Who can blame Occupy Wall Street?

The demonstrators could just as easily be targeting Congress, but the alienation in this country is palpable.

By Jim Cramer Oct 18, 2011 9:25AM

the streetOccupy Wall Street has, in a few short weeks, gone from a sideshow to the fulcrum of a national debate about wealth and jobs and a sense of despair that's palpable among many Americans. You can't be on the sidelines on this one; you are pro or con.

 

Which, frankly, is the problem, because I am not sure what being pro or con actually means in this case.

 

Am I pro justice for the people who got us into this mess -- chiefly the lenders who lent recklessly and should have known better, and the investment bankers who pooled their miserable loans into unfathomable tranches that have done so much to impair the American economy? You bet.

 

From the lenders to the processors to the robo-signers to those who took huge bonuses after being saved by TARP and yet were integral to this corrupt process, to the ratings agencies that checked off on it all, I've seen little or no justice at all.

 

You mean to tell me that no one did anything wrong at Lehman? Can you honestly believe that no one at Countrywide has gotten in trouble with the authorities? How about the outrageous acts of the executives who ran Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the ground and made fortunes doing so?

 

Where are the indictments?

 

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But that doesn't seem to be the focus of the protests. The focus seems to be against the rich. Who can blame them? I think the rich have gotten a great deal in this country. I believe they should have to pay more than they are. Is that a radical position? Lest anyone forget, that was Abe Lincoln's position during the Civil War, and he remains the greatest force of honesty in the history of American political debate.

 

Yet the rich have gotten away with this outrage because of Congress. Is it "Wall Street's fault"? Congressional Republicans seem addicted to the dollars of the rich and let them get off scot-free.

 

So I don't get the geographic focus.

 

All that said, the alienation in this country is palpable. It is caused by a dysfunctional government that can't get its act together and has created a level of uncertainty that makes it difficult for companies to hire. And by a presidential emphasis on creating green jobs when the only real growth area that needs employees is in the oil and gas patch. And by a belief that we are being crushed by our trading partners who take our jobs at will.

 

Once again, though, those seem not to be the targets of Occupy Wall Street.

 

So am I pro Occupy Wall Street? If they were to embrace any parts of the issues I am talking about in any coherent fashion, you bet I am.

Until they do, let's just say: Who can blame them? There's plenty wrong with society right now. But can I join them? Not until I know exactly what they really stand for. If they stand for any of the issues I just described, you bet I can.

 

jim cramer

Jim Cramer is a co-founder of TheStreet and contributes daily market commentary to the financial news network's sites. Follow his trades for his charitable trust.

29Comments
Oct 18, 2011 10:42AM
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Where are the indictments?
Hot Agree totally, but not only for the CEOs and CFOs of the banker and mortgage robbers under Sabanes-Oxley. How about the appraisers, borrowers and realtors that all lied while committing loan fraud? And how about those Congress members that voted to repeal Glass-Steagall bank regulation. It's kind of like the immigration laws. Once you let a few break the law it becomes a flood that's impossible to enforce. Greed and larceny are basic human traits.
Oct 18, 2011 10:47AM
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ceo's make 460 times what the average worker makes

there is not a person who has ever lived worth that salary

 

until this is fixed the problem will just keep wosening

Oct 18, 2011 11:03AM
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Wait a minute Cramer.  There are dozens of Democrats in Congress who received big contributions from rich folks.  Why single out Republicans in Congress?
Oct 18, 2011 10:29AM
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I'm all for holding those in the lending field accountable too, and want to see more indictments also. However, only addressing the "reckless lenders" is inconsciencable. How about addressing the reckless borrowers? Americans need to be held accountable and take personal responsibility for their finances. By only holding lenders accountable, you push the accountability that every American is to uphold aside. Like another poster said, no one is holding a gun to people's heads to borrow money they can't afford to pay back. And so many Americans are treating their house like an ATM machine by refinancing to the hilt, over and over again. When you take out a 15 or 30 year mortgage, you're supposed to pay it off in 15 or 30 years... or less... not refinance ad infinitem, or WORSE, take out second mortgages/equity loans on the property.  This financial behavior... no financial sickness is keeping us in a slow growth economy.
Oct 18, 2011 11:13AM
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These same people demanded cheaper goods, goods that were unnecessary, multiple televisions in the homes.  Cell phones for their 9 and 10 year old children, ipods, iphones.

Multiple cars for their family.  Cheaper food so that they could waste more, paper towels, paper plates, throw away this and throw away that.  Even the poor are living a livestyle that

80 years ago would have seemed beyond the means of even the wealthiest.  A Lifestyle

that by Third World standards is beyond dreams. A lifestyle that to dumpster divers here in

the US is sumptuous.  The crybabies  that occupy Wallstreet don't want to work, they turn

their noses up at the millions of illegal aliens driving nails, shoveling dirt, or picking fruit

and vegetables for living and demand that someone gives them something.  I spent

nearly 30 years working in an American factory watching 30% of the well paid union workers,

complain how hard the work was in a year around airconditined factory, using automated

machinery to do the work our fathers and grandfather did by hand.  They stole supplies and tools from the company that gave them a great wage, bonuses, benefits and retirement.

The Union wore down the people that started the factories that gave them jobs until the

companies packed the jobs overseas where people would be glad to have the jobs.

Oct 18, 2011 1:32PM
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What difference does political affiliation have to do with this?  As usual, I believe there is plenty of blame to go around to all involved - democrat and republican.  It seems to me that this movement is about feeling powerless over the ability to change or fix the system.  They're not demonstrating against congress since they don't have open checkbooks as big or bigger than those that are funding the candidates now.  The wealthy and powerful  don't have a great deal right now by accident.  They benefit from the rules and regulations that are made by congress.  The demonstrators feel that no matter who they vote for, D or R, the system will corrupt them once they take office so what's the use?  The people that ran Countrywide, Lehman, Fitch, Fannie , Freddie,  S&P, etc are all major contributors to both parties so it doesn't matter who's in office.  When Warren Buffet files a press release stating that he pays less in taxes on a % basis than his secretary, I think it's pretty obvious that the system is broken.  To fix it, I assert that the very people that are wealthy and in power are the one's that would have to change the system and stand to lose so that's not going to happen.  And you wonder why people are frustrated?
Oct 18, 2011 1:09PM
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For the people who are trying to pass blame on a particular political party...you are simply dazed and confused. Republicans and Democrats alike are reaping the benefits of corporate influences(perks), come on...have you ever met a former career politician who's struggling to make ends meet. The mainstream media has also contributed their fair share in "spinning" the world as they want you to see it because, among others, they have to protect the political interests of their advertisers/sponsors. Wake up America, you only have a voice come election time and that's IT !!! Stop hitting each other over the head with someone else's rhetoric. Corporate money has seized control of our Democracy, anyone here disagree ???  Let's all embrace what these brave folks are doing, they may just be fighting for the chance to give all of us working-class Americans a chance to steer our ship. 
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There is just as many "Rich' Democrats as there are "Rich' Republicans.   It seems people only bash the Rich Republicans.   Wall Street sends millions of dollars into the coffers of the Democrats each year - for what? - just because?
Oct 18, 2011 4:35PM
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Term  limits  for  all  federal  politicians.   Outlaw  lobbyists.  Get   money  out  of  politics.  The  first  two  can  bypass  congress  and  be  done  by  constitutional  amendments  that  go  through  the  states  --first  to  decide  on  the  wording  of  the  amendments,  then  to  ratify  them--both  by  majority  votes --2/3  of  the  states,  I  believe.
Oct 18, 2011 1:16PM
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Wait a minute Cramer.  There are dozens of Democrats in Congress who received big contributions from rich folks.  Why single out Republicans in Congress?
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Because Democrats actually want to raise their taxes while the Republicans fight it at every turn.  Duh!  How about a little bit of critical thinking?

Oct 18, 2011 10:12AM
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So, Jim, you are putting most of the blame on "Congressionals Republicans seem addicted to the dollars of the rich."? Goodness, Congress was actually a democratic congress up until a year ago......does that fact have anything to do with the truth?

You also overlook the responsibility of the individual who signed their name to the dotted lines saying they could afford the homes they were moving into.

No one put a gun to their head and told them to borrow money they may or may not be able to repay.

No one in our society wants to take responsibility for anything anymore. We all have learned to pass the buck onto big business and big money.

There will be a time when our entire system will collapse because no one is watching the hen house.

 I do agree that Wall Street protestors don't have their banners right but this is a political statement that is being demonstrated and the masses are just out there not really having a clue what they are protesting.

 

Oct 18, 2011 10:12AM
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Jim,

The Democrats controlled the House and Senate from 2006.  They had unstoppable majorities in the House and Senate from Jan 2009 until Jan 2011 and the Presidency.  They could have punished anyone, righted any wrong (real or imagined) and fixed any injustice in the tax code as you indicate.   But they didn't.  So don't blame only the Republicans.  The Democrats are just as beholden to the money interests as anyone.  After all, who pays for their re-election.  The wealthy and big business.

Oh and by the way, who do you think risks their wealth by investing in business to provide jobs for anyone.  Without them, no one would have jobs  because there would be no investment.  Yes maybe the executives get paid too much, but as you know their salaries are set by the board of directors of the company.  But that's another topic for another time.

I enjoyed your pint of view.

Oct 18, 2011 11:18AM
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Hold the lending field responsible and force write downs to current values to help keep good job holding people in their homes.

Change import tariff structures with countries whom we have a vast trade deficit with until the deficit is balanced. An individual has to balance the checkbook, our import and export should be no different. Will be painful in the short term for the consumer, but will turn us around in the long term.

Stop the bailouts and stop giving billions in aid to foreign countries!

If government wants to be big and regulate everything, step in and regulate energy commodities. The effects of energy costs are too great on our country. Why should speculators be at the helm?

 

Why will none of this happen? Because gov't is all puppets for those that would be deprived their billions in profits and bonus's by such changes.

The movement should be renamed "occupy government".

 

 

Oct 18, 2011 1:15PM
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You can be sure that no prior executives at Fannie and Freddie will ever be indicted.  There were all Democrat cronies of Clinton and Obama.  These "independent" agencies were loaded up with highly paid politically connected executives and board members.  They were caught cooking the books on accounting for derivatives to the tune of billions of hidden losses (which was in addition to the sub-prime mortage mess), and still no one has served time in jail for this fraud.  Contrast that to what happened to a number of executives in public companies who were caught in accounting fraud in the past 10 years who got stiff jail time.
Oct 18, 2011 10:23AM
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boo ya Jim for telling it like it is!!!! let me  add where are the punishment for all these supposed regulators who triple A rated these MBS? I know I am going out on a limb here but I don't think we need more regulations, we just needed the ones that are in effect to actually be enforced!! But when everyone in the process is paid to look the other way, the regulations become useless. The actual problem to me here is the actual amount of people who even vote and how our representatives are never held accountable for the issues they let occur simply because they are paid by the Wall Street firms to look the other way.
Oct 18, 2011 1:10PM
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Jim must have received a few hundred last night from a Democrat to write this article today...  And that is the problem with the 99% of the people who write there articles.  They can't see the fundamental problem. 

 

BOTH SIDES ARE TO BLAME.

 

Someday, when the 1% of the people who realize that we need a complete house cleaning get that message to the 99%, then the 99% protesting will probably see a lot of their problems they have against the 1% fixed by the 99% who can't take their one-sided blinders off that the 1% put there for them, and the 1% who have no blinders on can't get the message through to the 99%...

 

Ugh.  What a mess we are in.  BOTH SIDES ARE TO BLAME.  PERIOD.

 

Here we are at 9.1% (?) unemployment, protestors around the world against the greed of Wall Street... 

 

And the  DUMBOCRATS and the REPULICONS will spend HOW MANY BILLIONS on an election campaign next year?   Money BURNED up in TV ads, signs, trips all while they will appeal to the people who are out of work, out of money.

 

How many states could balance their budgets on what will be spent on the election alone?

 

BOTH SIDES ARE TO BLAME.  Money doesn't say "D" or "R" on it, and isn't RED OR BLUE.

 

 

Oct 18, 2011 1:45PM
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the shyster is ripping the banks so it must be time to buy
Oct 18, 2011 8:30PM
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Why not say Congress and not any special party. They are all to Blame! If we look at this unbiased we might actually agree and get something done. There is plenty of greed on all sides of the of the spectrum. We voted them in hopefully we will take this next election seriously and vote in people who are in this for the good of the country and not their pockets. I hope we are listening...............
Oct 18, 2011 4:54PM
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Jim,

You refer to the rich as "they" as in "they should pay more". Aren't you part of the rich? Why is it that many rich folks never think of themselves as being rich and don't include themselves in the group that should do more? One exception to this is Warren Buffet who thinks he should pay more. What is preventing him from writing a check to the government? Is he only willing to pay more if he is forced to by revising the tax laws? The whole system is a mess since the upper income folks already pay the lion's share of income taxes and such a large percentage of people don't pay any income taxes. The taxation system needs to be overhauled so everyone pays their fair share.

Oct 18, 2011 11:19AM
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free market only works for wants not needs
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