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Five goals for Occupy in the coming year

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Via Alternet, I'm reminded of this piece by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone. While the author doesn't offer this list as New Year's Resolutions (it was October, after all, when this came out), I do.

This makes a nice set of banking-related goals, all of which can be implemented by laws.

Before you say "Yes, but..." let's start with the list. Taibbi (my mid-paragraph emphasis):

1. Break up the monopolies. The so-called "Too Big to Fail" financial companies – now sometimes called by the more accurate term "Systemically Dangerous Institutions" – are a direct threat to national security. They are above the law and above market consequence, making them more dangerous and unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined. There are about 20 such firms in America, and they need to be dismantled; a good start would be to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.

2. Pay for your own bailouts. A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about. It would also deter the endless chase for instant profits through computerized insider-trading schemes like High Frequency Trading ...

3. No public money for private lobbying. A company that receives a public bailout should not be allowed to use the taxpayer's own money to lobby against him. You can either suck on the public teat or influence the next presidential race, but you can't do both. Butt out for once ...

4. Tax [the] hedge-fund gamblers. For starters, we need an immediate repeal of the preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income[.] ... I defy any politician to stand up and defend that loophole during an election year.

5. Change the way bankers get paid. We need new laws preventing Wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all of our faces later. It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now. ...
This allows for an outside–inside game, pressure from the outside (from the Occupy Movement) that sets fire to the insiders, the Congress types — and allows real progressives (people like Darcy Burner and Ilya Sheyman) room to press and move.

Five clearly-defined, lobbyable, limited goals for which there is already inside support. If you're an inside-organizer with banking on the brain, this list would be an excellent place to put your focus and energy.

Now for the "Yes, but..." I know that the battle is uphill (and then some). But frankly, the game, while in the fourth quarter, isn't over yet. And if we're going to avoid a really messy revolution (I still have hopes), now is the time to shoulder the wheel — this wheel. Otherwise, we and our children may be shouldering that other wheel, the one the world of real humans is aching to avoid.

Don't forget — Occupy has made huge gains already. It turned the Trumpist ego-freak rich man, driven to bend the world to his small will, from a Tabloid Saint (one whom everyone wants to emulate and praise) into a Tabloid Demon (one whom it is socially safe to criticize) despite a huge, 30-year PR offensive to the contrary.

That's not nothing, folks. Billions went into turning Daddy Warbucks of the 30s into Trump and Gates of the 90s. Occupy undid all that work in less than a year — and at very low cost, dollar-wise.

So take heart. What better New Year's resolution than to work against the bankers. Like they tell us, you can't win if you don't play. And I'm all for playing to win.

Happy New Year, all. Let's work for a good one.


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