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What Do the Wall Street Protestors Want?

Anthony Randazzo
October 3, 2011, 4:45am

Moveon.org sent around an email early this morning praising the recent protests against the financial industry, saying "grassroots groups have shut down banks and held sit-ins to demand that giant banks pay their fair share of taxes, end the foreclosure crisis, and create jobs." 

Ridiculous. Great to see that you can protest in the U.S. without getting shot (tear gas and arrests for disobeying police aside). But is that what this group is trying to prove? Those are very strange goals and they don't really make sense. This is just repeating our other work on this issue, but to sum up our critique:

  1. Define "fair share" please, because that is totally an arbitrary term to use. Public banks are owned by people, it turns out, and those people also pay taxes. So first, please explain why people paying taxes twice amounts to something fair. And then provide a very objective answer for what a fair share is. Because when you try to do that, you'll find that you're suggesting that "everyone" should pay their "fair share" and that means the 50% of Americans who do not pay taxes should start to pay something. When did Moveon.org start to borrow Michelle Bachmann's talking points, its not very progressive of a tax theory for them. (I'd also demand a defense of the idea of the income tax period, but that's just piling on a bit.)
  2. You know, the best way to end the foreclosure crisis is to stop dragging it out. And guess who is causing the foreclosure crisis to get dragged out: state attorneys general who, until Friday, were clogging up the foreclosure pipeline with their attack on mortgage servicers; HAMP and HARP just slowed down foreclosures by changing mortgages on the hope that those who'd stopped paying their mortgages could restart, but some 75% of those mortgages wound up back in foreclosure anyway; the Fed through monetary policy and the Treasury through use of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both seeking to prop up housing prices at artificial rates, slowing the rate of underwater foreclosures that will eventually happen. There certainly is a common theme there to blame.
  3. Once again, we do not have a right to demand that people create jobs for us. What right do we have to demand anything from others?  Nevertheless, if you want banks to kick more money into the economy for job creators, then back off the regulatory structures that the government is imposing higher costs on them. The financial impact of Dodd-Frank is increasingly becoming visible and tying the hands of capital by rule of law.

To read more on the protests, see here

Update, 11AM:

In my post earlier today I neglected to link to the manifesto that the protesters put up. Essentiall, it says the banks are responsible for all of the evil in the world. It really isn't based on what we'd like to consider "facts" and many of the claims don't really appear to have any evidence whatsoever. 

That being said, we've taken plenty of shots at Wall Street ourselves for being rent seeking manipulators so we don't want to defend them. We only to point out that this is not the list of complaints that should be filed. 


Anthony Randazzo is Director of Economic Research


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