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Occupy Wall Street at 2 Months


By John Martin - Posted on 17 November 2011

I work next door to Foley Square, just blocks away from Zuccotti Park. For the past two months I've occasionally walked by the protestors, but haven't paid that much attention. I've never been a fan of extremist politics of any kind, so I've been fine with just reading about the Occupiers rather than engaging any of them. Now that Bloomberg has raised the stakes and the movement seems to be growing, however, I want to see where this all ends up. From the looks of tonight's rally, I'd be surprised if this doesn't survive in some form through next November. 

Despite what the right tries to convince everyone of, this is not a group of spoiled and lazy kids who don't want to work. Yes, there probably are some of those out there, but those out there protesting are far more diverse than people are willing to admit. Those camping in the park have probably mostly been from the 18-35 crowd, but those who came out for tonight's rally were, from the looks of it, from every age group and economic class as well (although they were sorely lacking in racial diversity).

Here are my thoughts right now about this movement:

I'm glad this is going on. One of my biggest concerns for years has been the growing economic inequality in the U.S. Economic inequality is bad for our Democracy, and it helps create a system that sacrifices the interests of the many to those of the few. Our middle class has been hollowing out for decades, and nothing is being done about it. Banks have been left to do whatever they want, and practically get rewarded for their irresponsibility. They'll do it again if allowed to, and those who make out will be happy to move to France, or New Zealand, or wherever else if and when our economy implodes the next time and things really get messy.

Occupy Wall Street stopping traffic on Broadway

On the other hand, hearing and reading some of the demands of some of these protesters reminds me of why I'm a Republican. Most of the solutions I've heard from the Occupy people  involve drastic, enormously expensive, big-government actions. I don't think students with government loans should be bailed out. I don't believe people should be allowed to retire when they're 55, and I don't believe we should be talking about increasing social security payments, especially when our federal budget is already bursting at the seams.

The rich have done extremely well in recent years, and should be paying much more in taxes than the middle class, but I'm leery of people who think we should confiscate most of anyone's wealth in one full swoop in an attempt to solve current social or economic problems.

Government should provide a safety net for those who cannot take care of themselves (kids with deadbeat parents, the disabled, etc.) and I'm fine with Government guaranteeing some basic retirement for the elderly (even those who neglected to prepare for retirement themselves). When it comes to making sure we have a stable, healthy middle class, however, I'd much rather see our government work to institute policies that encourage the growth of well-paying jobs. Globalization has benefited the few-- including the fortunate in the developing world-- but it has wreaked havoc on American workers. Meanwhile, Washington stands by waiting for things to magically get better, promising that our half-baked version of the free market will solve all our problems if we just give it more time.

What I want to see from the Occupy crowd is for them to get organized and start holding Democrats' feet to the fire. If that means backing a slate of primary challengers, all the better. Nobody has been taking the fate of our shrinking middle class seriously, in part because their interests haven't been heard. I don't always agree with the solutions those on the left push, but it would be better for everyone to have more advocates for the middle class out there raising these issues. 

 

Excellent reflection. I find it curious that many leaders are using heavy-handed techniques-even violence-to try to squash the movement. Haven't they learned anything from past protests and movements? The more they use such techniques, the stronger and more passionate it makes the protest & protesters. I think it shows just how "scary" this movement is to those who want to keep the status quo and how it's touched a nerve with those who are used to protecting the top 1% with little resistance from the "small, powerless" people who represent the other 99%. Look at this example of a leader "going off" on OWS. Does he really think such talk will subdue the energy? From Politico: Rep. Michael Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, has a message for the protesters of Occupy Wall Street: buy some soap, you dirty hippies, and get out of my city. Grimm’s office just issued a press release for the two month anniversary of the protests—but it wasn’t exactly commemorative. “These people have overstayed their welcome and it’s time they get the heck out of New York City. Between the filth, the smell, the incessant noise, and threat to public safety, they have done nothing but cause a nuisance to the people who work and live in Lower Manhattan. They’ve cost the city and surrounding businesses millions of dollars, and it’s time these people find a more productive use of their time. New Yorkers have had ENOUGH!,” Grimm said in the release. “The people I represent are the hard-working ‘99%’ who simply want to go to work, do their jobs, and get home to their families without being hassled along the way, he continued. “They already face one of the longest commutes in the nation without having to deal with this mob. It is reprehensible for these lowlifes to overrun the Staten Island Ferry or the subways to Brooklyn and add further hours to the trip home.” The colorful congressman also commended Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Police Department, under some criticism from the protesters for their clearing of Zucotti Park earlier this week, on their efforts at “managing a potentially violent and destructive situation.” “They have done a tremendous job!” he said. “However, it has been two months and now it’s time for the OWS protesters to pack up their tents, buy a bar of soap, and head home.”

People like Grimm are in for a rude awakening. He comes from a moderate district that less than one year ago was represented by a Democrat. I don't know if he gains anything by lashing out like this.

Aside from the political wisdom of his actions, I don't know how people could have a problem with the protests. This is America. Protesting against the government is something you're supposed to do. If he wants to attack the few who are instigating violence, or crapping on cop cars, then fine. But to write off everyone who is speaking out now is silly, and potentially scary.

Excellent post, John.

The author of this article from CNBC seems to think (or hope) that OWS is winding down and that most New Yorkers are so happy with that. I just don't see it. I guess you can find anyone to support your view when writing an article so I'm guessing that's what he did. However, this was the headline  article on CNBC-capable of influencing public opinion on the whole movement-so I would think such assertions in such a prominent part of a website-should be filled with more fact-based evidence and editors would require some proof. But why would CNBC be concerned with facts, evidence and proof when they are catering to the 1% and hate the whole idea of Occupy Wall Street? Again, the media wants a certain narrative here. The question is whether the public will see the propaganda and/or fight it.

Nice piece of work, John! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

OK, I hate to sound like a picky, whinybaby jerk, but I am missing the "____ new" under the posts so I can know what is new to read.

I am grateful for all you do to keep this site going, so I hate to be a complainy-pants!

I've Looked at how Margaret Thatcher ruled in the UK; she was an avid proponent of people not looking to the Government for anything!!  she definitely ruled with an iron rod. I am amazed at how these Governmental officials can take large sums of the tax payers dollars and then have the audacity to tell the tax payers not to look to benefit from their tax dollars. However, these public figures can take the tax payers money and live in a mansion, fly all over the world, have free healthcare, pension plans, access to investments and etc!!! However, the poor taxpayers are not suppose to expect anything!----As you can see, these Presidential candidates are bashing any and everyone who is demanding that the Government and the corporate world be held accountable to the people for how our tax dollars are spent and what plans will benefit   " We The people". 

 

Time and time again the corporate world and public figures consistently ridicule the American People for having a voice in how the Government should treat its citizens.The expectation is that the public figures can run the Country how they see fit and the American People are suppose to remain silent; the only voice the People are suppose to express is thru the ballot box which is  grossly  manipulated!!----- The American People are constantly labeled as being lazy, dirty or entitled for expressing their disdain for how the middle class is shrinking and the wealthiest are increasing in their wealth with minimal accountable as to how they are helping America to prosper. Aren't these Corporations suppose to be American companies??? Then why do they act as if it is UnAmerican  for the American People to be upset that the Jobs are outsourced all in the name of PROFIT???

 

I guess the American people aren't suppose to be smart enough to see thru all the shenanigans!! So now the supposedly solutions to the debt problems are to do away with every government program or the entitlement programs because it is too costly and the American people do not need it. People should pay their own healthcare bill without reasonable affordable healthcare insurance!!---- Also, the American people are being told to go to "Work"  !!!  So the Big rigs can continue to take tax dollars  and spend it how they see fit with no real benefit to the Average American people!! What does this look like to me???   enslavement or bondage where you do not have a voice or say in how your tax dollars are spent or how the system should be conducive to the American people.

 

Does these erroneous numbskulls realize that the safety net here in America is what attracted people from all over the world to seek citizenship here in America??? Why do they think our Country is so diverse???  because people from other Countries saw how our system used to help the Average and poor American come up out of their circumstances!---- People from other nations envied the free speech and the system intact to help Americans prosper even when devastating situations happen in the lives of people. We did not have a Cast system of the poor and rich or the haves and Have not; each individual prospered  according to their ability or motivation, but now that dream is fading quickly because we have an invisible CAST system emerging!!! The average Americans are being told to shut up and don't expose the evil that is taking place right in front of our nose!! if we don't continue to excercise free speech and seek social justice then  eventually we will all sink into the abyss.

(Fox News)  Juan acknowledges that OWS has legitimate concerns. Chris Wallace just wants to paint the movement as violence on the streets, then ends Williams' turn to speak. Williams tells him he's not playing fair.

 

Well, Juan Williams describes the situation accurately. FOX News viewers were almost exposed to something true.

I'm glad Juan Williams is out there, and I'm glad this clip is getting some traction. The Fox news people love it when he's candid and it supports their narrative, but not when it doesn't.

 

As the left gleefully adds "income inequality" to their campaign issues, it's best to understand that nowhere is the government charged with or empowered to equalize incomes.  Taxes can be made more progressive but confiscating private property or wealth for government to redistribute to others at its discretion is not a part of American principles. If government had the integrity and expertise to improve upon a merit based system, there could be a meaningful discussion; however, the massive incompetence, recklessness and even corruption exposed recently demonstrates the idiocy of letting government control more funds.

Once Clinton, Summers and Greenspan decided not to regulate derivatives, the most damaging products at the banks weren't illegal.  It's unfortunate that Obama has encouraged shifting total blame to Wall St since it's not productive or accurate. The Fed''s continued printing of money is what is feeding banks' profits not the malfeasance of bankers.  

What is most troubling now is the refusal of the media to understand that global subversive groups are pulling the strings at ows and threaten the very survival of the financial system.  Communists, socialists, Marxists, anarachists, anti-Semites, anti-capitalists, revolutionaries, Nazis, unions, and other splinter discontents are using this movement to promote their beliefs and overthrow stability.  Does anyone actually believe that 200 camping at Zuccotti Park sparked a global movement?  Trust me when I say nothing could be further from the truth.

Perhaps Americans are willing to sacrifice freedom in exchange for giving unelected bureaucrats control over the economy and distribution of resources, but at least they should know that is the choice they are making before they vote in 2012.   Obama's agenda of massive deficit spending, loans and grants to special interests, legislating through   agencies and executive orders, and 90,000 additional pages of regulations has not been a winning formula for jobs or the economy. Believing it will be in the future is a bridge too far.  Wanting the economy to work better for everyone is a viable objective, but expecting  the answers to come from the disparate voices and mobs in the street is misguided.  

 

 

Nate Silver @fivethirtyeight:

#Occupy has had more than a little influence when the Gov. of Texas is calling his party's likely nominee a "vulture capitalist"

Absolutely! And it is freaking out people like Rush Limbaugh! Keep up that truth-telling, Gingrich and Perry-who cares if they compare you to Michael Moore or call you a liberal? Yes-Occupy Wall Street is having a major impact and Romney represents everything we should detest about power, greed and Wall Street. I was a little deflated the other day when I heard Scott Brown raised over $3 million (mostly from Wall Street and high donors.) I thought "poor Elizabeth Warren-how can she compete with that? Wall Street will do everything they can to defeat her." But then I saw her numbers today-over $5 million and was jumping for joy. I think they said her average donation was $64. Occupy Wall Street is powerful enough to compete with Wall Street. Amazing. Now I think I am going to make my own small donation to Warren! Every little bit helps!

People like Elizabeth Warren. She took on the bankers and never blinked.

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