Addison Wiggin

What a difference nearly three years makes. On Inauguration Day 2009, 2 million people converged on Washington, D.C.

“Two million people don’t gather in one place unless things are really good, or really bad,” we observed that day. “We’re having trouble telling the difference these days… One thing is certain: Obama sure has a lot of hype to live up to. Guess that’s inevitable when you allow the nation to project all their fears and hopes on you.”

Innauguration Day 2009

“I am new enough on the national political scene,” wrote the president two years after his election to the U.S. Senate, “that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

“As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them.”

Well, at least he had some idea what he was getting into. But he couldn’t shake the delusion that the solution to whatever ails “the economy” lies in politics.

Thus, nearly three years later, the palpable disappointment is manifesting itself, like the now-dashed high hopes, outdoors…

Occupy JP Morgan

The “Occupy Wall Street” crowd is marching uptown today to protest at the homes of J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Koch Industries chief David Koch, among others.

“Objectively,” writes retired CIA station chief Haviland Smith, “the demonstrators seem broadly preoccupied with their own powerlessness. They decry the inordinate amount of power and influence held by our very rich and our corporate enterprises and the power of lobbyists to further their goals in a Congress that is essentially for sale.”

Reading this assessment, we’re struck — and we know we’re going to make people uncomfortable saying this — by the parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party.

Both movements are born in part from outrage over the 2008-09 bank bailouts. Both feel the “American dream,” however they define it, is out of their reach. Both feel left out by a ruling class.

The Tea Party drove one long-time Republican operative to quit after 30 years as a Capitol Hill staffer. But Mike Lofgren recognized where their grievances came from.

“Historical circumstances,” he wrote last month, “produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class — without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking.”

How different is that, really, from the motives impelling the OWS protesters to the streets? For all we know, the OWS protesters are the college grads with no jobs stuck living in their Tea Party parents’ basement.

Heck, even some of the Tea Partiers might support the OWS protesters notions of “tax the rich.”

Eight out of 10 Americans support raising taxes on households earning more than $250,000 a year, according to a new Bloomberg/Washington Post poll.

That includes 81% of Democrats, 67% of independents, and 51% of Republicans.

The poll also finds 82% ruling out any cuts to Medicare, and 83% opposing any cuts to Social Security.

Presumably that would include the Tea Partiers who were insisting two years ago, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

Sure gets ugly when people can no longer project their views onto the president.

Addison Wiggin
for The Daily Reckoning

Addison Wiggin

Addison Wiggin is the executive publisher of Agora Financial, LLC, a fiercely independent economic forecasting and financial research firm. He's the creator and editorial director of Agora Financial's daily 5 Min. Forecast and editorial director of The Daily Reckoning. Wiggin is the founder of Agora Entertainment, executive producer and co-writer of I.O.U.S.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, the 2009 Critics Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature, and was also shortlisted for a 2009 Academy Award. He is the author of the companion book of the film I.O.U.S.A.and his second edition of The Demise of the Dollar, and Why it's Even Better for Your Investments was just fully revised and updated. Wiggin is a three-time New York Times best-selling author whose work has been recognized by The New York Times Magazine, The Economist, Worth, The New York Times, The Washington Post as well as major network news programs. He also co-authored international bestsellers Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt with Bill Bonner.

  • Allan


    You might enjoy the posting Roger Ebert posted to his blog yesterday. He is comming from a different place but draws some of the same conclusions.

  • dave

    The main difference between the groups is not their identification of the problem, it’s their solution. Tea Partiers demand less government so they can create their own wealth, OWS demands more government to confiscate the wealth of others and give it to them. If anyone thinks they’ll be happy just confiscating the wealth of the crony capitalists and not the productive segment of society they’re a fool.

  • Kong

    I respectfully disagree, dave.

    The protesters are angry that the existing rules of the SEC are NOT BEING ENFORCED, which is not the same as saying they want more government. They want the very rules on the books to be applied to the crooks on Wall St. That’s simple, that’s honest, and it doesn’t take much research or googling to see their manifestos.

    Furthermore, they’re angry (and so am I) that US taxpayer money has come into play to backstop the risks taken by Wall St yet no one is backing them for their losses of 401k savings, their homes, their pensions, their healthcare, their retirements.

    They’re angry over the illegal wars supporting the military industrial complex to the tunes of billions of dollars.

    I disagree with the wastefulness of so many americans, but I agree that there’s a plutocracy in place that has raped the mineral and human resources of this country for its own benefit.

  • Scott

    This is the way the world has always worked. Nobody cared when it was happening elsewhere. It’s fun to watch the middle squeal. Perhaps their attitude of superiority will dissipate.

  • Alistair B Wittingsworth

    Right on, Scott! It’s fun to watch all of America squeal. Arrogant, pious bastards who invaded Iraq, feeling themself unstoppable. How’s that hopey-changey-Eye-rack enterprise going for ya now? Was it worth the $1.7 trillion price tag?

    Imperialist pigs. It’s politically incorrect, but it’s apt.

  • phelps

    The protesters want gov protection through its various alphabet agencies and angry b/c this didn’t happen?

    Well, the protesters are ignorant. The agencies aren’t there to protect you, or anyone else for that matter. Just a way to provide jobs in exchange for votes.

  • Mr Paul

    Kong, you said that you disagreed with Dave, then you seemed to agree with him, and made some good points, I might add…but you did not address his point about the solution.
    One group believes government is the problem and the other group appears to believe that government is the solution. You speak of SEC rules and correctly point out the double standard, but again, from where do these standards emanate? Tea Party would say Washington is the cause and that Wall street is the symptom, I think. Are you positing that the OWS believe the reverse to be the case?

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