Out of the Mouths of Babes Comes Gibberish

I have been watching the Occupy Wall Street protests with mixed emotions. While I sympathize with some of what they say, the group says a lot – too much in fact to be coherent given their shotgun sloganeering. Over the years I have argued against the bailouts of banks and especially the American auto industry, and have railed against crony capitalism regardless of whether it was conducted by Republicans or Democrats. And I disagree with President Obama that much of what the bankers and other corporate leaders did the precipitated the crisis was legal so they are immune to prosecution. The only reason they are immune to prosecution is that those behind the economic crisis including Goldman Sachs’s Llloyd Blankfein, billionaires  Warren “Backtax” Buffet, George “Judenrat” Soros, Solyndra backer George Kaiser and JP Morgan-Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon are strong supporters of the president. If they went down, they would take the entire Obama administration with them. What these men have accomplished is as much “capitalist” as what China is doing is communist. Ayn Rand and Adam Smith would be shaking their heads and laughing ironically in that annoying Gen X way; Rand doesn’t strike me as much of a crier.

What is truly ironic is that in the beginning of the 21st century when Capitalism has proven itself to be the most successful form of economics, so successful that former communist states like China have become capitalist in all but name only, the nation at the heart of 20th century capitalism now gazes intensely at its navel, questioning its basic tenets that created its success in the first place. And the height of irony is that its children, wearing expensive clothing made by multinational corporations, carrying expensive gadgets designed and sold by multinational corporations, and skipping classes at their expensive colleges and universities paid by their parents working at some of the very corporations they are protesting 0r enjoying stock dividends from these same corporations. These children, who are the beneficiaries of capitalism to such an extent that they don’t have to work, have the time to protest thanks to the very system they want to overthrow. Maybe they should get back to class judging by how little they know about the economy.

And to top off that irony, they claim to speak for 99% of the population. How can these children claim that except through the arrogance born through their privileged upbringing? 99% of the population sure can’t afford $5000 laptops, unlike these protesters.

They don’t speak for me. Not only did I work my way through college, I worked my way through high school because its yearly tuition was roughly 20% of my mother’s take-home pay from her small home-based sales business. When I graduated with a degree in political science, my future here was bleak even 20 years ago, so I left the country and taught English – an option I saw recently floated for OWS protesters complaining about being indebted with worthless degrees. When I returned to the US I had enough experience under my belt to know what my skills were and how I could improve them. Since then I have had good jobs and bad, but I built a career on my own without government or anyone else’s support. I am proud of my personal success; I own it and no one can take it away from me. I also have failures; I own them too, and don’t blame anyone else for those.

How can these children speak for me when they haven’t been allowed to experience success, because success is often a zero sum game where to succeed someone else must fail, and we wouldn’t want to hurt the loser’s feelings? Take applying for a job for example – something most of these protesters haven’t had to do. Nearly all jobs have more applicants than openings, so winning one requires others losing. Such competition is thought to be barbaric and was avoided throughout their education. The irony is that their parents understand competition. Many of them had to compete with other parents to get their children into the “right” preschool or the “right” elementary school so that they will be accepted into the “right” colleges and universities. These protesters are the winners of these events. The losers are either working, attending schools where they can’t afford to miss classes to protest, or both. But Karma loves irony just as much as anyone. You know what these protesting “winners” will call their “loser” brethren in 10 years? “Boss.”

These winners might be smoking dope, crapping on police cars and mounting each other like a pack of horny poodles, but the fun won’t last and reality will assert itself. Unless they are part of the 1% they are protesting against (some, like the students of Bard college are part of that hated cohort) they will have to cut their hair, remove their nose rings, take a shower and get a job. Of course, majoring in Gender Studies will have adequately prepared them for one of the millions of high paid jobs studying genders, or perhaps the English majors can nab one of the millions of jobs in America teaching English (although judging by the grammar and spelling on the signs perhaps not). Meanwhile positions requiring petroleum and geology engineering degrees in the US, ones paying starting salaries that would push these kids into the top 5% straight out of school, go wanting, snapped up by foreign kids who majored in fields that society demanded but weren’t “green” or didn’t have the word “studies” in them.

But that isn’t the heart of the problem with the protesters. Their biggest problems are the assumptions that they understand the system well enough to criticize it, that their criticism means anything, and that they speak for America. None of these assumptions are based in fact.

You have 20-somethings who have never held a job criticizing the job making infrastructure of our society that has functioned pretty well although not perfectly for the past 200+ years. You have children who have not been taught civics or American politics because these courses “perpetuated male-dominated stereotypes” or some such claptrap; they don’t understand how our democracy works enough to criticize it because if they did they would do what the Tea Party has done and captured the apparatus of an existing political party. Finally, you have single, young, white, “educated” upper-middle class people who have never worked a day in their lives representing the 99% of America. That 99% includes whites, minorities, part-time workers, minimum wage workers, the elderly, people with children, people who are caring for their aged relatives, professional workers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, soldiers, garbage men, assembly line workers, plumbers, members of the coast guard, marines, independent contractors, ex-military, small business owners, the religious, atheists, straights, gays, non-union auto workers, construction workers, plumbers, retail sales workers, and yes, even the vast majority of Wall Street workers. And that’s just a sample of the diversity found in the American economy. To make it more reflective of the population, one would have to mix and match those categories: an independent contractor with children who is caring for his aging parents, or a black, single father working construction.

Isn’t it amazing that the group that wraps itself so tightly in the “diversity mantle” is one of the least diverse in skin color, education, ideology and wealth? The protesters have the uniformity of a Ku Klux Klan cross-burning. Their view of the world is incredibly naive and narrow, thanks to parents who like Gautama Buddha’s protected them from pain from suffering and teachers whose ideologies run the gamut from A to B. They spout slogans like “Question authority!” and “Dissent is patriotic!” without actually questioning their own beliefs let alone their professor’s, or proving how dissent can be patriotic when in their own worldview  patriotism itself is derided as an outdated concept meant to mask class differences and prevent class consciousness from arising within the proletariat.

Worst of all they are incredibly narcissistic. These protests aren’t about the 99% of Americans they claim to represent; they are about enjoying themselves while role-playing “protester.” These kids won’t face National Guardsmen with live rounds in their magazines like Kent State, let alone the rampaging tanks and APCs of Tiananmen Square, but these kids can pretend they will. The biggest danger they face is catching a venereal disease or getting pepper sprayed; their protest zones are cocoons of safety that no city or state government is willing to disrupt for fear that it will face the wrath of these children’s parents. When hippies crashed the Democratic convention in 1968, Mayor Daley wasn’t worried about lawsuits when he responded with tear gas, water cannons, batons and police dogs. Today the lawsuits would rain down on the administration of any mayor or governor that hurt the feelings of a protester, let alone beat one. The protesters can get high, have sex, organize themselves in post-capitalist and pre-industrial, matriarchal ways, and twitter each other on how much change they are making in the world. These kids are more concerned with playing “protester” rather than actually changing society. It’s as if society gave them a giant cardboard box to play with and they are inside it busily imagining that box to be a new society, with new representational governments, and new ways of organizing the economy. But it’s just a box for children to play with – not Congress or the judiciary.

The protests have been quite useful in many, unanticipated ways. They have shown the moral bankruptcy, gross incompetence and overpriced uselessness of higher education. They have proven that the most spoiled generation in American history, the Baby Boomers, has begotten an even more spoiled generation than their own. Finally, they have shown that the economic situation in this country is nowhere bad enough to merit serious protest. Throughout our history protesters only took to the streets in desperation, whether it was the Irish fighting conscription in the Civil War, or the civil rights protesters fighting for their dignity a century later. All of these protesters put their lives on the line, and many lost them. These pretend protesters aren’t desperate; they aren’t even fighting for themselves and have no “skin in the game”, and should the protests go bad – as I fully expect them to do once they are taken over by nihilists and anarchists – they will run home to the safety of their upper middle class homes built by a corporation and paid for with a salary from another through a mortgage borrowed from a bank on Wall Street.

UPDATE: Mark Cuban lays out what the OWS should do.

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29 Comments

  1. Jack:

    “These children, who are the beneficiaries of capitalism to such an extent that they don’t have to work…” How do you know this?

    “These winners might be smoking dope, crapping on police cars and mounting each other like a pack of horny poodles…” How do you know this?

    “Their biggest problems are the assumptions that they understand the system well enough to criticize it…” How do you know this?

    “You have 20-somethings who have never held a job…” How do you know this?

    “You have children who have not been taught civics or American politics…” How do you know this?

    “Finally, you have single, young, white, “educated” upper-middle class people who have never worked a day in their lives…” How do you know this?

    “Their view of the world is incredibly naive and narrow…” How do you know this?

    “Worst of all they are incredibly narcissistic. These protests aren’t about the 99% of Americans they claim to represent; they are about enjoying themselves while role-playing “protester.”.” How do you know this?

    Every one of these statements are simply unfounded assumptions. Sure, some of them are what you claim, but you don’t know the percentage. However, you characterize them like it’s all of the OWS protesters.

    I could easily claim that all of the Tea Partiers are collecting money from a government that they claim they want out of their lives. But that wouldn’t be true. However, it is absolutely true for some members of the Tea Party. Some of them are on Welfare, or collecting Social Security, or Medicare (Remember: “I want the government to keep their hands off my Medicare!”) or Medicaid. Yet they want “government out of their lives”. That’s some of the Tea Party. Not all of it. If I stated that it was all of them I would be… well… a disingenuous person with an agenda. Right?

    What you describe is, without doubt, some of the OWS folks. But not all of them. You should clarify that. Don’t you think?

  2. Febrezing Wall Street |:

    [...] that I do not want to work. You will forgive my college loans. I am the 99%. We are an elite club, most of you are not in [...]

  3. Jack:

    When I Google the “Febrezing Wall Street” phrase it takes me to http://themellowjihadi.com/tag/condoms/

    It is obviously a joke.

  4. Scott Kirwin:

    Jack
    When do the outliers become the norm? Everything described above has been well documented by the British press, from the picture of a guy crapping on a police car, kids having sex in public, interviews with students showing their incredible lack of civics knowledge, to the lack of diversity among protesters. If they can generalize about representing 99% of the population, than why can’t I generalize about their behavior?

    I didn’t mention the rising incidents of anti-Semitism see ( http://www.bookwormroom.com/2011/10/13/the-antisemitism-of-ows/ )nor the crowd that spit on an active duty member of the Coast Guard ( http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/local/occupy-boston-protesters-spit-on-coast-guard-member-20111013 ). But when do these outliers become the norm? As one commentator wrote (I’d have to dig up who), spitting on a coast guard member doesn’t happen in isolation. It is supported and abetted by a crowd of people that allows such actions to happen.

    You mention the Tea Party. While you may not hold the few carrying signs such as “Hands off my medicare” as representative of the movement, you may not realize how far and wide that meme was spread by others less charitable. Another favorite was the picture of Tea Party protesters on a street corner decrying taxes, with arrows pointing to the street lights, signs etc provided by taxation. Then there is the infamous Washington Post story (repeated in HuffPo) about Tea Partiers spitting on members of Congress ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/20/AR2010032002556.html ) that was later shown to be false in video taken at the incident ( http://www.mediaite.com/tv/fox-news-releases-new-video-of-moist-yeller-confronting-rep-emanuel-cleaver/ )

    They even continue to paint the Tea Party as racist even as it backs an African-American for president, which is leading to some bizarre exchanges, like MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell telling Herman Cain he’s not really a black man ( http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/10/arrogant_white_liberal_tells_herman_cain_how_to_be_black.html ) The Tea Partiers are held to a much higher and might I add double standard by a Leftist media that sympathizes more with the OWS protests. That’s why I recommend following the reports in the British newspapers which tend to be more balanced than the media here.

    Oh, and while I’m sounding off, congratulations on your new movie!

  5. Jack:

    Thanks, Scott, I appreciate the it. The movie is in post-production now. Can’t wait to get it out on the market.

    As for press coverage: There is no way to really tell that any press coverage is balanced. What I notice is that press coverage that favors ones biases is always considered more balanced than press coverage that doesn’t. You put links above that are supposed to mean something to me. Yet, any links that someone might send to you about anything you don’t agree with, you’d dismiss them as being leftist or the writer being uninformed or biased, etc.

    You can find Youtube interviews of Tea Party people that make them out to be uneducated, racist individuals. You can also find Youtube interviews that make them out to be thoughtful, educated, and well-spoken too.

    I personally know many, many Tea Partiers and OWSers. (In fact, one of my friends is the husband of a founding member of the Tea Party). What I noticed is that there are thoughtful people as well as whackjobs in both camps. Unfortunately, it’s always easier to find video of the whackjobs doing moronic things. And it’s always that footage that goes viral.

    Though my comments (here on your blog) always seem leftist, in reality, I just look for balance. When you refer to Buffet as “Backtax” and Soros as “Judenrat”, I have to roll my eyes. This is schoolyard name-calling. And I have difficulty taking someone like that seriously. And when you excuse that by saying the other side does it too, then you acknowledge that you are rolling around in the mud with them. It would be nice to at least see an attempt to rise above the name-calling and shouting to understand what is happening here.

    Let me tell you what I see: Corporations are way too far in bed with the government. We the people have a rapidly dwindling voice these days. This has led to the rise of both the Tea Party and OWS. But we’re too busy fighting each other (conservative vs. liberal, right vs. left) and that’s what, both, big business and the government wants.

    I am living the American dream. I have achieved more than most. I have raised millions of dollars in tough economic times. Money spent in one of the most (if not the most) difficult and volatile businesses ever known. To achieve my goals I have dealt with the one of the most powerful unions on the planet. I have dealt with major corporations, small businesses, and the government, in ways most people will never know. I have seen where government intervention in my business is a blessing and would be impossible without it. I have seen where government involvement has made things more difficult. I could the same when dealing with unions (a blessing and a curse) and non-unions (a blessing and a curse). I have met and dealt with Americans from all walks of life, from the homeless to people worth hundreds of millions of dollars. I have seen others achieve the American dream as well as those who’ve lost their houses to foreclosure. Not too long ago, I witnessed a friend become a millionaire and another become homeless. At the end of the it all, I see there are no easy answers for America’s problems. No easy fixes. I can sympathize, to some extent, with all protesters from all sides of the spectrum.

    However, when I read yours and others blogs, it seems everybody has a simple solution. The solution is always the same: If only the (conservative or liberal) would go away, then everything would be fine. That’s the answer. And mixed in amongst that is shouting and name-calling. Sigh. It would be nice to hear the voice of reason once in a while. It would be nice to actually hear someone listen, really listen to what someone else is saying. Especially someone they disagree with.

    Again, thanks for the congratulations, I appreciate it.

  6. Tammy:

    I just found this site about a half an hour ago (through Trevor Loudon’s site).
    You have a new permanent fan, Scott.
    LOVE your writing.

  7. Scott Kirwin:

    Jack
    There is more to the name calling than you think.

    Buffett’s comments about taxation in the New York Times were being used to demand taxes on the top 2% of taxpayers. Last year I happened to fall into that category, and paid more in taxes than I grossed for nearly every year of my working life. MA senate candidate Elizabeth Warren made a speech justifying higher taxes on billionaires and people like me. Does Warren Buffett drive a 12 year old Honda? Does Warren shop at Wal-mart? Does she only buy things on sale when she shops at Kohls? Evidently realizing it was stupid to lump the likes of me in with billionaires, the OWS movement has focused on the top 1%. But I haven’t forgotten that I was on the menu a few weeks ago; I’ve also studied revolutions and know that while the top may be targeted initially for property confiscation, pretty soon everybody’s property is gone.

    So it turns out that while Buffett was whining about not paying enough personal taxes, his company sat on a $1 billion tax bill. You’ve got to appreciate the irony – hence the nickname.

    But while I disagree with Buffett, he is not evil. George Soros is, and the epithet “Judenrat” should follow him around like a stench for what he did during the War, what he has done to the European economies, and what he now does against the state of Israel. All the wealthy dabble in politics, but what Soros has done surpasses the likes of Buffett, Koch brothers, Kaiser et al. Soros is in a league of his own, and I would recommend reading up on him if you haven’t.

    As for press coverage I have argued that unbiased coverage is an illusion conjured up by media conglomerates buying up and shutting down news outlets in cities. You remember how in St. Louis there once was 2 newspapers, the Globe Democrat and the Post Dispatch? The Globe was republican and the Post was democrat – at least that’s what my family believed. But even earlier than that the city had dozens of newspapers, all providing their own perspectives and yes, biases, on the news.

    Do you only think I watch Fox News or read conservative blogs? I watch BBC America, subscribe to the Economist and New Scientist (the Economist would be considered Leftist by American standards). Online I read conservative sites like Drudge and Big Hollywood, but I also read HuffPo, Politico, the Daily Caller, ZeroHedge and other sites with mixed ideologies. Having an opinion shouldn’t be a crime, nor should having a bias: what should be a crime is censorship regardless who advocates it. Back in the 1980s censorship came from the Right; today it comes from the Left.

    If you think I’m offering simple solutions, than I must be a crappier writer than I feel like. I’m not offering any solutions. And I surely don’t want Liberals to go away. Why? Because I was one once, and who knows? I may be one again someday. I don’t demand conformity but I bristle at people who do – and that’s what I’m seeing with the OWS protests – lots of mind numbing conformity. Of course you might say that I’m only seeing what I want to see, but then I could snark back, well you are doing the same. Then we could end up debating whether the color blue I see is the same color you see, before wondering who put LSD in our diet Cokes.

    There are some commonalities between OWS and the Tea Partiers. Both groups opposed the bailouts. I began this piece expressing some of the same feelings I have towards Wall St that the protesters do. But there I have serious differences with them too – and it’s not just Big Business pitting us against each other. Capitalism works and I want to see it continue to do so. The protesters don’t want to tweak Capitalism, they want to overthrow it. They don’t want to stop with the banks, they want to replace the entire system with… well they don’t know that yet but they want to replace it with something. I have a good idea what they have in mind since I am a product of a liberal arts education. Marxism is big, but so is anarchism, state capitalism too.

    Capitalism isn’t perfect, but it offers the equality of opportunity in a way that other systems fail to do. See my post Chosen Paths. What the OWS - okay, SOME in the OWS want – is an equality of outcomes. My BA in Political Science says that’s nothing more than a childish fantasy.

    But thanks for keeping me honest, old friend.

  8. Scott Kirwin:

    More on the illusion of unbiased coverage…

    After the big conglomerates bought the newspapers, they consolidated operations and shut many down. So instead of St. Louis losing its Republican voice, they made the Post “unbiased.” The problem is that unbiased reporting isn’t possible; a writer simply cannot write a truly balanced piece because writing is inherently a subjective activity. Even the best reporter will unconsciously edit what he witnesses based on his biases and prejudices. So what you end up with is a newspaper that still favors Democratic ideas, but pushes the line that it is unbiased.

    Things get even odder when you consider that newspaper companies like Gannett use so much syndicated material and news from the wires. Local news becomes rarer because it’s more expensive to produce and has a limited audience. It’s cheaper to pay a wire copy stringer then blow out her work to hundreds of outlets. Now even that work is being offshored to places like India, and I’ve even seen reports of attempts to use computers to “write” wire copy. Mona Lisa Overdrive anyone?

    The same thing has happened in other media. Clear Channel owns thousands of radio stations. I’ve heard the same promos, commercials, and even songs on a Greensboro CC channel as a CC channel in Charlotte. While I don’t know local TV news very well (I don’t watch any) I would suspect similar monoculture is afoot in that media.

    But that is why the Internet is so powerful. In the 1980s I didn’t have access to music other than what was played on local radio stations and sold in the local stores. Now I have access to music from musicians from anywhere in the world, with more genres than I can imagine let alone name.

  9. Jack:

    “If you think I’m offering simple solutions, than I must be a crappier writer than I feel like. I’m not offering any solutions.” LOL! Yeah, you’re right, I overstated that.

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