"How Wall Street Occupied America"

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Forbes Magazine

"How Wall Street Occupied America"

It is fitting that the very day the Occupy Wall Street kids were driven out of Wall Street– a marvelous piece turning the occupy theme upside down came from the outspoken unrelenting pen of Bill Moyers in The Nation magazine.

Subtitled ”Why the rich keep getting richer and our democracy’s getting poorer,” the PBS oracle for truth and freedom sketches for the first time he path by which Wall Street took over the country. Moyers uses unsettling language like the nation being divided into winners and losers. The winners are the bankers, hedgefund biggies and private equity barons who can pour as much money into getting their way.

I never knew about Lewis Powell’s memo in 1971 to rouse the US Chamber of Commerce to take back political power from the extremists he saw attacking free enterprise. I myself doubt the veracity of that hugely exaggerated notion. But, I’ve seen the Chamber up close put scads of money into state elections for supreme court justices and attorney generals– getting huge corporate donations to win local elections and dominate the courts and the legislature in Mississippi, Alabama, etc.

Then came the right wing think tanks and what Moyers sees as the evil influence of a right-winger from Wall Street I knew well, Bill Simon. Simon, he feels, financed the pressure groups that helped pass all the laws that moved the nation to the right, all the buying of votes in Congress to shift power to the monied interests and their paid representatives in Washington.

“They were determined to buy more democracy than anyone else. And they succeeded beyond their expectations,” writes Moyers, unafraid to tell it like it is. A brave journalist, whose programs on Wall Street buying entree to the Clinton administration were one of the rawest, toughest, take-no-prisoners television I have ever seen. No wonder there are forces wantingto cut off funds to PBS.

” As the rich and powerful got richer and more powerful, they owned and operated the government, says Moyers, taking his lead from the ”Winner-Take-All Politics” book by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson.

This “revolt of the plutocrats was ratified by the Supreme Court in its notorious Citizens United decision last year”, that allowed corporations the free speech to spend whatever they desired to get their way. A rotten decision that puts more power in America’s corporations than they’ve had since Robber Baron Days. Bring back Teddy Roosevelt. More Moyers please.

Robert Lenzner

Robert Lenzner writes the StreetTalk column for Forbes.com and anchors the StreetTalk video show. Previously Lenzner was National Editor and Senior Editor at Forbes Magazine, New York Bureau Chief of The Boston Globe and Wall Street correspondent of The Economist.

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