Wall Street’s famous “Charging Bull” has been incarcerated — for his own good, of course. Because this hasn’t been a typical 10 days in the cold, constantly pounding, never sleeping heart of international finance that is his home.
In a testament to Twitterpower, the message to “#occupy” New York’s financial district instantly spread far and wide without any help from the mainstream media. The protesters should have hired a few teabaggers to stand around in their “founding fathers” costumes: instant wall-to-wall media coverage! As it is, well, never has so much been covered by so few.
The demonstrators are mostly young and their message sometimes seems as vague and incoherent as that of their elderly counterparts at the tea parties. But at the center of it all, they’re protesting lost opportunity: a future sucked up by economic vampire bats who flew off jeering at the burned bridges left behind them as they stole away, with all hopes for prosperity in our time gripped in their bloody fangs. In that context, the Wall Street demonstrators have a point.
Along with the Charging Bull, the NYSE has been barricaded to keep protesters at bay, although I think protesting the stock exchange is a little off-target. It wasn’t the NYSE that created the real estate bubble, subprime mortgages and exquisitely intricate, highly-leveraged parcels of dogshit that were passed off as good investments and drunkenly rubber-stamped “AAA” by ratings agencies. The protesters should be surrounding Goldman Sachs and Standard&Poor’s. (Leave the Wall Street Bull aloooooooooone!)
However, the NYSE and Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull are symbols of Capitalism, and for good or ill, that’s what many of the protesters seem to blame for their broken dreams. But if America had real Capitalism, the risk of failure would have been at least as compelling as any potential profit to be made from building a flimsy financial house of cards that was bound to collapse and take everyone with it. In a Culture of Bailouts, it’s a lot easier to go insane with recklessness and slobbering greed.