November 2, 2011

Angry at the Banks?

Patrick Laverty

Some have accused me of having an "obsession" with the Occupy protesters. Many think I have contempt for them. However, upon introspection, I don't think this is true. I think "frustration" might be a better word.

I think we can all agree that the government is broken. Much of our system is broken. I like the energy of the Occupy people and I think they have or maybe had the potential to actually enact change. However my frustration comes from where I believe they have the wrong target. They're targeting the banks. They're angry at Wall Street. They're angry at the players for playing the game. It seems the angst against those who create and enforce the rules has been minimal. Where is the anger for Washington? Why is it "Occupy Wall Street" and not "Occupy Capitol Hill"? If people are so angry at the banks for what happened, then let's look at one of the reasons that Wall Street is allowed to play by the rules they have. Let's "follow the money".

Using the data available at, I looked at all the members of the US Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee and their campaign donations for a period between 2007 and 2011. Some of these people have come and gone from office but they were members of the committee according to the Senate Banking Committee web site.

I also only looked at the top 11 sectors for the donations. Maybe not so amazingly, the frequent #1 category for the members was "Lawyers". But looking beyond that, here is the data, keeping in mind, this is the committee who sets the rules for Wall Street Banks and their investments. (Note: A zero in a column does not indicate that Senator took zero dollars from that sector, it just means the amount was not in their top 11. The "rank" is how that sector ranked for that Senator.)

SenatorSecurities & InvestmentRankCommercial BanksRankFinance/CreditRankMisc. FinanceRank
Tim Johnson, Chair$285,4022$214,90550N/A177,6007
Jack Reed$410,2002$141,52170N/A0N/A
Chuck Schumer$2,718,71410N/A0N/A$560,7007
Robert Menendez$268,70060N/A0N/A0N/A
Daniel Akaka0N/A$9,000100N/A0N/A
Jon Tester$208,1353$181,31970N/A$81,65010
Mark Warner$1,258,5422$258,350110N/A$485,4885
Jeff Merkley$342,01730N/A0N/A0N/A
Michael Bennet$1,104,02420N/A0N/A$384,6575
Kay Hagan$282,2414$141,52170N/A$177,7908
Richard Shelby - Ranking$769,0381$263,4006$291,4005$163,35010
Mike Crapo$353,81310N/A$106,556100N/A
Bob Corker$482,2671$342,25060N/A$378,8634
Jim DeMint$221,13350N/A0N/A$122,99411
David Vitter$198,740110N/A0N/A0N/A
Mike Johanns$133,4047$132,44070N/A0N/A
Pat Toomey$926,92930N/A0N/A$338,1297
Jerry Moran$133,7506$132,44070N/A0N/A
Roger Wicker$196,3919$165,899110N/A0N/A

I broke the table down to Democrats on the top half and Republicans on the bottom half. So is it just Republicans that care about Wall Street? Is it mainly the Republican party who is the "Friends of Wall Street"? Here are a couple more stats:

Democrats on this committee received $9,671,055.
Republicans on this committee received $7,452,743

The Securities & Investment ranking averaged a 3.6 for Democrats and a 4.5 for Republicans.
The Commercial Banks ranking averaged a 7.8 for Democrats and 6.1 for Republicans.

Our own Jack Reed doesn't get out of this unscathed. The Securities and Investments sector donated more than $410,000 to Reed during the last four years. His #1 was also Lawyers, at $411,000.

A total of $17,123,798 was donated by Wall Street to members of the US Senate Banking Committee. So ask yourself, when you have one group of people donating $17 million to politicians, who do you think the politicians are going to listen to? No one politician is solely to blame and this data shows that neither is one party. It's the whole system, we see over and over again, it is the fox watching the hen house.

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"I like the energy of the Occupy people."

Patrick...really? I think you'd better look closely at your admiration for their true intent. Their leader in Oakland is Boots Riley an avowed anti-capitalist. Do some more research.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - A day of demonstrations in Oakland that began as a significant step toward expanding the political and economic influence of the Occupy Wall Street movement, ended with police in riot gear arresting dozens of protesters who had marched through downtown to break into a vacant building, shattering windows, spraying graffiti and setting fires along the way.

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 3, 2011 8:33 AM

People keep jumping on that one statement. Read it for what it is. It is energy. These people are out there protesting *literally* 24/7 for weeks. That energy is admirable. I'm saying nothing about who they are or what they do. But I'm merely saying that I admire their stamina.

Posted by: Patrick at November 3, 2011 8:39 AM

I do admire their stamina. What I don't admire is that these people are so useless to society to begin with that they can take 2 months off to live in a tent with no consequences. Most of them seem to be rich college students or self-employed (unemployed) graphic designers.

Posted by: Dan at November 3, 2011 9:01 AM

Stamina Patrick? How about anarchy. It takes stamina to foment anarchy. These anti-capitalist "staminites" are being funded by anti-American capitalists like Soros and the dues sucking SEIU. Wake up man!

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 3, 2011 9:03 AM

There you go again Anthony. I'm not saying anything about what they're doing with the energy, just the fact that they have it. That is what the government constantly banks on, that the protests and the movements will peter out. It happens. People get angry, people protest and then people know that they need to get back to their lives, going to their job, taking care of their families, they don't have the time to keep up the energy. So the government knows that if they simply withstand each tide, they can continue on with business as usual. That's my point here. Occupy hasn't faded away in a day or even a week. They're still going and they plan to keep going. Regardless of their politics, they are keeping at it.

That is my sole point there. If all others were able to keep up this kind of energy, *then* we might "hope" to see "change".

Posted by: Patrick at November 3, 2011 9:11 AM

I happen to think these occupiers are a bunch of idiots.
Let's just look at how misguided they are when talking about the student loans mess. For years, I have been slamming this charade of student loans and what that money is really going towards. The entire higher education edifice is no different than the mortgage/real estate mess. It's been enabled by a bunch of bought-off politicians, that have created an easy-money policy that has lead to inflated asset values. Just like the government backed mortgage mess, our government guarantees the vast majority of student loans. Now guess why student loans are given out so easily? Because there is no risk to those that grant them. Do you think that might be why they are given out so easily by those that benefit the most by them?? (Think Fannie Mae and Freddie MAC)

Just take a look at the massive expansion of physical plants and tenured professors which have been funded through your student loans. Take a look here in RI at Bryant, Salve Regina, Roger Williams. They're not colleges any more...they are now universities, with ever increasing costs. Just look at the massive amounts of money devoted to new buildings and expanded campus'. Got any clue where that money came from, you stupid occupiers???

The problem I have with these occupiers is that they are too stupid to target their angst at the root cause of the problem - and that is in Washington - at the bought off politicians.

The vast majority of them are stupid liberals, and they can't deal with the conflict in their minds that their Hope and Change hero, is nothing more than an empty suit, and the fact that they couldn't have been more wrong. That is why the cowards aren't marching on Washington.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at November 3, 2011 9:17 AM

Patrick we certainly are seeing "change" aren't we? Executive order after executive order bypassing the congress and the constitution by Hussein Obama. He is the poster daddy for the fleabagger occupiers. Their real intent is radical overthrow while using the freedoms bestowed on them by a capitalist society that funded a military to keep the free from the communist/socialists that they admire. Better "hope" they do not get their "change".

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 3, 2011 9:27 AM

These are Lenin's Useful Idiots. The only thing they are occupying is Nobama's pocket.
Yesterday Nobama approved millions in bonuses for Freddie and Fannie---crickets from "Occupy".

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at November 3, 2011 9:56 AM

Here you've arrived at the answer to your own question, "Why is it 'Occupy Wall Street' and not 'Occupy Capitol Hill'?" Because this country has one party with two right wings. Voting out one for the other changes little. Progressives like Nader have been saying this for years. To affect real change, you need to do more than vote. You need to change the system.

This is what democracy looks like!

Posted by: Russ at November 3, 2011 10:55 AM

"This is what democracy looks like!"

Russ, are you out there in solidarity with your changelings? Your Komrades are undermining their cause by now resorting to violence,destruction of property and shutting down the port of Oakland. Their aim is anarchy. Coming soon to a village near you. Then,Russ you can bask in your new demokracy.

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 3, 2011 11:09 AM

"Some have accused me of having an 'obsession' with the Occupy protesters... I'm saying nothing about who they are or what they do. But I'm merely saying that I admire their stamina."

I'm with you there. I think they're a bit juvenile and very naive in what they're asking for, but this is the first time in my life that I've ever wondered "Will -I- be first against the wall if these people get their way?"

In people my age, the feeling seems universal (except for me) that the protesters are inherently 'good', that 'capitalism needs to go', and that the police, newsmedia, and the '1%' are colluding to 'crush peaceful protest'.

I see a bunch of bozos smashing windows and throwing bottles, I'm rooting for Law and Order.

Posted by: mangeek at November 3, 2011 11:11 AM

Interesting take from the left...

The demand for demands is an attempt to shoehorn the Occupy gatherings into conventional politics, to force the energy of these gatherings into a form that people in power recognise, so that they can roll out strategies to divert, co-opt, buy off, or - if those tactics fail - squash any challenge to business as usual.

Rather than listing demands, we critics of concentrated wealth and power in the US can dig in and deepen our analysis of the systems that produce that unjust distribution of wealth and power. This is a time for action, but there also is a need for analysis.

Rallying around a common concern about economic injustice is a beginning; understanding the structures and institutions of illegitimate authority is the next step.

We need to recognise that the crises we face are not simply the result of greedy corporate executives or corrupt politicians, but rather of failed systems. The problem is not the specific people who control most of the wealth of the country, or those in government who serve them, but the systems that create those roles.

Posted by: Russ at November 3, 2011 11:22 AM

Does anyone know what % of Johnson & Wales income is from student loans? Does anyone know what % of their students can pay these loans? Good questions for OWS.

Posted by: messer at November 3, 2011 11:27 AM

No surprise I suppose that the police in Oakland have been able to provoke some into (counterproductive) violence. I also note what the reporting is actually saying (just not in the headline)...

Organizers in Oakland viewed the strike and port shutdown as a significant victory. Police said that about 7,000 people participated in demonstrations throughout the day that were peaceful except for a few incidents of vandalism at local banks and businesses.

Posted by: Russ at November 3, 2011 11:32 AM

"Rather than listing demands, we critics of concentrated wealth and power in the US can dig in and deepen our analysis of the systems that produce that unjust distribution of wealth and power. This is a time for action, but there also is a need for analysis."

Right Russ....they are listing their demands as they close the port, smash windows and burn properties. This is the radical left's "analysis" coming to fruition. Translated: They hate the establishment!

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 3, 2011 11:33 AM

Mike Cappelli's comment is spot on. Good job Pat I think the word "admire" is what caused the confusion. The new blood brought in by the TEA party, Marco Rubio, Lt. Kernel Allen West, Michelle Bachmann etc are excellent examples of bringing in real people instead of the bought and paid for polititians as usual. The fact that a minority of the minority changed the whole dynamic of the debt ceiling talks speaks volumes. Boehner basically stood out there and said he could not control the new people who were stuck on their ideals. What they were stuck on was the will of the people who put them in there. No raising of taxes on ANYONE until the spending is addressed. They werent put there to get along, they were put there to enact real change. Not the hogwash change of 2008. It almost worked. After the elections in 2012 it will. The next round of moving vans is coming. While I would not like to see Bachmann as POTUS, she makes a fine representitive. The media has painted her dumber than she really is. That is not to say I agree with her on every point, but her core values are what got her elected and earned her my support, for whatever that is worth lol. The democrats have made a huge error in hitching their wagons to the ows whatever it is. With every report of rape, drug use, riots, fighting with police, their actions will speak louder than their words. Main stream America who doesnt really pay attention sees just the blurbs on tv, what the networks want them to see. As they do their own research they will be horrified. The only reason the poll ratings are so high is because of how the questions are phrased. Let them put out a poll that asks should all of their debt be wiped out and look at those numbers lol. Obama has taken more money from Wall St. than any other president. Yesterday they gave out millions in bonuses to Freddie & Fannie execs. Paid for with taxpayer money. If OWS wants to join us in the Taxed Enough Already Party, they can join us in auditing the fed, securing the border, and fiscal responsibility. Otherwise, I dont want them anywhere near us.....

Posted by: slicwily at November 3, 2011 11:37 AM

These lefties target the banks and Wall St. because they want to play the class warfare card. They refuse to target Washington, where they actually make and could change the rules Wall St and all banks operate under because the city is laden with lefty posterchildren like Harry Reid, L'il Jack Reed, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and on and on and on it goes. Yet Russ claims we have one political party with 2 rightwings. ha ha ha ha ha ha
Liberal Barack Obama with a liberal Democrat controlled Congress has increased the national debt EIGHTFOLD since they took over DC. EIGHTFOLD!
Btw ALL those Occupy Washington libs I listed above have received votes from the Occupy Nothing crowd. ALL of them.
These Occupy Nothing dolts are hypocrites of epic porportion.

Posted by: Tim at November 3, 2011 11:54 AM

Eightfold? We are talking about the U.S., no?

(increased debt/GDP as percentage)

Bill Clinton '93-'97 -0.7%
Bill Clinton '97-'01 -9.0%
George W. Bush '01-'05 7.1%
George W. Bush '05-'09 20.7%
Barack Obama '09-'10 9.05 (partial term)

Funny how "conservatives" said this in a Republican administration.

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was told "deficits don't matter" when he warned of a looming fiscal crisis.
O'Neill, fired in a shakeup of Bush's economic team in December 2002, raised objections to a new round of tax cuts and said the president balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from "the corporate crowd," a key constituency.

O'Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits-expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone-posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off. "You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: "We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due." A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.

But, hey, let's pretend that's a difference. It is an election year after all!

Posted by: Russ at November 3, 2011 1:10 PM

"Because this country has one party with two right wings." - Russ

Two right wings? What does that even mean? Mindless progressive-speak.

The country has two parties: the big government party and the bigger government party. They are both thoroughly infected with crony capitalists and corporatists and have been for centuries.

What does this have to do with being "right wing"? Absolutely nothing.

Posted by: Dan at November 3, 2011 1:33 PM

"Two right wings? What does that even mean? Mindless progressive-speak."

How would you describe the politics of this group?

Only in the U.S. could this be considered left vs. right. Notably these folks are quite far away from the libertarian right as well. I actually put "conservatives" in quotes to distinguish these phonies from actual conservatives.

Posted by: Russ at November 3, 2011 2:15 PM

Russ - The link you provided proves and explains nothing. It is simply a chart somebody created based on how they perceive certain Senators. Describing every senator as "right wing" is meaningless progressive drivel. To discuss these issues intelligently and responsibly, one should, at a minimum, address factors such as statism vs libertarianism and corporatism versus capitalism.

Posted by: Dan at November 3, 2011 2:29 PM

What's funny is that the Political Compass is an attempt to do exactly what you propose. If you can't be bothered to look any deeper than the graphic though, that's fine by me.

Posted by: Russ at November 3, 2011 3:45 PM

The "political compass" is irrelevant. Your statement that both parties are "right wing" is meaningless or misleading unless you explain specifically what you mean by that statement, which you haven't done. At least 90% of the people who read a statement like that in this country would assume you are using "right wing" as a synonym for "conservative." If you didn't intend to use the word that way, you have an intellectual responsibility to explain how you are using the term. Of course, I assume that you posted it to be vague and inflammatory in the first place.

Posted by: Dan at November 3, 2011 3:56 PM

So you asked what I meant and I explained. Clearly one can see why you're upset about how misleading and evasive I am.

I'm sure your posts will never again mention the words "left" or "right" without a dissertation on intellectual responsibility.

Posted by: Russ at November 3, 2011 4:12 PM

Russ - You didn't explain anything. You just linked to a graph some guy made.

I've very consistently taken issue with using the terms "left wing" and "right wing" without further explanation. I've expressed my opinion many times here that the key political distinction of our time is libertarianism versus statism.

Posted by: Dan at November 3, 2011 4:29 PM

Not sure why you're taking such offense with someone who agrees with most of that and has posted here on the subject, recently even.

Although what you label narrowly as statism, I label more broadly a form of authoritarianism.

Posted by: Russ at November 3, 2011 4:45 PM

What strikes me as funny is you have commenters hyperventilating about anarchists, while at the nearly same time you have other posters (both ostensibly of the right) waxing philosophic about the evils of "statism."

Hmm, what's another word for anti-statism?

I say from now on certain commenters using the words anarchy or statism "have an intellectual responsibility to explain how [they] are using the term"!

Posted by: Russ at November 4, 2011 9:27 AM

Statism - strong, centralized government. I don't think people tend to be misled by the term the way they are misled by contemporarily meaningless terms like "right wing" and "left wing."

I do not agree with ANTHONY's assessment that the Occupiers are "anarchists." He is the only commenter I know of who has characterized them as such. As far as I can tell, the Occupiers seem to generally support a form of democratic socialism which relies heavily upon redistribution of wealth through government.

Posted by: Dan at November 4, 2011 9:48 AM

Jerry Pournelle's system ("Attitude toward the State" vs "Attitude toward planned social progress") is a much fuller 2D-startng point for describing the range of commonly occurring political attitudes than is the economic concenrs/social concerns axis set.

Posted by: Andrew at November 4, 2011 10:05 AM


And then there are commenters like yourself that hyperventilate about BS...which you are very familiar with. Now please explain all the BS you post on AR.

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 4, 2011 10:14 AM

I don't disagree about left/right being a flawed distinction and one that keeps left/right libertarians from noticing they have more in common with each other than with so-called centrists.

I find anti-statism a bit confusing in that it can refer to anarchism, classical liberalism, libertarian capitalism (where I assume you're coming from), or Marxism, but I was being facetious with my suggestion.

"Now please explain all the BS you post on AR."

I'll try to use smaller words. ;-)

Oh, and thanks for the link, Andrew. Will check that out.

Posted by: Russ at November 4, 2011 11:13 AM

"I find anti-statism a bit confusing in that it can refer to anarchism, classical liberalism, libertarian capitalism (where I assume you're coming from), or Marxism, but I was being facetious with my suggestion."

I think it should be a violation of blog etiquette to include too many 'isms' in one post.

Posted by: Max D at November 4, 2011 11:45 AM

Come on you stupid occupiers, get your sorry a$$es down to Washington where the real scourge is. Don't listen to what these frauds say, watch what they do.
This is exactly what I mean about bought and paid for. Check this out, from the Washington Post, no less:

"The bankrupt financial company MF Global, now under federal investigation for possibly misusing clients’ money, is one of the top sources of contributions for President Obama’s reelection, complicating the campaign’s effort to turn public anger at Wall Street into a political advantage.
Employees of the company have given $108,650 to Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, according to federal records. MF Global’s chairman and chief executive, former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, has raised at least $500,000 for the campaign and the DNC as a “bundler,” or volunteer fundraiser.
Obama held his first New York fundraiser for the reelection campaign at Corzine’s home on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, overlooking Central Park. Guests gave the maximum $35,800 donation to Obama and the DNC.

Obama’s links to financial companies don’t end with MF Global. The president has raised $15.6 million from the financial industry for his reelection effort and the DNC, according to a Washington Post analysis."

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at November 4, 2011 12:04 PM

"I do not agree with ANTHONY's assessment that the Occupiers are "anarchists."'

Thanks Dan(and Russ) for your very civilized input. You sound like a very tolerant person.Perhaps you would like to view this ALJazeera video which shows children gently marching through the night and shutting down a port,lighting fires and disrupting taxpaying rule abiding citizens. This is not anarchy at all. Listen to the audio of the young innocent child as he explains the goals of the fleabag occupiers.This is Husseins vision for all of us:

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 4, 2011 12:27 PM

ANTHONY - Anarchy is not the end goal of these people. They want to break down the existing government and economic structure and rebuild it to be more redistributionist and directly democratic. A brief anarchistic period would be incidental in achieving this statist end. If your goal is less government control, you should focus your energy on countering the real statist threat of progressivism. Anarchy may not be the right endpoint, but it is the right general direction.

Posted by: Dan at November 4, 2011 1:12 PM

"They want to break down the existing government and economic structure."

Oh OK Dan. Lets let these qualified instructors dismantle our economic structure....and replace it with what? I'll greet them with my shotgun and then we shall negotiate.

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 4, 2011 2:30 PM

I watched your video. What was more representative of anarchy, the video or the Al Jazeera hyperbole? Don't you think Al Jazeera is having a blast (no pun intended) blowing this out of proportion? I've watched too many Oakland videos only to come away with there are too many agendas at work.

Posted by: Max Diesel at November 4, 2011 8:49 PM

disrupting taxpaying rule abiding citizens.

Notice how those that bitch the loudest about paying taxes also use paying taxes as a badge of honor. I don't get that mentality.

Posted by: Phil at November 5, 2011 7:51 AM

It makes perfect logical sense, Phil. Nobody wants to carry a heavy burden for others, and those who are forced to carry it want to be treated with special respect and recognition.

Posted by: Dan at November 5, 2011 8:50 AM

Hey Phil,
The target of this occupy movement is big banks but who is it burdening? Not the banks. How about the taxpayer who is supporting the police and fire runs to these protests. How about the small businesses that are disrupted by the marches. How many people won't venture into the cities for fear of being caught up in the jam of a protest? They're only hurting the people they say they represent. How come they don't park their asses on Jack Reed's front lawn?

Posted by: Max D at November 5, 2011 12:51 PM

hey Phil-you crap artist-I have never bitched about paying taxes,but I want them used constructively,and I want scumbag MF's like Chafee,the rich boy, to pay what they ought to and not slip slide away like he did.
You make stuff up out of whole cloth-isn't it time you started in on that turkey farm you worked at last year?

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 5, 2011 4:22 PM

This sounds eerily familiar:

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at November 6, 2011 8:52 PM

"I don't get that mentality."

Most likely you don't get it because you are a member of the Progressive Ostrich party. Now go join your latest occupy space rally with your tie-dye t-shirt and Birkenstocks. That will make you feel better as the rest us go to work Monday.

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 7, 2011 12:22 AM

Yes let us continue to admire their energy as an elderly woman found out. Hey,hey,,,ho...ho...push 'em down the stairs.

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 7, 2011 6:03 PM
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