The spectacle that is Occupy Oakland in California’s San Francisco Bay Area continues.
Lee Romney of the Los Angeles Times reports that in the pre-dawn hours on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011, riot police arrested more than 100 people who had taken over an empty building, armed themselves with bottles, rocks and firecrackers, and set blazes. Five protesters and three officers were injured.
After daybreak, around the Civic Center area, city workers boarded up shattered store windows and scrubbed away graffiti at a cost of roughly $4,000, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. Public works staff said replacing the Frank Ogawa Plaza lawn alone will cost $30,000.
In an open letter to residents, the Oakland Police Officers Association estimates that last week’s events cost city taxpayers more than $1 million — in a city that is already millions of dollars in the red. Police union spokesman Dom Arotzarena said the estimate was based on what the union believes the city spent on services, including police overtime, and what the city lost in business.
The union letter also criticizes Mayor Jean Quan for ordering a sweep and then allowing the campers to return. Police were confused by Quan’s mixed messages.
Below is an essay written by someone who knows Oakland’s politics very well — attorney Jay Gaskill who had worked in Oakland’s city center as Alameda County’s public defender.
EAT THE BANKERS!: A Teaching Moment in Oakland, CA
Analysis by Jay B Gaskill
Attorney at Law
As of this moment, Oakland protesters, whose nesting areas are not all that far from my perch here, have set fires, barricaded public thoroughfares, smashed the windows of two commercial banks (Wells Fargo & Bank of America), vandalized a popular, high-end grocery (Whole Foods), terrorizing customers huddled therein, and (when I last checked) were still blocking the truck entrance to the fifth busiest container trans-shipping center in the USA, the Port of Oakland.
These unruly mobs are getting a pass from the local media, who vapidly emphasize the otherwise peaceful elements among the protesters while conveniently ignoring the fact that the very same naïve crowds have blocked authorities from entering the occupied and cordoned off public spaces. As a perfectly predictable result, rats, feces and thuggish behavior flourish within these zones, all under the flag of “free speech.”
Sadly, the city of Oakland California has a serious policing challenge, given its outsized crime-prone subpopulation, its fiscally and politically crippled police department (whose popular police chief recently quit in disgust), superintended by a hapless, clueless mayor elected in a bizarrely gamed voting scheme in which she got about 1/4th of the votes. Mayor Quan is a former city council person currently in the thrall of a virulently anti-police legal advisor. Mayor Quan’s earlier claim to fame was her support of Ebonics. Just trust me on these assertions. I know Oakland like the back of my hand.
This is just context. My main topic is Banks & Toxic Politics.
American commercial banks have been set up to fail via a process of political manipulation. Leading up to the toxic mortgage engendered banking collapse, American lending institutions were cajoled, regulated and coerced into making bad mortgage loans. After the inevitable collapse, banks were “rescued” with a plan that, among other ill-considered elements, provided them with a stream of essentially interest-free loans on one side of the ledger and the irresistible opportunity to place that same money in federally guaranteed T-bills and other protected instruments at a favorable interest rate, enabling them to survive on paper without actually doing any real banking in the traditional, old fashioned sense.
This was bank welfare. The OWS mobs are angry at the banks, in part, for not making enough consumer loans and not giving enough interest on deposits. You don’t have to be an Einstein to figure out that the banks are behaving in exactly the way that government programmed them to behave.
Karl Marx invented the term Capitalism. In his time, free enterprise – defined as the operation of the system of regular, voluntary exchange of goods and services, supported by a legal system that punishes fraud and enforces legitimate contracts, and free from political manipulation – did not really exist except as a rare exception to the general rule. Political favoritism has distorted and corrupted the market system from the beginning of human history. When Adam Smith wrote about the invisible hand that makes the market system work, he was talking about a system that was essentially free from political gaming. The invisible hand that is operating in the current financial crisis is the clumsy hand of government itself.
And the protesters and our compliant media have fallen for the scam hook, line and sinker.
As Published on The Policy Think Site and its linked blogs. www.jaygaskill.com.