This, Too, Is What Democracy Looks Like
By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
Protest demonstrations are planned for April 11 to demand real structural change in the financial services industry. “If it’s too big to fail, it’s too big to exist. Dismantle the power of the financial elite and make policies that keep a new crop from springing up, ” says a petition to be delivered on that day to the White House and Congress. You can see it on A New Way Forward, the web site being used to organize the event.
The idea behind the protest is set out in three points, with links to supporting articles.
- NATIONALIZE: Experts agree on the means — Insolvent banks that are too big to fail must incur a temporary FDIC intervention – no more blank check taxpayer handouts. (see Krugman on nationalization)
- REORGANIZE: Current CEOs and board members must be removed and bonuses wiped out. The financial elite must share in the cost of what they have caused. (see Simon Johnson on reorganizing)
- DECENTRALIZE: Banks must be broken up and sold back to the private market with new antitrust rules in place– new banks, managed by new people. Any bank that’s “too big to fail” means that it’s too big for a free market to function. (see Mike Lux on decentralization)
So far, 46 cities in 29 states plus the District of Columbia are on the event list. Two Canadian cities are also on the list.The intention seems to be for people to gather at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, regardless of local time zone.
The plan has caught the eye of luminaries such as Bill Moyers and William Greider, 40-year veteran of political reporting and aughor of the definitive account of the Federal Reserve system, Secrets of the Temple. Grieder has written that the public’s rage
…has great potential for restoring a functioning democracy. Timely intervention by the people could save the country from some truly bad ideas now circulating in Washington and on Wall Street.
He and Moyers talked about the April 11 event on Moyers’ PBS program ‘Journal.”
BILL MOYERS: I read just this morning that there’s a nation wide grassroots protest planned for April 11th.
WILLIAM GREIDER: I know some of those kids.
[...]BILL MOYERS: They’re young people who want to take on banking reform, and reform the financial systems, as a campaign, an ongoing witness.
WILLIAM GREIDER: I know. They call themselves A New Way Forward. [...] And you can find them online. But I actually knew a couple of the organizers….
Young people are part of my optimism. They [are] smart kids, want to be engaged in their times, see the injustices of their society. And they don’t quite trust the great, big existing organizations. And with some good reason, as you know. And particularly, they’re not totally sold on the Democratic Party as the vessel of reform.
So they’re now engaged in putting together the 11, 12, I’m sure they’d like to have 50, little bonfires around the country. These demonstrations. There’s going be one in Washington and one in Wall Street, and a number of other cities. I think if people do those things with or without any help from big organizations, that collectively becomes the voice that tells Washington, we’re on to your silly ideas that Wall Street wants you to do about reform. We see through them. And we have some ideas of our own. And we’re going to come talk to you, and if you decline to talk to us, we’re going to come after you. That’s the voice of democracy speaking. When people say that.
Personally, I find it hard to believe that Barack Obama really believes that economic justice is best served by a program that privatizes the rescue and nationalizes the risk. I’m thinking now of Franklin Roosevelt who said, in a different context, “All right, you’ve convinced me. Now go out and make me do it.”
And I strongly agree that any company that is too big to fail is too big to exist. Even if Obama may be moving in the right direction, corporate efforts to deflect him and retain the status quo must be met by a popular determination to keep him on track.
This, too, is what democracy looks like.