Hey there Occupy London protesters. This is an open letter to you:
When I went past your encampment in Finsbury Square earlier today (just meters from the Bloomberg LP headquarters!) I noticed that your tents were empty and the only folks around were a kooky street preacher and a handful of his disciples. I understand, you were probably a few blocks away occupying those vacant UBS buildings, but I wanted to let you know that you’ve got the wrong guys. You should be going after RBS not UBS.
I know you’re part of a “leaderless movement” (let’s see how long that lasts!), but you’d better start listening to Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, and your very own former Prime Minister Benjamin D’Israeli. It’s unclear who said it first, but the gist of the quotation that all of these men are reputed to have coined is “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.” Let’s focus on the latter.
What I’m saying is that you should encourage UK taxpayers to join in on your protest en masse. However, you should go beyond squatting in some old UBS offices: You should demand that Members of Parliament (MPs for you American readers) create legislation that limits the bonuses of state-funded bankers. Since 2008, there have been many state-funded bankers in the UK. Right now, it’s looking like the Christmas Party of the Royal Bank of Scotland will be quite the affair after some £500 million gets divied up among that regal 1%. (And this goes for the folks over at Lloyd’s too!) The taxpayers are creating millionaire bankers while the social infrastructure of the UK goes down the toilet. It’s as pure example of the increasing income gap as one can possibly dream of.
(Oh yeah, and why haven’t you marched on Buckhingham Palace yet when your royal family further eats away a your tax payments?)
Yes, a small group of Britons who belong to the group UK Uncut have tried to protest against the payment of taxes toward funding the big banks, but their efforts have thus far been futile and unproductive. Why don’t you protesters use your power (derived from the inordinate amount of media attention that you have been receiving for a bunch of people who don’t have much of a mission or clear-cut goals) to take up the anti-taxpayer-funded-banker-bonus cause?
Outline your demands for your government, and force each of your MPs to sign a statement that state-funded bankers will receive no more than 40% of their salaries in bonuses this year (rather than the 300+% that most bankers are accustomed to). One cannot blame the bankers for accepting the bonuses that are given to them because regulators and politicians have failed to prevent this exchange from taking place.
Stephen Robert Morse