Open Chat... All Day, Every Day! Express Your Views, Debate, and Challenge the Views of Others!

In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Open Forum To OWS: We Are Looking For Proof and Answers (Part 1)

Proof. It's key. It's everything. Yes, opinions are just opinions, but if one's opinions aren't based on anything, doesn't that make the holder of that opinion, by definition, a fool? We aren't calling OWS protesters fools (as you can see if you read our blog, we remain respect whether we agree or disagree with any position), but, in all honesty, we really just want to see some proof. We have opinions. We take stances. We are allowed to. Our blog exists as a podium to express and stand by our positions and to challenge others'. For OWS specifically, we hope the civility of this blog will extend to their movement a platform for debate and voice.

It seems that with the OWS movement, the main ingredient that is missing is proof. Let's get this straight: right or wrong, we believe in the First Amendment's guaranteed rights of the ability to protest peacefully. This article is not about the rights of the protesters, and it is not a critique about their methods. That's for another debate.

What is this about? We merely want to see some OWS protesters defend their positions. The fact that we have not been given any proof doesn't mean the things they're protesting do not actually exist. But, from what we see, there isn't much actual proof behind what they say. We've taken to numerous blogs, Twitter, news sites comment boards and have been given no evidence when we challenged. And trust us... if you read this blog, you know we like to challenge, and you know we like proof. So... this is our position. We want to see proof! Our backing of its absence is in the few examples we cite here and in future posts to come. We would like to see some intelligent debate (yes, maintaining civility) and refutations.

Exhibit A. This clip:

We will post some of the claims we heard with our comments about those claims in red:

- Wall Street stole money. Okay? How? Proof? How did Wall Street "steal" money?
- Money controls government. As with the first point, please give an example of this. Here at LME, we think this is a catchy little phrase OWS uses to get people to follow their cause, but until we can see some cited proof of this, we can't go along with it.
- Institutional oppression. Huh? What is meant by this?
- Corporations have taken away the democratic process in this country. The last time I checked, only legal, registered votes could vote in the democratic "process." If anyone can give an example of how corporations have taken this over, we would love to see it.
- To restore democracy. Please see the previous comment. We didn't know that with people's ability to vote freely in election and petition their government (see Wisconsin) that democracy was abolished.
-  We don't have free elections. See the previous two responses. 

And finally, our new favorite. Okay, before we give this one, have you ever heard any good myths recently? This isn't us being facetious. This is a real question. Our favorite: daddy long leg spiders are the most venomous spiders in the world but they can't bite humans because their mouths are too small. False. Why did we bring this up? It's a prime example of how people can say things just one time and, if it sounds cool, others will believe it and spread it as fact. That myth is completely untrue as is the next:

- The government (well, we don't even know who the gentleman is talking about) spent $16 trillion in secret (I think they added that adjective to make it sound more catchy) bailout money that was withheld from Congress and the taxpayer over the last three years. WOW! In the last three years, we spent more than our entire GDP in "secret" bailouts that no one knew about. Okay, come on. Someone please give some traceable testimony on this. Again, no offense intended, but this one is just silly. 

As we have said, we have our positions. They are not conspicuous. It's our right. We hope to see some debate here, and we especially welcome OWS responses. Thank you. 



  1. This is open to all. We have been lucky to receive some great posts by some usual contributors. We hope they return, and we hope some new posters join as well.

  2. Ok, so you found a clip of some of our idiots. There are some in every group. We have plenty of people that can explain this and you focused on a select few. That's not really fair.

  3. OWS4Lyfe - Thanks for the comment. But, as with this post, you have a chance to agree or disagree with the points we've highlighted. Calling them "idiots" isn't really civil, nor does it help answer or refute our position. If you come back, care to give an answer to our requests? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment?

  4. Ok, i will play. saw you on cnn. I tend to agree with this post. i cant' see any proof. like the video points out, look at what they are claiming. just tell me why or how. maybe ill support ows maybe i wont. but without proof i cant gt behind a bunch of people ranting in the streets with 100 different signs and claims

  5. Thanks for the comment. Yes, as we stated, just because there isn't proof given yet, doesn't mean the things OWS is claiming isn't true. We just want to see it. We hope to get more opinions from the OWS people themselves.

  6. Fuck you and your proof!!!!! You go to cnn and say "give me proof" Here it is: go fuck yourself. When will you just open your eyes and see it.

  7. Well OWS Yes GOP No, regardless of your disrespect for being civil, I will still address what you said.

    You weren't civil. This doesn't bode well for your cause. Please keep the dialogue respectful.

    I didn't get any proof out of what you said. I'm sorry, saying "open your eyes" or "it's just there" is not something that compels me to believe in what you're saying. If you had actual evidence for or against the claims we wrote about above, we would be happy to hear it. Thank you.

  8. A quarter of millionaires in the United States pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than many middle-class families, according to a new congressional analysis.

  9. Anonymous - Thank you for the comment. This is a start. It didn't really refute our positions listed above, but that's ok. You're more than welcome to post anything you like in this open forum.

    My question to you is: you're citing a "new congressional analysis." Since you were able to make the claim of "A quarter of millionaires in the United States pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than many middle-class families" you must have found this somewhere. Please give us the link to the new congressional analysis so we as the defenders of our position can analyze it too. This is exactly what we want to see. Thank you and we hope to hear back.

  10. A report, by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service: "94,500 millionaires paid a smaller share of their income in taxes than 10 million households with moderate incomes, the report found."

  11. From Warren Buffet: "While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks."

  12. Anonymous - Ok, you're citing things and we appreciate that. But what is this report. If you're able to pull stats from it, you obviously have the link. Please forward that to us. We would be happy to look at it. You can't expect your opponent in a debate to refute your position if you hold your book of facts without letting us see the book ourselves.

    And again, this sounds like something you're personally against, which is totally fine. In addition to your views, do you have any input about the 7 claims we highlighted in red above?

  13. Anonymous - Okay, the Warren Buffet quote is directly cited. Yes, he said that. We can refute that all day. But since you gave that as a source (which is legit) where is the source the study you're citing?

  14. LME

    This is from the Washington Post. Here is the link. Enjoy the reading:

  15. I've researched OWS since way back in June, when AdBusters first put up the website, as well as the USDayofRage website.

    At first they put out a call for their 'one clear message' and they recieved the same sort of garbled, muddy rantings, full of obscure language that we now hear at 'occupied' locations throughout the nation.

    I peruse the various locations on twitter pretty much daily... respond very seldom, but when confronted I get the same sort of response from these people that you got from 'OWS yes'...
    or 'the big banks stole my money (really?) or 'why should I be 'forced' to work for 8 (or 10) dollars and hour' or (the big one)'why do you want kids to die because they can't get healthcare.'

    I believe Government is corrupt and we need to do a 'good housecleaning' in DC through the electorial system to bring us back to our Constitutional roots.

    They do not want to 'fix' the system... they want to 'tear it down and bring in something 'new''.

    New question for OWS... Just what do you want to 'change' America into? *crickets*

  16. Here is the NYTimes site for the Buffet article:

  17. Dara - Thank you for your post. It sounds that you're in agreement with our blog post. You sound like us. You sound like you've done your own searching and challenging of OWS and their positions but are receiving no such information? I just want to make sure I understand your take. Thank you.

  18. Anonymous - Thank you. We are starting to get somewhere. I appreciate it. I have a link too:

    From it: "The Congressional Research Service report found that, on average, millionaires paid federal tax at a 30 percent rate, while moderate-income taxpayers, defined as those earning less than $100,000, were taxed at 19 percent."

    And yes, while your claim does have some truth, that millionaires do pay a smaller share than "some" middle class families, I take issue with the "some" amount. According to the report: "Preferential treatment of investment income and the reduced impact of payroll taxes on high earners lets about 94,500 millionaires pay taxes at a lower rate than 10.4 million “moderate-income taxpayers,” representing about 10 percent of those making less than $100,000 a year, according to the report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service dated Oct. 7."

    According to that last statement, 25% of millionaires pay lower taxes than only 10% of the middle class? Only 10%? Don't you think that sample size is a little too small or insignificant to make a comparison to?

    Also, keep in mind LME is firmly against tax deductions. It is in favor of a flat rate that doesn't allow the wealthy to utilize tax deductions but also doesn't allow a large percentage of the population to not contribute either.

    Lastly, thank you again for your side. We have and will still address your views. We are still wondering if you would like to discuss the issues we posted above?

  19. Dara: OWS wants to change America into a more fair society. Instead of the mega-rich paying less percentage then the working class and the big corporations closing US jobs and giving them to underpaid workers abroad just so the CEOs can get a big bonus.

  20. Anonymous - There you go again. You have claimed: "big corporations closing US jobs and giving them to underpaid workers abroad just so the CEOs can get a big bonus."

    Evidence? Proof? Please.

    With regards to the "Instead of the mega-rich paying less percentage then the working class" claim, your own report found that the average middle class family paid 19%, while the average millionaire paid 30%. The fact that some millionaires paid less than only 10% of the middle class population is a statistical anomaly. This is because:

    1. They only paid less than 10% of the average middle class population
    2. The average middle class paid 19% as a whole. The 10% that the rich paid more than actually paid 26.5% (this was in your Washington Post article). If 26.5% was paid by only 10%... that's statistically slim.

    What do you think?

  21. LME: It seem our source conflict. According to the Congress of the United States:

    "94,500 millionaires paid a smaller share of their income in taxes than 10 million households with moderate incomes, the report found."

    And I'm glad we agree on no more tax breaks. But who do you think is more now? The working class or the mega-rich?

  22. LME: Here is the link to the LA Times article.

    "In addition, the most recent Commerce Department data show that employment at the foreign subsidiaries and affiliates of U.S. multinational firms grew by 729,000 in two years, to 11.9 million in 2008 from 2006. Over that same period, domestic employment by such firms slipped by 500,000 jobs, to 21.1 million."

    "Among the companies that have recently sent jobs overseas are Hewlett-Packard Co. in Palo Alto, CKE Restaurants Inc. in Irvine and Hilton Worldwide, the McLean, Va., hotelier that maintained a reservations center in Hemet employing 295 people."

  23. Anonymous - Wait... did the Congress make this statement? Or the CRS report? I'm simply going on the links you gave me, and the research I did, which I cited with a link.

    I'm not really sure what you're saying. Yes, this is true: "94,500 millionaires paid a smaller share of their income in taxes than 10 million households with moderate incomes, the report found."

    But if you look at the data the report provides, 94,500 millionaires is only 25% of that sample group. 10 million households is only 10% of the entire group. As stated, from your report, millionaires paid on average as a whole, 30%... The middle class, as a whole (about 100 million) paid 19.6%

    So, with that, the vast majority of millionaires did still pay more than the middle class. The fact that only 10% of the middle class saw their taxes exceeded by only 25% of millionaires is a statistical anomaly.

    I do agree that there should be no more tax deductions. I want to see the government NOT discriminate on anything, ever. I want to see every single person that earns an income contribute the same percentage of their income to the government. To me, that's the definition of fairness. If you entered the workforce you should be told, for example "Welcome to the working world. For every hour you work, the government takes 10% or 6 minutes worth of your income. The remaining 54 minutes is for you." To me and this blog, that is the definition of fairness.

    With regards to taxes paid... a millionaire would still pay 10% on $1,000,000 for $100,000 in taxes total. A person making $100,000 would pay $10,000 in taxes total. The wealthy still pay more, and, to us, it's ultimately fair. It gets the government out of discriminating and it levels the playing field. It also tells people, "we, the government, have set it as fair. You cannot get more or less in income on our account. If you want more in income, you have to work for it. The government is fair and does not discriminate to help or hurt anyone."

    What do you think?

  24. LME: If you want proof, look at the unemployment rate. Who is filling these jobs that people get laid off from?
    Look at where the products are being made. Alot more are being made in foreign countries then they were in the 90s.

  25. Anonymous - Thank you. I read through it. It does make sense. The only thing (and this doesn't invalidate it), is that I can't find the actual study. But that's fine. You are citing it (and we truly appreciate it) and we will respond.

    First, do you think that a company should do whatever it can to reduce costs? For example, if I wanted to start a shoe store and I live near the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, and state business taxes were 5% in Pennsylvania and 25% in Maryland, where do you think I would build my store? I would say in PA. I have the right as a company to seek the lowest cost option. I think you would agree if I took the higher cost option, I might go out of business quicker.

    Secondly - Do you think, with huge costs, that an employer should just employ workers in spite of how much it costs to do so? Employer-shared payroll taxes are one thing, but the US has, by far, the highest corporate tax rates in the world. With that, how can US companies compete. Though sad, I can see the need to look for cheaper tax rates. If I owned a company, and I saw my bottom line turn red, I would try to find another country to go do business in. What would you do? Would you continue to lose money and go out of business, or would you find an alternate, low-cost solution? This is the right of the business owner.

    My problem (this is a side issue with OWS) is they shouldn't be protesting "Wall Street" for LEGALLY running their business in a way they see fit. I would be protesting the government for making corporations pay SO MUCH in taxes, and making it difficult for companies to compete internationally. In the past 12 months, Canada and Japan both reduced their corporate tax rates in an effort to attract businesses. Don't you think the US should do this as well. I don't think the bleeding of companies to foreign lands will stop as long as our corporate taxes remain the highest in the world. What do you think?

    Also, we have addressed your concerns and we will continue to do so. We respect your positions, but our curious if you have anything to say about the ones we list above.

  26. LME: From the Bloomberg article:

    "The overall average, though, “obscures a great deal of variation,” including the finding that 25 percent of millionaires pay lower rates than 10 percent of moderate earners, the report found."

    Though it doesn't state exactly where, these 25% can afford to pay more taxes.

  27. LME: How are companies to compete? How are are companies suppost to make an income if they lay off workers and the people in the US don't have money to buy their products?
    How about bringing back the tariff Bush lifted so jobs stay in America?

  28. LME: Corporations taking jobs and giving them to underpaid workers in bad working enviorments is not a business "option", it's just greed.

  29. Why does OWS accuse Wall Street of stealing?
    This id from wikipedia:

    "The protesters targeted Wall Street because of the part it played in the economic crisis of 2008 which started the Great Recession. They say that Wall Street's risky lending practices of mortgage-backed securities which ultimately proved to be worthless caused the crisis, and that the government bailout breached a sense of propriety. The protesters say that Wall Street recklessly and blatantly abused the credit default swap market, and that the instability of that market must have been known *beforehand*. They say that the guilty parties should be prosecuted."

  30. Anonymous - With regards to millionaires paying taxes, a flat, no deductions, everyone pays the same rate option makes sure the wealthy will always pay a larger amount.

    Which Bush tariff are you referring to? And if this is true, how would it keep jobs in America? By implying this Bush tariff hurt US jobs, did it charge companies to sell their goods overseas? If so, yes, that is not conducive to economic activity here.

    I will take this point one step further. You did not address my issue of corporations doing what they need to do to cut costs, especially in the face of high taxes. OWS protests the corporations, but you cite an issue with a government program (a tariff). If the government alters the playing field, how can OWS be upset at the companies that are merely playing the game the government established? Shouldn't they be upset at the government?

    With your third point, define underpaid. With employment and labor, a company puts forth an ad that states "we need someone to do XXX job. Here is your overall compensation package. We will pay you this." Doesn't the worker have the right to choose if he accepts that job or not? Does he have a gun to his head? If the corporation can't get a single person to fill that position, don't you think they need to increase the pay? That's not greed. That's the meeting of employers and employees to determine , using the free market, what employees choose to do and for what price. That is the ultimate form of EMPLOYEE regulation. Can you indicate how this would NOT be the case?

    And, again, for the 4th time. We would like your opinions as to the issues we brought up as well. Thank you for your continued dialogue.

  31. Even if we are all so naive to think that big corporations (money) don't control the government, why is it that the tax breaks benegit the investors (which is what the upper 1% is most made of) more then the working class? To help reinvesting and stir the economy? Yes, the economy is really great now, isn't it?

  32. Anonymous - First, let's get some things clear. Stealing something is prohibited by law. Larceny is illegal. The purchase and sale of credit default swaps is NOT illegal. How can you prosecute someone for doing something that is legal?

    Secondly, I am going to go back to the original point: The government permitted (and still does and will always permit) credit default swaps to be sold (for people that don't know what they are, and I surmise that OWS does not, they tend to term drop the phrase "credit default swap" without knowing what it is, but take it from someone that studied finance in college) and that is perfectly 100% legal. If OWS does not like credit default swaps (again, a LEGAL financial instrument such as insurance) don't you think they should be mad at the government for allowing them to exist, and not "Wall Street" for merely engaging in legal business practices? If I don't like alcohol, I'm not going to have a problem with the people drinking it (it's legal). I'm going to go after the people that allowed it to be legal.

    All this goes back to my case that OWS is

    1. Talking about things they don't understand (credit default swaps)
    2. Mad at the wrong people.

    What do you think?

  33. Shouldn't OWS be upset with the government?

    1) Why do you think the governement make law and regulations in favor of the corporations? Because their siding with the working class?

    2) If you notice, OWS is protesting the government.

  34. This is from wikipedia

    "The U.S. stood first in the world in 2005 with a ratio of 39:1 CEO's compensation to pay of manufacturing production workers."

    Now where is it that corporate taxes have gone up in the last decade to cause corporations to close down jobs and send them abroad?

    I don't think it's taxes that cause this. I think it's CEOs and higher ups greed that cause it.

  35. LME: At one time, it was legal to own slaves in the US. That doesn't make it right now, does it?

  36. LME: Btw, as far as your questions above, can you site where you get those "facts" form?

  37. We aren't giving facts above. The texts in black are 7 claims OWS protesters made in the video. The red text are our challenges for proof.

  38. Yah, no. Nice try. You are all blind to corporate slavery. Stop asking for proof. Just work your 13 hour days in your sweat shops while the fatcats make their money.

    OCCUPY or get out of the way!

  39. A couple to start -

    WALL STREET AND THE FINANCIAL CRISIS: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse:

    Behind Closed Doors at the White House: How Politics Trumps Protection of Public Health, Worker Saftey and the Environment:

  40. Twunky, thank you very much for your post. I have a few... things?

    1. In a short/quick version, can you please summarize these links? I find that many (I'm not necessarily saying you) people try to make a claim by copying and pasting a professional-sounding website. Again, not saying this is you, but if you can summarize what in these links makes you feel/believe the way you do, that's definitely helpful. I get tired of people who just link-drop something that looks good in the hope that a random economic study they found on is "proof." Please know this isn't questioning you, I'm just looking for the info you pull from these large reports that leads to your feeling.

    2. What were these related to? We highlighted 7 key claims from the video above (shown in red). Were these in direct response to either? If not, that's okay. Just really quick, where there any specific issues you were pasting these links about?

    I hope to hear back from you. These do seem insightful, and I'm looking forward to hearing your viewpoint. Thank you!

  41. LME, I'm not attempting to provide proof of any sort, merely to state what I understand from those points, and some considerations.

    - Wall Street stole money.

    In reference to bailouts - OWS believes Wall Street financial firms took the bailouts and used the money to pay bonuses to executives, which is percieved as stealing from the people - when in fact, it was the government that gave it to them - in fact, they almost forced them to take it. Most of the bailout money has since been repaid.

    - Money controls government.

    In reference to lobbyists - corporate money flows into the coffers of politicians in a quid-pro-quo fashion that implies direct control over those politicians. I believe the self-serving nature of most politicians does nothing to completely discredit this idea, but blame on said politicians is not emphasized, or even mentioned.

    - Institutional oppression.

    This refers to, I believe, the perception that the corporate elites (CEOs and upper management) keep the middle class salaries low on purpose, when in fact they are dictated by market conditions and value of their labor.

    - Corporations have taken away the democratic process in this country.

    The perception that because corporations and PACs can buy airtime to express their political ideology, this somehow controls the outcome of elections. While true to a certain extent, this ignores the fact that people have become complacent and are influenced by soundbites and by what they see on TV instead of becoming informed.

    - To restore democracy.

    The is one of the aforementioned soundbites, which is meaningless.

    - We don't have free elections.

    See the previous two responses (agree completely).

    - The government (well, we don't even know who the gentleman is talking about) spent $16 trillion in secret (I think they added that adjective to make it sound more catchy) bailout money that was withheld from Congress and the taxpayer over the last three years.

    My only guess is that this pertains to the Federal Reserve (not the government, perse) increasing the money supply. This is hardly secretive, and it's not $16 Trillion, but it is a problem.

  42. tkstock - Thank you so much for this post. I like how you preface it with "I'm not attempting to provide proof of any sort, merely to state what I understand from those points, and some considerations." This is just what we're looking for.

    I will comment on your posts individually, and hopefully, quickly.

    "OWS believes Wall Street financial firms..." - Yes! The government instituted these bailouts OWS is so vehemently against (we also are against bailouts of any kind... see our post "Too Big to Fail..."). So I say... shouldn't they be protesting the government?

    "Corporate money flows into the coffers..." - Yes! To me, lobbying is legal. To lobby Congress is legal. So, why is OWS upset at "Wall Street" for doing something that's 100% legal. Shouldn't they be protesting the government?

    "This refers to, I believe, the perception..." - Yes! This is probably my favorite response. It sounds like you've studied this before. I couldn't have said it better myself: wages are determined by market conditions and the value of labor. Also, and employee or employee candidate has the right to CHOOSE where he/she works. No one has a gun to their head. It's the freedom to choose one's path that makes America great, and causes people to get to the "1%." So, to me, this protest claim is invalid.

    "The perception that because corporations and..." Yes! The big part I like: " influenced by soundbites and by what they see on TV instead of becoming informed." This is what I call "MSNBC Economists" and I think it runs rampant on the left. I also will say that the government does not discriminate who can buy airtime or make contributions. Therefore, since 1, it's equal opportunity, and 2, at the end of the day people still should be informed before they vote, I would say OWS' point and their protest about this is invalid.

    "The is one of the aforementioned soundbites, which is meaningless." - Home run!

    Free elections - Yup... Home run number two.

    "My only guess is that this pertains to the..." yeah, I don't know either. I surmise it's the same thing you think. QE1 + QE2, maybe? And yes, not secretive, and yes, I don't agree with increasing the money supply. Of course, you know my next comment: it's not "Wall Street" that does this. Why are they not protesting the government for allowing this system to exist, or maybe the fed itself?

    So, with all that, it seems that they are protesting the wrong people at the wrong place. Out of those seven claims, I can't find one that points the need to protest "Wall Street." I hope to see some civil rebuttals to my views, but, as of now, this is what I believe.

    Thank you so much for providing this post. I really hope to hear more from you. You were very civil, insightful, and your post was well written. If I don't, thank you and good luck with everything you do!

    Also, did you happen to subscribe or follow? If you like our blog, please tell a friend.

  43. No problem. I'll be here occasionally as time permits. I spend too much time "commenting" sometimes - I've debated about getting a blog of my own. :)

  44. Tkstock - We hope you do. We like your way of presenting your argument. Plus, you kept your word!

    Just like you seem to imply, we think commenting gets frustrating. CNN and other news sites delete a lot of comments. On top of that, it's not civil. We are HUGE on civility here. If that's a better avenue, we are happy.

    If you don't want to create and manage your own blog (we do have a small staff of writers, designers and promoters) but you want to write extensively about these subjects (you seem to feel passionate about them) you're always welcome to contribute via a dedicated post. Any time you like, you can submit a titled post (like the ones you see on our main page) to our email ( at any time. We will post it as yours (with like a From Contributor tkstock: Title) or however you like, and it won't be edited. Of course, you don't have to do it. There is no pressure. To us, it's a way for people like you to get their opinions out (I think the desire to comment just builds up inside and sometimes you just need to go get it out) without the constant upkeep of a blog.

    If you do this, great! If not, no hard feelings at all, and we hope to hear from you soon! Thank you!

    Also, a great way to keep up with us is to follow us on Twitter: @lmelephantblog or by email subscription.

  45. Thanks LME for this open forum. I was posting at work earlier, so I had to keep it simple. These are all valid questions that need to be addressed.

    I just got home from work, so I will review these links again (they are lengthy), and put together proper response =)

  46. Twunky - No problem. We are just tired of the vitriol and the insults that are slung by both conservatives and liberals. We just want this to be an open chalkboard where both parties can give their views without hate speech, regardless of how the audience agrees or disagrees.

    With your post, no rush at all. It happens a lot (that people read at work but can't post). If and when you're ready, that's great. If not, no hard feelings. Take care!

  47. It is not anyone else's job to educate you.

    Politicians spend a lot of their time raising money. They have to to compete with their opponent. Having more money in a campaign means having an advantage in a an election.

    Look how money in presidential races are trending:

    1996 $477.9
    2000 $649.5
    2004 $1,016.5
    2008 $1,834.4

    What does that money buy?

    If money had no effect on politics, why would people spend so much on it?

    If you do not conclude that campaign contributions are not given with the hopes of having favorable treatment by the elected official, then I do not think you understand what politics is.

  48. Anonymous - Thank you for your post.

    I'm a little confused by your post.

    First, yes, candidates need to raise money to be able to compete with other candidates for airtime, printed materials, etc. Candidates raise this; it's typically not their own money. This allows the average Joe to run and does not leave politics only to the wealthy. I'm not sure what your objection is. People that contribute are free to contribute to whomever they want. What solution do you propose otherwise? If money had no effect on politics, how would anyone be able to go on the campaign trail and still eat, print materials, etc. Yes, campaign contributions are donated to candidates with the hopes of that candidate getting elected, but this is an equal opportunity notion. There is no law saying only one group can support certain people. I'm not sure what the issue is.

    Secondly, we posted 7 questions in red above. Can you address these questions? Can you cite evidence? Our blog prides itself on proof. We back everything we say and hope that people who make claims can do so as well. Simply saying something exists doesn't mean it exists. We hope you can answer these questions using citable proof.

    Thank you again. We hope to hear back from you.

  49. Quickly, it's not your job to educate anyone... that's correct. It is, however, the job of those that make a claim to be able to back it. OWS makes many claims... we simply want to see someone actually back them.

    Also, an additional question. You appear to be against money in politics. Did you see our post about Obama offering money for votes?

    Do you think this is how democracy should be? Do you think it's okay for candidates to promise money or favorable tax treatment in order to gain votes from the electorate? Saying "hey, what would an extra $1,500 mean to you" implies "hey, if you vote for us, you will get an extra $1,500." What prevents candidates from just standing outside polling places handing out money for votes? Let us know your position.
    Thank you.

  50. I am going to answer two of these for now.
    - Wall Street stole money. Okay? How? Proof? How did Wall Street "steal" money?
    Frankly, I am surprised you need proof of this. People constantly point out that the TARP funds were paid back and that makes it all better. I have been in the mortgage industry for over 10 years. I have personally witnessed the lengths that all facets of the industry would go to, in order to make a profit. Everyone with an ounce of common sense knew we were putting buyers into homes that they couldn’t afford. On top of that we were purposefully pushing them toward higher rate sub-prime loans with adjustable rates. Ask yourself one question. What happened when those homeowners that were fooled into believing they would always have an appreciating asset to tap into, couldn’t afford their payments? They were foreclosed on, and left homeless. The mortgage industry victimized the American people in the name of profit. No one was there for the homeowner to bail them out when they were rendered homeless.
    The financial industry used its influence in Washington to repeal Glass-Steagall which separated the commercial banks from investment firms. After the repeals banks were given free reign to play roulette with our money and bet against the very loans they knew were going to fail. I would do pretty well for myself if I was able to bet against something that I set up to fail.
    - Money controls government. As with the first point, please give an example of this. Here at LME, we think this is a catchy little phrase OWS uses to get people to follow their cause, but until we can see some cited proof of this, we can't go along with it.
    This is no catch phrase. The Citizen’s United supreme court decision in 2010 gave corporations the same rights as citizens in terms of free speech, and also clarified that money is a form of free speech. What is the biggest difference between you and GE? I would say it has to be wealth. If money is speech, then corporations and the wealthy have the loudest voice in Washington.


  51. Also, I want to be clear on something I see as a theme here. This is not a partisan issue that Occupy is raising. Both parties are corrupted and are puppets to their corporate masters. One only needs to look at the ridiculous contributions that they receive and the unlimited spending that these Super PACs have access to because of the corporate elite and super wealthy in this country. Our voice has been robbed from us.

  52. Allan, thank you very much for your post. We appreciate your civility and respect. Of course, our blog exists to have civil debate, so we are obviously going to challenge (respectfully) and disagree with some of your positions.

    With your first point: I respect your point of view, and understand the frustration. But, to me, what you're talking about isn't stealing. First, if... (BIG IF) the lenders loaned mortgages maliciously, intentionally lying, using false documents, then absolutely, they should be charged, tried, and if found guilty, punished. There are two parts to a contract, however. While I'm sure there were some (though, if there were, I would expect more charges would have been filed), there are also many, many home buyers that still signed on the dotted line. It is always up to the parties of a contract to understand the terms of that contract. Many people took a huge risk and spread themselves thin. In my opinion, they should bear the consequences that went with their action. Again, if what the lenders did was not nefarious, how is it stealing? If I can't make my mortgage payment, to me, the bank stole nothing from me... I would take responsibility and bear with that the negative consequences of losing my home. If I didn't carry my end of the bargain, I must live with that.

    Your second point: "The financial industry used its influence in Washington to repeal Glass-Steagall..." ok... so this is what we are getting at in our blog. Yes, we see this claim, but, no, we do not see any evidence, nor has anyone given us the evidence that this is actually the case. It might be, it might not be... we are merely requesting the actual proof this is happening. Suspecting it happened and saying it happened does not mean it actually happened. The onus is on the person making the claim to back it. Again, this is nothing personal, and it's nothing but respectful to you, Allan, but we just want to see proof. It would definitely help us understand and potentially see things OWS' way if there was something cited. As we always say, we are huge on proof. We are tired of the chants and the false world people live in. We stand closer to opposing views that are backed than agreeing ones that are not.

    With the money controls government one: With this one, yes, I can see the point here. I think this is somewhat valid. My counter (more playing devil's advocate here) is...

    1. I'm somewhat ok with this because it is non-discriminatory. Any company can do this. There is no law saying one can while one can't.

    2. I do think there are free speech implications. If the government can tell a company how much it can spend with its own money and where, doesn't that set a dangerous precedent? Also, what about a corporation owned by one person (there are many, I actually owned one for a while). If I became wealthy, and i wanted to donate, what stops me from just paying myself my salary from my company and then donating. Also, what solution do you propose to this issue that is constitutional? I do think your view and OWS' on this one is somewhat more valid.

    With your extra comment. I do respectfully disagree that it is not a partisan thing. And, of course, I disagree with the part about "corporate masters." You also claim our voice is robbed, but, no matter how much money any one person, a Super PAC, a corporation spends when it comes to political contributions, the citizens still all have one vote and can choose to do with it what they wish. How are they robbed when they ultimately make their own voting decisions?

    Allan, thank you again. We are really appreciative of your comments and we hope you come back to contribute more. We might disagree with most of your views, but we promote the respectful sharing of information. If you'd like to contribute even more (we've asked OWS if they would like to give titled articles that we would post, please email us). Thanks!

  53. I am going to counter with a challenge. Give me one reason the government would repeal Glass-Steagall other than to benefit the banks. Glass Steagall was insituted after the Great Depression to ensure that we seperated investment funds that were subject to volatile markets from commercial banks. Why would the government repeal this protection if not to remove regulation that was set up to protect the American people?

    Secondly, your assertion that charges would have been filed had fraud been an issue, is quite simply why I would demand an independent investigation into the practices of our banks before, during, and after the recession began. Let the truth come to light and if the banks were innocent, let the courts decide that. But that isn't what has happened. Instead, no investigations have occurred beyond SEC rulings that are slaps on the wrist to multi-billion dollar corporations. I assure you, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that an investigation would reveal rampant fraud, abuse, and mis-representation.

    You also cannot blame people completely for trusting the banking institutions who lied to them to gain their business. I agree that a contract is two-sided, but when a hungry bank goes on the attack, the homeowner is usually the victim.


  54. Allan -

    First, to my original question, is it really stealing? I did give my reasons as to why I don't think it is.

    I would say I definitely respectfully disagree with this: "I am going to counter with a challenge. Give me one reason the government would repeal Glass-Steagall other than to benefit the banks." Again, the onus is on the claimer to back what they say. Your statement creates a situation where guilt is implied. To me, again, this is a dangerous world to live in. Simply saying person A murdered person B because "it couldn't possibly be any other way" is not very safe. I'm sorry, I cannot go along with that.

    You and I do agree... yes, let this be handled in the court of law, not the court of the media, not in the court of OWS. You made this claim: "I assure you, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that an investigation would reveal rampant fraud, abuse, and mis-representation." I counter it with two things:

    1. I would like to see proof. Again, suspicion isn't proof. I would need to see it before going along with it. Our claim that OWS is protesting for nothing, to me, still stands until we see proof behind claims like the one you're making.

    2. Again, if this is actually the case, being 3 years after the housing mess... wouldn't there be more trials. There was one settled yesterday against BofA and their Countrywide mortgage unit. That's what we are talking about. The government does go after these kind of things IF an actual law was broken.

    Your claim "You also cannot blame people completely for trusting the banking institutions who lied to them to gain their business." My challenge is... I need proof that the bank actually lied.

    Let me counter with this... I will try to wrap all my challenges into one:

    What if all these claims actually were not true (they might be, but, with the lack of actual evidence, they might not be true)... but what if they weren't.

    1. What if Glass-Steagall wasn't repealed for the reason you say it was?
    2. What if banks behaved 100% within the law?
    3. What if there was no lying, rampant fraud, etc.

    Would you and OWS still protest? Honestly, again, nothing against you personally, but I would like to see the proof behind the reason GS was repealed, behind the claim banks broke the law, behind the claim that banks lied. Please don't counter with "well, all that is true, so you can't say 'what if it isn't?'"

    Trust us, we respect the First Amendment's guaranteed rights. But, in all honesty, we really need to see some proof, any proof behind these claims. I respectfully disagree, Allan (with the claims, not you as a person) and will not go along with claims that are assumptions.

    Hope to hear back from you. Thank you.

  55. Fraud is a form of theft. Plain and simple. Moreover it is illegal and is a federal crime. I am not calling anyone guilty. I am simply asking the question: Why has there been no formal investigation on a federal level into this? Why have the perpetrators (who have been fined by the SEC) not been made to stand trial for federal crimes? If they are innocent, they have nothing to fear, but the fact that they have not been formally investigated and charged is an issue.

    The repeal of Glass-Steagall allowed the banks to bet on mortgages they knew would fail. It cannot be disputed that this could not have happened had the Glass-Steagall act still been in effect. OWS wants Glass-Steagall to be re-enacted so that this cannot happen again. Plain and simple.

    You want proof that fraud occurred, I am sorry to tell you, that I cannot provide that. That does not mean that it didn’t happen. Again we are calling for a formal investigation followed by charges if necessary. Again, I am only sure because I have seen it with my own eyes and I know I am not alone. A formal investigation would give you all the proof you need.

    The government is slapping fines on the banks for committing crimes that should include jail sentences. You trust the government far too much if you believe they are doing everything they should. Check out the war crimes that Bradley Manning leaked. No charges for the crimes he brought to light, but he has been detained indefinitely for treason.

    1. What if Glass-Steagall wasn't repealed for the reason you say it was?

    It doesn’t matter why it was repealed, it matters that it is re-enacted so that this cannot happen again.

    2. What if banks behaved 100% within the law?

    Then why are they paying fines?

    3. What if there was no lying, rampant fraud, etc.

    I am 100% sure there was. Calling for a formal independent investigation would bring this to light.


  56. Allan – Thank you for engaging.

    Yes, fraud is a crime. Perhaps there have been no investigations because there has been no actual crimes being committed. Maybe there has been nothing close to a crime, I don’t know. Just because people claim something is happening doesn’t mean it is happening. You cite some things: perpetrators (please name a few to back this claim) have been fined by the SEC (when, where, links, proof). You say “if they are innocent”… but if they are, they wouldn’t be perpetrators. I still need to see some proof of all this.

    You brought up the reasoning of GS being repealed. You made a claim that the financial industry used its influence to get it repealed; I challenged for proof. Are you now saying that your claim as to who repealed it and for why (you said “the financial industry used its influence in Washington to repeal Glass-Steagall which separated the commercial banks from investment firms.”) is not valid?

    You said: “You want proof that fraud occurred, I am sorry to tell you, that I cannot provide that” – doesn’t this kind of back what we are saying? All we want to see is the proof behind why OWS and its supporters believe what they believe… since we are not seeing the proof, and have yet to receive actual citable (links, articles, court filings, etc) evidence? Why believe something you cannot back with fact? (Trust me, this isn’t a personal attack, we are just saying that yes, still have not been served proof, and, like we have said, we think a lot of OWS’ protests are frankly, either not backed, for nothing, or at the wrong people/institution). You are absolutely correct: because you cannot provide proof doesn’t mean fraud did not happen… BUT, why believe something you cannot prove?

    You said: “The government is slapping fines on the banks for committing crimes that should include jail sentences.” Ok, you know my response: proof? :-) Which are you referring to… and “fines?” Are they commensurate fines? Do they line up with OWS’ complaints?

    Bringing up the Wikileaks thing is something I am not discussing at this time. I haven’t researched it enough to take a position.

    Going on to the questions you answered:

    1. I answered… you brought up who and why it was repealed… are you withdrawing that claim by saying it doesn’t matter?

    2. What if banks behaved 100% within the law?

    Then why are they paying fines? - Again, links, proof, specific fines?

    3. What if there was no lying, rampant fraud, etc.

    I am 100% sure there was. Calling for a formal independent investigation would bring this to light. – I cannot stand behind “I am 100% sure it was.” I need proof.

    I really need to see some links, articles, evidence. Thank you.

  57. We are talking in circles.

    If the amount of fines that the big banks have faced is not enough to make you at least question their practices, then there will be no convincing you

  58. Btw, this is 2 minutes of google searches on "Big Bank fines", there is plenty more.

  59. Allan – Thanks for the information. I will address these. Keep one thing in mind; a settlement is not an admission of guilt. Just because a company settles doesn’t mean they did something illegal. Sometimes it means they simply can pay a small settlement, and that would be less than defending a case.

    The first:

    Not bad, but again, a settlement (yes, this is incorrectly headlined as a fine). FINRA is a private company; it is NOT a government agency. This is NOT a court case at all, and does not indicate guilt. I will explain what FINRA is.
    Using an example, if I wanted to create a piano club where I publish articles about pianos, pianists’ skills, etc. people would pay licensing dues, fees, etc. for me to write about them and include them in the club. They can they say to potential clients “hire me; I will play at your wedding. I’m a member of the LME Piano Club.” To make sure I keep anyone in my club on the up and up to maintain a reputable business, I can fine them if they do something wrong. If they don’t pay, I remove them from the club, and they can no longer claim the association. This is what FINRA is. It is an industry-paid, self-regulation firm. It is not affiliated with the law or the government in any way. Numerous “Wall Street” companies pay in to make sure it’s funded, and it acts as a little pseudo-checker on all the participating companies. In this case, this Wells Fargo loan wolf was doing something bad, and FINRA spoke up. There is no legal wrangling here, just an industry mall cop saying “we don’t like what you did.” In my opinion, and if you read our blog you will see we can’t stand when the media does this,… this is terrible headlining (using a headline to claim something is true, which is not entirely the case).


    This is exactly what I was talking about when I said “2. Again, if this is actually the case, being 3 years after the housing mess... wouldn't there be more trials. There was one settled yesterday against BofA and their Countrywide mortgage unit.” You’re citing one I brought up. Yes, this is a discrimination suit, and yes, BofA did not follow the government’s rules. But how is this fraud? How is this stealing? At the end of the day, the law was enforced, and justice was served. Also, this is what I’m talking about when I say “if this was happening, wouldn’t the courts go after it?” They are. This is an example of it. It kind of shows that maybe, like I’ve said, when the courts aren’t going after it, maybe it’s because it isn’t happening. Who knows?


    This one holds some water. I found the Federal Reserve’s write-up about it: Keep one key note in mind, however: just like FINRA as stated in the first response, the Fed is not a government agency. Again, if the banks were doing something actually illegal, it would be brought to the court. This was a consent decree (had to consult a lawyer on this one). It is basically a contract. It states “if you do this and fix this and pay this amount, we will not try to get you by another method.” This case was not brought up in court and WF did not admit any guilt. It was a contracted settlement. Was what they did wrong? Maybe. Illegal? No. If it was, it would have been tried in the courts. This is another example of self-regulation, but not an example of breaking the law, or anything illegal. This (again, I checked on this) was not brought in front of the courts, because, as I mentioned earlier, there are two parties to a contract. What WF did was not illegal, and ultimately, the borrower has a responsibility (if they choose) to examine the market to determine what the best solution for their lending needs is.

  60. Allan (continued):

    # 4;

    Yes, no company is perfect. Automakers pay millions in fines every year. The insurance industry pays billion to state DOIs yearly. This one didn’t seem to affect people though, per sé. Why is OWS against this one? But again, you (and OWS) has made the claim that fraud isn’t brought to justice. This is an example, yes? If it isn’t, OWS isn’t the legal system. If they have a problem, shouldn’t they be protesting outside the Capitol or the Supreme Court?


    This one? Um… this is a journalist blogger who seems to be of the same opinions as you and OWS but, unfortunately (I’m not making an accusation here) none of his “cites” work. I can’t get an links on his page to work. Without working primary sources, this guy really has nothing. On the side, however, he talked about overdraft fees. Again, this goes back to consumer choice and doing your part to uphold a contract. If customers don’t want to pay overdraft fees, they shouldn’t write bad checks. If they think an overdraft fee is too high, they know it before entering this agreement with a bank, and they have the right to search for a bank that charges lower ones. It’s about market choices. Overdraft fees exist for a calculated reason; the federal government should not be regulating this.


    Ok. I have to admit… this one bugged me. I started with this one. I read the entire article. He eventually starts breaking down the alleged frauds one by one. I went and started reading each and every “source” in each and every alleged fraud and started to notice that most of them weren’t even related to what he was talking about. For instance, he links to a page about “forged signatures” as a “proof” of maleficence. If you actually read the article, it was not proved at all. How can this journalist use something that is alleged as proof? This bugged me because this is terrible journalism. After reading a bunch of these I stopped. It’s very disappointing that people can do this junk. I don’t know if they think readers won’t dig deeper or what, but it’s pretty dangerous. Did you read all this through and through? What do you think?

    #7 the GS act. Very familiar. Went to college for finance. I’m not sure why you cited the wiki on this though.

    Ok… I have read all these, and even read the sources, links, etc. cited in these. First, I will admit. I do appreciate you giving me these. I’ve been asking for info and proof, you are the first person to actually step up and give some that has some connection (many people pass off links that are totally unrelated and think that I won’t read them, hoping I will merely say “yah, you proved it.”) Obviously, I have an opinion, obviously and I gave my reasons on all. After reading them, I do ask (this isn’t snide, it’s just a question): did you read these? I ask because you said this was a quick Google search. Sometimes I wonder if OWS does this a lot. They just look at headlines and Google links to garner their beliefs. I’m not saying you personally do that, but I was just wondering if you read everything yourself? Maybe you did and you come up with different opinions, maybe you didn’t. I read these, and, as you can see, many of them weren’t, in my opinion, up to snuff for “proof.” The ones that were, I did say they were.

    Thank you again. Hope to hear back. Civil debate is always good. I’m glad we can share information.

    One last thing: would you be okay with me posting this as a blog article about civil debate? I would maybe also mention the subject and see if I can get other opinions on it. If not, I won't, and it would remain only in this comment thread. The reason I ask is because it was just a comment, it is your original writing, and you do include your name. Let me know. Thank you.

  61. First and foremost, I am all about civil debate and you may use any of my comments as you see fit. Open and honest dialogue is important and I am glad to be a part of it, even when we disagree.

    The bottom line for me is that there is enough evidence of wrongdoing (fines from FINRA and the Fed) to warrant a formal investigation by the Justice Department. Your position is that because there has been no investigation, that must mean that one is not warranted. Let us not forget that Wall Street invests large sums of money in campaign contributions to the same elected officials who should be calling for that investigation.

    This link shows that fines for mortgage-bond securities fraud exceed 1 billion dollars as of October 21st of this year. The article uses the Citigroup fine of $285 million as an example of a banking institution that knowingly sold bad mortgages to investors without disclosure (you know, fraud) and then subsequently bet that those securities would lose value.

    If you click on the link to the Wall Street Journal article regarding Citigroup, you will see that Citi paid the fine as a settlement to end civil fraud charges by the SEC. This is a sweetheart deal for Citigroup, because they pay the fine without having to admit any wrongdoing or accepting any liability for their actions. If they accept no responsibility, then they are not guilty of anything.

    So, if Citi pays the fine, and admits no wrongdoing, does that make them innocent of fraud? Are they then absolved in the eyes of the law? I hope our justice system is not so broken to concede the possibility of criminal activity because the bank paid an arbitrary fine.

    Fraud is an illegal practice, and I don’t believe that fines are a proper punishment, especially given that there is no admission of guilt or wrongdoing.

    Our economy did not accidentally crash, greed is not a crime, but fraud is and I want it investigated. I will not assign guilt until they are tried in court, but OWS will not rest until this is properly investigated and tried in the court of law.

    Your assertion that if something illegal was happening, that they would have already faced charges is short-sighted and trusts the Justice Department far too much.

    Please watch the documentary ‘Inside Job’ narrated by Matt Damon for an in depth look into the crash that caused the great recession.


  62. Allan - Good morning and welcome back.

    I think you might be somewhat right; we are kind of going in circles... well, to me, we have reached our "bottom lines." This isn't a bad thing. Your bottom line seems to be that you believe that there is enough evidence to warrant formal charges and court hearings, mine is that I don't believe there is.

    The one thing I do think is that perhaps OWS' methods are a little off:

    You suggest that you will not assign guilt, but isn't that what OWS does? They have vandalized, protested outside the personal homes of Wall Street executives, etc. I tend to like your approach a little better. OWS seems to condemn without doing it properly. If you desire to see the alleged criminals tried justly, why not petition the government, protest in front of the court, etc? I dislike OWS' methods because they seem to be automatically convicting "Wall Street." I still hold the fact that it's a possibility Wall Street isn't as bad and as nefarious as many OWS people think. I too would like to see what happens in court, but for me, I can't jump on board with something that, to me, consists of a lot of myths, word of mouths, "perhapses" "maybes" "probablies" etc.

    Maybe we could have a bet about the outcomes and proof of crimes though it might never come to fruition because, according to you (not being snide), the courts are not doing their job... :-P

    Either way, I'm glad you have come to us to engage thoughtfully (and, to us, most importantly, backing what you say). Hopefully you continue to comment here and/or on other parts of the blog. I appreciate and respect what you have to say, thought I might not agree with most of it.

  63. You have an answer for everything. Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow, and you have bosoms a-plenty. (Or is it just a fleshwound?)

  64. Yes, an answer for everything is good. Why would I simple take things as they are. I don't blindly follow anything, thank you.

  65. How many OWS protesters have you spoken with in person, at the protest site? That's part of the reason they are there.

    The title of your blog is ironic in the extreme, since its purpose is to make damn sure the elephant in the room remains hidden.

  66. Hidden from yourself, that is.

    Are you an investment banker, by any chance?

  67. Mike Crews - Ohhhhhh how magical proof and cited/citable facts can be. We have actually tried to contact OWS numerous times. In fact, we sent a peaceful email right to the General Assembly of OWS (perhaps their press corps, I'm not sure how they work structurally)... Our reason, again: we're not against them, we just think they don't back what they say. Here is a copy of that email dated December 5th, 2011. I would be happy to forward it to you if you like:

  68. To whom it may concern;

    My name is Mike. I’m one of the main contributors for a conservative blog: You may be wondering why I’m emailing you. Well, honestly, it’s to hold out my hand.

    First, let me start by explaining our blog. Obviously, we are conservatives. Yes, we have our positions, but we are only one set of eyes and ears. We think the mainstream media is too biased, left or right. We encourage peaceful, civil debate. Again, we do have our positions and our challenges to views, but we want opposing viewpoints to chime in, too. If we take a position, we are going to back it. We hope that those that agree with us back what they say as well. We also hope that those who challenge our positions can back their views with appropriate facts and evidence, too. If you look at our blog, it’s civil. The topics themselves might be contentious, but the debate, the discourse between comments and contributors is always civil and respectful. No matter how much we agree or disagree with a viewpoint, we pledge respect. Our comments throughout the blog show this, and we will always abide by this.

    Back to why we are emailing you. We believe in civil debate. We think you can agree that this is lacking on both sides. We are opening up a proposition to you.
    What do we request? Your ideas, your writing, your positions, etc. We know you have press groups and assemblies of the like. We would like to establish a peaceful relationship with you. We envision perhaps a direct liaison, maybe one, two, three, etc. volunteers that would be a contributor to our blog. This would be like any blog post, and perhaps, styled more like an opinion peace. You would email us daily, weekly, or whatever you like and we would basically copy and paste it to your our blog. Obviously, you would determine the title and we would post that it is from an OWS contributor. We would not change anything you write unless it was hurtful or dangerous. We are inviting you to have an open forum on our blog.

    What do you we think this will accomplish? Hopefully, civil debate. Comment strings on major news websites aren’t doing it. We want people on our side to hear your views. We want people from your side to hear ours. We want the two sides to meet civilly and respectfully. I would be working with you if you take this opportunity.

    What this is not: It’s not an attempt to get you to put things on our blog to be smeared or shot at. Again, we promote civility and our comment strings (many of which contain debate) are very respectful. It’s not an opportunity to tell you your positions are right or wrong. It is not an attempt to hurt, disrespect, mock, make fun of, etc. anyone of a different viewpoint.

    What this is: It’s an attempt to simply talk and share information whether we agree or disagree.

    If anyone, or any two, or three or whatever people are interested, please email me back. I would be happy to work with you in a way that is beneficial for all. I can be reached at I hope to hear back from someone. Please let me know your opinion about this proposition, and if there are any suggestions you might have as well. If you do not want to participate, that is fine and we respect your opinions.

    Very Respectfully,


  69. What do you require or accept as "proof"?

  70. Bladimz - thank you for writing.

    We want to see our questions answered and backed with citable, real evidence. If I made a statement such as "corporations have taken away the democratic process in this country" I would back it with a link, an article, a fact. If not, it looks like a gitchy catch phrase.

    I don't believe this claim made by OWS. I believe that corporations have not taken away the democratic process in this country. Every citizen still has the ability to vote, and that's democracy. I would like to see the backing in OWS' claim that says this isn't true.

    We at The Elephant in the Room respect all opinions now matter how much we disagree with them. This blog is devoted to civil debate. We have asked these questions and are still looking for some solid cited (study/gov't study reports, articles, financial statements, economic analysis, etc.) that shows the claims we listed and challenged above are true.

    Thank you again, and I hope to hear back from you.

  71. A few ground rule questions / clarifications. I'd like to get some agreement on what words mean in context here so please answer a few questions before I attempt to explain:

    - Wall Street stole money. Please define what you mean by stole in this context. Do you mean convicted of theft?

    - Money controls government. Please define what you mean by control in this context.

    - Institutional oppression. No clue what this means.

    - Corporations have taken away the democratic process in this country. Define taken away in this context. Would you consider a diminishment to mean taken away here?

    - To restore democracy. Probably falls in the same category as the old conservative chestnut "Take our country back." Where exactly did it go?

    - We don't have free elections. Please define free in this context. Does freedom mean free and easy access to voting?

    - The government (well, we don't even know who the gentleman is talking about) spent $16 trillion in secret (I think they added that adjective to make it sound more catchy) bailout money that was withheld from Congress and the taxpayer over the last three years. WOW! In the last three years, we spent more than our entire GDP in "secret" bailouts that no one knew about. Okay, come on. Someone please give some traceable testimony on this. Again, no offense intended, but this one is just silly. No clue...Not addressing this one.

  72. Muttmutt - Thank you for engaging.

    Honestly, it's not really on us to answer these kind of questions. We did not make the claims. The onus falls on the claim makers to defend what they say. If you believe the views of those that made the 7 claims in the video, you should be able to answer them (I would think).

    The claim "Wall Street stole money" was made. We want proof of how they did.

    "Money controls government." We want proof and examples of how it does.

    "Institutional oppression" - We have no clue either. OWS supporter in the video made the claim, we want SOMEONE, anyone to provide clarification and an answer.

    "To restore democracy" - Again, we are not the ones making these claims; OWS supporters did. We are challenging for clarification and proof.

    To me, by asking for answers, especially about the last one (the gov't spending $16T) doesn't seem like you stand by these specific claims. Do you have answers for what they are if you do stand by them? Thank you.

  73. Wow it's all about semantics and word play here. What a waste of a blog.

  74. $16T in secret loans

  75. Anonymous - You know, I find this funny. We take a position that we believe OWS makes claims and doesn't back these claims with proof.

    Our proof that OWS makes these claims is the video posted above. We pull from the video examples of claims we feel aren't backed or proven. We simply say "hey, that's fine, but please (anyone) back some of these claims with something cited, provable, etc."

    For some reason, you write this off as "semantics" and "word play" (which it really isn't) and yet, of course, you don't (or perhaps, can't) answer the questions we are asking. All you did with that, honestly, in my opinion, ignorant comment is basically prove what we are saying.

    Care to actually answer our questions... our seeking of proof?

  76. If you are all about transparency and attempting to come across as unbiased why just the one video of a protester?

    I surely hope in your blatant attempt at discrediting you didn't purposefully ignore many of the other videos out there full of all sorts of explanations to your questions.

    That would indicate sloppy research.

    I really don't understand why you think anyone owes you any answers when you show no desire to research or understand yourself.

    You are obviously still stuck in your Left/Right mindset that it is unfathomable that you would ever agree with anything that the "Right" would traditionally oppose even if to the detriment of yourself or your country.

    It's sad that you are so focused on belittling those you disagree with rather than work together to fix the country.

    As the previous poster said this blog is a just word play and semantics.

  77. Anonymous - If you are the same one, you might have been pasting those links at the same time I was writing my previous comment.

    First, I read all your links.

    The first one is missing cites. It does not give a single source of its primary info.

    Secondly, all the other ones seem to say about the same thing. My problem (in addition to them NOT citing actual sources other than some quotes by a Senator) is... if this was true... let's say that these random writings by some bloggers and reporters are 100% fact (I don't count them as, but I'll play along) why are you mad at Wall Street???

    If I take a loan from a bank, am I a thief? Am I stealing? I am not sure what the problem is. Are you/OWS upset at the loans themselves? According to these articles, yes, Wall Street received loans? How is that stealing? If you're upset at the bailout loans... shouldn't you be mad at the government for giving them? And, you know what the really interesting thing I took away from those articles was? All the articles say the loans were repaid (or are scheduled to be repaid) and the loans caused no losses to the lender. So, if they did happen, why be mad? Why be mad at "Wall Street" for receiving a loan and then paying it back? I'm not sure I understand the problem.

    Thank you for the links, though. Care to answer the other claims we pulled from that video?

  78. Anonymous - This is funny. I will address everything you just said:

    You said: "If you are all about transparency... one video of a protester?"
    - Actually, that video is about many protesters. Notice the "Part 1" in the title. If we received answers, we would then go on to the next video (we have many we want answers to). Since those questions haven't been answered, we are still waiting.

    You said: "I surely hope in your blatant attempt at discrediting... explanations to your questions."
    - We never discredited anything. In fact, if you read this post, you will see that we said "What is this about? We merely want to see some OWS protesters defend their positions. The fact that we have not been given any proof doesn't mean the things they're protesting do not actually exist. But, from what we see, there isn't much actual proof behind what they say." As my last answer said, if we get answers to these, we will ask more questions. OWS seriously think they can go unchallenged this whole time. We have the right to ask for answers and proof. And no, not sloppy research at all. If we see a video, we can ask specific questions about that video and the subject of that video... which we did.

    You said: "I really don't understand why you... or understand yourself."
    - You're right. No one owes us anything. But now, it is absolutely NOT on us to go for our own understanding. When I get in front of the dissertation review board and defend my thesis with "the proof is out there, you go find it" do you think I would be awarded a Ph.D? We simply see claims and say "okay, that's fine, can you prove it." Why is this so hard to understand? Everyone does this. If we see something, we can question it. It's our right and our duty. The onus is on the person making the claims to back them. If they do, great. If they don't, great. We can then do what we wish with the information they give or the lack there of. If we see no answers, and we want to deem the claims unfounded, that's our right, too. Why does it seem that OWS is often offended when we say "hey, we respect that you make claims, can you please back them."

    You said: "You are obviously still stuck... of yourself or your country."
    - I'm not sure what point you're trying to make, but assumptions are never good. There are plenty of things we don't agree with the "right" about, that's not what this is about. Again, we saw claims, we want answers. It's that simple. Why can't people just answer?

    You said: "It's sad that you are... together to fix the country."
    - Just like we always want, PLEASE show us where we are belittling people here? How many times do we have to say this: we see claims, we simply WANT PROOF. No belittling. We even say in our write-up above that we don't think OWS are fools; we just don't think they are doing a good job of proving what they are saying. It's our opinion, either answer/refute, ignore it and we will keep having it, continue to dodge it. It's up to you.

    Keep in mind: we saw some claims, we want some answers. That's all this post was... Thank you.

  79. LME

    I've followed this blog for a month. You have had this up for a while. I'm with you. I'm waiting and waiting for someone to say "this is how banks STOLE from people." "Here is a cited example of how money controls government." "Here is how democracy is lost" And of course, I want the proof behind it, too.

    I'm tired of the claims. I've kept an open mind about OWS. When my husband lost his job, naturally I was mad at the corporations. But you know what, I'm not. I can't side with OWS. I can't get onboard with their claims because, like you said, they give no actual proof. It seems like a bunch of myths.

    The most recent poster who claims you had "sloppy research (ha)" had the chance, but of course, didn't prove anything. Why can't they answer. Do they just hope people will swallow what they say? Frankly, OWS is getting a little old. Unless they start proving what they're fighting for, they are losing their luster. All they do is divert away. PROOF PROOF PROOF is all I want to see, too. Until I see that, I will keep being a Loudmouth Elephant and telling everyone I see that OWS is really not that good at making their argument and really deserves no extra looks. Thank you for this forum

  80. What would you call this;

    Party A makes a loan to Party B.
    Let's assume Party A s a clever business person and will take full advantage of the law to make money. Which is another way of saying that Part A is a douchebag.

    Let's also assume that Party B wants to own a home but is in a dubious financial position to take such a loan and does not have a clear understanding of the processes involved. Which is another way of saying that they are an easy mark.
    Now, the law allows Party A to make a loan to Party B without PROOF of income, also called a "No Doc Loan" or a "Liars Loan."
    Party B, understanding the terms of this mortgage or not, signs the contract.

    Party A can not know for sure that Party B will default (because there were no docs) but can safely assume that its not bloody likely that Party B will will pay off the mortgage based upon the sub-prime terms of the mortgage. But Party A also knows that it doesn't matter - to him/her. Why? Because the repeal of Glasse-Steegle (a change lobbied for by banks, insurance companies, and investment banks during the '90's) enables the issuer of the loan to sell that loan to another servicing company, who can also bundle those loans and sell them off to other servicing companies, who then can purchase insurance (CDOs) which become an unbacked commodity in itself, and so on. And when this pyramid scheme (a fraud plain and simple) stops, the company left holding the original mortgage suffers the loss and the owner of the CDO also suffers a loss because THERE WAS NEVER ANY REAL MONEY TO BACK UP THE SCHEME IN THE FIRST PLACE.
    This MIGHT be excusable if the reckless companies were allowed to fail, but . . . it gets worse. Because the globalization process, lobbied for by the banks and directed by government for 40 years, has created a financial services industry that amounts to 40% of the US economy, these "institutions" are now "Too Big To Fail" and must be, according to the corporate socialists (C.S. is fascism btw) that run the state, bailed out with tax payer money.

  81. furthermore . . .

    And while these gambling houses did pay back the dollars that were given above board, they also paid their execs excessive bonuses FOR FAILING! and paid off their foreign counter-parties. And what happened to the socialized losses, the money give in secret? Will we see those funds?

    What OWS is against is an economy that is tipped in the favor of the banks and against the working people of this country.

    This doesn't even get at the problem of the declining rate of profit for businesses over the last 40 years, a direct result of the capitalist tendency to eat itself. The logic of capitalism says reduce your costs, and externalize every expense you can in the annoying part of business, making things, so you can get back to the real point, investing and extracting wealth. So, as your costs of production declines, so does the value of the thing you make. Thus, while the total profits has increased, the net margin actually declines, which creates the appearance of losing money (or not making as much as one assumes they ought to given their practices) from quarter to quarter.

    Furthermore, in the effort to reduce costs and externalizes expenses, they shipped a great many jobs over seas and the banks issued cheap credit to the American people to literally paper over the decline in real living standards.

    Go outside, take the National Review from your eyes and look around. The proof you seek is right in front of you but you are blinded and rendered deaf by ideology.

    And this is not a partisan issue. The Inner Party controls both The Globetrotters (GOP) and the Washington Generals (Dems). We live in a fascistic oligarchy and a single vote vs. the heavy artillery of the monied interests is not a real contest and thus, not a democracy. Sure, I can throw in my stone for a corporation approved corporate overlord, but then the monied interests can actually go to Washington and rigged the outcome. Do deny this is willful ignorance, to support it is traitorous.


  82. Anonymous - Thank you for your posts. I will address these:

    You said: "Party A makes a loan... signs the contract."
    - Yes, a bank makes a loan, and yes, there are risks involved. Yes, the bank can buy insurance on the loan. All of these are 100% LEGAL activities. I'm not sure what the problem is. You claim "party A takes full advantage of the law" and of course, we say: PROOF? What are you referring to? Give examples.

    You say: "Party A can not know... SCHEME IN THE FIRST PLACE."
    - Yes, again, with lending there are risks of loss, and yes, you can buy insurance (just like any other risk) to cover these potential losses (I went to school in finance, I know how this works, and I also know the myths). First, show proof, evidence behind your claim that the LEGAL credit default swaps actually caused the problem. Secondly, with your next paragraph, YES, if you read this blog, in the very beginning, we state our position AGAINST the concept of being too big to fail. The problem is... this is not a Wall Street problem. You claim Wall Street lobbyists created this (prove it) but no matter what, the government created it. Why are you not protesting the government? Why are you protesting Wall Street though you can't prove anything but theories and "perhaps" and "maybes" that they actually did what you say they did.

    You said: "What OWS is against... people of this country."
    - Again, HOW? Examples? Legislation? Laws? Etc. This, to me, comes off as catch phrase myth. I want to see evidence.

    You then go on to talk about companies sending jobs overseas... and I say "yes", it is the responsibility of a company to reduce its costs. Would you rather they stay here and go out of business and have no one work for it, or send some jobs overseas to reduce costs. You know what the real problem is: the US has the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Protest the gov't... get Washington to reduce corporate tax rates so that burden is removed from companies, and maybe, just maybe, they might keep some hiring here.

    You said: "Go outside, take the National Review from your eyes and look around. The proof you seek is right in front of you but you are blinded and rendered deaf by ideology."
    - Nice assumption. I don't know what the National Review is. I'm surprised you didn't go down the path of "stop watching Fox News." Again, READ this post. You will see that we don't discredit OWS, and you will see that we do not address this as right/left issue. We just want to see the ACTUAL, non-mythical, non-catch phrase proof. Nice assumption, though.

    To deny something I DO NOT SEE ANY EVIDENCE for is not ignorance, it's due diligence. I WANT PROOF. You gave an example, and spouted the same stuff (myths, catch phrases, theories, etc.) but gave no actual evidence. There is no difference in what you said and a protest sign an OWS protester carries. I want proof. Cited, linked, scientific, actual proof. Above, 7 questions were asked, you answered none of them. Our 7 questions is not traitorous... to avoid answering them is ignorance. So, again, I cannot get on the wagon with something that comes off as nothing but a bunch of "well, you know, wall street is probably doing this and that, but I can't actually show you any documented evidence of it." Thank you.