The path to meaningful change

by Mike Connelly in City Newspaper Feedback

A list of US foreign policy “achievements” since World War II is enough to explain why the United States, unquestionably the darling nation of people the world over after the war, is now widely despised. Arrogant US stonewalling at the recent Doha Climate Summit is only the most recent (though possibly most catastrophic) example.

In cultures less zombified than our own by consumerist addiction, social movements not only occur but often bring about meaningful change.

Iceland in 2008 had the worst financial collapse ever suffered by any country to date with the market cap of their stock exchange dropping 90 percent. Between one and two percent of the entire Icelandic population showed up to protest the greed maniacs and crooks in government and banking.

This helped awaken Parliament to its duties, and it passed legislation that helped Iceland make a full recovery, unlike the US or the EU. And the prime minister, Geir Haarde, has been indicted for negligence in the financial collapse.

The US Savings and Loan crisis of the 80’s and 90’s resulted in 1000 felony convictions. After our own multi-trillion-dollar collapse of 2008, Obama’s attorney general is batting zero after one failed prosecution of the notoriously scurrilous Goldman Sachs. But Obama is funding-dependent on the Banking Brotherhood, and Holder was, in a prior incarnation, one of Big Banking’s many lawyers. So while poor Eric Holder was ever so frustrated in his failed prosecution, he and his boss got the desired result: nada. And that is what the American public got as well: no accountability, lots of continuing criminal impunity.

If three or six million (1 or 2 percent) of us just showed up, could change happen? It obviously won’t otherwise, since in addition to the Great No Accountability Administration, there is the Congress about which Senator Dick Durbin accurately remarked: “The banks frankly own this place.”

It is difficult to see why banks will clean up their act, or why business practice generally will become more ethical in our land of fraud with impunity.

It is clear that citizens are angry with the banks. The Rochester Band of Rebels (200 members) protests this very impunity every week on Monday in front of one of the big banks. But where are the other 2,000 to 4,000 Rochester residents or 8,000 to 15,000 Monroe County residents?

“Mad as hell” but taking it on the chin anyway? Still? Expect global warming to end life in a civilization near you soon.