Occupy Camelot

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Diplomatic Dialogue Has To Start Somewhere…

Below, libertarian economic expert Peter Schiff talks to Occupy protesters.  Some of these protesters are confused, barely literate brats riding a bandwagon, but a few of them are clearly very serious, mature, intelligent people.  Unfortunately, a video like this has to operate in sound bites, and I wish the forum had been a quiet table and not a public series of rapid fire confrontations, but the exchange of ideas here gives me hope.  Future discussions could be fruitful.  There is common ground.  There is some common sense all around.  Kudos to Reason magazine for putting this together.

The Biggest Difference Between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party

I started my observations about these two movements a month ago with a point of conciliatory commonality–their shared opposition to undue influence by rich special interests in politics, whether left or right.  However, after two months of Occupy Wall Street, the most stunning thing about these two movements is how their core is starkly contrasted.

Tea Party protests usually had a “vote the bums out” message–their signs and speakers focused on what those in the crowd should do.  Occupiers, however, seem focused on what others should do for them–their signs and speakers are about the demands they have for what “the rich” should be providing them with (student loan debt relief appears to be a big one).

This is a broad generalization, of course, but a useful one.  While there are certainly Tea Party protesters who want government to do things for them, even those things are more limited and more for the benefit of others than what Occupiers demand for themselves.  Decreasing spending so that future generations of taxpayers won’t be saddled with unpayable debts (as many a Tea Party sign begged, such as at 1:52 in this video from a Las Vegas protest) is a far cry from insisting that “government has a responsibility to guarantee access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement,” as a poll of OWS protesters showed, according to a survey cited on the OWS Wikipedia page.  Rescinding fairly recent policies that exacerbate economic problems strikes me as more restrained and pragmatic than demanding the spontaneous erection of a new infrastructure for a panoply of progressive fantasies.

Consider Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally last year.  Continue reading

NPR Irony

My local NPR station mingled its glowing Occupy Wall Street coverage over the last few weeks with a pledge drive.  A few days ago, I heard the station manager declare the drive at an end.  Then she noted that fully a quarter of the drive’s funding came from “corporate sponsors.”  She thanked them profusely.

Now that the pledge drive has finished, NPR can return to singing the praises of anti-corporate protesters.

I Support the 1%

I am a public school teacher, but I choose not to hate or envy those whose hard work and innovation have brought them greater wealth than I have.  They have taken nothing from me.  My life is the result of my choices.  Each of us is responsible for dealing with and improving our own circumstances.

My house is only worth 1/3 of what I’m paying for it, but I will not scapegoat a small group of people whose work is related to New York’s financial district.  I will not associate the illegal malfeasance of a very few with the wealthy population in general–such prejudiced thinking has always led to atrocities.  Many of our country’s economic problems were caused by the reckless buying and poor preparation among us in the middle class, anyway.  It’s time we grew up and admitted it.

I’ve had difficulty paying bills on time and providing for my family, but I do not feel entitled to demand that wealthier people are obligated to bail me out.  This is a free country, and we believe in private property.

I have had student loans in the five figures.  I paid them off by budgeting and sacrificing.  Nobody forced me to take out those loans, and nobody else was responsible for paying them back.

I pay no income taxes, yet I benefit from public services.  I will not have the gall to impose upon the wealthy a convenient vision of what they “must” provide for others.  There is no such thing as an objective “fair share.”

I am the 99%, but I support the 1%.

A Question for Occupy Sympathizers

Let’s imagine that there are no billionaires.  None of the world’s super rich exist, and no one else has taken their places.

How exactly would people in the American middle class have more wealth if, say, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet or Rupert Murdoch had never been born?

Without the major industrialists , innovators, and, yes, capitalists of modern times, wouldn’t we all in fact be very much poorer?

Current Events Irony

It is wrong to hate minorities and to pick on people who are different from you, unless the minority you’re picking on is the rich.  Then, apparently, it’s an important civic responsibility to publicly harass them.  If you aren’t kind enough to a politically correct group, you’re a bigot and a bully.  If you openly slander and threaten the rich, you’re an activist.

The Perennial Protest

When I heard yet another guest expert on the radio yesterday say that the Occupy movement was a reaction to “the one percent” having gone too far and now needing correction, I wondered:

When in history have trendy young progressives ever NOT demanded that the wealthy fork over more of their earnings so the Robin Hoods could run things their way?  I mean, this is hardly a new development, is it?  Some sympathetic liberals might try to opine that the distribution of wealth is more disproportionate right now that at some other recent times, but even if so, that’s beside my point.  My point is that the self-righteous preening of the Occupiers–that they have been pushed too far by a despotic oligarchy–seems undermined by the fact that their ilk have always, everywhere, seemed to say the same thing. 

If anyone could offer a historical example to the contrary–a group of like-minded would-be protestors saying that the economic situation in their time and place was all hunky dory–I’d be intrigued to see it.

Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party

  • There is, of course, a major strain of thought that connects the Occupy Wall Street crowd and the Tea Party.  Though largely representing opposing sides of the political spectrum, they each have at their core an aversion to corporatism–not necessarily corporations themselves (any OWS protestor who says otherwise is likely a hypocrite), but the political culture of favors, bailouts, pork deals, corporate welfare, etc.  I’d like to see more of a conversation building on this common ground.

 

  • The biggest superficial difference between the two movements seems to be the penchant for violent rhetoric among OWS.  I’m not aware of any actual instances of violence, verbal or otherwise, at tea party rallies, but umpteen such cases have been recorded and broadcasted at OWS protests.  Despite the reputation that the tea party has been stereotyped with in much of the mainstream media as being full of racists and militia-types, one must remember how many would-be infiltrators have been caught and exposed as purposely trying to create that impression (remember the Oregon middle school teacher who foolishly admitted online that he was planning one such act).  I don’t know if OWS has any similar problem, but certainly I haven’t heard of any, and no rowdy hooligans at these rallies seem to be getting alienated by the rest of the crowd, as they were at Tea Party rallies.  Pictures like these, including one of an OWS protester defecating on a police car (warning: graphic), appear pretty authentic, unfortunately.  Those who are complaining about all the arrests accompanying OWS protests might do well to admit that some of these protesters simply aren’t living up to the non-violent heritage of civil disobedience.