Make us your home page
Instagram

Un-American? Radical? Hardly. Reasons to protest seem quite clear

Protesters gather on the front steps of the old federal courthouse in Tampa on Oct. 6 to show solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Protesters gather on the front steps of the old federal courthouse in Tampa on Oct. 6 to show solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

I've never been much of a sign-wielding protester. But I often wonder why Florida lacks a sense of civic activism to get off the couch and make a public stink over unfairness, corruption or just plain greed.

I hear there's plenty of that going around.

So I am impressed that the Occupy Wall Street event that started so modestly in lower Manhattan has spread as far as Tampa Bay, where Occupy Tampa assembled in a downtown park and, come Saturday, will crop up at an Occupy St. Petersburg gathering in South Straub Park.

Most mainstream media seem rusty in covering protests. They choose "nobody's sure what they really want" remarks leading off much of their coverage in New York City. It sure seems obvious to me. They want the astonishing income inequality in our society to become less lopsided. They want Wall Street to contribute to the country's future instead of bonus-bulging financiers literally crafting investment schemes to make money for hedge fund insiders but purposely lose money for blindsided investors.

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain calls Occupy Wall Street protesters "un-American, and anticapitalist." Conservative talk show personality Glenn Beck characterizes them as "Marxist radicals" who "will come for you and drag you into the streets and kill you."

Conservative thinkers like American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Peter Wallison suggests the easily snookered mob is protesting against the wrong folks in the wrong town. Writing an opinion piece headlined "Wall Street's Gullible Occupiers" in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, Wallison argues the real culprit is the federal government. He writes:

"The narrative that came out of these events — largely propagated by government officials and accepted by a credulous media — was that the private sector's greed and risk-taking caused the financial crisis and the government's policies were not responsible."

Really?

Cain should celebrate our right to free speech and peaceful protest. What's so un-American here?

Beck is typically over the top. I don't even have a comeback for his bizarro remarks.

Wallison, I suggest, is right. Bumbling federal oversight of the financial markets is worthy of protest … in addition to Wall Street.

But Wallison — I remember him best as general counsel to President Ronald Reagan — is wrong to lay no blame on Wall Street bankers. He argues people have been fed a false story that the "financial crisis and ensuing deep recession was caused by a reckless private sector driven by greed and insufficiently regulated. It is no wonder that people who hear this tale repeated endlessly in the media turn on Wall Street to express their frustration with the current conditions in the economy."

Really?

So it was the federal regulators who coerced Wall Street to package dud mortgages and re-sell them around the globe to unsuspecting investors?

And was it the feds who forced top Wall Street executives to accept pay packages topping $25 million, $50 million and even $100 million for hawking lousy investments for big fees during those go-go years?

Tell me another fairy tale. Better to understand the protesters than demonize them.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

Un-American? Radical? Hardly. Reasons to protest seem quite clear 10/12/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 13, 2011 12:39am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations rebound from stronger earnings report

    Corporate

    TAMPA — After a sharp drop in its stock price in August and September, Health Insurance Innovations on Monday announced strong revenue and net income gains in preliminary numbers for its third quarter of the year. The company also announced a $50 million stock buyback over the next two years meant to bolster its …

    After losing more than half its market value between August and September, shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations are rebounding."The new share repurchase program underscores our confidence in our business strategy, financial performance, and the long-term prospects of our company while also allowing us the financial flexibility to continue to invest in our business," company CEO Gavin Southwell announced Monday. [Courtesy of LinkedIn]
  2. Trigaux: Campaign aims to leverage tourism ads to recruit millennials, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay's unleashing one of its best weapons — a cadre of successful entrepreneurs and young business leaders — in a marketing campaign already under way but officially …

    Erin Meagher, founder of Tampa coconut oil products company Beneficial Blends, is part of a group of business savvy millennial entrepreneurs and managers who are helping to pitch the work-live-play merits of the Tampa Bay market in a new marketing campaign called Make It Tampa Bay. The campaign is backed by Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and aimed at recruiting more millennial talent to relocate and stay in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Visit Tampa Bay]
  3. Florida gas prices drop 25 cents on average over past month

    Autos

    Gas prices are on a downward tear post-hurricane. Tampa Bay fell to $2.34 per gallon on Sunday, down 10 cents over the week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Across the state, gas fell 7 cents over the same period to average $2.47 per gallon.

    Gas prices across the state fell 25 cents over 31 days. | [Times file photo]
  4. Entrepreneur expands interests with Twisted Crafts

    Business

    SOUTH TAMPA — Playgrounds of Tampa owner Mike Addabbo is expanding into the do-it-yourself industry with his new endeavor: Twisted Crafts.

     Jennifer and Michael Addabbo pose in their latest entrepreneurial enterprise: Twisted Crafts. Photo courtesy of Twisted Craft.
  5. Amazing Lash franchise expands to South Tampa

    Business

    SOUTH TAMPA — Jeff Tolrud opened the doors to his third Amazing Lash Studio franchise earlier this month, this time in South Tampa.

    When customers walk in, the studios have the same look and feel throughout the country, operator Jeff Tolrud said of Amazing Lash Studio. Tolrud opened his third in Hillsborough County earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Amazing Lash.