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 trigaux@sptimes.com.

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. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  2. Eat 3-course meals for $35 at these 100 restaurants for Orlando's Magical Dining Month

    Food & Dining

    In the early 1900s, hotels offered "table d'hote" or "prix fixe" menus as a form of loss leader. Hotels didn't necessarily make money on these lower-priced, multi-course meals, often served at communal tables, but they made up for it on the booze. Prohibition may have contributed to a gradual shift toward a la carte …

    Bulla Gastrobar serves a variety of Spanish and Portuguese dishes.
  3. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman sells house for $3 million to new player

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman's multi-million Davis Islands home is staying in the Lightning family. Yzerman sold his 6,265-square-foot house Monday to new defenseman Dan Girardi for $3 million.

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman sold for $3 million Monday to Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi. | [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  4. Trigaux: As Florida seeks top 10 status as best business state, red flag rises on workforce

    Business

    In the eternal quest to appeal more to business than other states, Florida's managed to haul itself out of some pretty mediocre years. After scoring an impressive 8 among 50 states way back in 2007, Florida suffered horribly during and immediately after the recession. Its rank sank as low as No. 30 only four years ago, …

    Florida's trying to make strides in preparing its high school and college graduates for the rapidly changing skill sets of today's workforce. But the latest CNBC ranking of the best and worst states for business gave Florida poor marks for education, ranking No. 40 (tied with South Carolina for education) among the 50 states. Still, Florida ranked No. 12 overall in the best business states annual ranking. [Alan Berner/Seattle Times]
  5. For the first time in Florida, a white person is set to be executed for killing a black person.

    State Roundup

    GAINESVILLE — For the first time in state history, Florida is expecting to execute a white man Thursday for killing a black person — and it plans to do so with the help of a drug that has never been used before in any U.S. execution.

    This undated photo provided by the Florida Department of Corrections shows Mark Asay. If his final appeals are denied, Asay is to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. Thursday. Asay was convicted by a jury of two racially motivated, premeditated murders in Jacksonville in 1987.  [Florida Department of Corrections via AP]