Observations of Occupy Norfolk: Solutions are not the SolutionCatch-AllCultureHampton Roads

 

On Thursday, Oct 6, Steve Batton and I went to Harbor Park to interview the score of people protesting something. Although they claimed their main point was to “stand in solidarity” with the Occupy Wall Streeters, they still were unclear, it seems, as to why their Comrades in New York were protesting.

Most of the people we talked to were congenial and non-confrontational, and reveled in debate rather than disorder. They insisted on their unity and community (being the “99%”), but also insisted that any opinions, even from those who organized the occupation (who refused to call themselves leaders), were their own and not representative of the opinion of the group. Perhaps this is why their goals were unclear. Pure communism is great until you want to accomplish something, then it needs someone to rise up and dictate equality toward his subordinates. Utopia may begin as a cacophony of motives and opinions, but it may only persist when the superior restrict, confine, or eliminate these inferior goals in accordance with their own agenda.  Such is the paradox of power and paradise: “When inferior, people enter on strife in order that they may be equal, and when equal, in order that they may be greater.”

Perhaps the most consistent complaint among them was the idea of “corporate greed.” However, they insisted that corporations are non-living, non-living, non-breathing, non-human entities. Such an ascription of emotion toward a non-organic, non-sentient being seems an oxymoron. Emotions and motives are reserved for the living. Additionally, they could not couple this dehumanized version of a corporation–which they admitted, according to their definition, could not properly own property–with their demands for taxation. Nemo dat quod non habet, that which has not cannot give.

Another complaint was that “five or six” banks are controlling the entire nation, and that the economic collapse was their fault, and their fault alone. Were these bankers operating within the confines of the law? If not, they should be arrested or fined; If they were, and it appears to be so, then they cannot blame the banks entirely, but the regulations they were required to operate under. In this point, they conceded, but still maintained a desire for money to be eliminated from politics. This is only as possible as eliminating all property (including self-propriety) from politics, since money is a medium and representation of property. The consequence of “eliminating wealth from politics,” in effect, actually concentrates all the wealth into the state, since they must be the sole arbiters of the distribution and use of property. This point was not well-received, but admitted.

At times, the discussion turned to non-corporate issues, and one gentleman who proudly identified himself as a Democrat, stressed that he would never vote for a Republican, no matter how much he agreed with the candidate. He later claimed that Herman Cain would never be elected because of the inherent bigotry within the Republican Party that would prevent Mr. Cain’s elevation due to his — ahem — “social standing.” I will say that when I confronted him with his own inherent bigotry of “party-ism” or “ideology-ism,” in that he would automatically distrust and fight against an individual simply because of social label, he humbly accepted his own hypocrisy and realized he was not perfect. He also admitted that his own criticism of Mr. Cain was as capable of being called racist, as he contended that Republican criticism of our present president could be called so.

However, beyond criticizing banks, politicians, corporations, and demanding that they each remain mutually exclusive, they had no solutions. One man even told me that they were not worried about solutions. All they wanted to do was identify problems. And he was completely serious when he criticized the Tea Parties for actually offering solutions to their grievances.

The irony was thick at Harbor Park, as these antagonists to the all-things-corporate drove up in their foreign and domestic cars, wearing Nike shoes, drinking water by Nestle and Aquafina, typing on laptops and iPads, talking on cellular phones, and operating within an incorporated city. A sign reading, “Human Need — Not Corporate Greed” seemed to miss that because of corporations and capitalism, human needs have been met on a much larger scale than at any point in all of history. Another sign read “Capitalism eats its young,” but did not realize that the expansion of capitalism has actually encouraged population growth, not discouraged it. The gap between rich and poor may be wider, but there are in the United States none so poor today as the truly impoverished two hundred years ago.

Finally, a seemingly unifying point was their frustration with “the 99%” not being able to influence national politics because of the undue influence of the remaining “1%.” I was surprised to receive total agreement in one question I asked in regards to this frustration. The question was, “Would you see, as a solution to your frustration, a more devolved form of government in which national politics–and those who may influence national politics–did not play such a large part in your everyday life; but rather decisions might be made on the community, local, county, and state level instead, of which you could have more influence?” The unanimous reply was affirmative.

It seems these anti-corporate protestors are also States’ Rights nuts…

One thing about a simple group not having any solutions, is that the clever may impute their own solutions upon them…

 

UPDATE: This article was linked on Occupy Norfolk’s Facebook Page where a lively discussion was taking place regarding the article. Several members recognized and accepted the merits of the article about the need for solutions; others did not agree with the premise and insisted the group is not about solutions (see comment I cut and pasted from their site below); but many others could only resort to ad hominem attacks.

After the administrators graciously allowed me to join their group, I got involved in the discussion to clarify what I thought were misconceptions about the article. This reply received mostly positive responses.

Unfortunately, the administrators of that site thought it necessary to remove all conversation regarding this post. There may be other reasons for their doing so, but in the absence of an explanation I will assume it is because my arguments could not be refuted and they could not handle the identification of their fallacies.

 

  • JZ

    Does the city own that parking lot or is it privately owned?

  • http://www.fineartforyou.com Kathy Mateer

    Harbor Park is owned by the City of Norfolk.

  • Garrett

    The goal is simple. End corporate influence in our gov’t which has had and still has a large impact on increasing corruption in the gov’t and the continued degradation of true democracy and freedom. It’s pretty simple, if some people can’t understand that..well quit trying. Chances are you will never understand.

  • HisRoc

    Garrett,

    That goal is very simple to state, but much more complex to implement. Exactly how would you do that? Reverse Citizens United? Well, then, what are you going to do end the influence of PAC’s, labor unions, industry associations, and non-profit special interest groups? And, BTW, if our corporate influence has such a corrupting effect on our democracy then how come we have the highest corporate income tax rates in the world? Wouldn’t these evil robber barons have taken care of that as their first order of business?

    You solution is as simplistic, and as unworkable, as the solutions the Occupiers are proposing. And, like their solutions, it is based on a totally false premise.

  • http://bearingdrift.com Andrew Schwartz

    If I understand the movement correctly, according to #ows, this is not a political organization. But if they are advocating ANYTHING that has to do with influence upon government, it is political. I think this is at the heart of the confusion, even in their own eyes, and why there are no solutions. There may be goals, but they have no idea how to get there, especially as their philosophies are so self-contradicting.

    Goals do not equal solutions.

  • JDF

    “It seems these anti-corporate protestors are also States’ Rights nuts…”

    I would implore you sir, to reconsider this sweeping statement and acutely negative assessment which is based on a short time at the first day of OccupyNorfolk. I was there, and by no means was this the case. While I understand your own frustration at not getting to the root of a solution to a definitive question, I disagree that solutions are not being offered to definitive frustrations.

    The 99%, as they are called, are overwhelmingly upset with campaign finance issues and the infusion of corporate personhood and influence in politics, as was made more powerful by the ruling in the Citizen United case. So their solution would be to have solid campaign finance reform and/or find a way to diminish wealth as an overwhelming influence in politics.

    Another issue greatly expressed is the feeling of being sold out. Many of those corporations who were aided (bailed out) during the financial crises of 2009 and 2010 made record profits and received record raises/bonuses while not actively helping in job creation. Was this a matter of greed, or economic timing, or responsible business decision making – I, personally, cannot answer. What I can say is, people are exercising their right to assemble and their right to free speech to voice many of their concerns. To dismiss them as nuts or because they do not present you with a list of demands of ills and concrete solutions does not diminish their justifiable indignation.

    And while there are a number of other requests, and a number of grievances, this issue of finance campaign reform and corporatism (not to be confused with capitalism) is at the root of most of them.

    I thank you for your time. Despite disagreeing with your assessment which may or may not change, I am glad you have written about it as it brings about a dialogue much needed.

  • http://bearingdrift.com Andrew Schwartz

    @JDF, the sardonic irony was somehow lost on you. Please read the preceding paragraph for its full context. I don’t honestly believe there are any “States’ Rights nuts” out there, but then again, I don’t necessarily believe that an advocate for States’ Rights is a nut.

    Thank you for assembling peaceably, and taking the time to express your grievances. I look forward to the development of this movement, as I am sure I can continue to write about it, and perhaps make a profit somewhere down the road!

  • J.D.F.

    @Andrew Schwartz Well I do apologize missing the sardonic irony. Perhaps it is a personal flaw as I have been told I often miss sarcasm for what it is.

    Anyway, I do hope you continue to write about it AND make a profit somewhere down the road – as we all have bills to pay! I too am continuing to follow Occupy and hope it does have positive change.

  • HisRoc

    Translation of the Occupiers’ protest:

    I can’t get a job. I was raised to believe that the world owes me a living and that I am the center of my universe. Therefore, the evil corporate employers are to blame for my situation. The only solution is to tear it all down and start over again from scratch. First rule: everyone gets paid whether they work or not. Second rule: no one gets paid more than I get paid. Third to n rule: depends on which naive, brainless, bullshit philosophy you subscribe to, from anarchy to pure communism. The only commonality among these theories is that they have been proven by history to be unworkable, unsustainable, and both economically and morally bankrupt.

    Does that about cover it?

  • Louis Stadlin

    His-Roc
    The people in Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Norfolk and Occupy all the other cities in the USA are doing it because they know something is wrong in our country but they haven’t been able to put a coherent label on it. They are reacting to the fact they can’t find jobs or they work in jobs that don’t pay them enough to send their children to colleges and universities that only the wealthy can afford. they bought a house to fore fill the American dream and through no fault of their own many of them have found that dream crashing down on them. His-Roc I wonder if you have ever lost a job during a period like this where the company had to downsize to survive the fact that there wasn’t enough business to sustain the downsized jobs and the rest of the businesses in that field were facing the same situation. Here they are 40 to 50 years old and corporations don’t want to pay the salaries these people have worked so hard to attain so they hire the young educated at entrance level salaries that don’t allow them to have enough money left over to pay off their student loans. Never mind the poor,this is the Middle Class I am talking about.

    To give you an example of what I consider is part of the problem. Apple is the 2nd largest corporation in the USA. They employ 47,000 people. Apple does not manufacture one product in the USA but they have contributed a lot to the Chinese economy, helping to build the middle class in China. Some people blame the Chinese for the problem. I don’t. I blame the large corporations for their greed in their race to the bottom for labor costs that says we are paying our people too much and we can’t make as much profit with American wages. That is why we have gone to China for our manufacturing. The technology that has supposedly enriched our lives has also created a monster that has reduced the standard of living for the middle class and the working class.

    One of the things that is creating our problem is the fact that the wealthy and large corporations control the election process in our country. First of all corporation are not the same as people. I have never heard of a corporation sitting on a toilet. Our constitution say “ONE VOTE FOR ONE PERSON”. The way it is today is that corporate and special interest money control the election process and until we change this we will never be able to give the hope of achieving the AMERICAN DREAM.

  • https://www.facebook.com/w0drewery0Booth William Drewery Booth

    Being as though I am the one of the people you interviewed, a fellow journalist, and I’m even the gentlemen you have speaking with you in the above picture I would like to point out a few things I find… lets say “skewed” about how you reported your observations of our group. I’ll be picking apart the article, because I wouldn’t expect a retraction.

    First of all I’m going to state that being a conservative news organization its in your nature to add a bit of your idealogical spin in order to add skepticism to a movement such as this, so that’s to be understood. So a completely unbiased review by you honestly would be too much to ask for. However no matter what your opinion of this movement is just, I want to stress that its just as much for you as it is for us. I saw you again out there today (Saturday Oct 8th) and I hope that our message has become much clearer to you, and that you come to the realization that we are in tandem with you and your interests not in conflict with them.

    Second, even the picture you chose of me speaking with you makes me look as though I was more aggressive and confrontational than I was. Being a local freelance photo-journalist I understand imagery and editing; you clearly chose that image for that purpose and I’m a bit offended actually.

    Third. The meat of the matter… your article:

    ***”Pure communism is great until you want to accomplish something, then it needs someone to rise up and dictate equality toward his subordinates. Utopia may begin as a cacophony of motives and opinions, but it may only persist when the superior restrict, confine, or eliminate these inferior goals in accordance with their own agenda. Such is the paradox of power and paradise: “When inferior, people enter on strife in order that they may be equal, and when equal, in order that they may be greater.” ***

    We aren’t a communist group and to use that term in attempt to label and marginalize Occupy Norfolk would be equivalant to refferring to your news organization as, lets pick a catch term, Fascist sympathizers(?). I try to reject such marginalizations, so please don’t continue to mischaracterize or infere anything of the sort. Where there may even be a few self declared “Commies” in our misdt… Occupy Norfolk’s message is not one of Communist intent, otherwise I wouldn’t be a part of it. As a matter of fact I’d say a good majority of our intitial founding group are Libertarian leaning and many (like me) shrug off dreamy ideals in the pursuit of logical, rational, realistic, and solution-centered concepts. Also, to comment on your rather hyberbolic idiom above: a Utopia is a dream for people that never open their eyes to look at the world around them. And my last comment on the above quoted statement… Who are these “inferior” people you’re make reference to? No one I know or have ever met is inferior… we may not have the lack of moral fortititude and hubris of feeling superior but that doesn’t equate to inferiority. To quote Rage Against the Machine “Inferior? Who’s inferior? You need to check the interior of a system that cares about only one culture and that is why we have to take the power back!”

    *** “… they insisted that corporations are non-living, non-living, non-breathing, non-human entities. Such an ascription of emotion toward a non-organic, non-sentient being seems an oxymoron. Emotions and motives are reserved for the living…”

    “… Additionally, they could not couple this dehumanized version of a corporation–which they admitted, according to their definition, could not properly own property–with their demands for taxation.***

    Corperations by their nature are a COLLECTION of living, breathing humans… not living, breathing entities in and of themselves. The basic principle here is that if you simply protect the rights of the individuals themselves who might be WITHIN a corperation, then you need not give special rights or protections to THE COLLECTION of those individuals. And lastly, I don’t know who gave you the idea that “we” would say that corperations can not own property. Property we don’t mind them owning (as long as they didn’t acquire it by theft or fraud); our politicians/representatives on the other hand… that’s a different story.

    *** “Another complaint was that “five or six” banks are controlling the entire nation, and that the economic collapse was their fault, and their fault alone. Were these bankers operating within the confines of the law? If not, they should be arrested or fined; If they were, and it appears to be so, then they cannot blame the banks entirely, but the regulations they were required to operate under. In this point, they conceded…”***

    Personally I would never concede to that. The financial institutions that failed to do their job properly (and therefore should be fired) where only working within the confines of laws they themsleves wrote and paid for by purchasing compliance from our legislative bodies. So the “legality” of these poor and self-interested operating precedures is highly subject at best.

    *** “The consequence of “eliminating wealth from politics,” in effect, actually concentrates all the wealth into the state, since they must be the sole arbiters of the distribution and use of property. This point was not well-received, but admitted.”***

    Again, I wouldn’t admitt to that at all. If you really think that the only way to get Corporate and Privatized Interests out of our legislative process is to give everything to the government, well hopefully you’ll be able to come up with some more realistic (and smarter) conclusions and/or possibilites as to how this can occur… many of us have.

    I won’t comment on the statement made about Cain’s “social standing” (I assume that’s a code word for ‘becuase he’s a Negro’.) But I can garuantee you this ONE person’s opinion is not one shared by our majority.

    *** “However, beyond criticizing banks, politicians, corporations, and demanding that they each remain mutually exclusive, they had no solutions.”***

    I’m just going to “LOL” at this one. I have plenty of solutions, and Corperations/Banks won’t like any of them. But he had a point that its not OUR job to come up with the solutions, we aren’t all economists; but that doesn’t mean we can’t identify a broken system and corrupt behavior when we see it.

    *** “The irony was thick at Harbor Park, as these antagonists to the all-things-corporate drove up in their foreign and domestic cars, wearing Nike shoes, drinking water by Nestle and Aquafina, typing on laptops and iPads, talking on cellular phones, and operating within an incorporated city.” ***

    Really? We’re average people, with average salaries, and normal interests. We buy the cars we can afford and we use the items that make our lives easier just as anyone else. We aren’t all ‘antagonists to the all-things-corporate’ and for those that are it doesn’t that mean that they can’t elect to have a few means of mordern convience. I don’t think that recognizing when our country is being bought out from under us excludes anyone from having nice things.

    *** “The question was, “Would you see, as a solution to your frustration, a more devolved form of government in which national politics–and those who may influence national politics–did not play such a large part in your everyday life; but rather decisions might be made on the community, local, county, and state level instead, of which you could have more influence?” The unanimous reply was affirmative.” ***

    Okay, in part I can get on board with since I firmly believe in the idea that a micro-culture is much more effective and solutions oriented than a macro-culture. But I also see where an over-arching set of principles of conduct and the insurence of a centralized body can benefit the individual citizen when it doesn’t overstep its bounds.

    *** “One thing about a simple group not having any solutions, is that the clever may impute their own solutions upon them…”***

    I can assure you, you have NOT ‘imputed’ anything upon me.

    Finally I’ll tell you a little bit about what the entire Occupy Movement means to me. It exemplifies the breaking of America’s “last nerve” when it come to the lack of fiscal responsibility in the people that we in our opiated complacency trusted to look after our best interest while we concerned ourselve with the on-goings of our daily lives. I’m not a investment banker, and economist, or even a public officer so its not my responsibility to make sure that our economy doesn’t collapse. Unfortunately the people whose job that REALLY is decide to go on vacation, or better yet… chose not to do their job. So Occupy represents to me one simple statement. “ENOUGH!”

  • https://www.facebook.com/w0drewery0Booth William Drewery Booth

    P.S. It almost 4:AM and it was a long day so I apologize for the grammatical errors. I hope despite them my message rings clear. Your “Observations of Occupy Norfolk” were incorrect.

  • Jennifer Wingard

    We are a lower middle class family. We pay our taxes and we’re happy to do so. Every day, we consider ourselves blessed to live in a country that affords us so many freedoms. We take our rights and duties as Americans to heart. We enjoy the rights we have to buy and sell property. We also carefully considered our duty to honor our legal and financial obligations by living within our means. We spent years scrimping and saving and paying off every debt in order to be out from under a crush of financial obligations in order to take on the responsibility of repaying a mortgage. When it came time to buy a home, we budgeted and re-budgeted until we found a monthly figure that we could afford even in the event of job loss and being forced to work for minimum wage.

    We’re not asking for the government to bail us out. We’re not asking for the equal distribution of corporate wealth. We aren’t asking for handouts, or to have taxes revoked. We’re not asking for the current government to be overthrown.

    We are, as citizens with not only a right, but a duty to speak out against abuses and usurpations of power, asking our government be held to the fiscally responsible standards to which we hold ourselves. We’re asking that our government listen to the voice of the people who want to put an end to cronyism, back room deals, and start listening to the constituents who are begging for leaders willing to hear the cries of the American people and plot a course of action that can set right some of the wrongs, leaders who will hold themselves to a higher standard because it is the right thing to do.

    From the people, from America (for each of you ARE America), we’re asking that you stop settling for a government in which the control has been wrested from your hands by ineffectual representatives who line their pockets with the money of corporations. It is your duty to support your government if you want to have a voice. If you allow the rich to bankroll your government by not speaking out against corrupt politicians for whom “incentives” are a way of life, you can’t complain when the government no longer works for the people. Our leaders are not mind readers, so they cannot serve the people properly if we’re sitting idly by while our homes, our livelihoods, and our liberties are snatched away. We’re asking that each of you shoulder some of the responsibility with us for the state our country is in because we remained silent.

    I will march with the protesters, not because I agree with the ideals of every individual marching beside me, but because I want to leave a legacy for my children–a legacy of standing up to voice disapproval rather than sitting on my hands hoping for change without being willing to get up and do something about it, a legacy of applauding those in authority who have the character to make a difference when the people speak out. I want my children to be able to tell their own children and grandchildren that “America is great because America is good.” I want them to be able to say that, to know it’s true. I want to OWN that.

    (Please note: when I say “We” I am referring to my own family, not to any group)

  • http://www.factcheck.org/2008/04/americans-making-more-than-250000/ JJ

    I was one of the other people you interviewed and your summarization of my feelings on why herman cain is unelectable is wholly inaccurate. i speak only for myself, not occupynorfolk. i said that he would never get the republican nomination because there is an undercurrent of racism and bigotry among voters on the right that they are unwilling to admit but you know it, we know it. prove me wrong. herman cain is a thinly veiled PR ploy. my point was how terrible it must be for a certain part of the right to be forced to choose between an African American and a Mormon. on the right you have a conservative, experienced, and time tested candidate in Ron Paul(i am by no means a ron paul supporter, not a ron paul supporter but he is a fair and honest fiscal conservative) yet you are desperately flailing for a nominee that will continue to support the super rich and the military industrial complex. its shocking to watch the money run away from and dismiss him because he wont carry the water for big money and big wars. both parties are way too indebted to big money by the time they even walk into the oval office. by the way, you aren’t big money. thats one of the most effective lies told. never was it being discussed to increase taxes whatsoever on household incomes of under 250,000(for a single person the number was exactly half,125,000). this number of americans is about 2% percent depending on what sources you use. be glad to compare what sources you find. you arent wealthy. its okay but vote for what best serves the people you love. the schools in your neighborhood. well trained and adequate police. college students(your kids). there is a 1 to 2 chance in 100 that this doesnt apply to you.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Boy, these occupiers sure have a lot of time to type…

  • HisRoc

    Brian,

    Agree. While saying nothing coherent or of substance…

  • Jamie Jacoby

    Every time anyone writes a reasoned and thoughtful response to anything you guys assert here, the standard reply seems to be “OMG it’s too long!” Do you understand how stupid that makes you look? I’m sorry to be blunt, but repeatedly complaining about the length of a thought that can’t be expressed in 25 words or less, or asking for the Cliff’s Notes version, can only be explained by:

    1) Lack of the intellectual power required to hold more than 25 words in your head at the same time while considering their collective meaning, or

    2) Extreme disinterest, which equates to “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is already made up.”

    2, of course = extreme arrogance, which is so typical of republican politics in this state. Do you want to know why there is a Tea Party? YOU ARE WHY. Do you want to know why there is an OWS? YOU ARE WHY. And the things that escapes you completely is that your arrogance is a false one, based on a false sense of superiority (or even more laughable, wisdom). Events are about to begin moving you, rather than vice-versa.

    I’ve said it before: you guys are on the wrong side of history. Pride goeth before the fall. Enjoy!

    Perhaps one of you could offer some fact-based refutation of the positions stated here by the protestors? Or not?

  • Jamie Jacoby

    Mr. Schwartz:

    “Another complaint was that “five or six” banks are controlling the entire nation, and that the economic collapse was their fault, and their fault alone. Were these bankers operating within the confines of the law? If not, they should be arrested or fined; If they were, and it appears to be so, then they cannot blame the banks entirely, but the regulations they were required to operate under.”

    You are grossly misinformed, or perhaps you are deliberately trying to mislead readers. You really should get more information before you make statements like this.

    Perhaps you don’t know that VA AG Ken Cuccinelli has sued BNY Mellon for $900 Million , alleging pension fraud? I can’t post links so Google (if you dare) “Cuccinelli BNY Mellon.”

    “The lawsuit, filed by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, claims that since 2000 the Bank of New York Mellon defrauded the Virginia Retirement System and the pension funds in Arlington and Fairfax counties 73,000 times.”

    “Cuccinelli is seeking $120 million plus interest in damages and $811 million in civil penalties for what he alleges is $40 million in fraud. He accuses currency traders for the bank of skimming profits of transactions conducted for six state and local public pension funds by falsely reporting the rate at which currency was exchanged.”

    Then, also if you dare, Google “NY AG BNY Mellon” and you will find this:

    “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Bank of New York Mellon for $2 billion on Tuesday, claiming it earned that amount over 10 years by defrauding clients in foreign currency exchange transactions.”

    “According to Schneiderman’s office, BNY Mellon misrepresented rates it would give currency transactions, providing nearly the worst rates of the trading day instead of the best. The case began with a 2009 whistle-blower complaint followed by an investigation. Clients include public pension funds.”

    The reason criminal charges have not been filed by the NY AG is that that would close the bank, and no recovery would be possible under those circumstances.

    “NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Bank of New York Mellon is being sued by state and federal prosecutors for allegedly defrauding institutional clients out of $2 billion by misrepresenting foreign exchange rates on transactions it executed for big pension funds.”

    “The New York Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York announced the lawsuits late Tuesday. The authorities are seeking “hundreds of millions of dollars” in civil penalties and compensation, according to a statement from the Justice Department.”

    So Mr. Schwartz: are you misinformed, stupid, or trying to mislead us? THOSE ARE THE ONLY POSSIBILITIES.

  • Jamie Jacoby

    Zerohedge: “Insurance Companies Sue Bank Of America Over “Massive Mortgage Fraud”, Find 91% Of Securitized Loans Are Misrepresented”

    from the lawsuit:

    “In carrying out its review of the approximately 19,000 Countrywide loan files, MBIA found that 91% of the defaulted or delinquent loans in those securitizations contained material deviations from Countrywide’s underwriting guidelines. MBIA’s report showed that the loan applications frequently “(i) lack key documentation, such as verification of borrower assets or income; (ii) include an invalid or incomplete appraisal; (iii) demonstrate fraud by the borrower on the face of the application; or (iv) reflect that any of borrower income, FICO score, debt, DTI [debt-to-income,] or CLTV [combined loan-to-value] ratios, fails to meet stated Countrywide guidelines (without any permissible exception).” The plaintiff counsel is Bernstein Litowitz, which was made famous from the WorldCom litigation. We doubt they will settle for a few measily pennies on the dollar. As for the list of litigants, it is a veritable who’s who of the insurance industry: Dexia Holdings, FSA Asset Management, New York Life iInsurance Company, The Mainstay Funds, Teachers Insurance & Annuity, TIAA-CREF Life Insurance, and College Retirement Equities Fund.”

    These are the big banks the taxpayers bailed out, and yes, we’re pissed off about it.

  • Jamie Jacoby

    BTW, do you see Dexia’s name above? Dexia is one of Belgium’s largest banks, and it just got nationalized by the Belgian government, TODAY. DO you think there will be repercussions? Does anyone at BD have any fricking idea what they’re talking about?

  • Jamie Jacoby

    Stupid and arrogant is not a winning life philosophy.

  • Andrew Schwartz

    @Jamie, If there was fraud or illegal activity, let them be punished to the full extent of the law; but if they were lawful, let the anger be directed at the laws. That’s all I’m saying.

    And, of course, they would need to be found guilty first in order to be punished. However, I kind of prefer to think of people and corporations as innocent unless their innocence is disproven. Kind of a weird concept, I’m sure.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Jamie, cutting and pasting does not equal thinking.

  • Louis Stadlin

    Brian and His-Roc
    One liners are great when you don’t have the intellect to address a long thought out presentation of ideas on a subject. The fact that I and others on this forum today are willing to generate such long presentations should tell you these are serious times and it will require all of “US” Americans try to do what is right for the country and not what is right for their segment of the of the economy.

    I am a life long Democrat but recently I have become less interested in how the Democrats fair and more interested in how our country fairs. That is why I wrote the long winded comment on BearingRight. So that is why I resent the comments by Brian and His-Roc.

  • Louis Stadlin

    Andrew
    Are you saying that just because Countrywide didn’t actually break the law it was not their responsibility to follow stated company policy? I wonder have you ever signed a contract without reading the boiler plate because you trusted the presenter? If the employees of Countrywide had followed company rules they would never have issued those mortgages.

  • John Jackson

    My concern is not knowing who your standing with and them knowing what’s involved in a revolution because the odds of us getting a George Washington or our founding fathers are slim to none. I’d prefer reform over revolution.

    And another note is what does the new context of the AMERICAN DREAM mean? It previously meant that you worked hard, owned a home, a car and had a family. It was different things to different people. Now, it’s concept is totally different. Can someone explain the new context of the American Dream?

    Is it some utopia? Global Community? a 1960s love child vision.

  • http://bearingdrift.com Andrew Schwartz

    @Louis: No, I have not. As for the company violating its policy, how they handle that is their business, not mine. Especially if the violation of company policy was in compliance with existing laws. It is not my place to dictate how a company operates when I hold no stock.

  • http://bearingdrift.com Andrew Schwartz

    @William: “We aren’t a communist group…” Can I quote you later on this as speaking for the group?

    The only reason I ask is that everyone was so insistent that there was no leader and that everyone was equal. I don’t know what else to call it, which is why I used “Pure Communism,” not just “Communism,” which, of course, does have leaders.

  • C-tina

    One of the better articulated list of proposed demands from OWS. I support them all.

    —– cut here —–

    CONGRESS PASS HR 1489 (“RETURN TO PRUDENT BANKING ACT” http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-1489 ). THIS REINSTATES MANY PROVISIONS OF THE GLASS-STEAGALL ACT. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass-Steagall_Act — Wiki entry summary: The repeal of provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999 effectively removed the separation that previously existed between investment banking which issued securities and commercial banks which accepted deposits. The deregulation also removed conflict of interest prohibitions between investment bankers serving as officers of commercial banks. Most economists believe this repeal directly contributed to the severity of the Financial crisis of 2007-2011 by allowing Wall Street investment banking firms to gamble with their depositors’ money that was held in commercial banks owned or created by the investment firms. Here’s detail on repeal in 1999 and how it happened: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass-Steagall_Act#Repeal .

    USE CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY AND OVERSIGHT TO ENSURE APPROPRIATE FEDERAL AGENCIES FULLY INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE THE WALL STREET CRIMINALS who clearly broke the law and helped cause the 2008 financial crisis in the following notable cases: (insert list of the most clear cut criminal actions). There is a pretty broad consensus that there is a clear group of people who got away with millions / billions illegally and haven’t been brought to justice. Boy would this be long overdue and cathartic for millions of Americans. It would also be a shot across the bow for the financial industry. If you watch the solidly researched and awared winning documentary film “Inside Job” that was narrated by Matt Damon (pretty brave Matt!) and do other research, it wouldn’t take long to develop the list.

    CONGRESS ENACT LEGISLATION TO PROTECT OUR DEMOCRACY BY REVERSING THE EFFECTS OF THE CITIZENS UNITED SUPREME COURT DECISION which essentially said corporations can spend as much as they want on elections. The result is that corporations can pretty much buy elections. Corporations should be highly limited in ability to contribute to political campaigns no matter what the election and no matter what the form of media. This legislation should also RE-ESTABLISH THE PUBLIC AIRWAVES IN THE U.S. SO THAT POLITICAL CANDIDATES ARE GIVEN EQUAL TIME FOR FREE AT REASONABLE INTERVALS IN DAILY PROGRAMMING DURING CAMPAIGN SEASON. The same should extend to other media.

    CONGRESS PASS THE BUFFETT RULE ON FAIR TAXATION SO THE RICH AND CORPORATIONS PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE & CLOSE CORPORATE TAX LOOP HOLES AND ENACT A PROHIBITION ON HIDING FUNDS OFF SHORE. No more GE paying zero or negative taxes. Pass the Buffet Rule on fair taxation so the rich pay their fair share.

    CONGRESS COMPLETELY REVAMP THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION and staff it at all levels with proven professionals who get the job done protecting the integrity of the marketplace so citizens and investors are both protected. This agency needs a large staff and needs to be well-funded. It’s currently has a joke of a budget and is run by Wall St. insiders who often leave for high ticket cushy jobs with the corporations they were just regulating.

    CONGRESS PASS SPECIFIC AND EFFECTIVE LAWS LIMITING THE INFLUENCE OF LOBBYISTS AND ELIMINATING THE PRACTICE OF LOBBYISTS WRITING LEGISLATION THAT ENDS UP ON THE FLOOR OF CONGRESS.

    CONGRESS PASSING “Revolving Door Legislation” LEGISLATION ELIMINATING THE ABILITY OF FORMER GOVERNMENT REGULATORS GOING TO WORK FOR CORPORATIONS THAT THEY ONCE REGULATED. So, you don’t get to work at the FDA for five years playing softball with Pfizer and then go to work for Pfizer making $195,000 a year. While they’re at it, Congress should pass specific and effective laws to enforce strict judicial standards of conduct in matters concerning conflicts of interest. So long as judges are culled from the ranks of corporate attorneys the 1% will retain control.

    ELIMINATE “PERSONHOOD” LEGAL STATUS FOR CORPORATIONS. The film “The Corporation” has a great section on how corporations won “personhood status”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SuUzmqBewg . Fast-forward to 2:20. It’ll blow your mind. The 14th amendment was supposed to give equal rights to African Americans. It said you “can’t deprive a person of life, liberty or property without due process of law”. Corporation lawyers wanted corporations to have more power so they basically said “corporations are people.” Amazingly, between 1890 and 1910 there were 307 cases brought before the court under the 14th amendment. 288 of these brought by corporations and only 19 by African Americans. 600,000 people were killed to get rights for people and then judges applied those rights to capital and property while stripping them from people. It’s time to set this straight.

  • http://www.occupytogether.org/ Oh You!

    Dear Brian Kirwin and His Roc,

    The art of trolling is not lost on you. I’m not sure how you read yourselves but to everyone else you come off as angry people that cannot add intelligently to the conversation so you resort to attacks instead.

    I guess it is lost on you that you are the minority in this majority opinion and growing movement. (see Occupy Wall St, Washington DC, LA, Chicago, Portland… I can go on but there are too many to list)

    You obviously do not realize the size and scope of the people that are coming together to express mostly the same concerns. To dismiss it as poor and lazy people unwilling to work who want hand-outs is clearly an untruth, cynical and proves that you are either uninformed or just biased and combative.

    Everyone else here can agree to disagree agreeably for the common goal of opening a dialogue that has been long overdue. So I think before you makes yourselves seem even more ignorant than you already have you should educate yourselves so you can add intelligibly to the conversation or GTFO.

  • C-tina

    oops, that was a copy and paste from cbs comments….not sayin’ I drank the starbu..er…the OWS kool aid…there are some who are advocating that OWS and Tea Party unite…. I’m not usually a copy/paste type, realizing one should think for one’s self…maybe this is sophomoric at best…but can’t we just all get along?

    “The TEA party and the Occupy Wall Street movement are 180 degrees apart…or are they?

    -TEA party folks feel the gov’t has become too bloated and ineffectual. They feel Big Gov’t is intruding in their lives. They feel this huge gov’t costs too much to operate, spends too much, and taxes too much. They feel lobbyists, corruption, and cronyism have led to a self serving gov’t where the rich politicians get richer, gov’t employee pension abuse abounds, and “public safety” is used as a siren for its workers to live like barons and lords…retire rich at age 50. TEA partiers see the insanity.

    -Occupy Wall Street folks feel Capitalism has failed them. They feel Corporate America, big pharma, big oil, and the the globalization of our economy by the Wall Street Institutions have resulted in fraud of epic proportions. They hate the QE,QE2, and QE3 bailouts to the rich. The despise the executive officers of failing companies receiving golden parachutes and “bonuses”, at tax payers expense. They see the insanity.

    TEA Party folks and Occupy Wall Street folks have similarities too.
    They both feel their economic lives have been hijacked.
    They both feel the middle class is under attack.
    They both feel the big guy is effing the little guy.

    TEA party blames gov’t
    Occupy Wall Street blames Big Business.

    The MOST IMPORTANT CONCEPT TO UNDERSTAND IS…

    The gov’t and big business are colluding in and orgy of corruption and abuse. They are using each other like war allies to plunder the middle class. The gov’t is supposed to regulate, monitor, and prosecute business anti-trust, monopolyism, and global fraud… not empower it! This abominable union between Big Business and Big Gov’t IS THE PROBLEM.

    TEA party and Occupy Wall Street need to unite against the “allies of abuse”, Big Business and Big Gov’t!!!!!!!!!! It may sound crazy at first glance that two grass roots movements, 180 degrees apart, should unite and kill the beast… but it is the only solution…

  • Andrew Schwartz

    @C-Tina: It seems all of these require a federal government with more power, which naturally results in a centralization of power, which naturally results in a more exclusive and wealthy group controlling the influence. I’m pretty sure these consequences are antithetical to your purpose of limiting elite influence on government and getting money out of politics?

  • JZ

    Wow there is a lot here in the discussion. I think I actually agree with everything Jennifer Wingard said, but I don’t get what she is protesting against. I would like to hear the proof JJ has regarding the “undercurrent of racism” in the Republican party. You can certainly find individuals in the Republican party and among conservatives as well, but what percentage are racists and what is your proof?

  • Louis Stadlin

    Andrew
    You demonstrate exactly what is wrong with corporate America today. There is no morality in corporate America. Countrywide probably just winked it the mortgage brokers because it meant more money for them. A vast majority of the defaults would have been avoided if the brokers would have followed the company rules. Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac were at fault because they were mandated to try to fore fill the American dream of owning a house. Remember a lot of brokers got rich making those mortgages. The Supreme Court says corporations are the same as people. How would feel if a friend or individual deliberate mislead you in a transaction.

  • Andrew Schwartz

    From the Occupy Norfolk Facebook page:
    “Our job is not to provide detailed solutions, our tax dollars are paying bright people to do that. our job, in part anyway, is to shine a light on the big problems that have solutions and show that they now have our full attention and inspire or peacefully force them into having the political will to enact real change”

  • Brian Kirwin

    Live video from Occupy Norfolk

  • Donald

    Sorry I couldn’t get there in Norfolk to be part of all the fun…. I had to work.

  • Donald

    @Louis Stadlin— why is it when Conservatives mention morality they are always trying to push their agenda (religion etc..) down the throats of everyone. Is it now ok to mention morality when done so buy liberals?

  • Donald

    opps…by liberals. Sorry for the msp.

  • Jennifer Wingard

    @JZ

    I am joining the protest so that I can have yet another way (other than writing to my representatives and leaders and voting) to let those in authority know, although my voice alone may be ineffective, the voice of the people is speaking out against the apathy our leaders have shown, not only during the current administration, but also in the decades leading up to the crisis in which our country is currently mired.

    I’m protesting leaders who remain in office rather than recuse themselves when they’re either unwilling or incapable of adequately representing the will of the people. There is no dishonor in admitting that they are not the person who can bring about change. There is, however, dishonor in failing, either through irresponsibility, intentional negligence, or incapability, to carry out the duties they agreed to perform, to the best of their ability.

    I’m protesting so that I can be an example to others who, perhaps, feel that nothing they do can change the path our country is treading. I’m lending my voice because one person does not make a choir.

    I’m protesting because I AM America. I am one tiny part of the whole, and I want a country that works for the whole, not simply for one small percentage of the whole.

    Although some may claim that this protest isn’t about politics, I firmly believe that it is. I may very well be in the minority because of this view, but I cannot rail against corporations in a capitalist market, when my grievances are not against them (as a sweeping generalization). My grievances are against a government that could have–should have–had the best interests of it’s people in mind, a government whose obligation to the people took a back seat.

    My grievances are against the American people (myself included) for not speaking out sooner.

  • Jennifer Wingard

    @ Andrew Schwartz

    Although you may have had an entirely different goal with this article, I’m accepting it, not as criticism, not as a vehicle with which you can crush the spirit of the protesters or run roughshod over their lack of platform, but as a challenge.

    By writing this piece, you threw down the proverbial gauntlet. You’ve doubled my resolve to speak out, to form theories for solutions, to educate myself further, to educate my children about the workings of the government, to encourage them to work for the future they want–to be the change they want to see.

    So, from this protester to you, a hat tip is in order. Well done!

  • Andrew Schwartz

    @Jennifer: My goal was never to limit education or a proposal of solutions, nor was it to crush the spirit of the protestors. So in that regard, perhaps our goals were not so dissimilar after all.

  • Louis Stadlin

    Donald
    The morality I am talking about has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with how people treat each other. What the Countrywide mortgage brokers did to the people that wanted to own homes was just as immoral as any Christian immorality and maybe more so

  • http://bearingdrift.com Andrew Schwartz

    UPDATE: This article was linked on Occupy Norfolk’s Facebook Page where a lively discussion was taking place regarding the article. Several members recognized and accepted the merits of the article about the need for solutions; others did not agree with the premise and insisted the group is not about solutions (see comment I cut and pasted from their site above); but many others could only resort to ad hominem attacks.

    After the administrators graciously allowed me to join their group, I got involved in the discussion to clarify what I thought were misconceptions about the article. This reply received mostly positive responses.

    Unfortunately, the administrators of that site thought it necessary to remove all conversation regarding this post. There may be other reasons for their doing so, but in the absence of an explanation I will assume it is because my arguments could not be refuted and they could not handle the identification of their fallacies.

  • Richard Lincoln

    Andrew,

    The thread was deleted because it has become increasingly clear that the person who posted it is a troll.

    As are you.

    The Occupy Norfolk Page is not some ethereal FB posting where everyone is protected by anonymity…these are REAL people using FB to do REAL things.

    Time is short, so anyone who doesn’t add to the discourse, or who is quite obviously on the FB page with the obvious goal to simply try to get people riled up, and to take away from the message, should be blocked.

    …and before you complain about “Liberals” doing such things, I can assure you that I have become a member on FB of MANY Tea Party org’s as well as many of the Republican Candidates, and have been ROUTINELY blocked from the page upon the first hint of disagreeing with the positions of their authors, and/or positing a different worldview.

    Last time I checked, you are still free to post, and have been doing so. That says much about the Admins of Occupy Norfolk Site.

  • Darrell

    Bet there is a lot of cussin goin on in the smoky back rooms right about now. First they had to spend a bunch of money buying off those old codger Tea Party types. And just when things were getting back to business as usual, along comes these juvenile malcontents. Guess they gotta get the union thugs involved since the only violence in this crowd is over the best spot to camp and it sure doesn’t look like bribes will be effective.

  • http://www.fineartforyou.com Kathy Mateer

    This is the message of Occupy Wall Street with the global call to demonstrate next Saturday. While there are some points that are legitimate, I don’t think the tactics are prudent.

    http://geraldcelentechannel.blogspot.com/2011/10/anonymous-message-to-wall-street.html#.TpHizb6Wkl4.pingfm

  • http://bearingdrift.com Andrew Schwartz

    @Richard: Looks like you spoke too soon. Please relay my thanks to the administrators for allowing my voice to be heard in the short time it was available.

  • HisRoc

    Richard,

    So you deleted a thread on FB because it was posted by a troll? I see. And just how do you view the OWS posters here? As they say, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s troll.

    For those of you OWS types who have indulged in insults and accusations of low intellect or short attention spans by posters on Bearing Drift whom you disagree with, consider this: not a single comment that you have posted on this blog has been screened, filtered, edited, or deleted. That is the power of people who are confident of their ideas. They believe that their ideas can stand on their own, unlike the incoherent rantings of weak-minded dogmatics whose musings cannot stand up to logical refute and must be defended by stifling rebuttal.

    And please notice that I didn’t type 2,000 words to state my point–I wanted you to actually read it.

  • John Jackson

    HisRoc,
    Yeah, but you surpassed your 25 word limit! :)

    This is not a movement on ideas but numbers. It’s based off an ideology similar to “Hope and Change” such as anti-capitalism.

    Can’t wait until we have Communism…then they won’t have the opportunity to protest because they’ll be shot by the true police state. The one that shoots first, then asks questions.

  • Jennifer Wingard

    @ Andrew Schwartz

    As I understood it, based on conversations this evening at ON’s general assembly, the conversation thread was deleted because of several people’s extreme negativity. People who had previously been interested in the ON and/or OWS had complained to facilitators about the hateful tone of some of the posts in the thread (since, as I’m sure you were aware, many of them were nothing more than character assassinations). Other threads involving fighting or rude behavior have been or will be deleted soon, as well.

    Also, by general consensus, the group has decided to limit posting after this evening to event messages and updates for the time being since there has been so much confusion from interested parties unable to find the information they need as the hot topic posts get bumped to the top and bury pertinent info.

    I don’t think that removal of the thread was intended as a slight to you or your views, or that it was removed because they didn’t have the answers to refute your claims. It was simply a peacekeeping decision. (This is my personal opinion based on discussions at ON this evening, so take it with a grain of salt.)

  • HisRoc

    Translation:

    Comrades, the politburo is not censoring input to The Party’s Facebook page. We are merely limiting Capitalist propaganda that is designed to mislead the proletariat. We know what is best for you and will shelter you from counter-revolutionary forces. Long live the revolution!

  • http://bearingdrift.com Brian Kirwin

    Read Animal Farm.

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Draft-Bob-McDonnell-for-President-in-2012/182559595128064 James “turbo” Cohen

    Fascism is capitalism in decay – lenin
    Political power comes from the barrell of a gun – mao
    Each according his abilities, to each according to their need – marx

    I made one up for the 99%.. The only church that enlightens the free gaza occupy (name your town) movement is the church that burns.

  • http://Tidewaterliberty.com Britt Howard

    I do agree with Louis Stadlin on one point:

    “The people in Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Norfolk and Occupy all the other cities in the USA are doing it because they know something is wrong in our country but they haven’t been able to put a coherent label on it.”.
    -Louis Stadlin

    I think OWS is a construction supported by Obama and many high ranking Democrats. The fact is, there is something terribly wrong going on and people are angry. Even their Democrat core voters are pissed. So, Democrats are focused on redirecting that anger and spin it as the fault of not government, but corporations running wild with corruption and influence. Of course as HisRoc pointed out, that means more government to regulate those evil entities. Really, government should just be doing their job and then there would be no problems or call for more control.

    Joe Sixpack democrat or independent skeptical of the GOP influence on the Tea Party and never interested in that joke of a Coffee Party, is blindly hoping to see something come from OWS. The administration and the Democratic Party hope to gain what the Republicans got from the Tea Party and they greatly overestimate the influence the GOP has over Tea Partiers. Democrats are just not paying attention to spats between Tea Partiers & Establishment Republicans.

    Which brings me to a point made by C-Tina which is absolutely wrong, but understandable:

    “TEA party blames gov’t
    Occupy Wall Street blames Big Business.” – C-Tina

    C-Tina, Libertarian Tea partiers like me and Small Govt. Fiscally Conservative Republicans do talk an awful lot about the abuses of “Big Government”. I suppose then it is understandable to misinterpret. We harp on government’s role so much, because it is THEY that make the laws and regulations. It is THEY that create the “loop holes” for their friends. THEY are responsible for Fannie & Freddie. They are responsible for not cracking down on fraudulent schemes of theft by banks and mortgage companies. THEY bail out private companies with YOUR money. Laws were referenced earlier, and they were broken as Jacoby pointed out. Thing is, we need to be a nation that adheres to the “Rule of Law” or laws are nothing but the whim of those in power.

    …but, believe me, just because we Tea Partiers unite in lashing out at the three branches of government and the Federal Reserve, does not mean we don’t recognize the lawbreaking theft and fraud out there in the banking industry. We understand that the government forced banks to make loans to people lacking the ability to repay. However, we also know that people can be motivated to defraud or steal by greed. We also know they can be motivated by desperation to make ends meet after making horrific business decisions that put their company on the path headed to a giant train wreck. Much like our government and their handling of finances. We are not blind to arguments of corporate or individual greed that go beyond what is legal.

    Any group of people is susceptible to human failings. Power and money corrupt the morally weak. Exactly why SOME Republicans tried to subvert the Tea Party and why SOME Democrats are trying to make zombies out of OWS protestors. Granted some protestors are party operatives, but many I am sure, are just people fed up with something gone obviously so wrong. People are demanding answers. They want everyone to know that they’re fed up.

    I agree that OWS and the Tea party should cooperate. I kinda doubt the logevity of any real Democratic Party hold on OWS. If it even lasts. Many of OWS are operating outside party politics and won’t play their game much as Tea Partiers fail to adhere to their “proper role within the Republican Party”. We pesky peasants just don’t know our place. :P

  • Rachel

    I find the volume of the spectrum of complaints of OWS protesters disturbing. It isn’t partly because there are so many complaints that make it incredibly difficult to condense into a simple “here’s our problem, and here’s our solution” statement as to the movements’ purpose…it is ENTIRELY because there really ARE so many valid complaints that force a need for the movement to exist at all. How can we portray the array of problems facing our society, our financial systems, our country, our contribution to the global community, etc. if we only give voice to some of them? Would it be nice if there were only a few issues/complaints so as to lend solidarity of purpose to their outcry? Well yeah, it would be nicer still if their complaints had no reason to exist at all. There are so many reasons people are angry or dissatisfied, I think it is gloriously chaotic that they are attempting to represent the rainbow of causes as they perceive them. It may not be the most coherent presentation, but it is evolving and I’m interested in the progress. They are in the very least “occupying their rights”, and I have to say I admire them for it.