Michael Moore was live from Occupy Wall Street on Squawk On The Street today, and he did something a lot of people haven’t managed to do yet — address all the arguments against the Wall Street protesters in one, 8 minute total smack-down debate.
We won’t lie, he actually came out of this one looking good. Quintanilla? Not so much.
Moore opens with a clear articulation of what the protesters want. And points out that if you really want to know, you can just look at their website.
“Don’t the American people deserve some answers and some justice? Where did their money go, who stole this money or who misappropriated it or played with it in the wrong? And then there’s all the larger issues… everybody down at Occupy Wall Street cares about. They want the wealthy to be taxed more, they want Glass-Steagall reinstated. We want to get money out of politics…”
OK, there’s one argument. Then Quintanilla brings up another point we’ve been hearing from the street: Why don’t the protesters go occupy Congress, isn’t this the government’s fault? Moore has an answer for that one too:
“What bankers do is buy politicians… those (politicians) are just the employees of this street…The politicians will take care of themselves once the money gets out of politics.”
Qunitanilla, at that point, obviously wants to slow Moore’s roll, but it seriously backfires, and the fight begins.
Carl says: “Before we go… the Dow is up 95 and that’s what we cover on this network. Do you own any equities of any stock or equities of any bank in the world?”
Moore simply says no, calls Wall Street “a rigged casino,” and then (around 4:30) really goes for the jugular, especially considering what a cheerleader CNBC was before the financial crises:
“If I can very respectfully ask you, says Moore, “ask CNBC. You are in there. You are journalists. It’s your job not just to report that the Dow is up 95 points already today, but to go in there and find out what’s really happening… who’s making this money… who’s dividing this pie up so that the 1% get the majority of it. that’s really the story… that’s the story your fellow Americans want you to do… they want to know where their jobs went, they want to know where their future is going to be. That’s the job of CNBC so please do your job.”
Quintanilla fairly points out that over 40% of Americans are invested in the stock market — in case Moore hadn’t noticed — and that they care what happens. Then Moore takes on the Republican gripe about how the ‘wealth creators’ pay most of the taxes in America (6:12).
“I hear people on the street here say, ‘well its the 53% of us that pay taxes. They say that like, look at us like it’s a good thing. But what you’re saying is if 47% aren’t paying taxes its because they’re not working… They’re not at an income level. You’re actually making the case for why our system is so messed up…We have so many people that aren’t paying taxes because they’re not working or their wages have been depleted to the point where they can’t afford to lead a middle class life in this country.”
At this point, Qunitanilla backs down a little bit. He brings up what the NYT wrote over the weekend– “we’re obsessed about equality opportunity but not necessarily equality of condition. And that is a fair point that you’re making.”
But Moore isn’t through with him yet (7:13).
“I’m not even sure the equality of opportunity is there anymore… That’s what gets me about people who say they (Occupy Wall Street) don’t believe in capitalism. People on this street (say) ‘oh yeah we’re for free enterprise, we’re for a competitive market.’ No they’re not… they want to destroy the competition…they want to merge or buy out the competition. They want to make it so consumers and citizens have as few choices as possible. That’s their nirvana…a Soviet form of capitalism where they’re the only ones in charge. So the American people believe in competition and believe in everybody having a fair shot at it… if you’re an entrepreneur… if you’ve got the next great idea today… go to your local bank and try to get a loan…They’re all sitting on the money down here. They won’t loan the money to the small business person, or the person who has that next thing to advance society…”
Then Quintanilla tells him that’s a point of contention – “there is data that would back you up on lending and data that would conflict with that…” And then he kicks him down for wearing a hoodie, telling him that if he wants to come on CNBC for a chat, Moore has to wear a suit and tie.