Some Further Thoughts on the Occupy Movement

(This is an update to my previous post on this topic.)

Walter Russell Mead had a typically incisive post about the Occupy movement.

These comments are cruel but accurate:

Occupy Wall Street [looks like] the usual suspects, the kind of people who have been demonstrating for various causes for the last fifty years. Change the signs and to many people these demonstrations could be anti-Iraq war and anti-Bush demonstrations, or any of the other leftie causes going back many years.
From a news point of view this is dog bites man: the usual people are doing the usual things. They are doing it in an unusual place — and over time they may be doing it in unusual numbers. But leftie protests that go nowhere are part of the background noise of modern American life. Drums and granola in the park is not news. Until OWS breaks that mold, expect public interest to remain tepid.

Nonetheless, I left this comment in response:

I disagree in part with Mr. Mead. The Occupy Movement appears to be composed of two main groups. First, there is a very amorphous group of young people, to me they are kids, who are smart and well intentioned but very poorly educated. Second there is a smaller but more vocal group of the same old Lefty protesters. I had a post up about my visit to the Occupy Chicago General Assembly a few nights ago. Odds are the Boomers will take over and ruin this movement as they have done with so many other things. But, maybe not. The degree of diversity, really confusion, which is evident in this movement is shown by the posts and comments on their website. Television and newspaper coverage does not accurately capture the flavor of the thing. You need to walk over and talk to the people, especially the twenty-somethings. I am pessimistic, but I hope something good eventually emerges from this effort.

(I just noticed the comment did not show up, for some reason.)

Rich Lowry picks up on the divergence between the media image of the protests and the actual and painful tales of hardships which can be found on the WE ARE THE 99 PERCENT webpage. There is a lot of misery out there. The higher education bubble has hurt a lot of people. Loss of work and loss or lack of health insurance has hurt a lot of people. Mortgage foreclosures are hurting a lot of people.

Republicans often don’t even bother to try to connect their program to the troubles of workers down the income scale. The leading establishment Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, wants to cut their capital-gains taxes. The leading Tea Party presidential candidate, Herman Cain, wants to raise their taxes.
If nothing else, “We Are the 99 Percent” is a reminder that the suffering is real.

This misery will inevitably give rise to a political response, as it should. The response of most people on the right of the spectrum has been derision directed at the lack of articulateness of the public protesters, and mockery at “losers” who apparently cannot take care of themselves. Also, the whole Lefty ambience and style of the thing is off-putting. But if the analysis stops there, then most of the story is lost. Most of the people who are suffering in the current economy are not “losers” but people how tried to play the game honestly and did not succeed. If all of that suffering is captured by the political Left and turned into political activity, then there will be a further round of bad and destructive policy choices. If the needs of these many people are not addressed by the GOP, then their votes will be forfeited in the next election, among other bad consequences. That would be very bad indeed. However, this movement, so far, does not appear to be getting a ton of traction from the mass of suffering people in the USA.

I walked over to the Occupy folks in front of the Federal Reserve Bank last night around 11 p.m. to see how many people were there and what was up. It was a very nice night for a walk. There won’t be many more like it before the hard cold sets in. There were maybe 50 people out. I talked to a few of them and gave away a couple of my precious dwindling supply of Lexington Green business cards. There was a cluster of younger kids and one older guy. I asked them if they would be open to having discussions with people from the Tea Party, since I think there is some common ground between the Tea Party principles and Occupy’s current grievance list — not a lot, but some. They seemed to be fine with that idea. Maybe I will try to do something along those lines.

This article had a nice diagram that captures the common ground:

That captures my own long-standing view of the problem pretty well.

UPDATE: Looking some more at the WE ARE THE 99 PERCENT site is painful. This is a tiny fraction of the misery out there. A true New Deal style works project would have been a much better use of Obama’s roughly Trillion Dollar Stimulus. But my question is, what could be done to quickly get job creation going, other than a massive expenditure on make-work government employment? The political consequences of a lot more misery afflicting a lot more people could be very, very serious, and very, very bad — to say nothing of alleviating that suffering if possible.

UPDATE II: This post attributes the non-violence of the Occupy movement to conflict resolution techniques used in public schools over the last twenty years. This seems plausible, based on my observation.

UPDATE III: Thanks to Joseph Fouche for his excellent post in response.

51 thoughts on “Some Further Thoughts on the Occupy Movement”

  1. Interesting. Thoughts and questions:

    -To what extent are the OWS people you met in Chicago representative of OWS people around the country?

    -The Venn diagram is a good simplification of how different people view the causes of our public-finance problems. But what about how different people view possible solutions? My guess is that Tea Partiers and OWS supporters will generally disagree on solutions (Tea Partiers want less govt, OWS people want more govt regulation of business) even within the overlapping subgroup that agrees that crony capitalism is the problem.

    -The central political question is how big the govt should be. The Tea Parties recognize this as an issue. Does anyone else?

  2. “To what extent are the OWS people you met in Chicago representative of OWS people around the country?”

    I have no idea. But I am guessing that they are not all that different.

    “… what about how different people view possible solutions?”

    All kinds of different proposals are out there. Getting agreement on the nature of the problem is a first step.

    “…how big the govt should be…”

    It is a somewhat more subtle than that. The government should be doing more to protect people from predatory behavior. The government has to fill its role of policing fraud, not facilitating it. To talk about “big” government or “regulation” generically is not terribly helpful. The Anglosphere has always been about optimal government, not minimal government. We have government these days that is failing to perform its core functions, including preventing massive frauds on the public, and even perpetrating massive looting of the public on behalf of business cronies, yet at the same time taking on many other roles and functions that it cannot and should not do. I am afraid that we will need to get at least one layer below the level of slogans (“deregulate”) to get the kind of change we need to see.

  3. We have government that is contributing to predatory behavior and hiding behind business. That government’s power is for sale to the highest bidder.

    Parents are as much at fault as anyone. Where were the parents of these debt-burdened students? Why did they not help pay for the education for which so much debt was incurred? Because they themselves were not capable of running their own lives with any common sense?

    It all goes back to government power. Follow the power back to the money. Then ask about personal responsibility.

    Government that has the power to give you everything has the power to take everything from you. Can you even get these kids to follow this logical chain?

  4. Until OWS breaks that mold, expect public interest to remain tepid.

    Here is where things are going to happen. Our politics are reaching a crisis point. The OWS is being tuned out. They have both the tacit and explicit support of the Democratic Party and its allies on the Left. They have already forced the New York City government to yield and appease them. They have to do something new to remain in the news, which is one of their goals and those of their sponsors. Speakers at the various #Occupy sites have been calling for violence. MSNBC is encouraging it, publicly hoping for a “Kent State Moment” to trigger things.

    Assuming that we were speaking the same language [and I return to the TWANLOC formulation I have mentioned in other comments] it might be possible to reach a mutual understanding with some of them. But we do not speak the same language anymore. And events are being pushed along by their own momentum. I suspect that in a week or two, the current relative stasis is going to break. Either the locals whose businesses are impacted are going to put pressure on the politicians to force a confrontation, the locals themselves will force the confrontation, health conditions due to lack of sanitation are going to force movement, or the demonstrators’ “leadership” are going to do something violent and stupid. Or some combination of the above, with probably added factors we have not considered.

    Once blood is shed on either side, lines will be drawn, and the Democrats who are pushing this will have the cassus belli that they seem to want.

    Subotai Bahadur

  5. SB:

    “Speakers at the various #Occupy sites have been calling for violence.”

    The Chicago website says nothing and suggests nothing violent.

    One problem of a leaderless organization, or actually a positive feature in this case, is that if self-appointed leaders violate some basic principle, like encouraging violence, the people in the group can just stop showing up.

    The two times I talked to people they were strongly for non-violence.

    Links, please, to contrary evidence, if you have any.

    Some guy talking on MSNBC is not any evidence of anything.

    That would be like attributing some random comment on Fox News to be a statement on behalf of the whole Tea Party movement.

    If I saw any evidence that you were correct i might worry about it.

  6. OK, here’s one. On the other hand, anyone can get in line and speak at these things. Also notice, this guy is old. A classic washed up Lefty going through the motions. When I start hearing the young people calling for violence I will get worried. If these people initiate anything violent an indifferent public will swiftly turn angrily hostile. The police have been very indulgent, but if there is any violent the cops will have to break it all up. Let’s wait calmly on events.

  7. I like the Venn diagram, but it ignores foundational differences in narrative for left vs. conservative/libertarian.

    The left’s flow diagram goes something like this:

    Government has too little power
    Corporations use money to occupy this power vacuum
    Corporations have too much power

    My version, and probably yours too, is this:

    Government has too much power
    Corporations use money to purchase this power
    Corporations have too much power

    There is only a partial agreement on the middle step, and none at all on the root cause.

    I’m all for common ground, and I applaud your attempt to educate the mal-educated. But I think you may find that the only way to find actionable common complaints is for these kids to change their minds because what they believe now is wrong.

  8. “…is for these kids to change their minds…”

    That may be possible. At least showing people an alternative model exists is a start.

  9. The level of interest in Coolidge and Harding may signify some new level of understanding of the cause of the Great Depression and the present parallels. I understand that Ron Radosh is writing a book about Harding. This may be too little, too late but It is a good sign.

  10. Lowry is on to something. The young Americans are suffering disproportionately. the Left is holding out the old proposals – bigger government, less freedom.

    Perry was right – don’t be so heartless!

    This is a teachable moment for the next generation. Will they fall for the Leftist claptrap or will they learn, in Thatcher’s words, “the facts of life are conservative”?

    Outreach is the way to win voters and that’s what we need, right?

  11. It is a somewhat more subtle than that. The government should be doing more to protect people from predatory behavior. The government has to fill its role of policing fraud, not facilitating it. To talk about “big” government or “regulation” generically is not terribly helpful.


    We have government these days that is failing to perform its core functions, including preventing massive frauds on the public, and even perpetrating massive looting of the public on behalf of business cronies, yet at the same time taking on many other roles and functions that it cannot and should not do.

    Because, not “yet”. Govt fails in its core functions because it is taking on too many other roles.

    The remedy is to reduce govt spending and thereby force the reordering of priorities. Cut spending by enough and the rest will follow. Reduce the percentage of GDP that is controlled (either directly by taxation/spending or indirectly by regulation) by Govt and the problems will abate.

  12. “Cut spending by enough and the rest will follow.”

    I don’t agree. It is not remotely that simple.

  13. The main problem with the Venn diagram is that is doesn’t make clear that the federal government is a monopoly, whereas corporation(s) are not. Bill Gates has exactly zero power to make me do anything. No corporation has judges or a police force.

    The reason we have “corrupt lobbyists” is because the federal government is involved in things they have no constitutional authority over!! Who is going to allow the government to butt into their business and not try to influence the process??

    If you understand outliers, the Black Swan, or anything Taleb says about “robustness”…you know that having monopolies anywhere is bad. And monopolies only exists in the presence of government sanction.

  14. Robert, that is fine, but we all know that here. The point of the diagram is rhetorical. It shows an avenue to reach potentially millions of citizens and voters who have literally never heard of the kinds of arguments and history that is taken for granted around here.

  15. Lexington Green Says:
    October 15th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    That is exactly the one I had in mind, although I have heard of others, too; albeit I can’t find the links at hand. The two things that worry me are the cheers from the crowd, and the fact that just those “…the Boomers will take over and ruin this movement as they have done with so many other things.” are exactly the ones who are likely to deliberately create an incident. After Bloomberg tried appeasement in NYC, the result was not a return to the relatively quiet, albeit unsanitary, status quo. They increased their activity to block the actual vehicle trafficway on Wall Street, fought with police, and are declaring that they will tie up both Times Square and the subway system this weekend; because they “won” in the park and are unstoppable.

    We saw a Coast Guardswoman at the #OccupyBoston site spit on and bottles thrown at her for just trying to get to the base [I am given to understand that there is only one access to the base and the #OccupyBoston site is in the path]. The military response was to try to have military personnel in uniform avoid the site; which the #OB count as a victory.

    This is not a spontaneous uprising of the oppressed and starving proletariat. It is organized, sponsored, and protected by the Democrats and their allies. Plenty of evidence of that in their own statements. They are getting support from the MSM who deliberately downplay the provocateurs. There is a familiar dynamic to this, that does not bode well.

    The individuals you met in Chicago may themselves be neither violent, nor particularly politically savvy. But they are not running things, and if the organic waste meets the rotating airfoil, they are not likely to react in a way that would make Gandhi proud.

    And it goes both ways. After hearing about the Coast Guardswoman being assaulted [around these parts, the spitting can be considered aggravated assault due to the medical risk of bodily fluids]; there was talk of the Patriot Guard, Sons of Liberty Riders, or Rolling Thunder paying a visit to Boston and furnishing escorts to any military personnel in uniform. They can’t defend themselves without getting in trouble; but there are a lot of people who will take the charge and a lot more who will post bail.

    Things are on a knife edge. The Left is riding a tiger that they might have trouble getting off of. And events and the situation, planned or otherwise, may make any time for dialog too short for any effect.

    Subotai Bahadur

  16. “The point of the diagram is rhetorical. It shows an avenue to reach potentially millions of citizens and voters who have literally never heard of the kinds of arguments and history that is taken for granted around here.”

    But the diagram is false. The corporations don’t lobby for power and government gives it to them, the government attempts to interfere at the behest of their constituency and corporations try to maintain their freedoms. Corporations are large because people gave them their money!

    The common ground between left and right is that fraud should be prosecuted, in business and government. Unfortunately, the government spends their time and resources concerned with lightbulbs and toilets, instead of the legitimate functions of government.

    If occupy wall street’s message was “prosecute fraud, undo tarp, force these banks into bankruptcy”…they would have my support. Unfortunately, their message seems to be that anything big is illegal, and people owe me something cause “i’m the 99 percent”. In other words, gang covetousness.

  17. “The corporations don’t lobby for power and government gives it to them, the government attempts to interfere at the behest of their constituency and corporations try to maintain their freedoms.”

    I had to read this literally three times, to try to figure out if it was missing something, or meant ironically. But apparently you actually believe this. I find that hard to fathom, but there it is.

    This could not possibly be more false. You could not possibly be more wrong.

    Corporations lobby precisely for government power, relentlessly, all day long, every day. There is a gigantic lobbying industry that does nothing else. I have been in the room and seen some of it with my own eyes. I have met and worked with some very powerful and influential lobbyists who do precisely this. Government power can be accessed through legislative and regulatory process, for private profit, and it is, all the time.

    The iron triangle between congress (especially the long service staffs), the bureaucracy and private business has long been known as the “iron triangle.” This process that you deny exists is, in fact, the very engine and prime mover of all government activity. Most regulatory and legislative activity is initiated by lobbyists of one kind or another, often associations of businesses. The main actors, who make it happen and give it shape are corporations. The government is much more of a passive and inert actor. It will go about the established routine, but it will only change the routine at the initiative of some outside force. And that outside force is almost always a corporation or association of corporations seeking profit, by creating a monopoly rent.

    If you fail to understand this, you fail to understand the fundamental nature of the politico-economic regime you live under.

    You fail to understand what America is today, what it has become.

    Get your head around this, please. If ChicagoBoyz readers, who are usually well-read and savvy, don’t get this, we are really in trouble.

  18. Since the Democrats took Congress in January 2007, and then the White House in January 2009, they have substantially raised the cost of labor. These costs include a substantial increase in the minimum wage, added costs to health benefits, added labor regulation that increases risk of costs from litigation and unionization. Some of these costs were immediately effective while others are scheduled for the future, but must be planned for in making hiring decisions.
    These additional costs are most likely to reduce the hiring of new, inexperienced employees and will hit the poorly prepared the hardest. Compound this with the poor education provided in most public school systems and the lack of serious academic achieviement required for most majors in most colleges; and what are these “occupiers” prepared to do for a profit seeking employer that offers the employer a positive marginal return from hiring recent graduates?
    I bet you dont’s see many computer science, computer engineering, and accounting majors among the occupiers.
    I suspect there is little likelihood you can get the occupiers to demonstrate in front of the home of the union boss of their high school or the home of their guidance counselor who didn’t suggest they compare the likelihood of paying off college loans with the major they were choosing.
    I can understand the frustration and anger of those who were taught all their lives that they never had to accept personal responsibility. It is tough to run smack into reality.

  19. Lex,

    “Cut spending by enough and the rest will follow.”

    I don’t agree. It is not remotely that simple.

    That’s about as concise a summary of the issue as I could have hoped for. Thank you.

    However, I’m with Jonathan on this one.

    In the long run, at least, it’s exactly that simple.

    I’m not one given to blanket, unconditional statements, but it this case it’s unavoidable. I’ve been looking for some sort of middle ground on this issue my whole adult life, and I’m convinced it just doesn’t exist.

    Government power is a cancer, we will either succeed in keeping it small and benign, or it will kill us. It may be a necessary evil, but it is evil. The founders of this country understood and explained that better than just about anyone in human history; if we are stupid enough to despise that inheritance then we deserve whatever happens to us.

    The corrupting influence of money is real, but it is so far removed from the corruption of power (which ultimately rests on violence) that it is almost absurd to discuss them in the same breath.

    I’m open to a discussion on different tactics: should we as voters and citizens focus on reducing the size or government, which will inevitably reduce corruption, or do we attack corruption, knowing that if we succeed we will inevitably reduce government? I expect that the latter has a lot more curb appeal, but it has a history of back-firing. Think about Sarbanes-Oxley for a minute before you tell me my worries are misplaced.

    Corporations lobby precisely for government power, relentlessly, all day long, every day.

    Because, to paraphrase and misquote Willie Sutton, that’s where the power is.

    To blame corporate lobbying for crony capitalism is somewhat akin to blaming gravity for the collapse of the World Trade Center. It’s completely accurate and almost entirely irrelevant.

    Greed is like gravity, as Shannon Love has so wisely pointed out. It’s a universal constant that you have to consider in any undertaking.

    Any large piece of legislation is essentially an advertisement that the government is going to auction off a chunk of violence-enforced monopoly power. Do we really have any standing to cluck our tongues and shake our heads at all the buyers that show up, and to be surprised when the winning bid comes from the player with the deepest pockets?

    Going further, how surprised should we be at influence peddling in government? Politicians are a self-selecting group, most of whom think they have the wisdom to be able to tell everyone else in the country what do do. Any bit of power they have beyond what’s necessary to keep the roads paved is a recipe for disaster.

    So to bring all this back around, I still encourage you to reach and teach any Occupy folks you can, and by all means, be approachable and non-confrontational, quick to listen and slow to speak. But at some point, you have to tell them the unvarnished, solid steel, God’s honest truth. And to do that, you first have to believe it yourself.

  20. “… how surprised should we be at influence peddling in government?”

    It is a permanent feature of life. It exists always and everywhere. That is why the Founders put Constitutional limits on the Federal government. Those limits need to be reasserted. That is easier said than done.

    Further, using the power of government to loot billions of dollars from the American taxpayer is despicable behavior. These people are moral agents. They know or ought to know that what they are doing is wrong. Saying everyone else is doing it is no excuse for children, and it is no excuse for mega-millionnaire bankers.

    The Tea Party had its origin in opposition to the TARP bailouts. That is a source of common ground with Occupy.

  21. (That was me, setbit, above.)

    “It is a permanent feature of life.”

    Yes, we agree on that, and I know we agree on that. (Do you know that we agree on that, and do you know that I know that we agree on that?)

    My concern is that your comments suggest that to curb influence peddling and purchasing, we need to clamp down on the peddling and purchasing. I counter that we need to focus entirely on removing government influence, which correlates directly with government spending. As we both agree (see above) quid pro quo is universal, so trying to stamp it out in any context is fruitless.

    More than that, trade is beneficial as long as it doesn’t involve trafficking in arbitrary power over ones fellow human beings, and attacking the “commercial” aspect of corruption sends entirely the wrong message to those at risk of falling for the socialist delusion.

    “That is easier said than done.”

    Which is why we need to keep our eye on the ball, relentlessly. We need to sympathize and communicate with the Occupiers, without giving an inch to their confused version of reality.

  22. I suppose in a generic way I agree with this: we need to focus entirely on removing government influence.

    However, in this specific case, where we have a collusive theft of hundreds of billions of dollars, with the beneficiaries being a fairly small community of well connected people, I don’t feel any compunction at focusing as well on the peddling and purchasing.

    The TARP bailout could have been made conditional on putting the banks into receivership. The businesses would have continued, but the officers and shareholders (who became even more fabulously wealthy while the crisis they caused and profited from wrecked the world economy) would not have benefitted. It was an outrageous abuse that should not have been allowed to happen, on a scale so colossal that you have to admire their chutzpah, even while despising their malice.

    I have no problem with attacking the demand side for government corruption as well as the supply side. There is no moral difference, and the demand side may be more easily deterrable.

  23. Michael – I am reading a book – just starting – The Forgotten man by Amity Shlaes
    ( – and she is going into a bit about Coolidge and a lot into Hoover – giving his background. Apparently the 2 didn’t like each other and were very different politically.

    Although I am just starting the book, I believe it is her contention that both Hoover and Roosevelt made mistakes that exacerbated the depression while Coolidge was pretty much a Laissez-faire President.

    If I were to make a bold statement I would say people today want more of a Coolidge President and less Roosevelt.

    Actually we have to start dismantling some of the stuff that is stifling the economy but that is my opinion.

  24. “[W]e have a collusive theft of hundreds of billions of dollars…”

    That’s a key part of my disagreement.

    Suppose, say, a junkie comes up to you on the street and asks for money to pay off his dealer, who is going to break his kneecaps otherwise. You give him the money, and (surprise!) he actually uses it to buy more meth.

    So while the junkie is certainly a bad guy, you knew he was a junkie and almost certainly a liar when you gave him the money.

    I think this sums up the relationship between lawmakers and banks.

  25. Re: Robert and Setbit’s comments above & the “vector”, if you will, of intentional corporate rent seeking:

    Though I agree with what Lex said in response to Robert, I do think it’s fair to say that if government didn’t affirmatively seek to interfere in the private economy to the degree it does, as a matter of declared policy, then corporate temptation to buy government influence and power would not be so great as it it. Because there would be less meaningful government influence and power to buy.

    When a party or politician publicly declares the intent to implement this or that policy that will by implication impact large portions of the national economy, it’s no wonder corporations doing business in those portions seek to influence the party or politicians who intend to fuss with it, and do so to either preserve their place or strengthen their positions.

    In that sense, I think diminishing the scope at least of government is crucial, and would not by necessity diminish its optimality or core function to, for instance, prevent fraud on the public.

  26. Anon wrote,
    “To blame corporate lobbying for crony capitalism is somewhat akin to blaming gravity for the collapse of the World Trade Center.”

    For what it is worth Ayn Rand would agree with Lex, not you. She always thought that businessmen were an opressed class and largly responsable for their opression.

  27. “Ayn Rand would agree with Lex.”

    Well, I guess that tears it. Lex, I’m giving you my WWARD bracelet; where should I send it?

  28. Setbit, you keep it. I have a special place in my heart for Ayn Rand, no irony, I really do.

    So, I don’t need the bracelet.

    Fact is businessmen are always desperate for some government deal.

    Adam Smith said as much.

  29. Cutting government spending as a proxy for cutting government power has some problems. Very large amounts of power can be exercised, sometimes for or against the interests of particular industries, corporations, or groups, by regulators, and the direct budgetary costs of this regulation can be pretty small. How much did it cost the Interstate Commerce Commission to over-regulate the railroads and practically destroy the industry prior to the coming of the Staggers Act? How much did it cost to ensure regulated monpoly status for AT&T for decades?

  30. “Cutting government spending as a proxy for cutting government power has some problems.”

    Good point.

    Small budgets are necessary but not sufficient for liberty. More government spending invariably creates more influence, but lower spending can be offset by increasing the more intrusive and harmful activities.


  31. The Govt. wants more power too. I think that you have to include this in the Venn Diagram. It’s a shame that when unemployment was 5%, most of us were merrily going about our daily lives. Now, the unemployment number is 9.1%, and we have marches all over the country with people claiming to represent 99% of the rest of the citizenry. It’s a bunch of B.S. In the meantime this movement has the potential to mushroom into a big problem for a lot of hardworking people. Did the lady who owns the sandwich shop across the street from the NYSE, who has lost 40% of her business since OWS started, write about her troubles on the 99% site?

    TARP and Obama’s stupid stimulus didn’t work, and now the banks get all the blame. The U.S. Government under Obama did this to us. 4.1% more unemployment than most prosperous years and high college costs spur a nationwide march? Ridiculous.

  32. David is absolutely right.

    There is no magic bullet.

    You have to actually get down into the weeds and change the laws and regulations, which requires expertise, which means in effect you need your own lobbyists.

    My dream is of a Tea Party so large and well funded it can serve as a perpetual monitor of the leviathan.

    Transparency and crowdsourcing will help.

  33. ““The corporations don’t lobby for power and government gives it to them, the government attempts to interfere at the behest of their constituency and corporations try to maintain their freedoms.”

    I had to read this literally three times, to try to figure out if it was missing something, or meant ironically. But apparently you actually believe this. I find that hard to fathom, but there it is.

    This could not possibly be more false. You could not possibly be more wrong.”

    Simply chart Federal government spending as a percentage of GDP, or pages in the federal register, versus the growth in lobbying. Obvious to me.

    I am NOT saying that SOME corporations don’t lobby to hurt their competitors. Case in point, the hunt for Microsoft. Microsoft didn’t pony up money…their competitors did. This has gone on since the founding of the country. Further, I am NOT saying firms don’t seek rent and/or bailouts…ethanol, steel tariffs, grain price supports..obvious. I am saying that when whole industry groups (telecom, restaurants, real estate, transportation, etc, etc.)hire lobbyists to roam over Washington…they’re doing it to protect their ability to run their business the way they see fit.

    The left believes that all lobbying is of the rent seeking variety. I disagree.

  34. The complaints of the Occupy movements are a deceit. Instead of look at their complaints, look at who they’d put in power. They think Obama is too centrist. If they get their revolution–against a Democracy, like the two 20th century revolutions–how many tens of millions will die (Ayers wanted 25 million dead, IIRC)? How many millions of refugees will be in exile around the globe? How impoverished will the formerly-USA be?

    The OWS call themselves the “99%” for the same reason Lenin’s tiny faction named itself “Bolshevik.” Because names convince more people than evidence.

    “Ours, the Boomers, have been particularly bad.”

    Yes, they are. Almost as bad as the Communists who infiltrated our government, media, and entertainment institutions in the 1930s whose children, often literally and certainly intellectually, they are.

    The Boomers, Tweeners, and Xers who objected to this nonsense were and continue to be labelled “racist, sexist, homophobes” etc. and were re-educated, fired, imprisoned, or driven into (sometimes internal) exile. So join us oppositional Boomers: repudiate feminism, affirmative action, studies programs, minority set-asides, gay rights, etc. Choose a side. Join with Obama and label all opposition to him “racist” or repudiate the last 50 years of idiotic policies.

  35. what could be done to quickly get job creation going, other than a massive expenditure on make-work government employment?

    I read recently that a lot of military equipment has been worn out because of extended operations in the Middle East, and will have to be either refurbished or replaced. Spend the stimulus-type dollars there. There’s a lot of high-tech jobs involved too, which pays to an American strength.

    DOD is the government’s biggest potential jobs program. A lot of the potential work is more “shovel-ready” than anything else I’ve seen the government propose. Granted, it may not directly employ all these kids, but IMO it would be better investment than pissing away money on TARP.

  36. I keep hearing about the false portrayal of these protesters in Big Media. I don’t subscribe to big media. All the pics and clips in my part of the blogosphere reinforce the alleged Big Media falsehood that the OWS people are whiners and idiots united in some soft-headed desire for leftoid Unicorntopia.

    Lex’s first-hand testimony runs counter to that picture. Having just skimmed tales of pain and hardship at the 99% page, I find almost no sympathy. These kids are the victims of the society the other protesting cohort built for them. The exploiters have gray beards, ugly glasses and tie-dyed shirts. If the victims look much like the “common man” that’s just a testament to the strength of fashion (in clothes and ideas).

    “I was raised by mom…” ==> Thank the welfare state and feminism.
    “I can’t find a job where I live…” ==> I you’re so smart, move.
    “I have a lot of debt…” ==> Living beyond your means always ends badly. Parents?
    “I have no health care…” ==> No, you have no medical insurance. Beg for socialism elsewhere.
    “I have to take the bus…” ==> *This* has become a reason to protest? Pansy.
    “BofA stole my house…” ==> Did you read the contract? Did you believe your house was an ATM?
    “I have a rare genetic defect…” ==> For that I have sympathy. But that puts you explicitly outside the 99%. You’re a 1%, too.

    I liked the Venn diagram, but I don’t see much actual common ground between OWS and TEA.

    20 years of conflict-resolution schooling may make for a more pleasant protest. But it may have also made a generation of pusillanimous sops. The real adult world is full of conflicts that people are willing to push much farther than in the schoolhouse. Major disagreements cannot be settled by minor techniques. It is civility elevated over triumph. He who is willing to fight harder and play dirty will mow through drum circles and hear the lamentations of their women.

    Beneath MLK’s peace was the strength of Malcolm X. These OWS kids are all yin. Holding an agry sign is as close as they come to yang. I say people with true yang would be out doing some kind of useful work, tending an urban garden or making their parent’s house a nicer place to live. If you want a job, just start working. They all clearly are already surviving, so it isn’t directly about getting pay to avoid starvation. So use the time and energy to build/rebuild a personal economy. You kids are getting out-worked by the truly uneducated and still-oppressed folks from the hood. Where’s your hustle?

    Having launched into that rant, I may need to visit my local OWS to see how many “normals” I find. I sure could be working with a false characterization. I need evidence to counter the evidence I have been presented. Lex is the outlier.

  37. [Please note that the next two comments below, from David Foster and Subotai Bahadur, were posted about a day ago but were trapped by the spam filter. Apologies.]

  38. OK, so far the #Occupy movement has been specifically endorsed by:

    Democrat Minority Leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi:

    President Obama according to his senior policy advisor David Plouffe

    The American Nazi Party, and as an update here, now the Communist Party of the USA

    Here is a list of supporters from the original reports on the Occupy Wall Street Movement
    These are not proponents of peaceful political change.

    The only people missing seem to NAMBLA.

    The individuals at the various #Occupy sites may be hurt, scared, obviously clueless, and according to Joseph Fouche’s posting immediately above which I agree with; operating in a moral vacuum. But the ones who are involved with their own agendas are not a stable group. And those agendas are not peaceful. By all means, talk to their sheep. But do not expect that it will have an immediate effect on coming events; which have a momentum of their own, with all of the groups above trying to steer it. This next week or two are going to be interesting, in the Chinese sense [I’m Chinese, I can say that.] and other events in the body politic are going to get involved.

    Subotai Bahadur

  39. Four links on the protests:

    Don Sensing passes along an email from a woman describing her job-hunting situation and the reasons she things many join the protests

    Don also channels a Mark Steyn post to the effect that protestors have “cobwebbed assumptions about societal permanence” and are basically seeking a return to the 1950s

    Mary Grabar reports on the Atlanta OWS: anarchy waiting for crisis

    Somebody at MSNBC apparently said that the OWS movement really needs a Kent State moment.

  40. Subotai, even assuming you are right, it is going to be almost impossible for the hardcores to turn these kids into violent revolutionaries. Your dismissive and insulting term “sheep” is inappropriate. Their rejection of violence is admirable. You seem to be hoping for violence and frustrated that it has not happened yet. I hope this disappointment continues.

    David, the lady’s email to Rev. Sensing is heartbreaking. There are millions of identical stories. People who are desperate will be radicalized unless offered a plausible alternative. The commenters here seem to think that people who are unemployed and in debt are losers who deserve to starve. Not very charitable, and not very politically astute, either.

  41. It is refreshing to see this viewpoint on a conservative site. Since the OWS movement emerged, I have felt like the underpinnings of the movement stem directly from the same issues that created the Tea Party, namely individuals have less power over their future than they should. Whether you believe you have less power because the government is too large or Wall Street banks are too large, the causes are philosophically the same. I think mainstream conservatives are doing a huge disfavor to themselves when they dismiss OWS offhand as liberal propaganda and lazy 20 somethings wanting a hand out.

    There is true misery and anger in both OWS and the Tea Party. We can only hope that there are people out there who can harness it to drive change in both the size of the government and crony capitalism.

  42. Lexington Green Says:
    October 16th, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    You seem to be hoping for violence and frustrated that it has not happened yet. I hope this disappointment continues.

    HOPING for violence?!!? Hell no. If I had my druthers, this whole thing would be cleared out with a Nor’Easter making the entire east coast north of DC nasty, cold, and wet for about a week. That would cut the heart out of the movement for mass demonstrations for a while, and it would be far harder to reconstitute it; at least until Spring. Urban folk, from what I have seen, do not take well to prolonged discomfort caused by the elements. Living in the mountains of Colorado, I grant that I may have a slightly biased view of that.

    My second choice would involve the oversupply of both mentally/psychologically impaired that always gather on the fringe of such events, plus the plentiful supply of stupid and lack of reality testing that is present any time you get the Left gathered in large numbers. Someone being really stupid and offensive to the MSM in such a way that they can’t ignore it will play hob with the deliberately favorable coverage that is feeding this.

    Some background. Besides being a lifelong student of history and the darker arts within political science who sees a lot of congruence with historical events that have not turned out well; I am a retired Peace Officer who over a span of 3 decades has dealt with mobs and gangs; sometimes up close and personal.

    1) The mass of modern Americans, regardless of political affiliation, have no experience of violence, bloodshed, physical coercion, or non-sanitized death.

    2) Similarly, the existence of unavoidable consequences to ones actions has been all but eliminated from our culture. It is part of the normal growing up process that has been skipped for a couple of generations. One of the things I have heard over and over has been variations of “It is my choice” to do x, y, or z; when said choice is a violation of the law or impinges on a third party. My response, when it comes down to the ‘either/or’ moment is that “You have freedom of choice, but you do not have freedom of consequences.“. I usually get a look from them like a pig trying to read a wristwatch.

    3) Note that in my career, I have learned that most public order policing short of that ‘either/or’ moment is best done using your mouth and brain; not with force. If you can talk someone into compliance, and especially if you are enforcing something longstanding [and the #Occupy sites are open violations of all sorts of ordinances] it is pretty much always better than going to force; not only because of the personal damage that can be involved, but also because of the paperwork. However, if eventually you have to go ‘either/or’; you have to go into it to win, right smartly. That may involve an overwhelming show of force with the option to use the force, but there are a number of tactics that especially with this group would be non-violent and very effective in attriting the size of the problem group; although ideally they would have been started as soon as say the private owners of the park in New York said they wanted them out.

    4) Vacillation at the command level [in this case the political level] incites violence. The fact that everyone from the President on down is supporting the #Occupy movement makes any attempts to bring them into compliance with the law regarding permits, disturbance, sanitation, etc. all but impossible. By giving them a functional position of being above and outside the law, akin to the French Zones Urbains Sensibiles you destroy any credibility in enforcing society’s laws. The Bloomberg administration setting deadlines, then backing down was considered a victory by the #Occupy group, and by their own statements encouraged them to spread their activities to blocking traffic on Wall Street itself, trying to #Occupy Times Square, and from what I am hearing, setting up another #Occupy site in Washington Park in direct defiance of the city.

    Contrast this with #OccupyDenver, which had set up camp on the Capitol grounds. I admit I am amazed that our Leftist Governor did it, but he may have been worried about a reprise of Wisconsin outside of his office; however they gave notice to the #OccupyDenver group that the appropriate ordinances would be enforced [which include no camping] and that their demonstrations would have to be within the law. State Troopers came in at the announced deadline and removed the camp. Some few who were dumb enough to swing on the State Troopers were arrested. Almost all left, and while they announced that they would set up on private property across downtown, I understand that the property owner declined the honor. They can demonstrate, they just have to follow the same law everybody else does.

    Similarly, #OccupyColoradoSprings had been camping in Acacia Park downtown for 3 weeks, also illegally. Yesterday the police said that after the longstanding 2300 hrs. curfew was passed, they would remove them. By 2300 hrs. #OccupyColoradoSprings had decamped already.

    5) Political rallies and demonstrations [regardless of ideology] are by their very nature both learning and teaching moments for the participants. Those who attend are there to either learn more, or have their beliefs confirmed. Those who put them on, have a definite curriculum in mind that they want to teach. These are far from spontaneous gatherings. Those openly involved beforehand, and those endorsing them after they started are not proponents of New England Town Hall democracy. In fact, they share in common a publicly expressed contempt for the concept of a democratic republic as we know it.

    Their immediate goals are two-fold. First, to radicalize those attending. Second, to radicalize society a’la the late 1960’s. Their longer range goal involves the destruction of our current society; although the goals of the endorsing CPUSA, the American Nazi Party, and the Obama regime differ in details. All of these are ruthless groups who have contempt for the law and Constitution and are not averse to using cannon fodder to achieve their ends. I am reminded of the alliance between the Nationalist Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party at Whampoa Academy in the 1920’s before they began the Chinese Civil War.

    All of them have their own vested interest in provoking violence. The mass of those there [by the way, the sheep reference is drawn from the Wolves, Sheep, Sheepdogs analogy common in the military and in law enforcement from LTC David Grossman ] are not living in the real world where bad things happen. I have seen a lot of blood and guts and dead people. I have learned to suppress the natural reaction, do what must be done, and deal with the shaking later. The people at these sites are coddled about that aspect of reality. Physical pain and death is something that they have been protected from.

    If those running and endorsing this Caucasian Cluster [and it is pretty much an Anglo affair] who have that vested interest in provoking violence get their way; we will not know the specific provocation, but those who are victims, those who see the victims [live or by media] and those who hear about it from those running and endorsing are going to have to choose sides. The choice is going to be immediate, and in most cases irrevocable. They will live their lives justifying that choice any way that they can.

    6) Except for the trust fund babies dabbling in proletarian politics, and those who are demanding that the government enforce the anarchy they so claim to desire; I do not make fun of those who are in fact suffering. We have spent generations screwing the pooch. The hole is so deep that many will not get out of it. And in fact, what this frequently comes down to is that the vaguest concept of stopping digging is just being floated, while the mass of those affected are encouraging bringing in jackleg drills and Gelex and blasting to make the hole deeper, quicker [I’ve been a hard-rock miner in my past]. It took generations to use up the design margins of our society, to the point where confrontations that push us to this point become more and more common. It will take generations and a lot of hard work and suffering to get us out of that hole; if we manage to ever do so. And this is a culture where hard work and suffering is not acceptable.

    I am not desirous of violence, I am predicting it based on rational factors, and pointing out those factors so that they do not benefit from anonymity to create their own mythos. We do not have the time to wave a magic wand and BEGIN the process of fixing things, in the limited span when those desirous of provoking violence will either succeed or fail based on the dynamics of the situation they have set up.

    Civil disorder and/or Civil War is the least likely way to preserve a Constitutional Republic. But as the political design margin decreases, it can become the only remaining possible path for that. Openly recognizing the dangers is one way to keep the design margin in a system from decreasing further; or if it comes to that, of maximizing the chance that the surviving Sheep and Sheepdogs win.

    I realize that the length of this means I go into moderation. I hope it will emerge.

    Subotai Bahadur

  43. Brett….”the underpinnings of the movement stem directly from the same issues that created the Tea Party, namely individuals have less power over their future than they should”

    The main difference, I think, is this: the archtypal Tea Part person wants go gain direct power over his future by reducing the influence of government and government-connected entities; the archtypal OWN person wants to gain indirect power over his future by having the power of the government exercised on his behalf against others.

    These views reflect only the centers of gravity of the movements; obviously there are a lot of individual differences.

    I got a real sinking feeling in my stomach when during the last campaign I saw so many “Got Hope?” (pro-Obama) bumper stickers. It is fairly pathetic to have one’s hope in life associated with a particular politician….the whole idea of America was that you can create your own hope.

  44. SB: It emerged. Thanks for the excellent elaboration. Much better at the longer length.

    “Their immediate goals are two-fold. First, to radicalize those attending. Second, to radicalize society a’la the late 1960′s.”

    This is the case for the more hardcore participants, certainly.

    “those desirous of provoking violence will either succeed or fail based on the dynamics of the situation they have set up.

    I will be surprised if they have any success trying to get the kids to turn violent.

    I see the sheep / sheepdogs / wolves analogy now. Yes, I ran across that in the books of Col. Dave Grossman. The hardcores are would-be wolves, but very few if any are the real thing. The kids barely even know wolves exist.

  45. Brett:

    “I think mainstream conservatives are doing a huge disfavor to themselves when they dismiss OWS offhand as liberal propaganda and lazy 20 somethings wanting a hand out.”

    I wish that every conservative group had shown up in force on the first days. Many of these kids have never seen or heard any conservatives or libertarians or their view of the world.

    The hardcore Lefties very quickly took over the whole thing. I am not sure that was inevitable.

  46. Here are some views about life expressed by one OWS participant. I don’t think this is representative of the majority of them; indeed, most would probably be happy to have the things that this woman decries. But it’s particularly creepy, for sure.

  47. If we judged every single movement by the individual statements of participants, there’d be no such thing as a coherent message. There are racists and bigots in the Tea Party and the Left then claims the Tea Party is about that. There are lunatics who want free pancakes in the OWS movement and the Right then claims OWS is about that. The constant focus on the individual in these situations is a grave mistake.

    These are movement about a collective feeling or anger in a large group of people directed at an overarching government or a system of crony capitalism both of which have raped the middle class for years. The problems are intertwined and thus, I think the movements are too. I’m proud that there are still Americans out there willing to do something when they believe strongly enough. We cannot effect change sitting in our chairs.

    @David: I’m not sure what part of that you find creepy. I suppose it’s the “Now Repeat after me” part. But the creepy part to me in that banner is “Save for old age”. The problem is, for a huge swath of this countries’ population, that’s no longer possible. There are no company pensions anymore. The market is largely controlled by large institutions and hedge funds trying to find tiny profits in high frequency trading. Our government has held interest rates at effectively 0% for so long that the concept of making money on a savings account is foreign to almost everyone. Our government and by extension the large banks they have kept alive in this last crisis have destroyed the concept of “save for old age”. You cannot save for old age without some kind of appreciation.

    I’m not underestimating the failure of many individuals to live within their means. People who bought more house than they can afford shouldn’t get to live in that house. However the government actively promoted that behavior through easy credit and easy money. The banks facilitated that by lending to anyone and everyone. Both are at fault and I think that validates the movements of both the Tea Party and the OWS.

  48. Brett….I think the whole thing is creepy. The message of the sign is that the things most people would normally do….having kids, working, getting married, etc….represent somehow a failure to be free. The vat majority of the commenters at Ricochet seemed to share this interpretation.

    I don’t think the line about saving for old age reflected an assertion of the difficulty/impossibility of doing so, rather, it is an assertion that such saving is boring bourgeois stuff, along with everything else on the list.

  49. First, I hear a lot of BS about a “disappearing middle class”, or “raped the middle class”.
    ZZZZT. Wrong.
    People who are not actually hungry, and underweight because of a lack of food, are not poor.

    Everybody living in a house they are “buying”, is middle class or above. As foreclosures happen, yes, that number is going slightly down. But it’s still well over 60%, up to 67% or so.

    Within the middle class, there has been gradual reduced median income for males, and increased median income for females.

    Getting “some job in some company” is no longer enough to advance much, and I think the anger is based on the lack of advancement. This was being hid by the bubble increase in wealth as house prices rose up thru to 2006, but median real income not so much.

    The bubble meant some $6 trillion of house-value wealth disappeared. People who had been “saving” in their house equity increases saw huge losses in their savings. They should be outraged that Bush led Democrats to support TARP and other gov’t bailouts for the rich — please consider creating a placard that puts the Dems and Reps with the numbers of votes for and against TARP.

    Second — how can the gov’t create more jobs? Start making all gov’t workers who have salaries of over 2x median ($45k x 2 = $90k) work half time. And replace each half time worker with two new half time workers at about $22k, offered at the bottom.

    There should be a LOT more turnover of overpaid, long term bureacrats. In hiring new gov’t employees, the biggest criteria should be the amount of federal tax paid over the last 20 years from non-gov’t sources. The point is to get older, not previously gov’t workers, involved in gainful half-time work, able to live a working class life. With time to look for something better.

  50. As an historical analogue, did the Black Panther Party come before the Weathermen or the other way around?

    The point being that our OWS bunch of SWPL dipsh*ts can easily inspire more thuggish and vicious groups. If the political environment shows tolerance for civil disorder, civil disorder will increase – as other commenters have noted.

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