Occupy Wall Street: “This Is What We Want!” Finally! Oh…THAT.

Time to stop wasting our time.

After more than a month of demonstrations that have cost millions, deflected local governments from vital matters, inconvenienced and clogged cities across the country, invigorated anarchists, communists, fascists, free-loaders and loonies, suckered desperate Democrats into declaring common cause with a mob, and exposed the worst of Left-wing punditry as the embarrassing demagoguery society that it is…and after well-intentioned demonstrators have been robbed, arrested, and injured…the Occupy” movement finally is finally ready to declare what it wants.

It’s about time. Large-scale demonstrations to express “frustration” are the advocacy equivalent of humming, or maybe belching: speak clearly, or get off the street.  On October 9, Ethics Alarms described the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, in the context of pointing out the friendly mainstream media embrace of a left-ish, anti-capitalist mob in contrast to its open contempt for the peaceful, focused and conservative Tea Party, as “incoherently chanting anarchists, radicals and unemployed youths…advocating nothing constructive whatsoever.” Many of the site’s distinguished readers objected to that characterization, with one, blogger Jeff Field,  promising to produce an articulation of what the protest really wants to accomplish. Today he fulfilled that promise by sending me a statement by an “Occupy” supporting group, with his introduction, “This is what we want.” I am genuinely grateful to Jeff…especially since it shows that I was correct in my assessment, however harsh.

To begin with, it is telling and ominous that the simple task of finding out what the “Occupy” demonstrators want would take three weeks. It is also revealing that while this particular version is being presented as representative, it doesn’t come from the demonstrators at all, but from a simpatico organization, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. That means, of course, that the statement doesn’t speak for the movement, but like all of its so-called “supporters,” including Barack Obama, Michael Moore, Kanye West, Al Sharpton and the Communist Party, it is using the very blobbiness of the effort to read what it wants to into its Rorschach vagueness. No one speaks for the movement, which is, essentially, a dodge. If nobody speaks for the movement, the movement has no accountability, and can be all things to all people—all people, that is, who want to command attention without meeting the ethical requirement to use that attention responsibly.

But never mind: some articulation of purpose is better than nothing. Here is the statement, which is in the form of an “open letter”:

“I stand with people around the country and the world who are calling for economic justice.

“My values affirm that each person has inherent worth and dignity; that justice, equity, and compassion should be the guiding principles for human relationships; and that all people deserve access to the democratic process.

“My recognition of the inherent worth of every person compels me to speak out against policies that privilege the demands of corporations over the human rights of people. I support the Occupy movement in its affirmation that protecting workers’ rights and ensuring that basic human needs are met must take precedence. All people have a fundamental right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their families.

“I also join the Occupy movement in decrying the wealth disparity that leaves millions struggling for economic security. Policies and legislation that promote economic marginalization are morally unacceptable. Everyone is entitled to a government that recognizes and promotes basic economic rights. Justice, equity, and compassion should be foremost in our government’s decision making.

“Economic oppression is not only a violation of fundamental human rights, it is also a blow to democracy. When economic power is concentrated in the hands of a few and when corporations are awarded the same status as actual human beings, the democratic process is fundamentally compromised. Basic fairness requires that all people have equal opportunity to participate in political debate and to be represented in government.

“I envision a powerful and radically inclusive movement for economic justice. I recognize economic justice as a right that is due to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, immigration status, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status or distinction.

“I sign this letter as an expression of gratitude to all who are working for economic justice in the United States and around the world, as an affirmation of my hope for fair and compassionate economic reforms, and as a renewal of my commitment to help make it so.

That it would take three weeks to produce this dog’s breakfast of moldy clichés, buzz words, generalities and ambiguity is, in a word, sad; in two, an outrage. The description could be used to describe every counter-capitalist, socialist, communist, anarchist, or radical interest group’s manifesto ever launched, and has. It is almost completely devoid of specifics, because specifics can be measured, judged and found lacking; platitudes, on the other hand, are unassailable. Among the words and phrases subject to infinite and diametrically opposite interpretations are economic justice…inherent worth…dignity …justice…equity…compassion…access to the democratic process…human rights…workers’ rights…basic human needs…precedence…fundamental right…standard of living…well-being … economic marginalization …morally unacceptable…economic oppression..basic fairness.

Let’s take fairness. I might believe that fairness means that people should get to keep as much of the money that they earn with their talents and hard work as possible. I think that people who work hard, obey the laws, and live ethically and responsibly shouldn’t have to involuntarily sacrifice so that those who do none of those things (or not enough of them) don’t have to suffer the consequences of their own character deficiencies and poor choices. I think it means that when parents work and save for their entire lives so that they can pass their estate on to their children, and help them advance in life with advantages the parents never had, that estate shouldn’t be confiscated by the government to give to the children of parents who saved nothing. I believe that fair means that a family that has only two children because that is all it can afford would not have to give money that they earn to care for those children to single mothers who have six children by different fathers, and only a low-paying job to support them.

I might reasonably think that when Lindsay Lohan, having been given beauty, talent, a high-paying career and more chances in the legal system than I would have believed possible, finds herself in debt, her beauty and youth lost, without income or a home as the direct result of her own foolishness and arrogance, Americans who have worked hard all the time that she was snorting her future up her nose should not be forced to come to her rescue as an act of “social justice.” You may disagree. It is still a reasonable definition.

And that’s just “fair.” Similar arguments can be mounted regarding any of those words and phrases, which means that the statement, soaring and inspiring though it is, means nothing. It cannot generate legislation or reform; it cannot even support a coherent debate. It is intellectually lazy and not worthy of respect. It is, like the entire “Occupy” effort, a waste of time.

America has problems. It needs bold and thoughtful measures, devised by wise, objective, and serious people who know what they were talking about.* This parade of generalities doesn’t help, and for Occupy Wall Street to have produced nothing more constructive with all of its anger and indignation represents a rank failure of diligence, competence and responsibility.

I do not blame the sincere and intelligent Ethics Alarms reader who settled on this statement after three weeks; it’s not his fault that there is nothing better. Still, the key issue is fairness, and it is blindingly fair for a protest that has taken up this much time and attention to produce this little in substance and coherent recommendations to be rejected and ignored.

_____________________

*Fox News has been showing video of a Wall Street CEO debating angry demonstrators on the street, trying to get an answer to the simple question, “What do you want?” One of them can be heard saying, “I want you to pay as much in taxes as I do!”  Of course, the executive probably pays more in taxes than all the demonstrators confronting him, combined. This is the level of comprehension at the center of the “movement.”)

41 thoughts on “Occupy Wall Street: “This Is What We Want!” Finally! Oh…THAT.

  1. Ahhh, here is the outrage I wasn’t seeing before. I hope they are able to develop it into something soon. I think that rather than disposing of the demonstrators point with your asterisk comment, you are bringing it into sharp relief.

    • Yes, and…WHAT? The point is, their indignation is based on half-baked rumors and nonsense. If they would actually learn the issues (and what the SEC is, for example), then they could actually stand for something.

      • My first thought when I read the asterisk comment was, how much does he have to be making to be paying more than all of them COMBINED in taxes? That would speak to their point, I think.

        • Why? Why are you under the impression that there’s something wrong with making a lot of money and paying taxes on it? He works for it, has talents and skills, performs difficult work that relatively few are qualified to do, and the demonstrators are either unemployed or able to goof off for 60 days. They should be making more? For what? He should be making less? Why assume that? Is envy now a virtue?

          • Well, those were my thoughts on what I think their point is and what my initial thought was, in terms of their point, when I read the asterisk comment. I may be wrong about their point because it is still confusing. Hence, my hope they get it together soon in the original post.

            What I think personally isn’t relevant. I don’t live in America and we have our own serious problems in Canada since the last election. But no, I am all for making a lot of money. I accepted an executive salary from a US company for many years so I am not getting in a complaint line today.

  2. Yesterday, here in the UK, the BBC managed, without the faintest trace of irony, to report on the Church of England (St Paul’s Cathedral) deciding to back the Corporation of London (the relevant local government authority) in taking legal action to have the protestors removed; followed by a report on the results of a recent survey indicating that executive pay had increased 49% in the last 12 months compared to average of less than 3%.

    There can be no justification for this degree of inequitability; not in merit, stress-burden, or risk-taking. This is corporate greed being excersised by people who are so far removed from the day-to-day reality of life for ordinary people, it is as if they have ceased to be aware of its existence.

    Occupy Wall Street (et al) is the majority protesting about the corporate greed of a minority and about the failure of government to call-to-account those, like Alan Greenspan who oversaw the de-regulation of financial services in the 1980s that brought an end to 40 years of stability, who caused a series of financial crises culminating in the financial meltdown of 2008.

    What is really scary though, is that it is members of the same extremely powerful elite that are currently ensuring that legitimate environmental warnings and concern go unheeded; and thus that planet Earth is heading for ecological catastrophe caused by a failure to mitigate anthropogenic climate change.

    • Note to Mr. Lack re your comments on Britain — a semi-capitalist/socialist country. I don’t know if you are a British citizen and know more than I do about their system, or if you just picked up the BBC news here in the US. I do know that British tax rates go higher and higher the more you make, and that with the VAT it’s a pretty tax-heavy nation. I also know that Paul McCartney, for example, pays about 90% of his income in taxes. I suppose that’s fair because he’s made billions — based of course on usery and trickery, not on his unique and tremendous talent — but he’s a British patriot and willing to do it. Also, what you don’t state is what that awful 49% of overpaid executives had to pay to the government of Britain in taxes. If you have that information I’d like to see it: using only a partial statistic to prove some kind of point is, well, pointless.

      And if you’re right that “Occupy Wall Street (et al) is the majority protesting about the corporate greed of a minority and about the failure of government to call-to-account those, like Alan Greenspan who oversaw the de-regulation of financial services in the 1980s that brought an end to 40 years of stability, who caused a series of financial crises culminating in the financial meltdown of 2008,” why aren’t they occupying Washington? If the government failed to call to account those… (who) brought an end of 40 years of stability, where’s the big uproar about the government? Most of the supporters of Occupy (name the city) want more hand-outs from the government, paid for by someone else. That’s why.

      PS I refuse to comment on your last paragraph. You would just love all the conspiracy theorists… See the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, etc. Also, get some DVDs of Jesse Ventura’s TV show on conspiracies. I think you’re just getting started in this area, Mr. Lack. (I think you’ll especially like the idea that there is a high-level conspiracy to “bring the world population down to a manageable level” (!) to help solve the carbon emissions problems…)

      PPS I really do like the word “anthropogenic,” though. I’ve made a mental note to use it more often, though probably not in the context you did.

      • I would like to thank you for taking the time, Elizabeth. However, instead, I shall just confirm that I am British and living in Britain (as I thought was made clear by use of the phrase “here in the UK“?)… Our tax system is complicated and excessive at present but, I for one, happen to agree with our Conservative-led coalition (that aspires to have a low-tax economy) that we must cut the budget deficit before handing out tax cuts (especially to the super-rich).

        P.S. Apart from to say that I am not a conspiracy theorist; as the conspiracy to which I refer is well-documented (although I am not allowed to mention books that provide the evidence), I refuse to comment on the remainder of your reply as it would probably be a waste of my time.

        • Mr. Lack:
          I did not mean to question your citizenship, of course. “Here in the UK” could have been written by ME, for example, while on one or more of our many trips to Britain (I am an unapologetic Anglophile, perhaps because of my British Literature major in college, and of the courage of the British during World War II –though I know about the latter only through reading, as I am way too young to know it from experience (!).

          Let’s not argue the other points now. We clearly differ, and never the twain will meet, I assume.

    • Oh, it’s about excessive executive pay, is it? Fine–count me in. I completely agree—executive compensation is out of control, and a disgrace. I’ve written about it too: Then come up with a proposal…how about mandating that the top CEO full compensation can never exceed 50X the salary of the basic worker. Or 25X, or 100—I don’t care, hash it out—the point will be that if you hit the limit, you can raise the CEO’s salary without raising the bottom too. That’s called “a proposal.” A “position.” Why is that so hard?

      • Interesting proposal too. Probably too simplistic to work though, the implemented solution will need to be made complicated enough that it can’t be explained so nobody will notice when it is repeatedly changed to become a policy noone ever agreed to.

      • Yes Jack, I agree. Here in the UK (Elizabeth), the Trade Union Congress (TUC – of which I am normally not a fan) has proposed the same thing… I am therefore in favour of the protests (maybe you had noticed) because they make it more likely that the TUC may yet get this proposal at least discussed in Parliament. It would be a start.

      • Oh, it’s about excessive executive pay, is it? Fine–count me in. I completely agree—executive compensation is out of control, and a disgrace. I’ve written about it too: Then come up with a proposal…how about mandating that the top CEO full compensation can never exceed 50X the salary of the basic worker. Or 25X, or 100—I don’t care, hash it out—the point will be that if you hit the limit, you can raise the CEO’s salary without raising the bottom too. That’s called “a proposal.” A “position.” Why is that so hard?

        Then let us apply it to the actingand athletic sectors as well. No raises for basketball stars unless the dude who cleans the toilets gets a raise too. No raises for actresses unless the dude who works craft service gets a raise.

    • Occupy Wall Street (et al) is the majority protesting about the corporate greed of a minority and about the failure of government to call-to-account those,

      Oh please.

      If they think corporate executives are excessively paid, why do they not form their own corporations (the California Secretary of State has a site with information on incorporation) and hire each other as corporate executives so that they can earn the salary that a corporate executive makes.

  3. Jack, I believe you mischaracterized my reply to Scott Olsen, The “Occupy” Movement and The Protest Dilemma – https://ethicsalarms.com/2011/10/28/scott-olsen-the-occupy-movement-and-the-protest-dilemma/

    I’d like to think your rant, above, is simply an innocent misunderstanding of my words posted here and elsewhere regarding the Occupy Movement. And yet, because of your obvious vehemence towards the Occupy Movement, I lean towards the idea you purposely mischaracterized my intentions.

    I wrote a rebuttal which includes all the posts and my replies in question. I’ll leave it to you and your readers to decide whether this was intentional or not. I will not post my rebuttal here; it is too long, I think. Here’s the link – http://fattymoon.posterous.com/did-jack-marshal-cross-an-ethical-line-with-t

    I also pasted it on Facebook, as I do a number of your posts, both those I agree with and those I don’t. We’ll let the public call it as they see it.

    It’s a beautiful day so I’m off to the Occupy Las Cruces site for some great conversation and a little sign waving.

    Pax.

    • Well, Jeff,I’m stumped. How could I possibly have characterized it? You wrote “this is what we want” with the link, and I reposted the text. You are misrepresenting what I wrote as a “rant”, however. There was no rant. I fairly characterized the words I quoted, which are exactly as I represented them, and what you described as “what we want.” How could that be a mischaracterization? And is it even possible to mischaracterize a Rorschach blot?

      When I decide to rant, you’ll know it.

  4. You have proven the fact that opinions do vary. People as smart, if not smarter than you, do differ in their opinions of the protests. I’m still trying to figure out the object of the Tea Party. And to make a president a one term president doesn’t count. Jobs? Where are the jobs? Health care? What are the choices after repealing Obamacare? Less taxes and less spending? Mr. Obama has either kept the Bush taxcuts or cut more. In spending he has increased the war effort in Afghanistan (a hawkish and expensive move) More drilling? There is more drilling now than in the past. Transparency? Exactly what do people want to know about the government and executive? Socialism or fascism? How about the Patriot Act and ” No Child Left Behind”? Or demanding Americans carry i.d. on them at all times? How about all the bills in state legislatures on voting regulation?” Why do we spend time on these goofy things like the Hank Jr. incident ( accusing him or defending him), the truther idea, the birther idea, and an old rock in the middle Texas. Or even worry about pro sports and congressional hearings on those situations?
    As I see it, the Tea Party has let me down as well, they talked a good talk ( to a certain degree), but they haven’t fullfilled their promises either. They have had ideas and bills that they could have sold the public or the moderates on.
    Yes, I may have come across funny, silly, weird or even ignorant, But I admit I am a neophyte on political and economic issues. But many of the people in Occupy and the Tea Party come across less knowledgable than I am. They just jump on the bandwagon of any populist movement. I don’t think many people actually know what they want. With being a common American, I would like to be able to use the education I have received from serving my country to get a decent paying job, to provide for my family, access to decent health care, the freedom to say what I want, to have the faith of my choosing, not having to worry about someone checking up on my innocent phone calls or web browsing, being able to vote if I want without proving I am an honest American, and to pay a fair tax for the welfare and protection of mine and my neighbors liberties. I want to know that there is safe water, food, and consumer products and services. I can’t vote party lines as each candidate has ideas that represent my own. What I can’t stand to see is the ones that vote their faith, their philosophical views that ignore other’s freedoms and welfare, and promote their freedoms at the expense of people with less. I don’t want a handout. I like working and achieving what I could only do in America.

    As far as Occupy or any movement, they are going to have alot of people that have no idea why they are there, just want to party, be part of a popular movent, try to push their personal views (however stupid they may be) or even start fights. Those people that are endangering other people’s safety and liberties should be arrested or held accountable, but I feel there are some with values, morals, and ethics that are at these protests( both the Tea Party and Occupy). Any way they do have the right to peaceably assemble and yell at the top of their lungs about anything, make ridiculous signs and do whatever as long as no one is hurt and no one has their liberties taken away. I am a common American. I don’t have the money , intelligence, or popularity to enter politics. But I have yet to find ANYONE who has unselfish and ethical convictions to lead this country. But who am I to judge?

    • I beg you to stop saying “opinions vary.” So what? That’s not an argument, that’s not wisdom, that’s not perspective. All opinions are not of equal weight or validity, and if that’s your point, you are just flat out wrong.

      This is not about the Tea Party. But it was clear from the beginning that the Tea Party opposed the expansion of government (e.g. Obamacare), increased deficits, and the likelihood of increased taxes. That is tangible. You can debate that. The fact that there are intelligent, well-meaning people involved in “Occupy”, which I do not doubt, does not validate lazy and indulgent incoherence. Nor does the fact that they “have the right” to do it. Good Lord! The whole point to applying ethics is to try to do what is the right thing, not to do what you have a right to do, just because you can. The can. They proved that. Now what?

  5. A couple of comments on Mr. Field’s provision of the “Occupy” screed:

    It says: “My values affirm that each person has inherent worth and dignity; that justice, equity, and compassion should be the guiding principles for human relationships…”

    The demonstrators have all that. Who says these have not been the guiding principles of this nation since its inception and still guide it today? The only major problem with what Mr. Field says is that among the guiding principles is the “pursuit” of happiness, NOT the “provision” of happiness — paid for by someone else.

    It says: “and that all people deserve access to the democratic process.”

    Have the people in the Occupy movement been denied the right to vote? To voice their opinions (however unclear)? Come on. All citizens of the United States ALREADY HAVE ACCESS TO THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS. If you don’t like what your Senators and Congressmen or President are doing, vote ’em out. That’s the system. That’s the process. This clause is just nonsensical BS.

    It says: “I support the Occupy movement in its affirmation that protecting workers’ rights and ensuring that basic human needs are met must take precedence. All people have a fundamental right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their families.”

    We have unions to protect workers’ rights, and they have run industry for decades — and in many cases, into the ground. Don’t dare say there is no one protecting workers’ rights. They are in fact basically running the Democratic party, which hasn’t done anything effective in protecting or assisting workers. The key, of course, for workers’ rights to be protected is that they have to actually be WORKERS. And, incidentally, there are plenty of systems in place for people who either don’t work, meet with failure when they do, or can’t work.

    In addition, every person who works and happens to meet with some success is, by Field’s definition, part of the problem, and probably evil. I work for a living. I am not in a Union. I own part of my own company and we have met with some success. However, I work seven days a week and haven’t taken a vacation in five years. But on the basis of my income alone (which is NOT in the top percentages) I am OBLIGED to accept some new idea of how much and to whom I should share the fruits of my labors? I am ipso facto evil? And NOT a worker? Wrong. I am a worker, just like your workers. The only difference is I never thought I had a “fundamental right” to any standard of living: that was and is something I made on my own.

    It says: ““I envision a powerful and radically inclusive movement for economic justice. I recognize economic justice as a right that is due to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, immigration status, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status or distinction.”

    “Economic justice” means what? Taking every dollar made by every citizen and then dividing it up and doling out tiny amounts so that 300 million people make the same amount of money each year, whether they work or not, have skills or not, or just want the money? And really, the “race, ethnicity, gender…blah, blah, blah” statement is totally confused. First, there are laws on the books about race, ethnicity, etc., etc. I disagree on immigration status here: We simply cannot feed the world, or employ the world, especially if those who create jobs are turned into paupers who can’t hire anyone. And what does “regardless of… property” mean? Does that mean you can’t take my property in the interests of “economic justice,” or does it mean you CAN take my property in the interests of “economic justice?” This is an incomprehensible statement, beginning with the fact that the authors of the statement don’t have the nerve to even define “economic justice” in his terms.

    The “Occupy” movement’s manifesto is replete with misunderstood concepts, the repetition of catchwords and phrases that at this point have no meaning, and does nothing at all to explain the goals of the “Occupy” movement. If that’s it, if Mr. Field has transmitted the “nut” of the movement, then they might as well all go home. (Unless they’re having too good a time.)

    • “In addition, every person who works and happens to meet with some success is, by Field’s definition, part of the problem, and probably evil.”

      Elizabeth, apparently you and I are occupying very different realities based on the above comment. So let me try to bridge this enormous gap. And, for the record, I speak only for myself, not for Occupy Las Cruces, or for any Occupy movement.

      My personal view is this –

      1. Our government has been bought and paid for by major corporations. We now have a government of puppets.
      2. At least several major banking institutions have committed fiscal fraud, hurting millions of Americans.
      3. Major corporations place profits above the welfare of our citizens and our environment.
      4. The military-industrial complex causes needless death and destruction around the globe.

      I do not believe in handouts to those too lazy to work for a living.
      I do believe we should help one another be the best we can be.

      What are the goals of the Occupy Movement? Depends on who you ask.
      http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/10/27/oreilly_the_goal_of_the_occupy_movement_is_to_demonize_capitalism.html

      http://www.modernhippiemag.com/2011/10/goal-occupy-movement/

      One thing is certain. Our movement (I am proud to be a part of this) will continue to grow in size and in stature. As we grow, there will be many mistakes made (think of a young child as he grows and develops into, hopefully, a mature adult).

      • I’ve seen very little in the OWS crowd that passes for anything commonly associated with “maturity”. Having been around in the 1960’s, it’s like a flashback. In fact, some of THEM are veterans of the ’60’s, too.

      • Dear Fatty Moon:
        You say…
        “1. Our government has been bought and paid for by major corporations. We now have a government of puppets.
        2. At least several major banking institutions have committed fiscal fraud, hurting millions of Americans.
        3. Major corporations place profits above the welfare of our citizens and our environment.
        4. The military-industrial complex causes needless death and destruction around the globe.”

        Re #1: A given. Has been for generations. This is not new. All the major foundations (Ford, Rockefeller, etc.) were formed to assuage the guilt that that the robber barons of the 19th century felt. At one point John Jacob Astor offered to pay off the federal debt with his own funds! No question there: the question is: what else do these evil corporations do? Feed you. Clothe you. Transport you from place to place. Do you want to go back to the days of wearing bearskins and moccasins? You don’t want (do you?) to KILL the corporations, but make them accountable. If that’s so, we agree, but your language leaves the question open. AND it implies that ALL corporations are corrupt and evil. Simply not true, unless you give me examples of malfeasance by the entire Fortune 500. Get specific if you want to be taken seriously.

        Re #2: Perhaps you are too young to remember the banking fraud scandals of the ’80s, which actually ended up with banking CEOs IN JAIL. It is not unprecedented to make bankers accountable. But your Executive Branch (ie, the Justice Department) has to want to do it, and thus far Obama’s Justice Department has been too busy giving arms to drug cartels…

        Re #3: Major corporations are IN BUSINESS TO MAKE MONEY. THAT’S WHY WE INVEST IN THEM. See #1 above. This is a fatuous comment on your part.

        Re #4: It was Five Star WWII General and two term President Dwight Eisenhower (oh no! a Republican!) who coined the term “military-industrial complex” and warned about it. The problem with your statement is that is is INDEFINITE, you have no examples of same, and generalizations like that never, ever, assist the dialogue.

    • Arthur:
      Thanks! I just get so frustrated with some of this that I stop everything I should be doing and write responses…
      Where are you in Maine? I love Maine. Too cold, but beautiful.

  6. I’d simply point out here (in addendum to all these detailed posts) that “economic justice”- also referred to as “economic democracy”- is nothing more than a well-travelled euphemism for Socialism.

    Personally, as a former Pepsi employee, that sign proclaiming “Bring Back Crystal Pepsi” fills me with more dread than anything else they’ve demanded!!

    • Why would you insult socialism by tying it to these people? What has socialism ever done to you?

      At least with socialism there is a clear politcal goal. So far I havent seen anything from the OWS crowd that is a clear goal.

  7. If they are fed up with economic injustice and excessive CEO compensation, why don’t they call for shareholder’s rights? I am fed up with the people that are running my companies. I have a 401K plan that owns stock in a lot of companies. I have an IRA that owns stock in a lot of companies. I want to exercise my rights as an owner of the company to vote on the compensation of these CEO’s. I want it required that they get a majority of shares to agree (in writing) to any pay increase or bonus for the CEO’s. I would definitely not have voted for the ‘bonus’ HP’s CEO got for his insane policies that cut the share price in half.

    Who owns the corporations now? The people do through their IRA’s and 401k’s, but they are run by a self-perpetuating set of boards accountable to no one. Look at the boards of major companies, they are composed of the CEO’s of all of the other companies!

    • Michael:

      I think you’re absolutely right on this. I can’t tell you how many proxies we’ve gotten in the mail to vote on corporate leadership and action where we have our 401(K)s. Problem is: They never fully explain what the vote means, or what the internal workings of the corporation are! Oops! Big oversight? Guess we’ll have to use our frequent flyer miles and actually show up at one of these well-orchestrated dramas… Perhaps indeed we should put some of the blame on ourselves.

  8. “My personal view is this –
    1. Our government has been bought and paid for by major corporations. We now have a government of puppets.
    2. At least several major banking institutions have committed fiscal fraud, hurting millions of Americans.
    3. Major corporations place profits above the welfare of our citizens and our environment.
    4. The military-industrial complex causes needless death and destruction around the globe.”

    Well, you’re certainly entitled to your view. Shall we do a little fact checking?

    1) Opensecrets.org is a terrific website, and you should become familiar with it. Learn to navigate it and you can find out who gave what to whom. Unless you count labor unions as “major corporations” – few people do, although perhaps more people should – your statement overlooks the impact of organized labor on candidates and the nation. We can agree on this much: large bundlers/influencers DO appear to have an outsized impact on government. Placing all of the blame on corporations is merely left-wing talking point mumbo jumbo.

    2) There is certainly that appearance. Let us not overlook the role of government in that, including what amounted to congressional shakedowns of banks to loan money to people who should never have been given loans. With the US-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on hand to absorb the risk, why should anyone be surprised by the outcome?

    3) I love this one: “Major corporations place profits above the welfare of our citizens and our environment.” Well, DUH. That’s what they’re SUPPOSED to do. EXPECTED to do. Corporations aren’t charities. They exist to make products and services that people want to buy. They employ hundreds of thousands of people in the process, and if they don’t deliver the goods people want, they go bye-bye. As for the environmental part, there’s certainly room for reasonable regulation to prevent gross environmental damage. Those regulations weren’t created to provide a feeding zone for activist groups and lawyers who make tidy paychecks by suing corporations over the latest environmental scare. That’s a tidy little industry in itself that you might want to learn about.

    4) Do you really think that if various warring tribes in Cowfartistan couldn’t get Stinger missiles, they’d simply go home and call it a day? Nope, they’d still be hitting each other on the head with rocks.

    • Jeff, the citation of a handful of anecdotes does your argument no good whatsoever. No one ever said that all corporations are pure as driven snow, or that they all behave in an ethical manner. Clearly, they do not. There are also well-documented cases of bad and unethical behavior on the left – such as SEIU thuggery, the “escape” of Wisconsin legislators, and so on.

      There is PLENTY of bad behavior on both sides of the political divide, and tit-for-tat arguments go nowhere.

      So let’s focus on some specifics. I find it bemusing, for example, that one of the oft-reported “demands” of the OWS crowd is to “do something about college loans.” Question for you: if Sally freely enters into an agreement with a bank (backed by federal guarantees) to borrow $80,000 for a college degree in a field with minimal real job prospects after graduation – say, English Lit – why should YOU (and I presume you’re a taxpayer) have any obligation to bail Sally out? After all, Sally made at least TWO deliberate decisions that created the debt: entering into a contract, and selecting a course of study that virtually guarantees she’ll have a hard time paying it back.

      Is the bank at fault? Don’t see how it could be read that way. It’s not the bank’s job to direct Sally’s course of study. Does the bank have an ethical obligation to deny the loan based on Sally’s intended course of study? Perhaps, but if I were running the bank the last thing I’d want is a picket line charging me with discriminating against English Lit students. Besides, with the government 1) basically demanding that I provide the loan, and 2) being overgenerous with YOUR money so that I have nothing to lose when the only job Sally can get post-grad is as a night shift barrista, I’d be irresponsible to the interests of my shareholders by denying the loan.

      And while we’re at it, why isn’t anyone picketing the colleges? Tuition rates have risen FAR more than inflation. What’s driving the extra cost?

      • Sally shouldn’t have to freely enter into an agreement with a bank to get an education. But then, the S word has been used to describe me before so I am certain there are a million reasons you wouldn’t agree with that statement. No need to post them. I have heard them before, I understand them now, I still don’t agree 🙂

        • We only disagree, Danielle, on a matter of scale (I tip my tewk to you for honestly presenting personal values, rather than regurgitating talking points).

          American society has already agreed on a compact to guarantee publicly-funded education to high school graduation. Perhaps that should be re-examined – though I do personally think that what currently passes for a high school ticket in this nation is a ripoff of both the taxpayers and the kids.

          Be that as it may, let’s stipulate that taxpayers would be well-served by funding a ride through college. Where do you draw the line on that ride? Two-year technical? Four-year baccalaureate? Six-year masters? NIne-year doctorate? Post-doc? (oh, to hell with it. By that time, they’ll be on the faculty, and the taxpayer dime, anyway).

          Here’s the deal, and I’m about to violate my own previously stated rule on anecdotals: the two smartest and best people I ever worked for were high school grads. No more. They had values, they had raw intelligence, they didn’t like what college looked like to them (more or less direct quote from one of them: “I got to college and within two weeks everyone was smoking dope and screwing their brains out. I did that all through high school. So I quit, went home and took a job at the local tire store.”)

          That guy, just so you know, can debate Kierkegaard until the scotch bottle is empty. There IS such a thing as educating oneself for the pure joy of learning.

          Leaving aside the economic “unfairness” of the idea that everyone else gets a free ride while these guys proudly graduated from the school of hard knocks, what does this tell you? Tells me that those who want to succeed will succeed. Those who lack a drive to succeed will look for an easy path however it’s offered – and if that means sucking on an educational teat for as long as it’s offered, many people will do that.

          How long are YOU willing to foot the bill? Personally, I’ll gladly pay them through high school. And community colleges don’t cost a whole lot. There’s good hard skills available at a lot of those and a boost, for those who take to academics, for those who want something more.

          But I don’t see the value to society in spending taxpayer dollars to fund obscure scholarship that produces…. barristas.

  9. Arthur, I understand the issues you are bringing up and I certainly don’t have the financial plan that makes it all work but I can tell you that I pay a good amount of taxes in Canada and would be willing to pay more if education were free. Here, everything through High School is free and we have the same issue about education quality up to that level and yes, I think that woud need to be addressed first since there is no point in free education if we are producing uneducated students at the end of it. I also think that those people that prefer the school of hard knocks would still take the same route if education were free. I do not think that there would be an overwhelming number of young people taking the free education just to party anymore than I think the number of young women having “extra” children to “milk” the welfare system is the majority. I think social safety net abuse is like Halloween… all a big scammy scare.

    If I take your lead and use a personal example, we could look at my three sons. The oldest and youngest were able to go to University free. My middle boy did not have that advantage and would have to pay. My oldest has not liked school since day one and I had truancy problems with him starting in Grade One. I got him through high school and was grateful for that. I knew he was not going forward in a classroom setting. He took a kitchen job out of high school and after several years, he had had enough of restaurants and moved into a labour job in shipping. He tends to stay with the same employer for long periods so has managed to bring himself to a living salary, buy a house and he is very happy. It was a longer, harder road for him but we all live with our choices and he came out more than OK. He did not take advantage of his free education because it simply was not the right path for him. My middle son did go to University and by the end was in grave danger of becoming one of those life-long professional students. We, his grandparents and his part-time jobs paid for his lenghty stay at University and he came out with two BA’s and a Masters – political science focus of all things. Let me tell you… he can drive me crazy at the holiday dinner table. Not an example of the apple and the tree, are we. Our relationship is much like the one I have with my father – contentious if we discuss religion or politics – better if we don’t. My youngest son went to University for one semester. It was free and he qualified for living expenses but he discovered very quickly that the classroom setting did not work for him either. He could not see how it helped him reach his long term life goal to have a family. That was his dream since he was very young. I thought it was odd and still don’t know where it came from but he really always only wanted a family. He ended up leaving University after one semester, got a job in the local grocery store he had done his high school work experience at. He has progressed from cashier to head butcher in the few years he has been there and is married, owns his home and just had his second child. He is over the moon happy so did not exploit his free education to coast along doing nothing for a few years. Then there is me. I went to University free and if that had not been available, there is no way I would ever have been able to attend. My time would have been eaten up with how to put food on the table on minimum wage. I like to think I still might have made it but there are two times in my life that I relied on the Canadian social safety net for brief periods. Both of those times were during my school years and were so instrumental in my progression forward, I really can’t say what would have happened if they were not there. It is, I suppose, possible I could have ended up a burden to the welfare system for much of my life without the two programs I took advantage of when I was young. Good thing all the men in my family wore uniforms to protect that net, is what I think. I also think that it was an obviously better solution for the government bank account that I could take advantage of brief programs that launched me into a place where I could look after myself and my family rather than relying on them much longer for basic things like food. Better fiscal choice to put the money into programs designed to provide one with self-sustainment at completion. Although I did not enter into my field of study with my professional career, the educational base at the University level more than contributed to my success. When the promotions started to come, there was more than one that I would not have been offered without the University education box ticked. Most importantly, it taught me how to think and that has served me well ever since.

    The bottom line for me is that I think the kind of society we produce by educating young people is leaps and bounds better than the one we produce by making education an impossible goal that leaves them with mountains of debt if they do manage it. That option has lead us to today where we dumb down everything from news to the dictionary just so they can cope! So I think we better figure it out.

    …and my thoughts on the pot smoking partiers are for another day. I wouldn’t want to overwhelm you with too much socialist hippie rhetoric in one day 😉

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