Bankers like to project tough, no-nonsense personas, but underneath that cool Brooks Brothers exterior, they're easily spooked, judging by their reaction to the protesters outside their offices. Many people are dismissive of some Occupy Wall Street activists' utopian demands, as in The New Republic's editorial against the movement. The magazine's central data point was a speech by philosopher Slavoj Zizek, who lamented that it's easier to imagine the total destruction of Earth via asteroid or aliens than to picture the end of capitalism. But that revolutionary vision is actually quite easy to imagine for the nervous nellies on Wall Street, who are hiring bodyguards to protect them from the proles. The security firm Risk Control Strategies expects to double its revenue in New York this year, The New York Times' Kevin Roose reports, because financial industry executives are freaked out by the protests. Insite Security says it's gotten dozens of calls since the protest began, including one from an executive "requesting help planning his escape from the United States in the event the federal government was overthrown ... The executive wanted to know how much gold to keep on hand and how to escape ... by submarine in the event of a major incident."
Rich people already felt demonized by President Obama going around the country saying people who make more than $1 million a year should have their taxes raised by 5.5 percentage points. "Nobody wants to punish success in America," Obama said. "All I'm saying is that those who have done well, including me, should pay our fair share in taxes to contribute to the nation that made our success possible." That, fumed Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, sounded like "good vs. evil," that he's "getting blasted as being a bad guy!" So naturally, real live socialists camped outside their office buildings would make the comfortably well-off a bit more nervous.
They feel hunted in public, unable to wear their favorite shirts. "There was a period where you could put on the Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs sweatshirt and wear it to the beach," Brad Hintz, former chief financial officer at Lehman Bros., told the Los Angeles Times' Nathaniel Popper. At Manhattan's Del Frisco's, a popular after-work spot for Wall Streeters, investment adviser Joshua M. Brown overheard financial services workers complaining about the protesters. "Thank god they don't know that all of Wall Street comes here for dinner!" a woman said. An executive in his 50s grumbled, "You see all the cops down there keeping the peace? They should send a bill for that to these kids' parents." At Zero Hedge, financial adviser Damien Cleusix says this could be the beginning of the end: "If politicians screw this once more we are afraid that this will be remembered as the final trigger toward a radical change on how our financial system work. This won't happen overnight but be sure that the system you will be living in in 5 years will be RADICALLY different than today's. While the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement remains marginal, be sure that it will grow exponentially if politicians make the bad choices." The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin observed protesters watching a clip of comedian Roseanne Barr saying she wanted "the return of the guillotine" and "re-education camps and if that doesn't help, then being beheaded." Sorkin writes ominously that Barr "made the comments without a hint of laughter, yet the group watching around the laptop seemed to be quite amused."