Saturday, October 15, 2011

Indignation over indignados and Wall Street

Finding mental respite is difficult these days.  Even if you limit yourself to newspaper and twitter (I only follow 30 something folks, deliberately) idiocy manages to track you down.

I would be more sympathetic to the "down with Wall Street" or their ancestors, the Indignados, if they showed a little bit more of realism, of desire to build something, of not looking like frustrated kids that cannot afford to change their cell phone to the latest  IPhone.  But let's look at the most "famous" ones, those of La Puerta del Sol in Madrid on May 15.  Where are they today, what have they achieved?  Nothing, zilch, just aimless revolt.  I mean, they have a golden opportunity to do something, something perfect for people who claim that they want more "participative" democracy: Spain is voting in general elections next month.  Have they endorsed anyone?  Have they bargained with a small party so that they could show their strength through them like Quebec voters did in the latest Canadian elections?  No, nothing, just aimless criticism that draws crowds, for sure, but that is it.

What do they want?  To overthrow everything without offering a proposal for renewal?  And let's not start witht he Greeks who we learn everyday new ways in which they pimped Europe to the point of having tenured bureaucracy with retirment age at 55.......

The problem with all these people is that they are not facing the real problems of the world: overpopulation and diminishing resources.  They all want more money, more welfare, more Ipads....

I confess that I do not have a solution for all that is falling on us for the last few years, but I cannot join the indignados.  Not that I did not do my share of protests in my younger days.  When I lived in the US I rarely missed a gay rights march, and went to many an Act Up action, or at a NOW assembly (amen of volunteer work for related causes).  The NOW rally in DC in, I believe, 1990 or 91, was the largest concentration I ever attended, with the flow of people going continuously from the Lincoln Memorial to Congress, as a gigantic arc above the Mall.  You could see both ends when standing at the Washington Memorial.  That was a rally, that had purpose even though we may be waiting for the results still.  I was there with Baltimore ActUp even though we had little to do with birth rights.  But we understood what was at stake and were more than welcome.  It was not the crappy showings of today, even if global.  The No Mas Chavez looks better considering its more limited scope.

But there is something that upsets me even more about these indignados , who seem clearly to be manipulated and financed by some leftist organizations as even Eva Golinger seems to have been dispatched by the Chavez regime to New York (business or first class flight?).  Where were they in 2002 and 2003 when I, along 100 of thousands of Venezuelans marched to protect our democracy?  Are they today at least saying that they were sorry they did not defend us them?  That we were right?  That Chavez is a dictator in the making?

It seems that the multi city show did not work much in Latin America today, except in Chile where they ride on the coattails of the student protest, another manipulated instance if you ask me, but I digress.  The thing, maybe, is that in Latin America we are now finally putting our house in order and have little patience with spoiled brats from the Northern Hemisphere who when everything is said and done look over us with contempt or amusement.  They are the lazy ones now it seems, for all their rhetoric.  Even in Venezuela we are done with repeated rallies and unending plaza occupations: we are organizing politically and we are trying to recover democracy out of the hands of a dictator who reached office under the promise of "participative democracy".  Look how he fucked us all and what we had to go through, to end up with a devastated country without the need of a war.  May this serve as a cautionary tale and may those in Europe and the US who know better to react to that demagoguery anti Wall Street.

After all it is not Wall Street fault, it is the fault of the governments put into place that did not do their job, and the voters who thought for too long that you could have your cake and eat it if you could ever step into the Wall Street Casino.  Let's not be fooled: the anger of many of these people is that they never managed to get to play Wall Street otherwise they would have done it (Listen to Don Giovanni of Mozart and you will understand what I mean: given a chance to go unpunished the human species is quite willing to forgo all ethics).

My main concern right now is that this venting, sometimes quite genuine, is only going to favor the right wing and unscrupulous politicians.  In the US watch for the Tea Partiers and assorted evangelicals to benefit.  In Spain and Greece wait for their chronic anarchist past to come back and ruin what they achieved in the last three decades.  Elsewhere, well, you'll see.

And in Venezuela Chavez of course claims that there is no such "indignado" protest becasue he cleared up capitalism from us.  But what about the constant protests, sometimes violent, all across Venezuela from people who actually want the Chavez regime to pay the wages that the regime pays less and less, to fulfill its promises after 13 years of failed promises?  If there is an example of unscrupulous politician willing to exploit today's rallies it is Chavez.  The indignados could do worse than to send a delegation to criticize Chavez failure to fulfill his obligations to his people.

Are the jerks in New York and Madrid aware of who they are working for?

PS: What about the down with Assad people?  Don't they deserve support too? Who deserves more front pages inches: Damascus or Wall Street?

27 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:59 AM

    The pattern is repeated in many places. Demonstrations against austerity followed by violence from a group of hooded operatives. Most of demonstrators probably pay their own expenses, but one wonders who pays the organisers and the violent elements. You mention Eva Golinger in NY (not difficult to guess who her sponsors are), but I am not sure who is behind the Mediterranean protests. With the advantage of paranoia Mr. Putin rapidly comes to mind, but of course I am probably being totally unfair to the Russians. The demonstrators are obviously clueless about how to get the ipads without doing much work, or how to get the Germans to continue footing the bill. Wanting to retire at 55 only shows a total lack of appreciation for the human value of work.

    Perhaps this is all about destroying "The West"?
    As we all know, being paranoiac doesn't mean that...

    Antonio

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  2. have little patience with spoiled brats from the Northern Hemisphere who when everything is said and done look over us with contempt or amusement.

    They look at me the same way and we breathe the same air. :(


    Damn Yankees!

    :)

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  3. Daniel,

    I agree with you these kids are spoilt brats and most - not all- haven't got a clue about what they really want.
    But there are a couple of things you need consider:

    1) things like rights for any minority are much easier to define and defend
    2) economics particularly is a hard issue for most to understand.

    Then you apparently put the whole blame on governments and "da people". Well, I have to tell you: it turns out that the government is much much much more interconnected with big business than you seem to accept.

    The way in which the government has pumped huge amounts of money into the banks? Why were those banks offering such toxic packages?
    Why are there taxes for bread but not for financial derivatives?
    Small investors? My foot.

    Another thing: do you know how much the defence industry is doing politics?
    This is a tiny tiny tiny example:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15300751
    and that is the tip of the iceberg.
    I won't go here into details, but this is happening everywhere: in Germany, in France, in the US and even in tiny Belgium.

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  4. RabbiBulla10:05 AM

    Great writing, Daniel.
    Agreed, Kepler, esp. about Defense spending.Also, Ithink Anonymous exposes the "dark side" of the demonstrations (and connections for example to Chavez?)
    There is also an element of "gamer"-it's a game, childishness about the demonstrators-which trivializes what protesting should be about-contrast these hippies with the
    Ladies in White in Cuba for example.

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  5. Daniel,

    I agree with this post whole- heartedly.

    If this goes on it can easily be politically exploited by Chavez who can claim that the people of the US and Europe are becoming aware that they are being oppressed by Capitalism and can only achieve freedom by overthrowing it and perhaps replacing it by something like Chavismo.

    This movement is purposely vague about its political identity and uses general terms like "income equality" ,playing on hatreds and envy( the basest and most volatile of human emotions) - if they were to be more specific about their political leanings, which are far left, it might turn some people off.

    Up til now, Chavez has been partially successful in exporting his system of beliefs to some LA countries ; he now might get the opportunity to do so to the US and Europe. He could become the world revolutionary he always wanted to be, surpassing even his mentor Fidel Castro.I don't believe he will achieve these dreams, but he might be able to translate it into some political gain in the next elections.

    How can we have equal incomes without communist dictatorship, which would include massive expropriations as well as rigid controls of all aspects of life?The funny thing is, as since communism has become a dirty word, now they are using Christian ideology,or just simply vagueness to avoid identification with the far left in order to justify their confused, and yes spoiled radical stances.

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  6. Firepigette,
    I don't see most protesters asking for equal salary or the like. I see people demanding that bankers and other ultra rich pay not LESS taxes. See...provided you have a good accountant and go over a threshold, the laws in most countries - I believe in the States is just the same- are set up in such a way that you end up paying even less taxes by what you do. I am not asking about the Bill Gates of this world (who, by the way, have no problem with what I am saying). I am talking about the guys who produce nothing but work on finance and don't risk own money but everybody else's...at the end they divert money in such ways - everything done through companies, not through their own accounts - that they seem to be penniless taxwise even if living in villas. This happens quite often. I have seen that with my own eyes here, in Germany, in Britain and as far as I read and hear from friends - none an extreme commie - it is the same in the US.

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  7. Another thing to bear in mind is that what Spaniards and above all Portuguese and Greeks protest about is quite different from what Germans and US Americans should be angry about. In the case of Greece and Portugal: those lands are far from competitive. They got a free run when they got into the euro even if they were not prepared at all for it. They need to do changes all way through, from their politicians and all their functionaries to real workers. In the case of Germans I think the issues are mostly to be looked at their political and financial gangs...I mean classes...workers were carrying out their due share.

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  8. Kepler,

    I agree with much of what you say however:

    Here in the US the protesters don't have a unanimous platform, but rather a variety of grievances; some of them just might want higher taxes on the rich,but others talk about income equality.

    Like Daniel said, they seem to want to bring down the system,
    without a clear plan of how to proceed.

    I suspect that Eva Gollinger's presence might just only be one of those who is participating in the movement to support a far left agenda.

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  9. Anonymous5:38 PM

    This hygenically challenged mob already got an appropriate name: The "Flea Party", or "Fleapartiers".

    I am convinced many if not most, particularly the young Fleapartiers have no clue where money comes from, that the government has none were it not for the forced taking of property of it's citizens, called taxes (btw it fits the definition of robbery) and that you cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.

    Maybe I am the only one, but no bank or "Wall Street" has ever forced me to do business with them, be it opening a checking account, get an education loan, a credit card, a mortgage, a car loan or whatever, that I later cannot pay. Or buy stocks or mutual funds etc. that lost me money. No corporation or evil CEO has ever put a gun to my head and told me "buy my product, or else...".

    And work can always be found, but it may mean relocation and / or a job that would temporarily not exactly fulfill ones dreams. But these protests have nothing to do with work in the first place, they are as always about "free" handouts. But since there is really nothing for free, why should somebody else pay for my education, or my iPad that I bought with a credit card and now can't pay? Why should I pay to bail out GM, when there are plenty of car companies in the world that know how to produce cars at a profit?

    Maybe somebody should lead these ignoramuses to the real culprits of the mess we are in and to whom they should direct their anger: TO THE POLITICIANS IN WASHINGTON, DC (for the US), of course specifically to Congress and to the Überignoramus in the White House.

    Golinger will be the liar's liar, reporting in situ about 99% of Amercans wanting Cuban style communism now and it would not be far fetched to believe that she is also the courier for Chavez to throw a few million $$ the organizers' way.

    Mike

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  10. I fully support the Occupy Wall Street protests. They have already been successful in forcing a public conversation on the critical reality that inequality has been growing over the past forty years. Before the protest, this reality had gone largely unmentioned.

    While it is tempting to blame George Bush and company for the dire straits the economy faces, the reality is that Wall Street gambled big, lost big, and demanded and got a bailout.

    So, the idea that "no bank ever forced me to do business with them" may be true, but that same Bank did grab $500 or so from everyone's pocket, i cluding yours if you pay taxes in the USA.

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  11. Anonymous8:32 PM

    Daniel, could not agree more with you.

    As for Quebec voters, they are definitely some of the most sophisticated electorate on the planet. They always manage to control the balance of power and p*ss off the rest of Canada as a result. A far cry from the local criollos.

    As for Assad, don't count too much on improvement in that area of the planet. Having lived at least 5 years in Muslim countries all the way from Iraq and Jordan to Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia, my verdict is that Islam is the most freaking intolerant religion on the planet these days. Nothing good to expect from those people. Look the way they are slaughtering the Christians in Egypt these days. The Jews better be armed to the teeth.

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  12. Charly9:07 PM

    Sorry but Anon at 8:32 PM was me, forgot to sign

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  13. Anonymous10:16 PM

    Illuminati here,

    Sorry, I accidently posted this on another thread first.

    If we are to clean up the mess in the USA, we must have an honest discussion about what went wrong. So far, I don't see that happening from the Occupy crowd. Lies and propaganda are not helpful.

    If high income people, in the USA, really did pay a lower percentage of their income in federal income taxes, than lower income people, I would agree that would be unfair. However that is not the case. Most high income people pay a much larger percentage of their income in taxes than do lesser income people. I believe that it Obama is indulging in pure demagoguery, when he makes false claims. The fact that the Occupy crowd is repeating the same mantra that Obama has been spouting, is very suspicious. My guess is that the Occupy crowd is not spontaneous at all, but was carefully planned, to help Obama get reelected, despite the terrible economy.

    If the Occupy Wallstreet people were really interested in finding answers to our problems, why aren't they as concerned about the high incomes earned by movie stars, union bosses, trial lawyers, athletes, and politicians, as they are about the income of business men, industrialists, and bankers. Why focus your wrath on people who produce goods and services people need, and ignore the others? Bill Ciniton is presently worth between 30,000,000 to 100,000,000 dollars, but he was poor when he entered the White House. Is that good? Obama himslef is a multimillionaire, who is living like a billionaire, tax free, at our expense. Why is it OK for Democrat politicians who are supposed to represent the "poor" to use politics to get rich?

    Also, why do the Occupy people talk about the bankers all the time, as if they are the cause of the collapse? It was the politicians who changed the rules, so that banks were required to give loans to people who did not meet the requirements for a loan. It was politicians, who prosecuted the banks for "red lining" when they gave fewer home loans to folks who they knew were less likely to make their payments? It was politicians who formed the federal agencies, Fannie and Freddie, which guaranteed so many of those bad loans. It was politicians, like Barney Frank, who refused to reign in those agencies, and who permitted Democrat apparatchik to make millions of dollars by pushing those bad loans out the door. If any of the bankers cheated, they should be prosecuted, but most did not. They played by the rules the politicians made. Of course, when those rules cause financial collapse, the politicians, are quick to blame the greedy bankers. That is what guilty people always do.

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  14. Daniel, you are getting old and conservative, my friend...

    I support the movement, even if it is not clearly defined because there is something very wrong with the state of finance in the world. And that something very wrong is destroying capitalism from within. It is precisely because I think a healthy capitalism is the best way of life that I support the protesters.

    We cannot keep on having a financial system that is based on gambling rather than goods and services and that encourages monopolistic practices. We cannot have a social system that is based on the elimination of the middle class. Capitalism works when we have a strong middle class, a strong competition and when real value is created.

    We are currently suffering from the greedy strategies of the financial elite that, paradoxically, are destroying free market and capitalism. If there is not a strong correction, we will all lose our standard of living.

    Now, the protests might be incoherent, many people asking different things and having different agendas, but they are the result of a profound "malaise" in our society that cannot be ignored any longer.

    That someone may take advantage of it? Sure, it happens in all revolutions, but that does not signify that the protests are not legitimate.

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  15. Anonymous12:28 AM

    jh,

    I thought you would have concluded when I said GM should have not been bailed out with my tax money that I was not precisely elated about bank bailouts either, but, if we can believe our politicians as well as many reputable economists, the whole financial system was maybe going to collapse. Well, one of the biggest, Lehman, did go under, and,,,,,?

    But the root cause of their problems was government, FORCING banks (driven by political pressure) to make the famous subprime loans to people who clearly couldn't pay. W and his team saw the unsustainability of it in early 2000, but Congress voted no when it came to stronger regulations, paticularly around loans, hedge funds and derivatives and getting rid of the totally corrupt and mismanaged government entities like e.g. Freddy & Fannie M.

    But most of these protesters don't pay taxes in the first place, so what do they care other than taxing "other" people higher, so that they can get more of other people's money. In short, they want to destroy capitalism, mostly driven by resentment driven by ideology. And we fools let it happen. Nobody could destroy us from the outside, but boy are we doing it to ourselves or what....

    Then this endless "suck it to the rich" when debating taxes in a country where the 25% highest income earners pay about 80% of all taxes, and 47% pay no income tax at all!

    I am the 53% .

    Mike

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  16. Bruni

    It is not a matter of becoming conservative in old age. I am certainly not defending Wall Street and I am looking forward a victory of Hollande in France to start harassing financial abusers.

    My point is that the protests are not constructive, are only destructive and sound like spoiled brats that are discovering that they will not do as well as their parents. Our generation also discovered that we probably would not do as well as our parents but yet we remained more focused and at least did not blame it all on Wall Street or whatever (though many blamed it all on the US).

    Maybe you missed that part of my post about the indignados of the 15 M that are not doing anything about trying to get a few voices in the next Spanish parliament. But of course, it is so nice, so much fun to be a mere "tira piedras"..... As a consequence Rajoy seems about to get a solid majority in the next parliament!!!! Rubalcaba paying for his initial "understanding" of the protests....

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  17. Bruni

    Actually you made me look for a couple appropriate pictures to add to this post :)

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  18. Daniel,

    I did not want to say it so directly as Bruni, but yes, you are becoming old and conservative. Very soon I will imagine you with your Panama hut, the pipe and the ivory walking stock.

    You mention Spain?
    The issue with Spain is its old fashioned electoral system. It is hard for a a third party coming through. So: right now there is only PSOE or PP. Izquierda Unida is a bunch of extremist commies who haven't even had the time to get some power and burn out and leave space for others and the rest are local parties that have only local interests. A lot of people want to get a third non-conservative party, but it is not easy due to the electoral laws. And PSOE and PP are not very eager to change them.

    Just a taste:

    Desbloquear las listas

    Es complica'o.


    As I said, one of the problems is that there is not one single problem. There are quite different issues mixing together, a general malaise everywhere and most people can't identify what it is in their case.

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  19. A. Barreda7:12 AM

    Although it is true that most of the protesters look like a bunch of good-for-nothing hipsters, some of them have a real reason to protest: the political system is broken.

    The boundaries between left and right - GOP/Democrats or PP/PSOE - are gone. On both sides you have a bunch of rich white dudes whose buddies work in Wall Street and don't care about regular guys. Their one and only concern is their pockets. F**k the little guy!

    And there's no alternative inside the system! Why? Because you need a lot of dough to be a player, and who has the money? The guys in Wall Street.

    Where does Wall Street got all that money? Mostly from the HUUUGE bail-out their friends in the government handed them out a couple of years ago. So, yeah, let's criticize the ipad-bearing protesters, but not the obscene bail-out to bankers. You better be a banker/rich guy if you are asking the gov for some help! What a load of crap...

    So far the whole thing looks pointless, probably because ideologies are mostly dead nowadays. But, what is the alternative to the democracy/plutocracy? A socialist dystopia? No, thanks! At least, I think these guys got that right...

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  20. I'm glad you did find a couple pictures, Daniel, because that second one is especially telling. A translation:

    "Let's protest - just because we can." No motivation or reason to actually go change anything, just whine.

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  21. Bruni and Kepler,



    If I had no arguments perhaps I could say that whining just to whine without responsible solutions could be a sign of youth and inexperience.How would you feel about such an illogical argument?

    Understand the post before coming up with straw man arguments, and insults.

    If people do not conform to a label, then they are thinking outside the box, and more power to him.This labeling is exactly what keeps Venezuela in a quagmire of doctrinaire thinking and political correctness.

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  22. Anonymous10:43 AM

    Bruni

    I am interested why anybody can support a movement that has no defined mission, when on the other hand it is very clear that the driving forces behind these useful idiot protesters (they have to be defined as such if they don't even know why they are there) are the radical left, also known as communists, as well as dangerous terrorist like, anarchistic movements, who want capitalism and western culture destroyed. Put in simple words: WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU SUPPORTING?

    Where is the gambling part and were are the monopolistic practices? Some real examples please not just impressive sounding, yet (at least to me) senseless wording. 

    How so are we presently suffering of the financial elite? Has anybody forced you to do busines with this supposed elite? If not, how are you suffering? And what correction are you talking about?

    What malaise? High unemployment? People unable to pay their bills, particularly those that took out loans they knew they couldn't pay or used their house as their ATM for fancy cars etc. when house prices seemed to go up forever? Most prudent, educated, hard working, money saving and long term investing people are not in a malaise.

    Look for government being the root cause, i.e. spending beyond their means, or like Daniel so eloquently put it "Greece pimping the EU". In the US it would be lobbyists or special interests pimping the government at all levels.

    And why this hatred of "Wall Street" (not even exactly defined)? Anybody can make money on this evil entity, and it doesn't take lots of money to start investing. But it does take time (min. 10 years) and therefore patience as well as discipline to keep going and the ability to be able to sleep if your investment temporarily looses e.g. 15 or 20%. So far, it always has come back, but a guarantee it is not. Maybe a case of "if you can't beat them, join them"?

    Lastly, how can you call this a revolution, when, again, they haven't even defined what exactly they are protesting about?

    About Daniel getting old and conservative (I have no idea what his age is), well, most people as they get older loose interest in the stone throwing protests that lead nowhere. I see him MORE conservative relative to when he started this blog, but he is far away from being conservative as in Republicans (US), CDU / CSU (Germany) or PP in Spain, although making progress :-)

    I am the 53%.

    Mike

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  23. I believe that it Obama is indulging in pure demagoguery, when he makes false claims.

    Actually, Obama's commentary has been quite measured. He has been clear there is no legal basis for jailing Wall Street bigwigs, for example. To be sure he is trying to harness some energy from some of the OWS grievances but don't pretend Republicans don't do the same when the opportunity arises.

    My guess is that the Occupy crowd is not spontaneous at all, but was carefully planned, to help Obama get reelected, despite the terrible economy.

    All a big conspiracy, eh? Yup, I suppose you think Obama was born outside the US too!

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  24. kepler

    why do you need to complicate things and go off, off?


    the electoral system in spain is not impossible and small parties can form. or you can use them to endorse people even if they do not want you to endorse them.

    but that is not the point, why forgive in the indigandos what you are not willing to forgive from the venezuelan opposition?

    tsssk...

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  25. mike

    more than becoming conservative, it is more cynical that i am becoming....

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  26. Daniel,
    If you read my initial comment you will see how I explained it. I agree most of these guys haven't got a clue. But unlike the case against Chávez, against racialist policies or the like the malaise they are fighting against is rather complicated and hard to grasp even by the citizens who are going through it.
    Most people don't get economics.
    And they march together but in reality the problems have different causes and some of them have nothing to do with other causes. Now: quite honestly, I do see reasons to protest, but I also see those reasons are different for each group and most people don't have a clue about what those reasons are.

    Regarding small parties in Spain: As things are, they will always get much less of their fair share of votes because of how votes are counted.
    Same thing as in Britain.

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  27. I walk by there each day on my way to the office -- I exit the Fulton Street station at the old Merrill Lynch building , and I see $2000 iMacs and kids ( 95% white middle-class) drinking $7 Starbucks lattes . ...Today's "disenfranchised" protestor isn't exactly your daddy's Vietnam War protestor

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