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2011年10月11日 (火)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 9
EDITORIAL: Wall Street demonstrations manifest resilience of U.S. society.

Demonstrations against corporate greed that have targeted Wall Street, the pinnacle of financial capitalism, in recent weeks are gaining widespread momentum.

"The rich are the 1 percent. We are the 99 percent." "Tax the rich, feed the poor." These are among slogans that are gaining currency.

The protesters are mainly unemployed people, small business owners battling to survive because banks are reluctant to provide loans and students who are unable to pay back their student loans.
People, whose lives nosedived in the post-Lehman Brothers crash recession, are raising their voices nationwide. 失業者、銀行の貸し渋りで経営難の中小事業者、学資のローンが返せない学生など、リーマン・ショック後の不況で生活が暗転したままの人々が声をあげた。

The demonstrations have spread to the capital, Washington D.C. And now, major labor unions have also decided to take part.

The bubble economy crashes and the ensuing pressures of excessive debt pushes the entire economy into stagnant growth.

The result is a widening disparity in income levels. The pattern is the same in Japan and in Europe.

President Barack Obama, who took office after the Lehman crash, immediately implemented a major stimulus package.

Even so, he suffered a defeat in last year's mid-term elections.

Thus, the path of supporting the poor by raising taxes on the rich has been blocked.

A huge amount of capital was injected into the Wall Street megabanks to avoid a financial crisis.

But the banks, disliking government control, secured their profits by cutting back on their lending, and returned the public funds quickly enough.

This was followed by a recurrence of enormous bonuses for the bank executives.

The quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve Board, aimed at bolstering the economy, pushed up stock values for a while and was hailed by Wall Street.

But it just ended up raising gas prices among other things.

There has been no improvement in the housing market, the major source of malaise in the American economy.

Unemployment now exceeds 9 percent, and the percentage of impoverished households is also increasing.

People in disadvantaged positions have, in effect, been left to fall by the wayside.

This is in stark contrast with the tea party movement, with its base consisting of a relatively well-off conservative middle class.
The movement is against higher taxes, and its demands are sending Washington politics into a tailspin.

However, a backlash is spreading against the radical argument pushed by the tea party based on the theory of the "survival of the fittest."

That reaction is evident in billionaire Warren Buffet's call for raising taxes on the rich, when he said, "Stop coddling the super-rich."

The Wall Street demonstrations can also probably be seen as a manifestation of the resilience of American society to regain its balance.

The demonstrators are now at the stage where they are desperate for politicians to hear the voices of the 99 percent.

The demonstrators are nearly at the point of despair. The crucial question is how the politicians will respond.

Obama said the demonstrations reflected deep frustrations felt by the American people.

But surely he should see this as an opportunity to restore his leadership.
He ought to seize on these frustrations and incorporate them into his policies, which are aimed at achieving improved employment and better fiscal health in the mid- to long-term.

We cannot afford to let the United States falter when the world economy is under duress from Europe's debt crisis.

We hope Washington will respond quickly so that things will emerge better and stronger from this state of confusion.


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