Excuse my ignorance, but this Occupy Wall Street phenomena is perplexing me on a certain level. Specifically, after researching how this whole thing got started and the resulting airplay on the news every day now, it would appear there is this well spring of lame Stream Media support- almost sympathy- for this movement. If this is a protest against corporate America or banks or the influence of money in politics, can someone explain how occupying the National Air and Space Museum in Washington furthers those goals other than for publicity? Are they protesting the American space program’s legacy? From what I have read thus far, it would appear that this was originally suggested by something called Adbusters (or something like that, I don’t really care), the brainchild of Canadian activists out of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Some have portrayed this a grassroots populist uprising of sorts. Just this morning, ex-Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) said that people are fed up with the status quo and influence of money in politics and economic inequality in this country. He noted that massive demonstrations in Madison, Wisconsin when “this Governor tool away collective bargaining rights” started the movement. Of course, this begs the question as to whether collective bargaining and, by extension, a unionized workforce truly advances the middle class. I think the workers of America have democratically answered that question through their rejection of unionization. Hence, union membership is at all time lows.
But the part that seems to trouble me the most is why the MSM is accepting of this movement, but they tend to denigrate the Tea Party movement. Repeatedly, when the Tea Party was coalescing around a single message of reigning in the Federal government and spending and regulations, they were marginalized by the MSM, their numbers repeatedly minimized. They were portrayed as a bunch of right wing kooks and nuts. Some of the worst vitriol described them as racist. They have been called “sonsofabitches” by union leaders while introducing the “President” and told to go to hell by a California Congressthing. They have been described as nothing more than a front for the Koch brothers, or Dick Armey. Meanwhile, the OWS people are described as people from all walks of life marching and protesting hand-in-hand. I do not remember a single Tea Party protest that blocked the Brooklyn Bridge or tried to occupy any building belonging to the Smithsonian Institute. Come to think of it, I did not see too many Tea Party protesters drinking Starbucks lattes and texting on their iPhones. I remember hearing of unsubstantiated reports of Tea Party protesters hurling racial slurs. Then because some nut yells “let them die” or cheers the death penalty, the entire group is held to contempt. Some even suggested that the Tea Party was responsible for the shooting of a Congresswoman from Arizona.
Regardless of their demands (still not cogently articulated, or indecipherable among the many “uhs” and “ums), the difference in coverage of this group of protesters and the Tea Party protesters is becoming evident. If the Tea Party is a front for the Koch brothers or whatever other bogeymen the Left dreams up, then can we stop the pretense and admit that OWS is a front for SEIU and organized labor? Or even worse, Canadian activists? Isn’t it ironic that the “President” can decry the phantom influence of foreign campaign donations (his tirade against Citizens United) yet “understand the frustration” instigated by an actual foreign (albeit Canadian) activist group? Which is worse- the actual or the theoretical/non-existent?
I am no apologist for Wall Street bankers. Many of the banks got themselves into the financial pickle that created this economic morass in which we now find ourselves. The Tea Party- still without a name- started to define itself with the passage of TARP, a Republican policy and law. It gained more momentum with Obama’s stimulus (a payoff to campaign donors) and reached its boiling point with the passage of Obamacare. But, Obama’s banking reform simply codified the “too big to fail” concept while wrapping the law in a self-righteous shroud of consumer protection and Wall Street affirmative action guidelines. Would things really have been different had there been a greater percentage of Hispanic, black, or women Wall Street CEO’s? Greed knows no racial, ethnic, or sexual bounds. Yet, here we are today with another group of protesters protesting against big banks and corporations. And the reaction this time? Fawning support.
As for that banking industry, I really give a rat’s ass how much a corporate CEO makes PROVIDED they deserve and earn it. But, if they engage in behaviors that run the bank into the ground while threatening an entire industry, then they don’t deserve that pay or golden parachute. Likewise, I don’t care if a teacher makes $100,000 a year, IF they deserve that salary. What I do object to is across-the-board pay increases because a collective bargaining contract dictates it regardless of their performance. That teacher contract is qualitatively no different than a corporate CEO golden parachute.
I do not believe these are “long haired, anti-American hippies” or that they are all Left wing loons as some commentators on the Right have said or suggested. Likewise, I do not believe Tea Party protesters are Right wing, gun-toting, Bible clutching, racist homophobes as some commentators on the Left have said or suggested. I also do not believe that the OWS people are truly representative of the 99% they chant about in their marches, nor is the Tea Party truly representative of Americans as a whole. And just as banks should not be bailed out, neither should every person who happened to make a bad business decision, career choice, or mortgage financing decision. There are remedies in the existing legal arsenal without resorting to the over-reaching arm of a wasteful and bloated Federal government. In the end, is there much of a difference between corporate greed and the extravagant spending of the Federal government? The Tea Party and the OWS people are, without realizing it, philosophically protesting the same thing. Their solutions are what differs. While the OWS people look to the Federal government to step in and double down on the same failed policies of the last 3 years, the Tea Party believes a return to constitutional government and the Federal government sticking to their enumerated powers is the solution. For my money, the goals and ideals of the Tea Party will prevail over those of the OWS people because they are closer to the ideals of the true 99%. And if the OWS people are truly representative of the “99%,” then I challenge them to replicate the gains of the Tea Party in 2010 in the 2012 elections. If this is a true populist uprising and groundswell, then it should translate into electoral gains come 2012. That is the way a government is changed in a constitutional democracy. In the end, we have seen this phenomena before whenever the G-8 has a summit, or the IMF or Wold Bank meets. We saw it in its more violent form in Seattle a few years back. My guess is that with the first wisps of cold air through the canyons that are New York City and the first drops of cold rain, the sleeping bags will be folded and the iPads and iPhones shielded from the elements while the Starbucks lattes are dumped in the gutter as Wall Street becomes unoccupied.