Tuesday, October 11, 2011


On Sunday October 9th we walked down to Zucotti Park, 2 blocks north of Wall Street, and the Occupy Wall Street locus.This movement is catching on not because it's an alternative to the Tea Party but because, far more fundamentally, this country is a mess, our political institutions are a mess, the president's leadership is - to say the least - wanting; a growing number of people, especially young people, see their lives in turmoil and without a lot of good options for the future. That heady brew, not tea, is what the growing protests are all about.

To blame this all on Wall Street is of course a bit simplistic and I know better. But the sad fact is that they got us into this mess and they are still running the economy. Because he was inexperienced Obama did not thoroughly clean house and the unfortunate result of having a Geithner rather than say a Krugman as treasury secretary has, in my view, really worsened the situation.

Peacefully raging against "the interests" is absolutely right on and clearly I am not alone. What's left of the Left is out there. But it's more than Birkenstocks and guitars: the Democrats finally woke up and to the extent they can would like to co-opt the occupation. Organized labor, sidelined for years, has come aboard. Even Ron Paul, that nerdy dyspeptic, was represented by a noisy claque.

The paradox is this: I spend my professional life helping our clients extract from corporations and foundations (whose portfolios are made up of those same companies)as much as they can in charitable gifts. Unfortunately the exchange is far from even. The vast harm that's been done by corporate and individual greed unchecked and lack of any effective brake on the piggery is far greater than the modest sprinkling of money called "corporate philanthropy."

Wall Street may be laughing all the way to the bank. But metaphorically at least it has to cross Zucotti Park to get there. The coming New York winter will inevitably end the Occupation. Until then I"ll stop by occasionally for a reality check.

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