by Dr. Julianne Malveaux, President – Bennett College for Women
The Occupy Wall Street movement is now one month old. The protests have spilled over from their initial Wall Street site to Washington, DC, Miami, and, according to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) website, around 1500 cities around the globe. They’ve even come here to Greensboro, North Carolina, a day before President Obama is scheduled to visit North Carolina, marching outside a Bank of America building against economic inequality and financial fraud. Some of the signs, screened through the headlines, are poignant, thoughtful, and also humorous. And the outrage of those who are angry about our economic situation is an energy that needs to be harnessed.
If you aren’t angry at our nation’s banks, all you have to do is read Ron Susskind’s latest book, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President (Harper, 2011), which details the ways that Larry Summers and Tim Geitner essentially defied President Obama and did bank bailouts their way. As I read it, I wanted to shake the smug white men for their clear disrespect of our nation’s elected president, but in truth, I also wanted to shake the president for not calling these men on their nonsense. Here’s the bottom line, if it needs to be regurgitated. Banks got bailed out, we got ripped off. Banks were given money to lend and they chose not to lend it. Banks created risky financial instruments -derivatives – and when they couldn’t perform, they whined and leaned on an excuse that they were “too big to fail”. Now they are even bigger, and our government is all the more invested in their nonsense. And the billions that went to bailing banks out may have created jobs.