October 3rd, 2011
08:20 PM ET

Occupy Wall Street: Seriously?!

What do the protesters taking part in Occupy Wall Street want? And who are they? Erin Burnett went to Wall Street and talked to the folks carrying the signs–and the banjos–and found a few things that made her say, "seriously?!"

Filed under: Seriously?!
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Joey at Purdue Univ

    From "An Agenda for the 99%" (Kansas City Star, 10/15/11)

    –Mortgage relief must be Washington’s top priority. Why? Because without it, there’s no real hope for a job recovery. The mortgage bottleneck is killing the housing market and having a negative multiplier effect on the rest of the economy.

    –Pres. Obama must take immediate executive action, such as the bipartisan call for changing refinancing rules. It’s frustrating how hapless and wishy-washy the Obama administration has been when it comes to mortgages relief.

    –Job Creation is Job One. Pass the Obama Jobs Bill, for one. I know the president has tried. Try harder. A lot of this agenda cannot get passed in the current environment. That just means you keep pushing it, until election results convince legislators they must pass them.

    –Get back to the Clinton budget surpluses. Besides being a counterintuitive way to take the air out of the Tea Party balloon, its the right thing to do. Progressives need to fight for the right way to do it, short-term deficits to recharge the economy, along with long-term fiscal responsibility.

    –Real “entitlement” reform. Progressives must be open to discussing common sense reforms such as raising the retirement age (very gradually), means testing, and be willing to take a hard look at how Medicare and MedicAid payments are structured. And the presciption drug plan passed by the Bush Administration needs a second looking at.

    –Tax reform that’s fair to everyone. We should look at all proposals. Even Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan has elements that should be looked at, such as a national sales tax. Maybe we do need a lower corporate tax level, and lower income tax rates. Offset that by putting all tax deductions up for discussion. All. Yes, maybe the mortgage interest deduction needs to go, but then so do many business deductions.

    Let’s take a hard look at what would be fair. The “1%” have gotten a lot of big breaks in the past decade, as have many huge banks that were “too big to fail.” It’s not “class warfare” to suggest the other 99% deserve a fair shake. Let’s lower the rhetoric on both sides and truly share the burden.

    —Cut wasteful defense spending. Even defense experts admit a lot of weapons programs are unnecessary, their main purpose to allow congressmen on both sides of the aisle to put a feather in their cap. Sure, we have real defense needs that need to be met. As sharp an eye as we put on “entitlements,” we need to also put here.

    —Get us out of Afghanistan and Iraq on schedule. The money being spent there could be spent on rebuilding our own nation, or cutting the deficit.

    —Rebuild our nation. Build our roads, bridges, energy infrastructure and most especially our educational system. Obama’s Infrastructure Bank is a good start, at one time supported by both parties. We are falling behind the rest of the developed world, and some of the developing world, because we fail to see that wise spending on infrastructure is truly an investment. Pay for it, yes, but do it already!

    Read more: http://voices.kansascity.com/entries/an-agenda-for-the-99/#ixzz1au4Xc52V

    October 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  2. Joey at Purdue Univ

    Respectfully, as to the backlash from this piece... Granted, that most Americans have no idea how good we have it, even in the worst of time, and it is nothing like Tahrir Square, where just the wrong glance @ authorities can leave you not breathing. However, y'all gotta realize that– on a purely human level– that almost all of these #OWS folks have been laughed at by someone more popular/prettier/more powerful, and it's looking like that's how it was perceived. As Indiana boy Dave Letterman once said, “My intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It's not your fault that it was misunderstood, it's my fault.”

    In this humble viewers opinion... I doubt you can actually spend a whole episode on the subject, but you may think about having the show's booker try to get in touch w someone like Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, who's widely respected by folks of all social strata & supports #OWS (video of Sachs @ #OWS http://youtu.be/H8svbm4WYmU ) to help bring some voice, clarity, and definition to this movement, which I think was actually Ms. Burnett's Intent.

    Really big fan, wish you all the best of luck.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:32 am | Reply
    • Joey at Purdue Univ

      Coincidentally, I was surprised to see Dr. Sachs on 360 w. John King debating #OWS w. Erick Erickson:


      October 14, 2011 at 12:57 am | Reply
  3. Thenewsjunkie

    Erin – you should have been there at Zuccotti Park this afternoon and evening. Your CNN colleagues had to suffer through a great many insults and much criticism thanks to your one, dismissive segment.

    October 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  4. Truth1117

    Why are these lazy people turning on the very thing that established America as a world power?: Drive, dream and entreprenurial spirit. Don't get too rich or you'll be punished by having to provide for the growing number of lazy people livnig off the government, who doesn't have the money to support them.

    It's OBVIOUSLY the wealthy's fault.

    These lazy people need to "occupy" their own careers and stop fighting for more free handouts.

    October 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • Thenewsjunkie

      Clearly you're not listening. Many of these people have focused on their careers. They graduated college. Many went on to get Masters Degrees. Yet, they can't find work. They've been trying, some for years, to get decent work and they can't. These aren't people who have been living on government handouts all their lives. These are people were purusing the American dream from wtihin the system and the system has failed them. What has the government done in response to the crisis? Instead of governing from the middle and creating a consensus on an effective policy to fix the problem they've become more entrenched in their partisanship and widened the divide between Democrats and Republicans to a point that has been described as the worst ever seen in DC.

      October 5, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Reply
      • Joey at Purdue Univ

        NYC is rife with law schools. They ought to get some legal minds, put together some provisions for a bill, and find a legislator who's willing to put it forward.

        October 5, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Reply
  5. NoCommentCNN

    I know things are tough, but what makes me scream into the night is the lack of regulation enforcement on the Government's part. We have thousands upon thousands of business regulations in place. Yet every honest American knows that the economic collapse of 2008 was caused by criminal actions (I still see the Goldman Sachs executives testifying before the Senate admitting they knew the derivatives they were selling were worthless and none of them were arrested?). And no one has yet to be charged, jailed or even accused of these crimes of insider trading, fraud and out right theft.
    This is why thousands of people are protesting in NYC right now !
    We bailed these crooks out and they go back to business as usual! Wrong! The American people who work hard and live honest lives are paying the price for criminals to get away with the theft of trillions of dollars.
    The time to clean up Wall street, the insurance industry, big oil, banking and alike is at hand. You want a return of confidence again? Then enforce the LAW !

    October 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Reply
    • Kathy Barkulis

      Then why are they on Wall Street ???? Why don't they go to Washington DC and protest the politicians who are not enforcing the laws they created ? Why don't they go to K Street in DC and protest the LOBBYISTS ? This is either a very misguided group of people, or they are ignorant. Today they are getting help from the union bosses. Gee, why aren't the union bosses telling them to go to Washington DC and protest? This is about POLITICS and not about jobs. They're just a bunch of left wing hipsters who should be using their time to protest in Washington where the solutions are supposed to be created.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Reply
      • Joey at Purdue Univ

        I think they already occupied K Street Oct 1st.

        October 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  6. TWM

    I have been down there a few times now. Quite disorganized. I seriously saw many of the "protestors" sitting down playing on their media devices. Doesn't any of these people realize if they used some of that effort to pound the streets they might get a job? Some that I spoke with said they wanted the rich Bas-- to pay their fair share, they stared at me blankly when I told them that even if we taxed the rich at 100% it wouldn't make a dent into the debt issue we have. So a mere 5% increase would do what exactly?

    October 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  7. Josh

    I don't really have a problem with any of those 3 points above, but why all the hateful rhetoric towards that top 1%? You think that every single person in that bracket got there by deceit and stock manipulation? Some are hard working business men who created something, and they deserve to be rewarded. Some are athletes and actors.... where are the Occupy Hollywood and Occupy Stadiums movements? Oh well... we like those rich people.... these people are bad because they wear suits, and go to meetings all day, and employ thousands of people... It just seems like too many people are drinking the class welfare Kool-aid.

    Also ironic that these a mostly college students who probably haven't had much real world or work experience criticize the people who have been successful at work and made a profit from it, and the very fact that they have been to college will one day put them ahead of at least 50% of the population of the country in terms of income.

    October 5, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  8. RealityChecker

    Nothing makes these clowns look crazier, than just showing them on videotape expressing their ignorance and stupidity.

    October 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  9. LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

    bless you all for having a voice

    October 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  10. Edward Miller

    Tell the guy who graduated with a college degree in English that he would have a difficult time finding a job in a good economy. I graduated in 1973 and it took me close to a year to find a job. I at least had a degree in business. I took whahtever job I could find until I found a job, was the job what I wanted NO, but it paid the bills and got me started.

    America is broken. There is nothing that I've seen thaht will turn the economy around.

    October 5, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Reply
  11. Mike in North Idaho

    I agree with Joey, being in rural America, in one of the most conservative states in the country, I have personally been affected by the actions of both the banks and Wall Street that cause our present problems. I don't understand why no one personnally has been held accountable for their participation. Perhaps it is because the Banks and Wall Street have support where the people do not have a voice, that is the U.S. Supreme Court. This court has manipulated the constitution so that corporations have the same or more power than the individual. One of the corrections that need to be made is to impeach the five justices that continue to erode personal rights over corporate rights.

    October 5, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Reply
    • Joey at Purdue Univ

      Thanks for backing me up, Mike. Actually one of my best friends lives in Boise, I hear the whole town is painted blue & orange.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  12. attitudijudi

    Was it really Wall Street or was it something else that caused this mess! Take a look at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They gave loans to people that could not afford them because the Government told them to lower their standards and now we are alll paying for it. The banks were giving loans to people that made minimum wage for a $300,000 house. They could not afford it. (No oversite) I remember when you had to jump through hoops to buy a house. You really need to follow the money and do your homework on this one. This is just more than Wall Street. Yes there are rich dirtbags out there but if they are breaking the law they should be arrested. A good portion of the people in the Wall Street protest have no idea what the protest is about. This is just cool to them. As far as I am concerned this is economic terrorism and they all should be arrested especially Steven Learner.

    October 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  13. Robert Dougan

    Joey at Purdue Univ, arn't Frank and Dodd huge contributors to why we are in this mess? (hint: the answer is yes)

    If people want to march, march on themselves and their friends who hoped to flip houses, took liar loans, and loans they could not afford. Next march on Washington for the ridiculous idea of forcing sub prime mortgages, lastly march on bank headquarters for not doing their homework in checking the securities they purchased, and loans they made.

    NEWS: All the major banks DO NOT have their main offices on Wall Street and not all banks are and were saddled with bad loans

    October 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Reply
    • Joey at Purdue Univ

      Well, I respect your point of view, Robert, and I hear you on the "assumption of risk" argument. However, on the part of the banks, it could be argued that the act of repackaging these crappy loans, slapping a AAA rating on them, and selling the right to collect on them to people halfway around the world is a form of Fraud.

      But I figure this is just one of these things we'll probably just agree to disagree on.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • Joey at Purdue Univ

      And, I completely agree that there are a lot of banks & credit unions out there that have made totally prudent decisions.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Reply
  14. Ben Taravella

    Joey from Purdue, I disagree with your assumption on Dodd Frank, but I think you are right about the general group "occupying"WallSt.Which may last until a week of below freezing weather. These people don't have jobs so they feel some solidarity in their plight. If only it was as easy as a sit in to find world peace.

    October 4, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Reply
    • Joey at Purdue Univ

      Well, I'm sure now that the unions are participating in it they may get some sort of financial backing to sustain the protests longer. But you're right, Downtown does get cold in the winter, especially with the wind kicking off the water from Battery Park.

      October 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  15. Dale

    The taxpayers have every right to demand accountability from the Wall Street banks, we kept them open. If Congress will not pass legislation to hold them accountable then we have the right to protest and ask/deman accountability. Maybe we should have let them all fail.

    October 4, 2011 at 11:12 am | Reply
  16. Kathy Barkulis

    Erin's analysis of the Wall Street kids is spot on. Joey at Purdue Univ knows exactly what the complaints are, but his solutions would make matters worse in the economy. In my humble opinion, the current problems in the economy will not be solved until Obama is no longer in the Oval Office. Corporations are sitting on their cash and refusing to hire because that is their way of protesting this administration's policies.

    October 3, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Reply
  17. caw

    Erin, for your segment I believe you deliberately selected people who were obviously there just for the party. You could have just as easily selected many protestors who could clearly articulate what exactly they are protesting and the results they hope to achieve. This is a serious issue that demands serious attention but you turned it into a fluff piece. Shame on you for belittling people with a cause. Wall Street reform is critical to our economic survival and those that brought about this unrelenting recession should be held accountable. You didn't even talk about that. I don't think I'll be tuning in again.

    October 3, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Reply
  18. Ross B

    Erin – Have always enjoyed you, and wish you well on the new show. However, I think that you gave short and snarky shrift to the OccupyWallStreet folks. While the "movement" struggles for direction, reports that I have seen concentrate on the fact that for the 99% of the American public that does not earn $1.3 MM per year, yet government seems not to recognize the majority's pain and powerlessness.

    The revolving door between government and industry (resulting in unequal tax burdens between the bosses and the workers, and even among rich corporations because of dueling lobbyists), the poisonous effect of allowing corporations to contribute without limits to causes "technically" not associated with candidates, the fact that the amount of capital held by the ultra-rich and the rest of the country is widening, the fact that the architects of the CDS schemes have not been charged by our prosecutors, the fact that the old demarcations between banking and other financial acts were repealed in a pique of deregulation (later causing the 2008 meltdown), and the fact that business has watered down Dodd-Frank to such an extent that it may have little protection left - all of this is what is bugging the non-elites.

    The fact that TARP made money for the government only serves to underline how, in a society such as ours, there are essential functions that only a government can and should perform – bridges, roads, sewage, education, saving the financial system.

    With many of your Wall Street acquaintances now back to their pre-crisis bonus levels, the same cannot be said for those living on the edges, which, for a diminishing middle class, is not too far from reality.

    Nearly 1 out of 10 workers in this country are unemployed, and the government continues to excel in making the same kinds of decisions (including a too-weak stimulus) that prolonged the Depression in the 30s. Those in the Occupy... movement are saying "enough is enough."

    Erin, please, a little less snark, and a little more reporting.

    October 3, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Reply
  19. Brant

    Shame on Erin Burnett (one of my hero's)for interviewing the pure idiots and writing off the protests like they have no meaning. There is no (growing)corruption on Wall Street Erin?

    October 3, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Reply
  20. Joey at Purdue Univ

    "Three Concrete Demands to Hold Wall Street Accountable" from M. Konczal @ Roosevelt Institute:

    1. The recession is far worse in areas of the country with the most bad debts and foreclosures, and debt relief can take the edge off. By making banks write down bad loans and work out failed mortgages we’ll have an system where the fraud that originated on Wall Street isn't borne entirely on the real economy.

    2. Several state attorneys general, including ones from New York and Nevada, have taken the lead in demanding an investigation, much to the chagrin of the Obama administration and financial elites. By supporting them, we’ll help build a country where there isn’t a two-tier system of justice.

    3. Our economy is less about long-term value than short-term price manipulation, less about investing in communities and peoples than about gaming tax codes and regulation and less about markets as a means of expression and more about consolidated, cornered market power. A financial transaction tax would help fight back against this and begin to steer our economy toward more sustainable and workable ends.

    October 3, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Reply
    • max

      If someone did something illegal, prosecute them. All the ranting doesnt make turning a profit illegal. Buying insurance on crappy investments doesnt become illegal because you say so. If the banks are carrying items on their balance sheet that are worthless, we already have methods to handle. As for "gaming" the tax code – really? again – illegal, prosecute.

      your other ideas are remarkably vague. what does reforming capital gains tax have to do with the mortgage crisis exactly? are we talking long or short term capital gains? what does reform mean?

      you have mentioned several things that are extremely damaging to our economy and to one of our strengths as a country. a financial transaction tax. interesting thought, as i pay more to invest in my 401k or i move to a broker in London.

      Consider that teh economy is quite integrated and these little changes have far-reaching impacts that are not all positive.

      October 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Reply
      • Joey at Purdue Univ

        Oh, these aren't my ideas. I was just looking on the internet to see if they actually had any demands.

        October 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  21. dave draft

    Your statement that taxpayers actually made money from the Wall Street/banking debacle was more than a little disappointing. In fact, what happened on Wall Street has cost taxpayers trillions in the devaluation of homes and other investments, as well as immense losses in wages and benefits due to unemployment levels. Then, consider the loss in security, hope and happiness across the nation. To add further insult you basically mock the protesters? As you might say, Seriously? This lack of having a grasp of what is happening on the business front doesn't exactly give the viewer confidence in where your show is headed.

    October 3, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Reply
  22. KP

    Wasn't impressed with Erin's glib and smug dismissal of the protestors at "Occupy Wall Street". Her contention was that no one had any idea why they were protesting when it is more accurate to say that there are several and varied reasons why people have chosen to be there. I agree that people dressed up like zombies should be filed under her "Seriously" segment but she missed an opportunity to ask some real questions and let people explain what they were doing there. Instead she singled out an out of work programmer and attempted to make him look stupid by saying that the tax payers benefited from the bail out... which while great avoids the point that it was reckless greed by Wall Street that led to the necessity of the bail out in the first place.

    October 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  23. J

    -I'm from Canada so my point of view might not be considered relevant. I am an average educated individual whom believes in rugged-individualism (which I believe is an American term) and I would like to say that less government is better than more government, but what I find in terms of the present actual street protest, et al, is that the American dichotomy has become something to do with the idea of no government (corporate rule solely) and too much government (as is the supposed state of Canada and, say, Sweden). Taxes are a good thing, if you can get rid of greed and thereby have the taxes reach the people in terms of relief, "Into the economy." -It might be noted that your ultra-rich have become scared and thereby the idea of 'greed' has become the exposition by which we see the various -real- outcries from the public.

    October 3, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  24. Joey at Purdue Univ

    Also, I believe South Park did an episode about this same thing: "Hippie Jam Fest 2005" (Season 9, Episode 2)

    October 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  25. Martin

    Very poor reporting! Biased, trivial and sensationalistic. Wall street bankers deceived the American people, but not one is in prison, while they hold our money, evict us from our homes, send jobs overseas, and send our workers on a race to the bottom. Thats what a serious reporter would have seen and heard...

    October 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  26. Joey at Purdue Univ

    Some folks down there may have no idea what they're doing– okay, a lot– but it is fair to recognize that there are steps the government could take (i.e. enforcing Dodd-Frank, giving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau some legs, reforming capital gains taxation, etc.) that would address the public's concerns. As far as someone who could rally the sort of progressive populist movement, there's probably nobody better or more sincere than Elizabeth Warren... (I don't know if the kids with the glowsticks & smartphones know who Liz Warren is, but most Tea Party youth have never heard of Lee Atwater, either.)

    October 3, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  27. Joanna

    Very disappointing to see Erin thumb her nose at Wall Street protestors who are a beacon of hope to all educated, middle class workers who have played by the rules, abided by the law and expected a more even playing field. Instead they get multi-national corporations that have dictated their agenda to elected officials who suck up for campaign funding and allow the most society-damaging legislation in our nation's history: the manufacture of assault weapons for public consumption (instead of only for the military); taking the repeal of Glass-Steagal and using it to rape and plunder the American economy in a financial menage-a-trois by banks, security brokers and insurance companies; and supporting a war for the benefit of the multi-national contractors and the self-proclaimed "job creators" who indeed create jobs outsourcing them to Asia where labor is cheaper than mud to boost profits exponentially, never before known in the history of our nation.
    But thumbing one's nose at protestors will only encourage more to join until every city in America comes out to voice their disgust and disappointment in Congress.

    October 3, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Reply
  28. Kerry Atherton

    I was offended by Erin's approach to the Wall Street interview. She obviously missed the point entirely and had no idea what she was doing. "The US actuallt made money on the bailouts" ... this had nothing to do with the protests. The inequality of the 1% vs. the 99% is what it is about. The fact that the government controls the people and the corporations control the government, is what it is about. Send her back out without the preconceived notions and you will get a much better reporter.

    October 3, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  29. Thenewsjunkie

    Seriously? If you actually took time to learn about what the demonstrators were saying I think you probably learned that they are mad about much more than just the bail out. So you choose to show funny video of the fringe characters instead of showing us the great majority of the protestors like the woman I met who drove up all the way from Alabama because she wants to break the cycle of poverty that has plagued her family. So you focused on one guy and one specific topic as a way to dismiss the entire movement? Wow. If that's the type of get to the bottom of this journalism I can expect from CNN at 7PM I'm changing the channel. I expect that sort of thing from Fox, not CNN.

    October 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Reply

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