The Reasoned Review

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The 9/12 Protests As They Should Have Been

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The Huffington Post has got the scoop on the recent protests that erupted outside the American Banker’s Association in Chicago yesterday. Unlike the “9/12 Tea Party” protests last month, however, these outraged citizens saw very little mainstream coverage. CNN merely reprinted a Reuters dispatch which quoted none of the protesters but plenty of the meeting’s attendees, all of whom professed their unequivocal innocence. Fox News, unsurprisingly, had very little to say on the matter. Even the New York Times could not be bothered to toss the story a brief. In all, the mainstream reaction to these demonstrations stands in pitiful contrast to the 24-hour live feed which blared into millions of homes on September 12th.

When one gets a sense of who these protesters are and what drove them into the street, the reason for a lack of discussion becomes clear. This demonstration did not occur within controlled paramters; its organizer, National People’s Action, has made no direct campaign contributions, and their stated aims, in contrast to the Fox News 9/12 Movement, are antithetical to the aims of our corporate industry.

Instead of agitating against a health-care public option (opposition to which has benefited our insurance industry enormously), this group seeks strong regulation of the financial instruments which threw them into poverty – CDOs, CDSs, etc. The current proposal to achieve this end creates a “Consumer Finance Protection Agency” (or CPFA) in a highly-contentious bill which is now on the senate floor and is being vigorously opposed by the financial establishment.

As Esther Kaplan reports in The Nation:

“‘We had this image of big bankers sipping martinis and saying, ‘Did we really get away with this?'” said lead organizer George Goehl, director of National People’s Action. “Then two months ago we found out the American Bankers Association was having its annual meeting here in Chicago.” The ABA, not so incidentally, has fiercely fought against new regulations on the banking industry, and is lobbying hard now against the CFPA.

This is something to watch for, much more so than the protests last month, as yesterday’s demonstration reflects, so far as one can tell, a genuine outrage over the status quo. Yesterday’s protest was small (estimates of just under 1,000 people), but one would like to think a small demonstration against a real grievance would carry more weight than a large, manufactured demonstration over a non-existent one. It will be interesting to see whether similar demonstrations crop up, or, starved for lack of media attention, this CPFA movement dies down. We know which option our bankers prefer!

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