The protesters are disillusioned with the U.S. form of capitalism that has been creating increasing inequality over the past decades, wiping out millions of jobs while increasing the paychecks of the lucky high-income 1% of the population.
Many youngsters turned up to the protests, reflecting the difficulties young people, even college graduates, face today when trying to secure employment. Current youth unemployment rates stand at 18.3% for young men, and 17.8% for young women, well over the average unemployment rate of 9.1% throughout the country.
Police blocked the crowd from continuing to the stock exchange, so many people ended up outside Cipriani Wall Street. In a somewhat fitting scene emblematic of the current U.S. economic climate, many of the well-paid traders inside the restaurant laughed and raised their drinks towards the protesters, while the crowd outside responded with “pay your share”.
This scene is as tragic as it is laughable, as it exemplifies exactly the problem that plague the U.S. today. Many of the financial organizations and banks that triggered the recession were bailed out by the government with few strings attached, basically returning to business as usual, while as a result of their callous actions, millions of Americans lost their jobs, their health insurance, and their homes.
The CEOs of such companies either held on to their positions or obtained huge bonuses and severance packages when they were let go, thus allowing them to continue their luxurious lifestyles.
The lack of culpability among Wall Street continues to anger the American public, and the low-income and middle class continue to pay and suffer for the ruses and cons conducted by greedy executives. Such a system is unsustainable, and the growing public anger with an unchecked financial system and this form of unrestrained capitalism continues to mount.
Unless the government finds a way to keep tabs on U.S. banks and financial organizations, in order to rein in the often illicit and dishonest accounting that takes place in those businesses, the American people will rightfully continue to resent the financial institutions that swipe their money, and the politicians that allow it to happen.
The recession and the continuing stagnant economy has caused a huge public outcry, but little in the way of permanent reform. If Obama truly wants to leave his mark as a president that will herald change, controlling the duplicitous actions of Wall Street should be his first order of business.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons