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Don't listen to Occupy Wall Street

Graffiti written in chalk seen in Zuccotti Park after Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were cleared from the park the previous night in New York. Commentator Kim Clark says for real solutions to what ails the financial industry, we should be listening to the actual occupants of Wall Street.

Kai Ryssdal: In case it slipped by unnoticed, this past weekend marked six months since the beginning of Occupy Wall Street. Protesters tried to move into Zuccotti Park in Manhattan on Saturday. I say tried because the NYPD was having none of it. The Occupiers hope to recapture some of the energy -- and, to be fair, attention -- they had last fall.

Commentator Kim Clark says the protesters can grab headlines with their chants and slogans, but we should really be listening to Wall Street.


Kim Clark: The Occupy Wall Street protesters have gotten lots of attention even though their complaints are vague, and they don't really offer any concrete solutions.

We should pay more attention to the people who really occupy Wall Street -- the people who work there every day directing the flows of billions of dollars. They know exactly what the problems are, and how to fix them.

Now, these 1 percenters are not going to join hands with anarchists and sing "Kumbaya." The real Wall Streeters are all for income inequality. They think people who are smart and hardworking should get more money.

But many top Wall Streeters say tax laws, prosecution policies and business practices are funneling America's riches to the influential, not to the deserving. They argue that to free the invisible hand of capitalism to improve all our lives, we need reforms to bring back equality of justice and economic opportunity.

Take for example: Burton Malkiel, author of the investment bible "A Random Walk Down Wall Street." He told he me he's really mad that people with regular jobs can pay tax rates of 30 percent or more, while hedge fund managers pay only 15 percent.

And Wall Street's top mortgage securities analyst, Laurie Goodman, has found that struggling homeowners pay mortgage bond investors higher return when banks trade principal reductions for shares in profits when the home is sold. But most big lenders are refusing to do this because they'd lose fees and have to take some immediate losses.

That's why Wall Streeters say the real fixes must come from Washington. But they worry that both political parties are so beholden to wealthy donors that they don't have the spine to protect investors or taxpayers. So maybe the real solution is for taxpayers to Occupy Washington.


Ryssdal: Kim Clark is a senior writer with Money magazine. Write to us.

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Ms Clark-

I was truly taken aback with your comments in this editorial piece. To make the argument that we should allow the financial instructions to implement their own regulations after what has transpired during the last three years can only be considered naive at best. The people who are the everyday workers on wall street may know how to fix the current system within the basic framework of today's system, but in realty it is that basic frame which is the problem. The fundamental flaw in your argument is your belief that the Chicago school of economic theory is an axiom of economics, it is not. While I certainly agree that the free market should be allowed to find the most efficient solution to a problem, it is for society as a whole to set the boundary conditions under which the solution to the problem can be solved. What you are calling for here is to continue to allow the fox to be in charge of the hen house. We have been down thix road before and to continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results is what most people consider to be insanity.

Ms Clark-

I was truly taken aback with your comments in this editorial piece. To make the argument that we should allow the financial instructions to implement their own regulations after what has transpired during the last three years can only be considered naive at best. The people who are the everyday workers on wall street may know how to fix the current system within the basic framework of today's system, but in realty it is that basic frame which is the problem. The fundamental flaw in your argument is your belief that the Chicago school of economic theory is an axiom of economics, it is not. While I certainly agree that the free market should be allowed to find the most efficient solution to a problem, it is for society as a whole to set the boundary conditions under which the solution to the problem can be solved. What you are calling for here is to continue to allow the fox to be in charge of the hen house. We have been down thix road before and to continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results is what most people consider to be insanity.

To the spot-on remarks already posted I can only add my comment about this incomplete quote:

"We should pay more attention to the people who really occupy Wall Street -- the people who work there every day directing the flows of billions of dollars. They know exactly what the problems are, and how to fix them."

So why haven't they fixed them yet? They have the money, obviously and the influence. Their influence is all over Washington DC in the form of thousands of lobbyists writing laws that protect their business and prevent any form of regulation. And after the laws are written those lobbyists direct an obedient and willing Congress how to vote for those laws. So what's taking them so long to fix it, Ms. Clark? Could it be because everything is going their way, and they're doing better now than they've ever done before? No one is preventing them from giving us the solutions to the problems that they created. So lets hear it, but only if it isn't anything we haven't already heard before.

The world is watching and the world is waiting. We're not going anywhere.

I don't know how I missed the writer's reference to "anarchists" earlier. If her knowledge of the whole occupy movement is "anarchists" sitting around singing Kumbayah, then she is as ignorant a commentator I've heard on Marketplace in some time. My 3 year old grandson, who spent quite a bit of time at the Occupy camp across from the Capital in Albany NY, has a better grasp of what it was all about.

You can do better than this, Marketplace.

Kim Clark: "The Occupy Wall Street protesters have gotten lots of attention even though their complaints are vague, and they don't really offer any concrete solutions."

The complaints aren't vague at all: An elite business class (the symbolic Wall St.) corrupts our government and political system in order to enrich themselves at the expense of the bulk of the citizenry.

Wow that was easy.

Clark: "Now, these 1 percenters are not going to join hands with anarchists and sing "Kumbaya." The real Wall Streeters are all for income inequality. They think people who are smart and hardworking should get more money."

Calling the thousands and thousands of people who support #occupy "anarchists" shows that Clark had no interest in making an honest or coherent critique in the first place.

Clark: "That's why Wall Streeters say the real fixes must come from Washington. But they worry that both political parties are so beholden to wealthy donors that they don't have the spine to protect investors or taxpayers. So maybe the real solution is for taxpayers to Occupy Washington."

The business "leaders" of Wall St. and a wealthy elite *are* the wealthy donors that are corrupting our political system. They are the ones that have pushed for deregulation and travesties like "Citizens United", just some of the "vague" issues that #occupy want to see reversed. Furthermore, occupiers *are* occupying Washington. Clark would have us attack the result, rather than the problem.

If somebody shouldn't be listened to, it's obviously Kim Clark.

Seriously, we should listen to Wall Street? That's like telling the chickens to listen to the fox guarding the hen house.

While the Occupy movement didn't offer up definitive solutions, neither did they cause the current financial disaster through their greed, corruption or incompetence. And, after the good citizens of the US bailed out their sorry butts, saving their companies and their jobs, it was back to business as usual with ungrateful hucksters whining and crying like spoiled little brats because some have demanded reforms and controls to prevent them from destroying even more lives in the future.

Wall Street has done nothing to deserve attention or respect. I'll "listen to Wall Street" when I can hear a chorus of "Guilty, your honor."

Dear Ms. Clark:

Greetings and salutations. This is an FYI and an invitation for all you uber-effective Wall Street movers and shakers to join all us vague Occupy types for our kick-off of the National Occupation of Washington (NOW DC), beginning on March 30, 2012. This event has been in the works since last November, but there is no reason you should be aware of this, since criticism of the movement rarely relies on factual research and analysis. Since we seem to share a dim view of the way Washington is serving our best interests, I sincerely hope you and everyone you know will take this opportunity to stand up and speak up where it will count the most. Hope to see you there!

Kumbayah!
Susan Pizzo

PS - Among the concrete proposals I personally favor are a transaction tax, taxing capital gains same as income, increased inheritance tax, a wealth surtax, an end to tax havens, regulating derivatives like insurance products (if we can't end them outright), and a commons-based income for all citizens. You were saying?

http://nowdc.org/content/national-occupation-washington-dc-occupy-power

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