No one can doubt that the United States is in a financial mess. We have ever-increasing spending at all levels of government, accompanied by increasing debt. Unemployment is unacceptably high, with the real unemployment rate — which includes the underemployed and those who have stopped looking for work (the “discouraged”) — much higher than the official unemployment rate.
Add the effects of globalization of the world’s economy. The availability of blue- and white-collar workers at lower rates abroad has encouraged outsourcing. Free-trade agreements encourage the importation of less expensive goods.
This is compounded by an archaic and overly complicated tax code that taxes corporate profits at one of the highest rates in the world, imposes double taxation on corporate profits through corporate taxes, and then taxes dividends. The tax code discourages domestic investment and, in the day of multinational companies, deters the repatriation of overseas funds of U.S. companies.
Most people understand that remedial action needs to be taken. The disagreement is over the nature of the remedial action.
Last year the Tea Party influenced congressional elections with its two-plank platform of reduced government spending and reduced government. But for the past few months, the buzz has been about Occupy Wall Street and its spinoffs.
Both the Tea Party and OWS seem to have tapped into the same wellspring: distrust of government. The latest New York Times/CBS News poll found Americans’ distrust of government at its highest level ever, with 89 percent of Americans saying they distrust government to do the right thing.
Some OWS protestors like to believe they are the Western version of the Arab Spring. In that regard, the goal of Arab Spring protestors was to overthrow entrenched autocratic regimes. Do these people believe the overthrown governments of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya are the equivalent of the constitutionally elected government of the United States?
Parts of OWS remind me of the Yippie movement of the late ’60s, whose followers took over the streets of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic national convention. Other parts remind me of the various “liberation” movements that existed at the same time, supported by contributions from the wealthy “radical chic,” who held fund-raisers and dressed in camo gear and bandoliers with fake bullets.
But what does OWS stand for?
Doug Schoen, a pollster for President Bill Clinton, has done the only rigorous survey of the OWS protestors. He found them “to have a distinct ideology” and to be “bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies.” They are “dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people.” OWS “comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience, and, in some instances, violence.”
Despite the façade that the protestors are looking for jobs, Schoen found “the vast majority of demonstrators are actually employed.”
Supposedly egalitarian, reminiscent of Animal Farm, the OWS protestors dine well. The New York Post had an article about feeding the OWS masses. A former chef at the Midtown Sheraton who worked the OWS “soup kitchen” said, “We’re running a five-star restaurant down there….” That was until the kitchen staff got angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters, causing them to protest for three days by serving only brown rice and other spartan food, instead of the five-star fare.
David Graeber, one of the movement’s early organizers, has been called one of its main intellectual sources. He is cited in the Chronicle of Higher Education as believing the OWS’s governing process is what scholars of anarchy call “direct action,” similar to the decision-making of the Betafo community of Madagascar.
Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, who is running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts as a Democrat against Tea Partier Sen. Scott Brown, came out in strong support of OWS. She also claimed to be OWS’s parent. “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do,” referring to her academic research on consumer debt.
OWS has garnered support from, among others, President Obama, Vice President Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Deborah Wasserman-Schultz, not to mention the Communist Party USA, the American Nazi Party, China, Hugo Chavez, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Michael Moore, various unions, and Frances Fox Piven, coauthor of the 1966 Cloward-Piven paradigm, a proposal to overwhelm the welfare rolls in order to force a “guaranteed annual income” for all.
While no movement can be held responsible for all who attach themselves to its cause, the blurry platform of the OWS makes it a magnet for a range of radical agendas.
Meanwhile, OWS and its offshoots act with impunity and without regard to the law. Laws covering public safety, public health, noise pollution, drug and alcohol use, lewd displays, and assembly and parade permits are not being enforced against OWS by sympathetic public officials, where such laws have been enforced against others.
OWS supporters egotistically claim to represent 99 percent of Americans who are not getting their piece of the pie. How about the 50 percent of individual American taxpayers who pay 100 percent of personal federal income taxes and who will have to foot the bill to finance the OWS wish list?
While a majority of Americans are disgruntled with government, it is doubtful, despite the 99 percent sloganeering, that OWS speaks for even a majority.