dirty rag

Economics - Life, Liberty and a mocha latté - Ethan Rand Robert McCarty

The World Economic Forum (WEF) still has two days remaining and you can rest assured New Yorkers, and a cadre of visiting billionaires, will have safe access to corporate coffee. Along with street-closings, traffic jams and protesters corralled into pens, a stroll through the streets of Manhattan will reveal that each and every one of New York City's Starbucks locations has 24-hour police protection this weekend for fear of rallying window breakers.

The cost for police overtime alone for the week long WEF will equal $11 million.

Usually I'm not a TV-watcher, but I flipped on the news last night and watched some truly appalling coverage. Not only were the lot of protesters portrayed as dangerous subversives, but the whole news clip ran like a good verses evil recap of Bush's inane State of the Union address. Only this time the valiant warriors are NYPD and the evil doers are dredlocked suburban white kids.

Instead of exploring the issues the protesters came out to decry, or even covering the WEF event, the local news stations focused on a pointless us-against-them story. The NYPD played the part of the unassailable protagonist and the protesters were the set up as a straw man nemesis. No coverage of the issues at all -- just a horse race going around and around. Gosh, reminds me of the election coverage.

The potential violence should have been an sidenote. Particularly since there has not yet been any violent protests. Mainstream media should be covering the issues at the heart of the WEF and the corresponding protests. Globalization, the environment, racism, responsible corporate global citizenship -- to name a few.

There were 36 arrests yesterday -- according to the NYPD press conference the police moved in on the crowd because (I'm paraphrasing here) "they looked like they were ready to act aggressively." The footage revealed NYPD officers in full riot gear stepping on the necks of those same kids from the 'burbs with "Free Mumia" t-shirts and hemp-weave sneakers. So did I get this right? The police started cracking skulls because the crowd looked surly? If you saw these kids you'd see that they don't look poised to attack -- rather, they look as though they might spontaneously crack open a box of granola and some soy milk.

So today's a beautiful day in New York (except for those 36 kids calling home to Ohio or New Jersey or wherever to ask mom to send some bail money). Those who rely on TV as a primary news source will doubtless breathe a sigh of relief that NYC is safe from an onslaught of unwashed hippies. They can order a double mocha latté secure in the knowledge that the police are there to protect their property -- never minding that it's ideas that are in jeopardy.