A warning to Wall StreetThe protests against the greed and increasing social inequality in the United States are rapidly spreading to other major U.S. cities. Since the massive “Occupy Wall Street” protest began in New York three weeks ago, similar demonstrations have sprung up across the country in Boston, Los Angeles and Washington.
Of the thousands of protesters who attempted to march across the Brooklyn Bridge last weekend, more than 700 were arrested. Meanwhile, about 3,000 protesters held a violent rally in front of the Bank of America - the largest bank in the U.S. - to denounce widespread corruption and collusion between the government and financial companies. The situation appears to have crossed a line and we can no longer dismiss it as erratic behavior.
From those who say that the top one percent of the population currently controls more than 50 percent of the country’s wealth, to others who say that all they want is not to have to worry about rent or food, they have vividly outlined their discontent about the injustice of capitalism. They say capitalism deepens the gap between rich and poor, increases socioeconomic polarization and creates a dire economic situation in which it is tougher and tougher for college graduates to get jobs.
While financial institutions, which brought about the global financial crisis of 2008, are still making monumental profits thanks to a massive government bailout, ordinary citizens are being forced out onto the street because they cannot simply repay the mortgages they borrowed from banks. Yet the CEOs of those same banks still receive astronomical salaries in amounts that are out of the range of possibility for ordinary people. The protesters say that it is their fury over the absurdity of all of this that has driven them to take to the streets.
Youth unemployment and discontent over the socioeconomic gap is now a universal phenomenon. However, the fact that the massive wave of protests were launched at the symbolic center of capitalism, Wall Street, is a very different situation from the youth riots triggered by the police’s excessive clampdown on protesters in London this summer. Embroiled in extreme partisanship, however, U.S. politicians do not know how to deal with the situation.
The young generation took to the streets out of desperation over their sad reality. Their protests send a stern warning to Wall Street: capitalism could face a debilitating crisis unless the rich are able to form a symbiotic relationship with the underprivileged.