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Michael Lewis Advises Occupy

by MISSY BEATTIE

The concept is somewhat egotistical.  But if you believe that what you have to offer is valuable, the published self-interview is an attention getter.

Recently, Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, used the device and cornered my vision field when he wrote an article about the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) and proposed suggestions for its improvement.

Lewis admitted, “I think it [OWS] is a bigger deal than I did when it first started.” He continued with an important observation–that people didn’t like the occupiers living on their streets, “but they liked what they stood for.”

Precisely.  The 99 percent not present at an occupy site, yet watching from wherever, applauded the condemnation of economic injustice created by the exploiter/capitalist class.

Many people, though, have expressed frustration and criticism that the movement lacks focus.  “It needs a concise list of demands,” a friend wrote in an email.

In cities and communities throughout the country, the young, old, and in-between have gathered to discuss grievances, cutting through a thicket of outrages to agree on an agenda that includes education reform, universal healthcare, jobs creation, immigration rights, repeal of the Patriot Act, overturning Citizens United, abolishing student debt, an end to home foreclosures, and saying no to war.  Most groups focus on broad issues as well as those impacting their particular locales.

Many tactics have been conceived to denounce Wall Street crime and the awarding of trillions of dollars in bailout money paid by taxpayers.

But what is accomplished when demonstrators prevent tourists from entering an attraction like the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum?  Answer: The tourists get really pissed.

And what is accomplished when protesters stand in front of the White House?  Answer: Nothing.

And what is accomplished when volunteers sign petitions, make phone calls to their representatives, or walk the halls of Congress to engage staffers?  Answer: A little bit of nada.

Michael Lewis’ guidance to advance OWS will deliver:

… if I were in charge I would probably reorganize the movement around a single, achievable goal: a financial boycott of the six “too big to fail ” Wall Street firms: Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo. We would encourage people who had deposits in these firms to withdraw them, and put them in smaller, not “too big to fail” banks. We would stigmatize anyone who invested, in any way, in any of these banks. I’d try to organize college students to protest on campuses. Their first goal would be to force the university endowments to divest themselves of shares in these banks.

Let’s hit where it hurts—in the bellies of the behemoths.   If all among the 99 percent withdrew their money, these financial institutions would collapse.

Who wouldn’t get behind this strategy?  Answer:  Only the too big to fail-ers.

Because the BIG GREEDERS that pulled the sod out from under so many men, women, and children, enslaving them in a vortex of despair, continue, unregulated, amassing wealth beyond belief.  Their insatiable avarice would make Beelzebub blush.

Occupy should listen to Michael Lewis.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  missybeat@gmail.com.  

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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