Oct 162011

I have been trying to figure out what I should write about regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement that hasn’t already been widely addressed. Having just watched an interview of Matt Taibbi by Keith Olbermann, I became convinced what would be appropriate. Matt suggested that breaking up the banking institutions that have been deemed “too big to fail” might be the movement’s first and foremost demand. It fits nicely with the Wall Street theme.

I’m convinced that this is a super important step, maybe the most important step in reining in Wall Street. I know that it pales compared to getting the money out of the political process. Saving our political system from institutionalized corruption is part and parcel to saving our democracy. However, stopping the unlimited flow of money into campaigns is not something that Wall Street is responsible for. Not to suggest that the financial institutions don’t take advantage of the Citizens United ruling, only that the banks aren’t to blame for the Supreme Court’s unfortunate decision.

I saw this graphic and was astounded by what it represents. The idea of too big to fail becomes crystal clear when you see what a huge percentage of the economy would be affected if one of these four mega corporations actually did go under. Take a look, maybe your reaction will parallel my own:

Larry Summer, the Director of the White House National Economic Council and close advisor to the President, was told early on by Obama to develop a plan to break up these banking behemoths. Without explaining himself on the front end, he simply ignored that directive. It is understandable that he didn’t want to take any action that would anger his friends and jeopardize continuing his multi-million dollar speaking engagements after he left the service of the administration. What confuses me is that he was still in his position as Director until the end of 2010.

Had he worked for me, he would have needed his banking connections the same day that I found out about his disregard for an assigned task. The fact that the assignor of the task was the President of the United States would seem to make it that much worse. It speaks to the sense of being above the law and doing whatever they please that is shared both by the corporations and also by the individuals closely aligned with them. The fact that he wasn’t summarily fired is a mystery.

There was a bill in the Senate around the time of the Dodd-Frank bill that would have broken the banks up into smaller less economically risky parts. It failed to pass but got 33 votes. No doubt the 33 haven’t received much campaign support from the financial sector. That it got any support is a positive sign. It seems likely that the President would support it. It could be passed.

This is where Occupy Wall Street comes in. It may be an issue that large popular support could have an impact. It is something that even a Tea Party member could see the advantage. They were against the bail out, which was to a large extent the result of the portion of the economy that would have been affected if the bail-out didn’t happen. Besides, it really is the right and sensible thing to do. Who could possibly argue that “too big to fail” is a good thing for the country? With enough attention and with the 2012 election on everyone’s mind, it would be hard to defend voting against it.

Mic check… mic check. I want to propose… having a demand… that the four big banks… be split up into more manageable units… that would have less impact on the economy… if one failed.