suggested Secretary Paulson insist that “Congress give the President broad power to guarantee all banking debt.”  Michele A. Smith, then an Assistant Treasury Secretary, overhead the statement.  She affirmed the truth of the allegation; the then New York Fed Chair had said.  Let us seek the impossible.  Government securities or gratuities to cover all arrears, was what Timothy Geithner wished for.

Apparently, at the time the proposal was not considered for more than a moment.  Other economic experts protested the possibility.  Financial fellows proclaimed the idea was “politically untenable.”  It could leave taxpayers in the lurch, responsible for trillions of dollars in liabilities.  Nonetheless, Timothy Geithner was not deterred.  He knew where the dollars were hidden and how to obtain vast treasures.  Capable of great strides and able to rise to the top of hills others have yet to climb, Tim Geithner secured his associations.  The Hill he planned to climb was the one in Washington, District of Columbia.

An examination of Mr. Geithner’s five years as president of the New York Fed, an era of unbridled and ultimately disastrous risk taking by the financial industry, shows that he forged unusually close relationships with executives of Wall Street’s giant financial institutions.

His actions, as a regulator and later a bailout king, often aligned with the industry’s interests and desires, according to interviews with financiers, regulators and analysts and a review of Federal Reserve records.

In a pair of recent interviews and an exchange of e-mail messages, Mr. Geithner defended his record, saying that from very early on, he was “a consistently dark voice about the potential risks ahead, and a principal source of initiatives designed to make the system stronger” before the markets melted down.

The New York Fed is, by custom and design, clubby and opaque.  It is charged with curbing banks’ risky impulses, yet its president is selected by and reports to a board of directors dominated by the chief executives of some of those same banks.  Traditionally, the New York Fed president’s intelligence-gathering role has involved routine consultation with financiers, though Mr. Geithner’s recent predecessors generally did not meet with them unless senior aides were also present, according to the bank’s former general counsel.

Perchance, the New York Federal Reserve Chairs who came to the office before Mister Geithner were not of similar stock, or had they been, their own interest in money was not wedded to a desire to mount a more glorious golden Capitol Dome.  Tim Geithner was different.  As was evident at the 2008 conference, other guardians of greenbacks did not think to give government greater authority over the affairs of banks.  Tim Geithner’s history, however, led him to believe the best could be achieved, at least for him personally, if he mixed business and pleasure.

Mr. Geithner’s reliance on bankers, hedge fund managers and others to assess the market’s health – and provide guidance once it faltered – stood out.

His calendars from 2007 and 2008 show that those interactions were a mix of the professional and private rendezvous.

He ate lunch with senior executives from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley, at the Four Seasons restaurant or in their corporate dining rooms.  He attended casual dinners at the homes of executives like Jamie Dimon, a member of the New York Fed board and the chief of JP Morgan Chase.

Mr. Geithner was particularly close to executives of Citigroup, the largest bank under his supervision.  Robert E. Rubin, a senior Citi executive and a former Treasury secretary, was Mr. Geithner’s mentor from his years in the Clinton administration, and the two kept in close touch in New York.

For Timothy Geithner, the trailblazer, all roads led to the White House and the wealth that could be seen best from the ultimate Hill.  Early on, in school, in social settings, and on the political scene, Mister Geithner secured relationships that would realize a firm future in government, just as his grandfather had.   He did as his Dad did to grow gold in his business ventures.  Ultimately, Timothy F. Geithner was appointed Secretary of the Treasury.  

In this most powerful fiscal and physical position Tim Geithner was able to garner greater control over all banking policies.  What he had proposed in the summer of 2008 was never a prescription.  It was a prophecy for what he would do.  The impossible became the probable in recent months.  Banks were indeed, bailed out.  Plans for more power to be assigned to the government, to Mister Geithner are in the works.  More money is meant to be funneled to the financial institutions.

Joseph E. Stiglitz a Nobel Prize recipient and Economist at Columbia, is critical of much Mister Geithner has done.  The actions of the current Secretary suggest that he came to share Wall Street’s regulatory philosophy and world view.

“I don’t think that Tim Geithner was motivated by anything other than concern to get the financial system working again,” Mr. Stiglitz said.  “But I think that mindsets can be shaped by people you associate with, and you come to think that what’s good for Wall Street is good for America.”

No one can be sure.  However, it could be.  Apples do not fall from trees.  Birds of a feather may flock together.  A child born to affluence is better able to aspire.  

Main Street and Wall Street may never meet, or at least not until those whose sights are set high step down and see how the common folk live.  The gold on the Hill does not glitter on pavements union workers walk.  Nor do small business owners, everyday, ordinary, average American taxpayers reside on boulevard of bullion.  No, these avenues are reserved for persons such as Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of Treasury.

Reference for the Geithner Reality . . .