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Dunsmore: Occupy Wall Street

10/21/11 7:55AM By Barrie Dunsmore
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(Host) As the Occupy Wall Street protests continue to grow, so do calls for these protesters to define themselves and their demands. This morning commentator and veteran ABC News diplomatic correspondent Barrie Dunsmore gives us his view.

(Dunsmore) I confess that a month or so ago, when news  began to trickle out about people gathering near Wall Street to protest corporate greed, the stories barely caught my attention. If I thought anything at all it was: It's been three years since the crash of 2008. What took them so long? Even today , with the spread of the movement to many more parts of the country, as well as overseas, the jumble of causes espoused by the protesters can seem more cacophony than coherent message.

But just as the prescient Canadian futurist Marshal McLuhan, who fifty years ago in describing television coined the phrase, "the medium IS the message," it could well be said that the Occupy Wall Street protesters, wherever they may gather, ARE the message. That fundamental message is that increasing numbers of people have lost faith in their system of government - because as they see it, the system has become completely unfair and totally co-opted by the very rich. And what's more, millions of their fellow citizens appear to share that view - and not just knee jerk liberals.

Arnaud de Borchgrave was a former chief foreign correspondent for Newsweek. The son of a Belgian aristocrat, Arnaud always lived elegantly and would never be confused as a populist. Yet two weeks ago, now editor at large for UPI, De Borchgrave published a scathing indictment of Wall Street outrages. He deplored how in his words, "Wall Street's chief executives walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars after plunging their companies into a sea of red ink- and driving the economy into a tail spin."

The Wall Street Journal itself has reported that the gap between what workers and top executives make -quote- "helps explain why income inequality in the United States is reaching levels unseen since the Great Depression."

Earlier this week the NPR program On Point featured William Black, a law professor at the University of Missouri and formerly a senior federal financial regulator during the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s. Black lamented that while a thousand or more people were prosecuted after that problem, only a handful have faced prosecution since the Crash of 2008 - which according to Black did ten times more damage to the economy than the S and L scandal.

Yet while those apparently responsible for today 's economic crisis have gotten off scot free- some even becoming richer in the process - the vast majority of the middle class have become poorer. Millions have lost their jobs and millions more lost their homes to foreclosure.

Is it any wonder then that it's not just the Occupy Wall Street protesters losing faith in an unfair system that they don't really know how to change. Elections used to be the way. But since the Supreme Court declared that corporations are effectively people - who can channel virtually unlimited funds into the electoral process - it is hard to escape the fear that elections will merely result in the best government money can buy.
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