Protesters at the 'Occupy Wall Street' rally at Bowling Green Plaza, New York City,
on 17 September; the demonstrations continue this week.
Photograph: Steven Greaves/Demotix/Corbis
If 2,000 Tea Party activists descended on Wall Street, you would probably have an equal number of reporters there covering them. Yet 2,000 people did occupy Wall Street last Saturday. They weren't carrying the banner of the Tea Party, the Gadsden flag with its coiled snake and the threat "Don't Tread on Me". Yet their message was clear: "We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%." They were there, mostly young, protesting the virtually unregulated speculation of Wall Street that caused the global financial meltdown.
"On Saturday we held a general assembly, two thousand strong. … By 8pm on Monday we still held the plaza, despite constant police presence. … We are building the world that we want to see, based on human need and sustainability, not corporate greed."
Speaking of the Tea Party, Texas Governor Rick Perry has caused a continuous fracas in the Republican presidential debates with his declaration that the US's revered social security system is a "Ponzi scheme" Charles Ponzi was the con artist who swindled thousands in 1920 with a fraudulent promise for high returns on investments. A typical Ponzi scheme involves taking money from investors, then paying them off with money taken from new investors, rather than paying them from actual earnings. Social security is actually solvent, with a trust fund of more than $2.6tn. The real Ponzi scheme threatening the US public is the voracious greed of Wall Street banks.
"Debts between the very wealthy or between governments can always be renegotiated and always have been throughout world history. … It's when you have debts owed by the poor to the rich that suddenly debts become a sacred obligation, more important than anything else. The idea of renegotiating them becomes unthinkable."