Occupy Washington

I dismissed the OccupyWallStreet crowd last week as the usual medly of agitators, rent-a-mobs and students. That might still be the case. But there is something very deep that they’re tapping into that I wanted to unwind while I still can. The movement is already being hijacked by unions and Democrats. Even Obama is trying to claim he’s on OWS’s side, which is, needless to say, hilarious:

Despite his rhetorical attacks on Wall Street, a study by the Sunlight Foundation’s Influence Project shows that President Barack Obama has received more money from Wall Street than any other politician over the past 20 years, including former President George W. Bush.

In 2008, Wall Street’s largesse accounted for 20 percent of Obama’s total take, according to Reuters.

When asked by The Daily Caller to comment about President Obama’s credibility when it comes to criticizing Wall Street, the White House declined to reply.

But before OWS founders beneath its “People’s Front of Judea” organizing principles, there’s something worth noting. As Tim Carney and Jim Harper note, OWS is tapping into the same vein of public anger that the Tea Party is. OWS is mad because business has too much influence in Washington. The Tea Party is mad, by contrast, because Washington has too much influence on business. The thing is, these are not opposing views. And we should not let our political establishment, lazy media and dipshit talk show hosts persuade us that they are. These are the same problem, seen from different angles. Like the blind men and the elephant, we are groping about the same awful mess, just from different perspectives.

Consider his graphic from Harper:

Consider just a few things we’ve seen over the past decade:

  • A lead toy scandal produced CPSIA regulations that crush small toymakers. Meanwhile, Mattel was given a dispensation for in-house testing.
  • The Minerals Management Service proved to quite literally in bed with industry, favoring powerful players in exchange for sex and drugs.
  • Wall Street banks got themselves hundreds of billions in trouble through insane financial policies. I’m currently reading The Big Short and what these guys did was unbelievably stupid. But instead of going bust, they got an unconditional bailout. Democrats made sure executive bonuses were protected and the subsequent regulations were written by two of the biggest banking shills in Washington.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank are strangling innovation, preventing IPO’s and making sure that only the rich “investor class” can invest.
  • Our energy problems have produced a slew of useless but heavily subsidized businesses like ethanol and Solyndra.
  • This isn’t capitalism; it’s a poor man’s mercantilism. Connected (usually but not always big) businesses donate to Washington; Washington protects connected businesses. And the rest of us get screwed.

    Left and right need to figure this out. The Tea Party should not be fighting OWS. We do that and the politicians will laugh their way to our bank accounts. We do that and they’ll become just another arm of the Democratic Party (assuming they’re not already.) We don’t have to agree with even 10% of what OWS wants. But if that 10% includes pulling government’s claws from our economy — creating, as Carney says, a separation beween business and state — let’s go.

    The long twilight struggle is not between Left and Right. It’s between the citizens and their government. It’s between those with pull and those without.

    Comments are closed.

    1. Poosh

      I’m not an American, but I’m fairly sure they are very, very different and that those “dipshit talk show hosts” are right. These scum who are protesting are similar to the protests we’ve had over here. The Tea Party don’t mind people getting rich off the sweat of their own brow or what not; the Tea Party do not like government borrowing money and taxing people for cash to spend on Welfare programs that ultimately have negative implications and consequences for all involved; to use tax payer money to effectively purchase votes under the guise of being “kind”.

      These Wallstreet protesters DO mind people getting rich off the sweat of their brow. They think there’s a limit or ideally there should be NO rich people. Equality for them is equality of material goods not opportunity. These protesters DO NOT MIND government borrowing money and taxing people for cash to spend on Welfare and reject the “negative consequences” the Tea Party envision. They are quite happy with the government being one of the primary providers of JOBS in America – in fact ideally it would be 100%.

      The Tea Party did not like bailing out the banks because it was a stupid idea and violated certain notions of what capitalism should be.

      These OWS degenerates did not like the bailing out because they think BANKS ARE A STUPID IDEA and violate what they think human societies should be like.

      Why do you think they’re coming after rich republicans and conservatives, but giving rich dems and liberals a free pass! The Tea Party was unforgiving whatever political stripe you had.

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    2. Poosh

      Also I find talk of “it’s us against those crooks, the politicians” to be unsophisticated. There are many decent, good politicians. And there are many bad, crooked politicians.

      And there are many decent, good citizens – and there are many bad, crooked citizens.

      I hate politicians no more or less than I hate the general population.

      Some politicians are wankers. And some protesters are wankers too.

      I feel a kinship with those Tea Party activists from all the way over here. I know that if I met them I’d probably call them my sisters or brothers.

      And I know if I met those OWS protesters, I’d know I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with them.

      Because they’re wankers.

      Which is why they’re protesting.

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    3. Hal_10000 *

      Fair points, poosh. I agree that most of the organizers are the sort of crazy wankers we see emerge every now and then. But I think they are tapping into a sentiment on the left that is very legitimate and very similar to what the Tea Parties tapped.

      There are some good poliicians; but they’re generally not the ones calling the shots right now.

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    4. Hal_10000 *

      I didn’ mention it above, but the organizers really pissed me off comparing heir protests to he Egyptian ones. No one is going to shoot the OWS protesters.

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    5. Poosh

      I love this link so much I thought I’d share it twice. I post it again ’cause I noted your comments on Wall Street and your reading. When I read about the subprimes I had to re-read because it just seemed so obviously stupid and predictable that I couldn’t believe what I just read.

      I honestly think the OWS is a partial political stunt calculated to attack the right and the tea party – as it’s based, if you look closely, on class warefare. This will help the left and democrats generally but is dangerous ground for Obama. I don’t regard it as grass roots, I suspect you’ll have a lot of students who are doing what their professors told them to do.

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    6. Poosh

      Eh, a train of thought entered my head that someone else might want to develop but my brain is telling me the following: “the BP oil spillage is somehow relevant. The government organization that was meant to vet or check or regulate the oil rigs or whatnot, were somewhat in cahoots (or lax because of a relationship) with BP which led to sloppy safety checks etc, which contributed to the oil spill”

      Is my brain right at all !?

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    7. richtaylor365

      I am inclined to agree with pretty much everything Poosh said. OWS may be similar to the TP in that they both start from a premise of “I’m tired of politics as usual, Washington is out of control and is acting in ways I do not approve of, as a nation, we are not headed in the right direction”, but it is the solutions to these problems that both sides offer that are light years apart and in no way compatible with each other.

      Sure, there are some honest well intentioned reasonable folks out there with the OWS crowd, but sadly they are the minority. The message put forth, with all the trash, vandalism, arrest, scuffling with cops, Hammer and Sickle flags, and signs calling for a new socialist nation is clear, and is drowning out all the reasonableness of their cause.

      It would probably be too facile to say that both OWS and the TP are dissatisfied with the status quo, but where the OWS crowd wants a total dismantling of our capitalist system, the TP likes the foundation of a Constitutional Republic based on a free market system of capitalism, and wants those in power to get back to it.

      The difference between the two and the referendum that will drive the next election is this question, “What role and to what degree the government should interfere, both in how our free markets work and in the redistribution of the wealth attributed through these markets?” It is the big government/small government debate and these two groups are on completely different sides.

      I would disagree with Poosh on one minor point, to the extent of hooliganism and criminality, OWS is not the same as those mobs you guys suffered through awhile back in London. Their agenda consisted of braking things and stealing stuff, nothing more.

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    8. Hal_10000 *

      Also I find talk of “it’s us against those crooks, the politicians” to be unsophisticated. There are many decent, good politicians. And there are many bad, crooked politicians.

      My phrasing was probably more extreme than I intended.

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    9. Hal_10000 *

      The thing is, I know a lot of reasonable people who are sympathetic to OWS. They’re not out there protesting since they have jobs or are looking for them. But they’re thinking along the same lines. These are not “trash the state” hippy types. These are people with three kids and a mortgage.

      I know the radicals all too well: they occupy departments on the other side of campus. But there’s something beyond the radicals here. I mean, does it not bother you that BHO is getting so much money from Wall Street?

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    10. richtaylor365

      The thing is, I know a lot of reasonable people who are sympathetic to OWS

      I’m sympathetic to the plight of unemployment, onerous debt obligations and an uncertain future, it sucks and I understand that. But Wall Street did not cause all these maladies to fall on them. To the extent that they want to change the system, they need to look at their leaders who are the purveyors of that system.

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    11. Hal_10000 *

      Jesus, that’s so close to reality it’s scary. Lewis describes how hey would put together a whole bunch of BBB tranches of bonds to create new bonds that were rated AAA.

      And Dodd-Frank gives those rating agencies more power.

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    12. Poosh

      Hey Rich, I wasn’t referring to the Riots, though I didn’t make this clear. I was referring to last year/early this year’s student protests and various Union orchestrated protests. Certainly not the London (etc) riots. Though in the Student protest the Conservative HQ was attacked and damaged, and a policeman was nearly killed when a rich student threw a fire-extinguisher down into a group of policemen from ontop of that HQ / but the main protests were peaceful, the violence came from a break-away group.

      But the agitators were the usual suspects.And I’m now seeing increasing similarity, especially with the high number of students.

      The problem is it’s very easy to sympathise with union etc. created events as it seems – to someone who hasn’t looked at it in detail – that they “have a point”. Just as it’s easy to think the Tea Party is racist if you have a national media framing them in that manner.

      At the end of the day, the bail outs were years ago. Which is why this is very suspect. If you were annoyed about the bail outs then WHY in the name of ZEUS’ BALLS OF THUNDER, didn’t you join the Tea Party or support them?

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    13. Seattle Outcast

      Summary executions in the middle of the night seems like the expedient solution. But, since, we’re “civilized”, the political/social equivalent will have to do instead….

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    14. richtaylor365

      Hey Rich, I wasn’t referring to the Riots

      Ah, silly me, I thought that was who you meant.

      I’m trying to remember but I vaguely recall some demonstrations going on there about the new austerity measures incorporated by the new Cameron government, and the push back by what looked like angry mobs who were pissed off about all the free stuff they thought they were entitled to, but now was going to be restricted and they did not like that, is this the same thing you were referring to?

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    15. Section8

      No one is going to shoot the OWS protesters.

      How would that work? Would Gaddafi be able to lead the UN bombing campaign against us then with the “Responsibility to Protect”, the UN’s new bombs for charity initiative? After all, he was just about to get praise from the UN’s Human Right’s Council before they flipped on a dime and decided he was an asshole dictator. Of course anyone with a pulse knew he was an asshole dictator long before.

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    16. Poosh

      Yeah basically. The Student Protests were regarding Student Tuition fees/loans. Though the Tuition Fees were started by the previous Labour government, the Coalition Government in the UK wanted to extend them. You’ll note these people don’t protest when “their” guys do this stuff, but when conservatives try it then it’s time to protest…

      Before you would receive a loan for roughly £3,000 ($6,700 ish I think) to pay for a yearly degree tuition of £3,000 a year for three years on average. You would only start paying this back once you graduated and earned a certain amount above a certain threshold.

      The new government wanted to (and did) allow unis to set their own tuition fee limit with a cap on £9,000. But they would raise the threshold you needed to reach where you started to pay it back, in small amounts.

      The protestors distorted this and made it about class warfare and all sorts of crap. The government put many measures in to help the poor but these were ignored. I don’t agree with education having to be paid for, after all a nation thrives on its intellectual worth and is defined by the products of its education system. But the last government wanted 50% of children to get into uni… which negates the idea of university and was unsustainable.

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    17. AlexInCT

      The government organization that was meant to vet or check or regulate the oil rigs or whatnot, were somewhat in cahoots (or lax because of a relationship) with BP which led to sloppy safety checks etc, which contributed to the oil spill”

      Don’t forget the US politician that raked in the most money from BP in the couple of years leading up that acident…..

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    18. Manwhore

      The problem I have with at least one of those write ups is who cares about the comparing the comparison? The underlying causes for people to protest are manifested, and people are protesting. As for this being a “hippy/socialist/radical” movement, this was what the left attributed in reverse to the Tea Party, and people vehemently defended that with the line “they’re just cherry picking.”

      It can’t really go both ways. I found an interesting article about “Occupy University” which pokes a few holes in the incoherency of the movement, and is pretty lucid (albeit I can only somewhat agree with) as a mission statement: http://www.stanforddaily.com/2011/10/11/op-ed-stop-the-wall-street-recruitment/

      The financial industry’s influence over higher education is deep and multifaceted, including student choice over majors and career tracks, career development resources, faculty and course offerings, and student culture and political activism. In 2010, even after the economic crisis, the financial services industry drew a full 20 percent of Harvard graduates and over 15 percent of Stanford and MIT graduates. This represented the highest portion of any industry except consulting, and about three times more than previous generations.
      As the financial industry’s profits have increasingly come from complex financial products, like the collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that ignited the 2008 financial meltdown, its demand has steadily grown for graduates with technical degrees. In 2006, the securities and commodity exchange sector employed a larger portion of scientists and engineers than semiconductor manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications.
      The result has been a major reallocation of top talent into financial sector jobs, many of which are “socially useless,” as the chairman of the United Kingdom’s Financial Services Authority put it. This over-allocation reduces the supply of productive entrepreneurs and researchers and damages entrepreneurial capitalism, according to a recent Kauffman Foundation report. Many of these finance jobs contribute to volatile and counter-productive financial speculation. Indeed, Wall Street’s activities are largely dominated by speculative security trading and arbitrage instead of investment in new businesses. In 2010, 63 percent of Goldman Sachs’ revenue came from trading, compared to only 13 percent from corporate finance.

      I could agree with that to a certain extent, and we do, in fact, see that reflection on Wall Street. Often times companies causing damage don’t even realize it because each unit doesn’t grasp the big picture or is afraid to confront it.

      Somewhere I read that OWS has a “V for Vendetta” solution about the cost hikes and demands for the guilty parties of the housing crisis to “step down”. It is to simply pull money out of those banks in droves by Novermber 4-5.

      That’s probably the best solution to having your voice heard, and certainly chimes with our system. As for the government intrusion part of it, they are really one and the same. Government takes huge donations from this sector so they are also implicated in the angst. I simply cannot with ease write this movement off as left or right without further information about what it will become.

      One thing that I have noticed is that so far it has been more or less well behaved. Sure, we may not like what’s being said by some loon here or there, but it has been overall peaceful, andthe clashes with the police have more to do with ridiculous city ordinances in NY, that led the police to start arresting people for speaking through megaphones and microphones.

      We’ll see where it all goes, but it doesn’t seem to be losing any momentum, and definitely has cast a big enough net to have a following.

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    19. AlexInCT

      I am happy to see someone voted against me for pointing out hypocrites that rail against corporate America, because they are in bed with government – these two feed from each other, with the power that the evil corporations have directly being tied to the power government gets (more government = more corporate power for those of you that remain math challenged) – but support Obama who was one of BP’s biggest beneficiaries of cash, are idiots.

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    20. richtaylor365

      I am happy to see someone voted against me for pointing out hypocrites that rail against corporate America,

      You know who it is, don’t you? It’s that same retard who has nothing original, astute, or compelling to say, so he validates his life (the pitiful state that it is) by going on blogs and “thumbs downing” those poopy heads that have already commented on his sad state of existence. He is the same guy that thumbs down every single one of my comments, because he can, and because in his 3rd grade mentality this act equates into power.

      Every blog has a troll, we have ours, personally I just ignore him, better for everyone this way.

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    21. Mississippi Yankee

      Yanno ever since I criticized your originality the very same thing has happened to me.

      Odd that you would bring that up, but thanks for mentioning it.

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    22. richtaylor365

      Personally I thinking thumbing down someone is silly to begin with. I have used the “thumbs up/down” feature about a half dozen times since I’ve been here, mostly to reward something truly exemplary, like one of Poosh’s comments the other day on OWS, otherwise, if you like (or dislike) what someone said, write a comment on that comment, don’t hit then go run in the bushes and hide (not addressed to you but to the person I originally wrote the comment for).

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    23. Poosh

      Shockingly Sky News in the UK – which Murdoch is meant to have a hand in – has be spinning this protest in a very positive light – there is now a London protest, though more coherent perhaps. All comentators on Sky News were with the pro-protesters, one of them even attacked the Tea Party, claimed they were protesting because they were “scared of having their guns taken away from them” and ridiculed them. Group thinking between commentators. Very disgusting.

      Sky News is the only loosely conservative news channel in the UK.

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