In 2003, Henry Blodget was permanently barred from the securities industry by the SEC and required to pay four million dollars for securities fraud—publishing reports on companies that inflated their value or stability, and that contradicted his private, negative opinion of them. He’s now CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Business Insider, a blog reporting business trends and research. By all rights, he should be the last guy to publicly declare his sympathy for the gripes of the “Occupy” protesters.
But a quick search of Business Insider’s website yields article after article by Blodget, in which he outlines his general agreement with their complaints and qualified support for their aims. He calls “the juxtaposition of 1) extreme inequality, 2) super-high unemployment, and 3) record high corporate profits” a “serious problem” and even agrees with some of Occupy Wall Street’s recent demands.
But behind some of his seemingly even-handed statements lies poor reasoning. “The entire country bears responsibility for our massive debt build-up and financial crisis, from Wall Street to Main Street to K Street to the Federal Reserve to the White House to Capitol Hill,” he states in a recent article. But the implication that “Main Street” shares an equal (or nearly equal) amount of blame as Wall Street and Capitol Hill? Outrageous. An unequal distribution of power (which Blodget has the charts to demonstrate) excludes an equal distribution of responsibility.
In the same piece, he lists what he judges legitimate frustrations of Wall Streeters. Wall Street is frustrated “that its success, which the country needs much more of, is being vilified.” But is that claim, that the country needs “much more” success from Wall Street, justified? Doesn’t record high unemployment paired with record high corporate profits cast doubt on the assumption that success on Wall Street brings some automatic benefit to the country as a whole? In fact, isn’t this the whole point — that large corporations and the financial sector have increased their wealth at the expense of the vast majority of Americans?
Still, Blodget’s sympathy with the grievances of the Occupy movement (which includes an ongoing “Occupy Baltimore” protest) ought to be heartening. Perhaps more of the “one-percent” will realize how much they depend on the other ninety-nine and earnestly work to rectify the situation.