How to Start a Conflagration? (#occupyboston)

The Occupy Wall Street movement may have met its first major challenge tonight as police have reportedly raided the protest camp in Boston.

Later reports suggested a possible coordinated effort across various U.S. cities, but Dave Roberts of Grist — working the Twitterverse for updates — had the following to share.

Paul Krugman penned an article today “Panic of the Plutocrats,” which opined that the wealthy financiers being targeted by the #occupywallstreet protests were getting nervous.  I’ve pulled in a segment from Professor Krugman’s article below.  Take a look and see if you think there might be a connection with tonight’s raid.

What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.

This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage.

I’m excited by the prospect of positive social reform that would redirect the U.S. to a better path, but worry that each of these protests could serve as an Archduke Ferdinand-like tinderbox.  So far, it seems the protesters have managed to remain peaceful.  I hope they will be able to stay resolute as I doubt this is the last they’ll see of the police.

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