US bailout fuels protests in streets, online
Parveen Chopra | Sunday, 28 September , 2008, 11:46
New York: Even as lawmakers laboured to break the impasse on Bush administration's $700 billion plan to rescue giant Wall Street firms to solve the financial crisis, the bailout has spontaneously inspired street protests in the US and outrage gone viral across the web.
Protesters argue that they would want the Congress to protect millions of ordinary American citizens on the verge of losing their homes due to poor lending practices of creditors instead of handing out public money to big investment companies responsible for ruining the economy in the first place.
An Indian American, Arun Gupta, too was enraged on learning the details of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's bailout plan with taxpayer funds. Publisher of an alternative newspaper, The Indypendent, he sent an e-mail to some politically active friends in New York, which resulted in protests against the bailout in New York and at scores of other locations in the country Sep 25.
"I couldn't sit back while this plan gets rammed through Congress," Gupta was quoted in the media as saying.
He now works with the online group, truemajority.org, and is expecting hundreds to join a novel protest planned near Wall Street in Manhattan. Protesters intend building a pile of "citizen junk" that the government should also purchase in front of the iconic bull sculpture.
Besides street protests, the Internet is now the site of numerous petitions, debates bordering on rants, and satire about the treasury secretary's plan and its potential consequences. Vociferous critics spanning the political and ideological spectrum in the country demand that Congress amend, scale back, or scrap the plan altogether.
Much of online rage takes the form of signatures on petitions and electronic letters to members of Congress. One Independent Senator, Bernie Sanders, is circulating a popular one on the left-leaning blog Huffington Post.
The 1.9-million member Service Employees International Union is also circulating a sign-on letter to Congress that says point blank: "No deal. No blank check." Another website, StopTheHousingBailout.com argues: "A bailout tells responsible Americans that they are suckers."
A right-wing blogger urges Republicans to vote against the bailout, since "God himself couldn't have given rank-and-file Republicans a better opportunity to create political space between themselves and the administration".
Biting satire is the way of buymyshitpile.com, where users are posting pictures of their personal junk next to the tagline: "Hey Washington, can you buy my bad investments, too?" The total asking price of the "pile" submitted by users-which includes horse shit, baseball card collection, and an 'Immagrent', has crossed $7 billion as of Saturday.
Social networking sites are not immune to the new virus. The Facebook group "Just Say No to the Government Bailout" has over 300 members now.
On YouTube, there is a bailout-related group called the Young Turks, whose news-style segment, "This Is How The Bail Out Will Screw You", has had more than 25,000 page views.
"The public outrage out there is really enormous," said Independent presidential candidate and populist consumer advocate Ralph Nader on a TV programme, calling the Bush proposal "a double standard between the guys at the top and the people who are going to have to pay the bills".