BY CHARLES MEMMINGER – I’ve been keeping tabs the various Occupy Wall Street gatherings across the country, except for in Hawaii, where the “occupiers” seemed to be the same old perennial, graying, retread group of disgruntled left-wing academics and activists, some of whom I recognize from the days when my mother-in-law was a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 1960s.
The occupiers of Wall Street, Zuccotti Park and points west are a different breed. The core are true believers that the financial system is messed up and needs to be reformed. They are non-violent, informed, intellectually astute and sincerely mystified at how a great country like the U.S. of A could have let all the corrupt bank managers, mortgage lenders, derivative traders, insider traders and outright Ponzi schemers get away with scooping up billions of dollars out of the American economy and NOBODY GOES TO JAIL!
But as you move outside the core you run into the communists, anarchists, camera whores, sexual predators, drunken louts, Nazis, drug dealers, anti-Semites, public union thugs, serial public defecators and vandalizers. Not to mention rats, roaches, fleas, ticks, scabies, head lice, scurvy, rickets, marthambles, crotch-rotch, halitosis, “po’ circulation” and the heartbreak of psoriasis.
The news media naturally were attracted to the weirder aspects of the spectacle because, well, what’s more interesting entertainment-wise: a middle-aged intellectual with a pony-tail discussing the finer points of wealth distribution or some guy in a ninja outfit throwing a brick through bank window? And every time CNN or FOX (MSNBC never aired anything bad happening) showed a video of some knucklehead doing something knuckleheaded ( i.e. attacking a CCN or FOX cameraman) the core Occupiers would say, “He’s not with us.”
Here are a few observations I have from the past weeks of occupation:
1. The radical activists and anarchists always planned to eventually go violent and attack property and police. That’s what they do. That’s what they’ve done at every global economic summit. (They didn’t do it at the APEC conference in Hawaii because airfares were too high). These idiots sat back while the core group of peaceful occupiers pitched camp and “hippied-out” knowing their time would come. In Oakland, the anarchists wore dark clothing from head to toe and attacked private businesses and fought the police. The peaceful protestors protested said they didn’t know about the trouble-makers. Clue: They’re the ones dressed like Ninjas.
2. The original occupiers tried to for a micro-society based on “consensus.” No one was in charge and every decision was made by the whole, using silly hand-signals. There is nothing in the natural or unnatural world that operates by consensus. There are no countries, clans, tribes, dynasties, federations, cabals, gangs or coteries that function on that principal. There are no animals who live by consensus. They either live by an alpha male or female-dominated pack society or by behavioral rote, fine-tuned by thousands of years practice, like the march of the penguins or butterflies that fly from Mexico to Omaha, Nebraska every year.
3. By attempting to form an organization of people with no rules or leaders, the occupiers created a nice little model of a dysfunctional bureaucracy. What started out a bunch of people hanging out in a park together evolved into a pseudo-society where various collectives and committees emerged … kitchen committee, library committee, sanitation committee, committee on committees, etc. As the society began to devolve socially and hygienically, “security” squads, anti-rape collectives and intelligence-gathering shadow groups developed, mimicking just about everything that is going on in Somalia right now except the piracy on the high seas.
4. As with any well-intentioned dysfunctional and rudderless enterprise, there were plenty of opportunists ready to step in and take control of, influence or claim ownership of the movement. One basic tenant of Occupiers is that they represent the 99 percent of citizens getting hosed by the 1 percent, the filthy rich. Ironically – because irony inevitably rears itself in these kind of situations – the folks who stepped forward to control or associate themselves with the movement WERE the 1 percent. But they were the “cool” one percent. Filthy rich people like Van Jones, Michael Moore, Russell Simmons, Al Sharpton, Robert Redford, Alec Baldwin, Keith Olbermann and Elizabeth Warren. The most shameful examples of this behavior was Baldwin, who actually is a commercial shill for Capital One credit cards and Warren, Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, who tried to take credit for the whole Occupy movement saying “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do.” It was creepily like when Al Gore said he invented the Internet and Warren eventually weaseled out of her claim.
5. The Occupy movement has been in a schizophrenic dither about the news media, both attacking it and begging for coverage. Their message has been muddled, at best and bizarre at even better. I loved the interviews with the various Occupiers trying to explain what the purpose of protest was about. You had people saying folks should be able to print their own money, others saying government should take over every house in the country and divvy them out fairly to people, you had one lady saying all Jews should leave the country and others who were just incoherent beyond belief but fun to watch. And because all this embarrassing silliness played out on TV, some Occupiers inevitably and predictably said the government should take control of all news media. Hola Hugo Chavez, mi amigo!
6. The dumbest explanation for the formation of the Occupy Movement is that it is an outgrowth of the “Arab Spring” uprisings in Africa and the Middle East. No it isn’t. Those movements had specific goals: Throw the bums out and set up fair elections for a new government. The Occupy Movement will not throw any bums out. The bums allowed them to “occupy” the parks and public property as long as they found it amusing. Then the bums threw them out. The Occupy Wall Street movement can try to overthrow the U.S. government but I doubt President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the NATO Fighter Wing are going to come to their aid.
7. Now, about this 99 percent versus 1 percent thing. The Occupy Movement folks in the U.S. are being a tad myopic. Many of the protestors are not poor. They are college students whose parents are paying their tuition or they’ve taken out loans. They are educated and well cared for. Or they are union members with good jobs and nice homes. They have to realize that compared to the billions of people struggling around the world in China, India , Africa and elsewhere that – globally – the U.S. Occupiers ARE the one percent. They have it better than 99 percent of the rest of the world. And the global 99 percent look at them as the pampered ones. If they understood this, they might not be so agonizingly sanctimonious.
Yeah Charlie, you’re about the 9000th member of our esteemed media to say that OWS is over…THEY WERE ALL WRONG…and I’m fairly certain you’ll be wrong too. This movement will end when money is taken out of politics. Plain and simple.
Charlie, that was a hilarious commentary. You revealed how ridiculous that fringe element of OWS appears. But of course, that isn’t the core of OWS, so you missed the opportunity to really make fun of the great majority of the OWS people – you know, those whose homes were foreclosed, who can’t find work, who lost their life-time savings thanks to Wall Street shenanigans, and who find gross injustice in a democracy where the financially upper 1% of Americans have reaped five times the income of middle America over the past three decades. Now THAT’s funny!
You also wittily note that the protesters are much better off than people in China, India, and Africa. That is so insightful! Yes, I must agree that, say, Somalia should be the benchmark against which middle America must measure itself. Once those poor misguided OWS folks wake up to this, they will surely stop their whining and ask forgiveness of the upper 1%.
One other hilarious thing you forgot to mention is the pepper-spraying, smoke-bombing, clobbering, and steam-rolling of non-resisting citizens of all ages by our policemen – the very people who are obligated to protect our citizens. Isn’t that a scream, Charlie? Perhaps you could do a humorous column on that.
OWS reminded me of being a teenager and young adult in the 60’s. A few sincere but misguided hypocrites as “leaders,” underpinned by the left (as always) with lots of hangers-on excited at the promise of partying and other forms of “action.”
Yeah, there is plenty to be unhappy about in today’s America and Obama has failed miserably at leading us out of our funk. Unfortunately he doesn’t understand that successful economies are not based on gov’t-led industrial policies (see Green here for an obvious example) but on the invisible hand of millions of free agents pursuing individual interests in an economically free environment where capital is allowed to find ways to grow. It’s always been this way and always will be… nothwithstanding the (NECESSARY!) pain associated with Schumpeter’s necessary “creative destuction.”
Yes, MRethman, that doggone Obama has not led us out of our funk, i.e., the costly, unnecessary wars and near-depression that was handed to him by the previous Administration. The GOP certainly has been working hard on rectifying “the funk” by proposing numerous anti-abortion bills, reconfirming our national motto, and stymying every jobs proposal offered by the Democrats. After all, the leadership of the Republican Party is on record with the patriotic position that, as opposed to creating jobs, defeating Obama was their number one priority.
Yes, that darned Obama interfered with Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” by supporting a plan to help salvage the troubled auto industry and initiating a stimulus package that provided tax relief and business incentives. Obama also sponsored seventeen other measures that reduced taxes for small businesses. The independent Congressional Budget Office has estimated that these programs prevented the loss of well over three million jobs and a deeper recession.
Somehow, despite Obama’s dastardly deeds, corporations have managed to scrape by, amassing over two trillion dollars in capital and, in many instances, achieving record profits. Some American corporations, which are among the largest and most profitable in the history of the world, not only don’t pay taxes, they get a tax rebate. Additionally executive compensation has never been higher. Of course, not all companies are thriving. But, executives need not worry. As just one example, Gannett stock plummeted 85% over the past five years. During that time, 20,000 Gannett workers were let go. The CEO? He retired, having made over $50 million for his sterling performance. Adam Smith would roll over in his grave at this perversion of his “invisible hand” theory. In his “Theory of Moral Sentiments,” he wrote, “The rich are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessities of life which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal proportions among all its inhabitants, and thus advance the interest of society…” Distribution of the necessities of life? In nearly equal proportions? For all inhabitants of the earth? For the advancement of society? That Adam Smith…what a socialist!
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