protest economy | October 16, 2011

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi: Five Tips For Occupy Wall Street Protesters

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi has been combating Wall Street corruption for years now—through a series of provocative articles, and in his bestselling book Griftopia. So it makes sense that he’d make a trip to survey the scene at Occupy Wall Street. Simply put, he loves it, colorfully describing the movement as “the logical answer to the Tea Party and a long-overdue middle finger to the financial elite.”

In this week’s Rolling Stone, Taibbi writes of how concerned he was when he saw that the mainstream media, in the early days of Occupy Wall Street, chose to concentrate on an incident involving policemen macing bystanders, and not on the reasons behind the movement itself. As he points out, “it's extremely difficult to explain the crimes of the modern financial elite with a simple visual. There just isn't going to be an iconic “Running Girl” photo with Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, or Bank of America.”

To help the organizers, Taibbi has come up with five points to start coalescing a list of demands:

1. Break up the monopolies: There are about 20 such firms in America, and they need to be dismantled; a good start would be to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.

2. Pay for your own bailouts:
A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about.

3. No public money for private lobbying:
A company that receives a public bailout should not be allowed to use the taxpayer's own money to lobby against him.

4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers:
For starters, we need an immediate repeal of the preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income, while ordinary Americans pay twice that for teaching kids and putting out fires.

5. Change the way bankers get paid: We need new laws preventing Wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all of our faces later.

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innvovation + the arts | October 13, 2011