Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Wall Street Week

The momentum continues, and the movement flowers.  Given the amount of time I can spend on following it, I'm always behind.  So here are a few notes.

First, on the various urgings for people to move their money out of the big banks and into smaller community institutions, especially credit unions.  First there was Bank Transfer Day, which got the attention of Forbes,  and which Kos judged a great success.  That was actually more than one day, but it ended this past weekend.  Another action was Tuesday: Dump Your Bank Day, which got the Monitor's attention.  The numbers are impressive so far, but the power of it may be even more in what it says about support for other actions and proposals.

Like the financial transaction tax, which also goes by the name of the Robin Hood Tax--a very very small tax on all financial transactions that could yield amazing amounts of money for all kinds of good things.  When I posted that great Bill Nighy video that explains it with very droll comedy, I thought it was mostly a British and European idea.  But according to Rachel, not so.  The U.S. actually had such a tax, from around World War I to the late 1960s.  President Obama and his administration considered it in 2009 and almost proposed it--and still are interested in a more targeted version, on big banks.

Last week, primarily union folks (including a lot of nurses, see photo above) through Occupy, marched on the U.S. Treasury building to demand just such a financial transaction tax. Two Democrats filed a bill to impose one.  Among its supporters is Bill Gates.  But there were sufficient complications that the G20 didn't endorse one.  Still, it's a live idea.

As for Occupy, there are signs that it is both a movement that is developing targeted direct actions, like preventing a foreclosure or keeping the heat working in an apartment building.  But at the same time, it is incubating a subculture--one that seems naturally committed to non-violence and participatory democracy, which is requiring improvizations and inventions, but also focus on serious things.  It is a wonder to watch.   

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