Occupy My Brain

Question today in e-mail:

[Today's] Big Idea got me to noticing that you haven’t weighed in on the Occupy phenom — curious, that. Staying out of it?

Not so much staying out of it as recognizing that I have some complicated thoughts about it, and I need to figure out exactly what I’m thinking before I go on about it here. Also, in the middle of thinking about it, I took a couple weeks off to be in another country entirely and didn’t watch or read news at all (yes, it’s possible, and yes, it’s even possible for me), so I’m also catching up on the latest twists and turns.

In short: Thinking about it, not avoiding it. I imagine I will blather about it soon. You know. Between pictures of pets and sunsets.

188 thoughts on “Occupy My Brain

  1. I agree with most of the principles (too much money concentrated in too few hands, a huge and still surprisingly unregulated financial services system, a wacky tax system).

    However…

    I think the stock market is basically a good idea. I know stock investing helped us, and will probably make for a reasonable retirement. But I don’t want to live in a third world country, which the US is fast becoming because the government is not properly funded.

  2. Maybe it’s a generational thing, maybe I just read the wrong blogs/pundits/comments, but most of what I’ve read has been what I’ve started to call “hippie-thumping.” I don’t think I made the term up, but the endless blather about the hairy, unwashed masses makes me tired. I don’t expect protesters to look freshly showered and Zest-fully clean, because living on the street is not like staying at the Hilton, but the commentariat seems oblivious to this fact. I can’t even read Sully anymore, and I *like* the Dish.
    Frankly, even the term “hippies” seems dated and out-of-touch to me. I suspect it’s some kind of Boomer dog-whistle, and I just don’t get it; any protester not wearing an Uncle Sam costume and holding a sign demanding that the gov’t keep it’s hands off of “my Medicare” is apparently a “hippie” and therefore not serious. *What.Ever.*

  3. It took me a few weeks to decide how I felt about it. It’s a pretty unique phenomenon here in the US. First impression makes you feel like they’re just a bunch of disorganized and dirty hippies, even if you support the message, it’s easy to dismiss. But if you take the time to see what is really going on, avoiding the main stream media’s coverage and looking at the independent internet messaging, and attending some of the Occupy events, you will see that it really is raw democracy in action. People are voicing their minds and exercising the power of the people. It is really quite inspirational in a way that makes you think, there is hope for the future. Corporations and the elites may hold a lot of sway over government, but it is possible to counter that.

    @Sean, it is NOTHING like the Tea Party in organization. Some of the anti-establishment sentiments might be shared, and some of the goals will provide a cross pattern of interested people, but it is an entirely organic, leaderless, grassroots movement. The Tea Party has lots of behind the scenes Corporate backing, which is what Occupy is against.

  4. “@Sean, it is NOTHING like the Tea Party in organization. Some of the anti-establishment sentiments might be shared, and some of the goals will provide a cross pattern of interested people, but it is an entirely organic, leaderless, grassroots movement. The Tea Party has lots of behind the scenes Corporate backing, which is what Occupy is against.”

    @Wayne Basta

    I agree that the way the organizations are structured is different. However, I disagree with your contention that the movement isn’t backed or egged on by more traditionally left-leaning organizations and interests like major labor unions or the Hollywood elite. While corporate interests didn’t start the Tea Party movement (it sprang organically from a CNBC commentator’s rant), they may have subtlety supported the movement, much as Big Labor and the Michael Moores of the world (who seek to profit from the movement) are throwing their weight behind OWS. This is why I see them as similar.

  5. My take on the “Occupy Wallstreet” crowd is while I agree with them in principle, if an individual or group has a beef with a corporation or practice, why not protest in front of the corporate headquarters or boycott their product?

  6. @Sean I’ll concede some points there with some left-wing organizations backing them for their own gain. But my main point dealt with the essence of the two movements. The TEA party, by their very name, Taxed Enough Already, existed with a central theme, anti-tax, built right in. Occupy, while having a central theme of anti-corporate power built into the name “Occupy Wall Street” doesn’t have a primary, easy to define goal. TEA party, lower taxes. Simple. Occupy, no simple explanation and solution. While some people say that is a negative, I think that’s their greatest strength. It’s about fighting a mentality of greed, rather than enacting a specific policy. It’s ambiguity speaks directly to the belief that things aren’t simple, and as, the link John linked too explains, not something that fits into a sound bite.

  7. @ John Scalzi: Thanks for that link, and good on Ms. Lithwick- “Maybe the days of explaining the patently obvious to the transparently compromised are finally behind us.” Brava!

  8. @Wayne Basta

    I think that’s a fair characterization. I also think the movements are different in the sense that the Democratic Party might have a harder time co-opting the movement than the Republican Party had in co-opting (for the most part) the Tea Party. Of course, I have no data to support this claim, it is just based on the amorphous organization and aims of the movement that I think you accurately described.

  9. So far I’ve yet to see a clear message out of the Occupy movement. They need a concise list of grievances and a clear plan for addressing them within the current system. Right now it just looks like “Rar, anger” – which, justified as it may be, is easy for the Powers That Be to ignore.

  10. @Fletcher See my earlier comment, but essentially the core of Occupy is a sentiment of “Rar anger”, as you describe it, that is directed at the philosophy of those in power to cater to the interests of corporations, while the majority of American’s suffer. There is no single list of demands and simple way to fix that, which is exactly why one does not exist coming from the movement. The main point, so to speak, is that this sentiment NEEDS to be addressed, and the people are finally speaking up.

    Check out the General Assemblies that are being organized at many of the events. One of the really cool things is that the Occupy movement is using democracy to try and find ideas for solutions. Everyone has a voice and it’s a process. Not a simple politicians sound bite solution that sounds good, but doesn’t really do what it’s supposed to do.

  11. Addendum to the above – having read Scalzi’s link, what I just said is superficially similar to what the mainstream media is allegedly saying – “We want this phenomenon reduced to an easily parrotable soundbite”. I hasten to assure you all that that’s not what I meant. What I mean is that anger by itself does not effect change; discontent on the streets does not filter well into the corridors of power in Washington.

    Which Senator is going to propose an Occupy movement-themed bill, given that the current aims of the Occupy movement are so broad and unspecific (not to mention hostile to their interests, but that’s another story)? If there were something concrete – increase taxation by X% on people earning over Y per year, say, or increase funding to the financial regulators by Z% – the system could do something with that. As it is, not so much.

    Of course, it may be impossible to effect these changes within the current system. The alternative is revolution … but I don’t think you’ll find widespread grassroots support for *that*.

  12. @Wayne – I certainly agree that the amount of political fervour displayed by the Occupy movement is heartening to see, particularly when contrasted with the amount of political apathy shown by voters in the US elections! That’s a real sign, I think, that the current political system isn’t giving the citizenry as much of a voice as they’d like.

  13. @Fletcher
    I still don’t get the “OWS lacks a clear message” argument. If you look online or in person, the message seems pretty clear to me. Income disparity is a big problem, our financial system is rigged against the vast majority of America, and these things should be fixed. I’ll grant you that the protesters aren’t making legislative proposals, but I’m pretty sure that not their job to begin with. Point out the problem and demanding change in the direction of fairness should be enough for Washington and the media to understand.

  14. I subscribe to a fistful of news and politics blogs, and already read more than I really care to about OWS. More sunsets, cats, and Sci-Fi!

  15. They have a good idea, but around here it seems all they do is camp out in what is supposed to be a public park. In a month, they have protested twice, one of which was in front of a bank that was closed for the night.

  16. Frankly, John, the people who *don’t* have complicated thoughts about the Occupy movement haven’t actually thought about it. To their credit, most of the Occupiers I’ve had contact with seem to have the most complicated thoughts of all.

    Wayne’s right — when you look past the mainstream media coverage, there’s a lot going on there. The extent to which mainstream media mostly doesn’t get it goes even beyond their usual failures-to-get-it.

    One of the things that make me laugh is the people who oh-so-insightfully talk about how much more of an impact the Occupiers could have if they had clearly-defined goals. If I had a dollar for every earnest, well-meaning progressive organization with glossy handouts and snappy PowerPoint presentations of clearly-defined goals that have sunk without a trace in the last thirty years, I could buy a full-on supply of winter camping equipment for Occupy Wall Street. But in just a few weeks, the Occupiers have managed to influence public discourse to the extent that Eric Cantor (!) has mentioned the issue of income inequality. Considering what the Occupiers are up against, that’s already a big friggin’ win in their column.

  17. bumper: “if an individual or group has a beef with a corporation or practice, why not protest in front of the corporate headquarters or boycott their product?”

    because the problem isnt that ABC auto corporation made exploding automobiles, or tharlt XYZ pharmaceutical company made lethal medicatiins.

    The problem is far bigger than any single corporation or any single product to boycott. The problem basically stems from the fact that getting elected in this country is essentially a corporate process, and noon seeking reelection is ever free of the siren call that is millions of dollars in corporate donations. All of which has been nuilding for years but was made disgustingly manifest by the “citizens united” decision.

    you dont protest walmart for that. you dont boycott exxonn for that.

    the problem is the political system allows gross influence by corporate money and money is power and that means he who has the most money gets listened to by the politicians.

    the ceo of a billion dollar company should have no more influence than some unemployed factory worker. politically speaking at least. everyone should get one vote. but million dollar contributions means that politicians listen to certain people a lot more than they listen to others. political donatiins should either be limited to some small amount per person or eliminated completely and replaced with public funding that is based on the number of individuals who support a candidate.

    the onlyway to fix that is to fix the political system as a whole. whi h means you have to draw attemtion to the source of the problem. not ABC Corp or the widget you want to boycott, but corporate influence in politics as a whole.

  18. Entirely too much thinking going on. Mr. Scalzi you should take a lesson from our politicians and say somethong random, then if it upsets people you apologize. Inse and repeat.

    On a more serious note, this is actually one of the most interesting discussions I have read on the topic. Typical genteanly Whateveretes doing what they do best. Sharing ideas. I like it.

  19. I think the OWS message is pretty damn clear. A whole lot of middle-class and lower-middle class people followed the “rules” of what you are supposed to do, getting an education, trying to get jobs, etc. only to see their futures darken due to things entirely out of control. Meanwhile, the financial industry has been raking in unprecedented profits even after having massively hosed the economy as a whole. The people suffering from the financial crisis are NOT the people who caused the financial crisis, and they are understandably a bit pissed off about it.

    It seems as if a lot of the punditocracy feels that unless the OWS protesters can define what they want in a way that doesn’t threaten the institutions that screwed over the OWS protesters, they aren’t worthy of notice.

  20. @Bearpaw Hear hear. I really like that part about people not having complicated thoughts, not having thought about it. It really sums things up nicely without resorting to an insulting “you just don’t get it”

    @Greg Well said.

  21. “What I mean is that anger by itself does not effect change”

    Anger, by itself, has quite frequently effected change.

  22. David, one of the interesting things I noticed from my direct exposure to Occupiers is that while this comes out of anger, it mostly does *come out* of it. That’s not where most of them spend most of their time and emotional energy. The general spirit seems to be a calm, determined, thoughtful intensity mixed with a creative flexibility that I can only describe as playful.

    I participated in the Oct 15th events that led to the temporary occupation of Times Square, and I’ve visited Occupy Boston. I’ve participated in my share of rallies, marches, etc, over the years, but I have to say that this whole thing feels different in ways I find difficult to describe.

  23. My two cents and an addendum.

    1. The Tea Party inspired the Occupy Wall Street folks, but it’s not a right/left mirror image thing. Fed up young liberals don’t mirror fed up older right wing folks. That both are fed up and vocal about it is the totality of the symmetry, imho.

    2. There is danger in populist movements, and opportunity. I see dangers behind both Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. The Tea Partiers have had a significant populist effect on the nominations for the next Republican presidential candidate. OWS pointing out things wrong with society at large and the capital management system writ small is great, but there seems to be no more economic wisdom there on alternate paths than found in any other random grouping of protesters over the last 30 years. Tea Partiers, as well; they assert they know what’s best for them, the economy, and the government, but their actual policy wants are barking insane (them and OWS both).

    Populism as a “there’s really something wrong here” indicator is useful. As an actual directional assist out of crisies, I think not so much.

    a. I used to live in Oakland and am still not that far from it. Watching the riot that erupted on TV, both my wife and I were going “Wow, the police totally caused that to escalate”. It’s not like we don’t get riots in the Bay Area; I went to school in Berkeley. We had a number of them while I was there. I think that less tear gas and projectiles were used in all of them combined than were used a few days ago here, and in those cases there were fires being set and looting and people being assaulted.

    I appreciate law and order, but law and order doesn’t mean beating up protesters. Symmetry here would suggest charges of incitement to riot against the police chief and mayor…

  24. Doc, I think to whatever extent OWS “wants” anything at this point, it wants people to think and talk about what’s wrong and what can be done.

  25. One thing I noticed: You don’t see OWS protesters brandishing guns. Unlike with the Teabaggers, imagine how authorities would freak if a couple OWS people carried an assault rifle.

  26. Hmm. When the LaRouche crowd busted out a couple of Hitler signs to try and hijack the Tea Party events the media attempted to equate the entire movement with those very few signs even though the Tea Partiers ran them off within minutes. The Occupy Wall Street crowd has numerous jew-hating rants, and it’s ignored by the media. They crap on police cars, rape each other, trash the environment, peddle heroin with children in the same tent and the media tries to equate them with the Tea Party.

    Good luck with that.

    I took my mother to a Tea Party event for crying out loud. Can you imagine taking your mom to Occupy Oakland? And yes I can link to all of the ugly stuff if you insist, but I suspect 99% of you have seen it already, and it really is ugly.

  27. I saw a few interesting articles of coverage recently. It described the impressions of Tea Partiers and OWSers who met and talked.
    One thing that struck the participants on both sides was that each side seemed to have a reasonable request, and a well framed point of view.
    In some cases, the a Tea Partier who went to OWS was almost convinced to join them. In others, the 2 people left each other not convinced, but each with a greater respect for the others position.

    I’m curious to see if commentator rhetoric will come around to an actual investigation of the OWS themes and goals without dismissing, as well as whether the Dems will manage to co-opt the movement.
    And mostly, if what they are doing will hit critical mass and cause change, or fade away in the near future.

    And Occupy My Brain will be the name of next bar.

  28. George William Herbert, re: the incidents in Oakland:

    With the caveats that I wasn’t there and coverage — mainstream and otherwise — was fractured, yeah, it looks like the police really cranked things up. That’s not to say there weren’t a few troublemakers among the Occupiers. I’d be surprised if there weren’t. (I’d also be surprised if none of those troublemakers were plants.) But it was a blatant show of force by the authorities. “Failure to comply” is always considered a serious offense in an authoritarian society.

    I think most police forces still haven’t come to terms with the current ubiquity of digital recording devices and easy methods of making the images widely available. So far, the only reactions seem to be to prosecute citizens for recording the *public and official* actions of police, which is just all kinds of screwed up. Meanwhile, as intimidating as police can be, especially in full riot gear — that’s the intent, and trust me, it can be effective — it keeps backfiring. The pepper spray abuse in NYC and now the images from Oakland, especially of ex-Marine Scott Olsen, generate sympathy and increase the determination of the Occupiers. There’s still a strong assumption among many people in this country that police never hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it, one way or the other. But that’s not as much of a given as it used to be.

    I note that Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has made a conciliatory statement today, and seems to be distancing herself at least somewhat from the actions of the OPD …

  29. I’ve been attending (and bringing food and medical supplies) to the protesters here in NYC since September 21st. I am completely in love with them, so pardon my pride, but watching them go from being ignored and dismissed to serious movers of the conversation… it just warms my heart no end. They have even inspired me to write patriotic poetry. It’s a little terrifying.

    Cheers!

  30. Billy Quiets:

    Yes, yes, those things have been “ignored by the media” … except for the part of the media that focuses entirely on those things, whether they’re true or not. Which, oddly, coincides almost perfectly with the part of the media that acted as the public relations arm of the Tea Party. The same part that can’t seem to decide whether to portray the Occupiers as violent anarchists, dirty druggy lazy hippies, potential Islamist terrorists, paid minions of George Soros, or the cursed rebirth of an organization vilified for the crime of community organizing in the “wrong” communities … anything but *Americans*.

  31. Bearpaw:
    The media was the public relation arms of the Tea Party? Really?

    They were vilified by the press. Dude, people try and rewrite history all the time, but they usually wait a couple of years at least. Trying to say the media was supporting the Tea Party is intellectually dishonest.

  32. Doc Rocketscience: I suspect that they want they want a society where someone who works in school and wants a job can have a solid middle-class life. I don’t think that proposing a detailed economic plan should be a prerequisite to a job that enables a solid middle-class life.

    Instead, I think the business and government should worry more about everyone and less about profits that benefit very few.

  33. Billy Quiets: I think that depends on which “press” you’re watching/reading. If you’re only watching MSNBC, for example, you might think the TP is being vilified. If you only watch FOXnews, well then, not so much.

  34. Billy, Fox “News” doesn’t wait a couple of years, they rewrite history on the fly. Hell, sometimes they rewrite history in advance. They’re the poster children for “intellectually dishonest”.

  35. Bearpaw,
    Hate on Fox all you want. Doesn’t change the facts. You know, and I know, the vast majority of coverage on the Tea Party was negative. The Occupy crowd is getting a pass on almost everything. The jew-hating, the Communist Party endorsement, the American Nazi Party endorsement, the rampant drug use and crime.

    The Tea Party got permits to stage an event in every venue, the Occupy crowd has not. The Tea Party cleaned up their own mess, the Occupy crowd won’t even let other people clean up theirs.

  36. I think one of the reasons that OWS hasn’t made a point to make demands is because most of them would watch this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RGRXCgMdz9A

    and would identify with a personal sense of betrayal that it demonstrates. I think many OWS people voted for Obama because he promised “change” and “hope”, but candidate Obama has turned into President Goldilocks where preemptive compromise to the point of being Bush 2.0 seems to be his approach to running the white house.

    Obama has received more donations from wall street than Bush did and Obama is now pressuring the state attorney generals to accept a dirty deal with wall street

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/obama-goes-all-out-for-dirty-banker-deal-20110824

    The system is broken. It subsumes politicians and turns them into corporate zombies.

    People who are saying that OWS haven’t made clear demands are only listening for demands that fit inside the system as they know it, they are only listening for demands that fit inside the status quo. OWS isn’t interested in endorsing some political candidate as its end-all-be-all goal, because they put Obama in the White House and the system turned him.

    So their demands have been outside the system. They protest the system itself. There seems to be a push to get wall street prosecuted rather than accept Obama’s dirty deal, which would be one demand that works within the system. But they seem to be approaching this with an awareness that the system itself is the problem. That the system itself must be protested. There is talk of driving for a constitutional ammendment that would revoke personhood from corporations, overturning Citizen’s United, because they get that Citizen’s United is the lynch pin in the broken system.

    The main push of OWS seems to be prosecute Wall Street and alter the system on a fundamental level such that Wall Street can no longer purchase the government.

    And the media and politicians can’t hear those demands because the media and politicians have all become defenders of the status quo, defenders of the system. So, they keep pretending that OWS has no demands. They have demands, it’s just that those demands insist that the status quo system come to an end.

    Government by the people, of the people, for the people has become an alien concept in America.

  37. The press here in liberal Silicon Valley most certainly did not vilify the Tea Party. Or maybe I should say is not vilifying, since the Tea Part certainly continues to exist. I can’t speak for the press elsewhere.

  38. The Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street mob could not be more different. Read the commentary of one of the major organizers of the Occupy movement. This is an excerpt from David Graeber, one of the principal organizers of the Occupy movement. The full article from this anarchist is here:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/10/david-graeber-on-playing-by-the-rules-%E2%80%93-the-strange-success-of-occupy-wall-street.html

    “In a way, the demographic base of OWS is about as far as one can get from that of the Tea Party—with which it is so often, and so confusingly, compared. The popular base of the Tea Party was always middle aged suburban white Republicans, most of middling economic means, anti-intellectual, terrified of social change—above all, for fear that what they saw as their one remaining buffer of privilege (basically, their whiteness) might finally be stripped away. OWS, by contrast, is at core forwards-looking youth movement, just a group of forward-looking people who have been stopped dead in their tracks; of mixed class backgrounds but with a significant element of working class origins; their one strongest common feature being a remarkably high level of education.”

  39. This is an issue for me. When the cops are so uncaring as to toss a flash bang into a small group of people trying to come to the aid of the young man seriously injured by a projectile fired by the police.

  40. Thanks, Greg, for the YouTube link. Anybody who thinks that they don’t have skin in this game is…not very informed.

    Way back when, I was one of the idiots who believed Nixon. Never again.

  41. @WaltGuy ( http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/10/27/occupy-my-brain/#comment-280482 )
    Didn’t there used to be post numbers btw?

    There is no point in sitting on the steps of congress, it makes as much sense as a Brit picketing the Queen for political change. They are both just figureheads that rubber stamp decisions made elsewhere. Politicians are in the pocket of big business in a way not seen since the rotten boroughs at the start parliamentary democracy. So the Occupy protesters are tackling the real power-brokers and decision makers.

  42. Re embedded video above — if you a) have not yet watched it and b) intend to do so:

    If you shift-click the caption at top left of embedded frame (or right-click it and select Open link in &ellip; ), the video clip should load directly from YouTube without further demand on this blog’s host/server.

    Hope this helps keep Our Gracious Host’s month^Wweek^daily bandwidth bill within reason.

  43. The embedded video doesn’t count against my bandwidth, actually; it’s not on my blog’s server, and in any event I’m hosted by WordPress’ VIP service, which means I basically have unlimited bandwidth.

    But thanks for being concerned. I do appreciate it.

  44. You know, and I know, the vast majority of coverage on the Tea Party was negative.

    Ah, the “you know” argument. Used when the arguer doesn’t actually have any evidence.

  45. @Billy, You seem to be against OWS and a supporter of the Tea Party, yet that last quote highlights why they are different and OWS is better. Not sure what point you were trying to make.

    Individual Tea Party members, many of them, probably have a lot incommon with OWS. And there are certainly bad apples within OWS that don’t speak for the movement as a whole, just like there are bad apples in the tea party. But overall, the diversity of OWS, both in ideas and backgrounds, speak to grassroots nature and organic nature of it, versus the very narrow range of ideas and backgrounds for the tea party.

    There are indeed some calling for a fundamental shift in the system. I personally see three possible outcomes for OWS. 1) Fades away as the weather turns colder and becomes a blip in history. 2) Has a Tea Party like effect on the next election, where a solid minority in Congress come in with “OWS ideals” 3) REVOLUTION!!!

    Now, that last one can take any form from subtle shift in the consciousness of America to now think about people more than profits, all the way to violent uprising that splits the country in two. I’m optimistic that things can change for the better without ever going that far. I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see a Constitutional Convention emerge from OWS. It’s a legitimate means of ratifying the Constitution, but has never been used. The General Assemblies of OWS are a good example of grassroots democracy in action that could lead to the first use of this clause.

  46. Wayne Basta,
    Yes, I am a Tea Party supporter, and yes I’m “against” the OWS protest. Of course I’m “against” infantile and spoiled ingrates trying to impose their world view on America by sitting around forming committees and whining that their Multiculturalism Studies degree won’t get them a job.

    The OWS gang’s list of demands include:

    Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the books.

    Wow! You’re right. That sounds reasonable. Unicorns and Moonbeam candy for everyone.

    And if they don’t get free everything for life, Option 3 from your list: REVOLUTION!!!

    Let me know how it works out in Utopia, I’ve got to go to work.

  47. David @9:19: Hang on, hang on. I asked Billy where he witnessed all this awful stuff OWS is about — since he hasn’t seen any negative coverage of Occupy in the media, he must have it first hand — and I’m sure once he finds his journal he’ll answer me. Then he can get around to showing where any of the major TV, radio or newspaper channels were ever anything but neutral about the Tea Party.

  48. Of course I’m “against” infantile and spoiled ingrates trying to impose their world view on America by sitting around forming committees

    Wait, and you said you’re a Tea Party supporter?

  49. @Billy Wow, that’s a little bitter. I genuinely was confused by your previous quote. I did not see how it supported the point you were trying to make, as I saw it as demonstrating the opposite.

    The list of demands isn’t meant to be taken as a set of serious demands. It’s a collection of ideas generated by a diverse group of people, being presented to the media to show that there isn’t one thing that will just make everything better. The media wants things wrapped up in a concise bullet point and politicians believe ideas boiled down to a sound bite will fix things. But real life isn’t that simple. You can’t point to that one demand and say, this is stupid, therefore the OWS movement is stupid. No one demand encompasses the entire movement, which is exactly the point of the movement.

  50. I think the cop that takes a bribe worse than the crook that offers one.
    Congress is the entity needing sanction.

  51. IMO the crux of Occupy’s complaint is that there’s too much money in politics, which distorts the political process in favor of the rich and large corporations, which then allows said constituencies to further distort things in their favor; it’s a terrible feedback loop. This leads to the rest of us (the 99% in their parlance) to become increasingly powerless and poor.

    The most important difference between them and the teabaggers is that Occupy is genuinely a spontaneous and leaderless movement, rather than one that was ginned up by Professional Conservatives because their team lost an election, badly.

  52. I am deeply amused that there are 61 (now 62) comments on a post about John not being ready to comment on the issue being discussed. Go team!

    On topic, though, I’ve been visiting the Occupy Seattle camp a couple of times a week, and it seems very peaceful and orderly. Also, in typical Seattle style, it’s sort of public teach-in and study session with speakers on topics from GMOs to human trafficking to economic philosophy, but it’s all very orderly and respectful, and the businesses on the plaza are supportive (e.g. loaning chairs, providing beverages and snacks, making accommodations for employees to participate.) The police have also been excellent, reminding me of how they acted during the first Iraq War protests, versus the police overreaction during WTO.

    The Tea Party didn’t get much traction up here, I’m afraid, so I can’t really compare. The two TP marches that I witnessed had about 3 people carrying Obama-Hitler signs as they wandered through the Market. I suspect they were LaRouchers looking for a party.

  53. Constance: This is actually an off day. Typically, all Scalzi would have to do is post the word “Politics,” and he’d get 100 comments in a few hours. Must be some kind of pre-holiday slump.

  54. @Argon @ 9:52

    The other difference is that the Tea Party rallies were at an open area venue where they had permission to gather. OWS, by definition, is occupying an area where businesses are, and where business is being impeded by the OWS crowd

  55. “I’ve got mine; so those young whippersnappers or “infantile and spoiled ingrates trying to impose their world view on America by sitting around forming committees and whining that their Multiculturalism Studies degree won’t get them a job”

    I’ve (personally) heard variations of that condescending ~speech~ as far back as the days of Civil Rights & anti-VietNamWar days. It’s that “get in line, shut up & listen to the people in charge because they know what they’re doing” and *I’m* just an “ingrate” because I might question them.??

    Didn’t set well with me then nor does it now. Way to disenfranchise an entire group of (diverse) people.

  56. I do think that the response of people sympathetic to the Tea Party to OWS is interesting. My own relatives insisted that the Tea Party was non-partisan, and welcomed reform no matter which direction it came from, unless it was Obama, Democrats, or now those insert-your-favorite-epithet OWS hippies.

    Personally, I ignore anyone who characterizes anyone as infantile, spoiled, or an ingrate. A clear case of projection, in my opinion, and the sort of language that reflects upon the person speaking, not the target of his/her denigration.

  57. Isn’t it possible that the people are just saying “We know there’s a broblem. We know who is the cause. We just don’t know what to do about it”. They’re all jusr people, Mr. and Mrs 9-to-5. The experts on economy and politics are the ones who have the knowledge to change things and they ar on the other side of the social baricade.

    The way I see the OWS movement is simply people looking for answers that could leed to change.

    G!

  58. It’s a complex thing, this OWS stuff. On the one hand, I think it’s a representation about why our country is great. Even with the fiasco of violence that appeared to happen in Oakland (of which I only have scant knowledge), we have a spontaneous protest movement that has sprung up in dozens of cities…with very little problems. This is the very essence of the proud traditions of American Democracy and civil disobedience. No one fears for the country’s stability or expects a brutal,violent crackdown (the missteps in Oakland still haven’t prevented further protest and it hasn’t escalated).

    On the other hand, the whole thing seems…mildly wasteful and unproductive. The mayor of Atlanta commented somewhat convincingly in one quote I heard about the fact that the protesters weren’t directly challenging the federal government or the state, but the city they were in (in this case, Atlanta)….and since none of their grievances were with the city, there was nothing he could do (other than enforce the local ordinances). A large part of the OWS movement seems to be protesting corporate greed: wouldn’t forming PACs or pushing specific legislation or something else be more worth their time, politically? Being upset at the entire process doesn’t seem to present anyone with any sort of actionable goal. If the Tea Party movement seemed somewhat unfocused due to individual deviations from the norm, the OWS movement is all over the map. As the mayor of Atlanta also mentioned on his NPR interview, this wasn’t like the Selma marches…they had a specific agenda: civil rights and equality. They had specific goals, specific laws they wanted repealed and specific people they wanted removed from office. They enacted plans to financially impact those institutions that simultaneously denied them access and profited from them. The Tea Party movement, fractured as it has become, still managed to offer up its own political candidates to forward their agenda. The OWS movement has none of that.

    I like that we have a modern movement that seems dedicated to registering the anger of the populace over the current economic situation. But unless they’re more to the movement than that, it seems a hollow exercise that will eventually die down in the same way the Tea Party has.

  59. What do we want?
    Public deliberation concerning the ends to which we structure society, and open dialogue; phronesis in order to secure the search of virtue from incommensurability; to sustain an awareness of how we initially establish the ends or end in order that more may flourish; a political condition that creates an environment in which others may realize the potential of their own lives.

    When do we want it?
    Sometime in the next decade or so would be nice, but no hurry…

  60. @WizardDru

    “A large part of the OWS movement seems to be protesting corporate greed: wouldn’t forming PACs or pushing specific legislation or something else be more worth their time, politically?”

    Probably not, at least not right now. They’re accomplishing a lot more by pointing out to people that they are getting screwed by business and government collusion than if they were trying to take a direct approach. If they can change enough minds, they might succeed in changing the system (not to the extent they probably want, mind you) whereas the obstacles they have to overcome are far too monolithic to affect directly at this point.

    If they can keep a head of steam going and evolve into something like what the Tea Party has, then would be the time for PACS and more direct action.

  61. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”-Ghandi

    In the four stages of protest by the genius above we are still in the first and second stages (Oakland was a blip). Being specific about goals right now would do nothing but alienate some of the OWS protesters because they are there for a myriad of reasons. Right now numbers and perseverance are more important if power and ability to enact change are to be had at some future date.

    The logistics for everyone to travel to Washington DC and protest seems silly and wasteful when everyone can communicate and organize digitally and still be near their families & homes and take advantage of local support and resources.

    As for the purpose, the way the General Assemblies are organize leave them able to be very flexible on a moments notice. If they are still going strong when the next election cycle comes through they could very easily be the deciding factor in any close election. How? Very simple, any candidate who needs their support could ask to speak to a General Assembly, if he could get their support he would instantly have several hundred to a thousand people who could mass blast his message nationwide, and could (because they have nothing else to do) disperse into that candidates area of representation and go door to door to spread his/her message. How many political candidates can garner that much power on little to no notice for free? One of the things that the Tea Party used, and the Dems & GOP still hasn’t completely grasped is how truly effective our social media can be used to spread and consolidate a message. I think that very soon either the OWS or some other group is going to teach them that lesson. Let’s hope that revolution is not how the lesson is taught.

    I would dearly love to see a constitutional convention be called for the simple reason that it would shut up forever those idiots who spout out about issues starting with “The founders…”

    Those of you on the fence about OWS should look/read about them some more and decide if they’re good or bad. If you decide they are good, then please either support them or join them. If you decide they are bad, I suggest you join them, do a mic check, voice your objections and listen to the response.

  62. I get how you’re feeling John. While I support the Occupy movement, I am also sort of cautiously curious about what it all means, big picture wise that is. It isn’t that I don’t understand what the protesters want. I agree with a lot of what they are pissed about. It truly is stunning that the mainstream is still struggling to comprehend why these protests are happening.

    My take on it is, and maybe this will sound odd, but while I can get behind what the protests are pushing for, I kinda feel like I’m watching this from the nosebleed section of the stadium.

    I would like to participate in this movement, as in actually go down and be in the protests (closest would be Chicago for me). Thing is this is a busier time of year for both of the jobs I work. Now, here is the rub. I don’t make jack squat working these two jobs, but then again, it’s a job right? I would have to quit, call in sick, or blow off work to even marginally participate in these protests… at least in the sense of physically going there and holding a sign while yelling. Although, a big reason I would want to go down there to join in would be to talk with other people at these things. I kinda feel like reading about it and maybe commenting on it on the internetz is not going to cut it. What I’m trying to say is, I feel kinda guilty not being there, but I also feel kinda silly and maybe a bit stupid if I were to quit my job so that I can go protest about… Not. Having. A. Job. In addition to all the other things this whole movement is about.

    So there is that… and then there is this feeling I get about all this, or perhaps it is a question about where this is all going. I mean, does this eventually become a catalyst for true change through non-violent activism? Or does the government, Wall Street, those on the right who claim to not understand all this and continue to ridicule the whole thing, do they just wait it out?

    I mean, what if Occupy [insert city here] goes on for a whole year? Or two? Does it loose potency eventually to the point where it just becomes routine? Does it eventually just become another oddity of capitalist society? And what happens if things start to boil over towards becoming more violent? Part of me thinks that a lot of the law enforcement community, the military, and some of our wonderful politicians are just waiting for one of these to protests to get out of hand.

    Then there is the possibility that some people in these protests could start to push for more violent or disruptive actions as time wears on and nothing gets done legislatively.

    I hope things remain peaceful and civil, and that true change in terms of financial equality is reached. The thing is, the stuff these protests are asking for are pretty revolutionary requests for change to a system of rampantly abusive and often unjust capitalistic excess. I don’t think this is going to come easy, and not through marching in the streets. The current protests are certainly a huge kickstart, but where do we go from here? Especially with a movement that prides itself on having no official spokesperson or leader.

  63. Well, I’m finally back from occupying my job site. Today I picked up miscellaneous trash, installed a bunch of weather stripping, swept out a couple of rental houses, spread a crapload of decomposed granite (xeriscaping), placed around a hundred limestone blocks, and started to install a handrail for a staircase.

    When I got done I had a few beers with an old friend and then went home to play with my seven-year old son and watch the World Series, which isn’t looking to good for the Rangers.

    I am the 1%.

  64. I need to figure out exactly what I’m thinking before I go on about it here.

    What kind of a blogger ARE you?!??! Sir, you dishonor your hallowed craft with this “thoughtfulness” of yours, at this rate you’ll never be invited on Fox News or MSNBC.

  65. Billy, unless you receive an income of seven figures per year, when you are “occupying my job site … etc.” … you really aren’t the 1%.

  66. Do I support everything all the Occupiers are advocating for or against? Well, no, and I couldn’t because the Occupiers have diverse goals that aren’t all compatible. Do I support breaking the political stranglehold of the status-quo? Yup. I was dumbfounded when the government handed over more than the GDP of most countries to the firms that helped sink the economy. I mean, I knew politicians were crooked thieves, but I never believed they be so blatant about it. It’s good to see some of the Left getting around being outraged at the staggering and overt corporate welfare…better late than never. Maybe we’ll break the two-party-one-policy system in my lifetime yet. Now if only the OCW movement could get organized enough not to leave the pot-head Chia Pets as the first line of spokespeople with the media. Mind you, I have nothing personally against lackadaisical grooming or Swiss-cheesed short-term memory, but good public relations can make the difference between ridicule and groundswell.

    Anyway, since I can’t emigrate to Vulcan, here is my ¢18 I punched out a couple weeks ago in reply to a friend of mine who was kind enough to hunt down places for me and others to donate to OCW.

    So, here’s a few highlights of what I believe might make a dent in the state corporatism and start hopefully pushing us toward real free markets, sustainable economic growth and away from the New Feudalism.

    1) Regulations not written by the industry ‘leaders’ which they then ignore with impunity behind platoons of lawyers while small fry either sell to them or drown.

    2) Common resources such as mineral and land wealth not given to well-connected conglomerates as campaign favors, but actually developed by transparent bidding processes anyone can audit.

    3) Credit default swap ponzi schemes treated like exactly what they are, fraud…massive, willful fraud…too which investors and bank customers are subjected without their consent.

    4) $0.00 further dollars given to bail out any corporation. If the Executive is feeling so damn generous about kick-starting the economy with our tax dollars, they can give that money to tax credits for all of us, not just the jet set.

    5) A flat tax above the basic cost of living – not the laughable ‘poverty’ level.

    6) No tax, or a graduated negative income tax, below the basic cost of living.

    7) ALL tax loopholes summarily eliminated. Not most, all so the wealthiest Americans pay the same bleeding percentage of earnings as the rest of us.

    8) Corporate income tax transferred to a corporate consumption tax. We’ll see how Exxon stacks up against Mom’s Apple Pie Shop when it has to pay to use national resources.

    9) The payroll and other corporate taxes transferred to a national sales tax, so corporations can’t dodge them, and they are externalized for all to see and appreciate.

    10) The legal fiction of corporate personhood eliminated. If a board of directors wants to contribute to a political campaign, they can pay themselves the money and use the after tax dollars to do it in their own personal names. If corporate income tax is transferred to a corporate consumption tax as outlined in #8, this makes political stumping all the more costly and means corporate executives can’t use their for-profit incorporation as a liability-proof sock puppet.

    11) Obtaining non-profit status should entail opening all accounting books to full public scrutiny.

    12) Unions that compete with each other for worker membership, so they actually ‘Work for You!’ instead of working for political favors at member expense.

    13) The invisible hand needs to be allowed to clean house on Wall Street, Detroit and elsewhere. Investing treasury funds in failure to save a few thousand jobs short term is not going to create long-term job growth or turn America back into a producer of goods or services the world wants to buy.

    14) Existing regulations actually being…gasp…enforced on large corporations and their industry trusts, not just more laws the sharks are never slapped with.

    15) A concerted effort by the geekosphere to develop wireless mesh networks as viable alternatives to the centrally core routed architecture subsidized by government and built by regional telco monopolies. The internet is beautiful, and it had to be built using existing utility rights of way which I recognize is a valid commons. But it’s vulnerable as all get out to corporate abuse and government censorship and now that it has become the nervous system of global economics and free expression, that vulnerability is a towering liability.

    16) The Left to stop looking the other way when Democrats perpetuate and expand Griftopian programs such as TARP, or get us embroiled in yet another foreign war, or defend massive Executive expansion a la Dubya’s consolidation of half the alphabet soup under the DHS umbrella.

    17) Some economic regulation of politicians, not just business owners.

    18) Most of all, I want American citizens to get off their duffs and stop treating elections like American Idol, or Dancing with the Stars, or whatever Fahrenheit 451ism is on TV.

  67. Billy: Well, I’m finally back from occupying my job site. Today I picked up miscellaneous trash, installed a bunch of weather stripping, swept out a couple of rental houses, spread a crapload of decomposed granite (xeriscaping), placed around a hundred limestone blocks, and started to install a handrail for a staircase.

    I am the 1%.

    Why don’t you just come out and say the OWS movement is really a bunch of lazy, don’t-work-because-they-dont-want-to, bunch of bums, and all the problems they are trying to highlight are really just figments of their socialist marxist fascist imaginations?

    Oh, right. Because people would probably call you on that.

    yeah, the “I was just making a joke” approach is probably safer.

  68. I think the single most important thing OWS/99% is starting to accomplish is raising awareness of the last thirty years of income distribution. The wealth gap might as easily be called ‘the political power gap’, and that’s a big problem in a democracy where the interests of the politically powerful minority are gradually diverging from the interests of the weak majority.

    If we can figure out how to start fixing that, maybe then we can rationally tackle the post-industrial problems we’re facing: as automation and IT improve, we’re approaching a future of fewer jobs and lower wages. If you let your imagination skip a century into the future, you can picture a world where nearly every job is done by a robot or computer–they’ll be even cheaper than third-world labor.

    The question is, who will own all that production capital, and the resulting wealth? Will the future be Star Trek, or Star Wars? Wealth for all, or only a few? Thing is, we’re already at least 30 years down that path, and we still aren’t thinking seriously about it. Instead, generations ago, we oversimplified the problem into Capitalism vs. Communism, and that’s still how we think about it.

    We need better ideas… and they probably won’t be reducible to bullet-points.

  69. Greg,
    I wasn’t making a joke. I was emphasizing the point that a lot of people like me work for the money we have. No one “distributed” it to me. I worked for it.

    As for your point:
    “Why don’t you just come out and say the OWS movement is really a bunch of lazy, don’t-work-because-they-dont-want-to, bunch of bums”

    I can agree with that for the most part. Not all of them “don’t-work-because-they don’t want to”. I’m sure a lot of them can’t find work because the economy is in the toilet and the man they elected to fix it has no idea how to do it. Also, they have degrees or Master’s degrees in topics that are ill-suited to the real world and the universities are cutting back on employment just like everyone else.

    As for the posts asking how many of the Occupy protests I have attended, that just amuses me. How many of the people asking that ever attended a Tea Party?

    You guys vilified the Tea Party and now you want people to think this movement is just like it. Sorry. Every Tea Party person I know thinks most of the Occupy crowd are whiny, undisciplined and spoiled.

    I’m not attacking you, or the Occupy crowd. You asked, and I’m telling you what I actually believe. The problem with the internet, and society in general, is that we just talk past each other. So please don’t just try and tear me down.

    I do believe that the Occupy movement has made some legitimate points. Some of them were raised by the Tea Party as well. But the tone of the protests, and the behavior of the participants could not be more dissimilar.

    You can work to become the 1% you know. Thats the way most people get there. “Redistributing” the wealth by taking it from someone who earns it and giving it to someone who doesn’t will not work.

  70. You can work to become the 1% you know. Thats the way most people get there.

    Anyone who has been genuinely baffled as to why anyone not-in-the-1% would fiercely oppose OWS protests should slap eyes on this quote, because it so clearly illustrates the problem: the fantasy that if only I work hard enough, keep my nose pressed firmly enough against the grindstone, that I, too, can be one of the 1%; and therefore anyone who is criticizing the 1% is criticizing me, or at least the me I fantasize I will be someday.

    The Horatio Alger myth is a good thing when it encourages people to try and improve their lives and to reward hard work and creativity. It’s a bad thing when it’s flipped around as a kind of secular version of the Elect: if you’re in the 1% it’s clearly because you possess the proper virtues (hard work, thrift, striving), and if you’re not you don’t. The fact that, say, being the child of someone in the 1% is a fairly darn reliable way to get into the 1% is not something we like to discuss. Emperor’s clothes and all that.

    Billy, you should know that “spoiled” and the stuff about a master’s degree really is tipping your hand; it’s the same old “those protesters are spoiled college kids who’ve never worked in their lives” yak that’s probably been around since before the ’60s. (A decade the Beltway chatterati are still fighting over, sadly.) Of course OWS and the Tea Party are not the same thing, any more than “This Land is Your Land” and “God Bless America” are the same song. But they are both driven by underlying discontent with the unfairness of the system as it is.

  71. “You guys vilified the Tea Party and now you want people to think this movement is just like it.”

    I’m wondering if you see the contradiction there. Most posters here have been pretty positive about OWS. If you think they hate the Tea Party, why would you think they want to equate the two? To me, OWS is better than the Tea Party. Less selfish, more diverse, more interesting generally. And frankly, rhetoric that calls taxation repression, and that only cares about freedom in economic terms, is something I find deeply offensive.

  72. Heavy sigh.

    Mythago, I’m not “tipping my hand” because I’m not playing a game. I found this site because I loved Old Man’s War, but I read and comment on the political threads here because I’m trying to understand people who don’t think like I do, and relate to them my point of view.

    Where’s the love of diversity? Does it end with skin color and sexual orientation, or could you possibly extend it to alternate political views?

    The Horatio Alger path to riches is not a myth, it is a fact. I lived it. You can too.

    This recession has destroyed me financially, that’s a fact. But I’m not sitting around in a tent downtown crying about it. I’m out there working to make it back.

  73. Billy, calling people who support protests you disagree with “spoiled” (whatever you think *that* means) and fantasizing about what college degrees they hold is not really trying to understand people who disagree with you, nor is it relating to them your point of view, unless your point of view is that the OWS protesters are a bunch of goddamn spoiled hippie college kids.

    Why do you assume that if anyone disagrees with you, it is not simply disagreement with the point of view you’re offering on a given subject, but a wholesale anti-diversity rejection of your entire political worldview on all topics? What about “loving diversity” do you think is failing her? The fact that someone disagrees with you on OWS does not mean that they are evilly intolerant.

    As for Horatio Alger, perhaps we need to clarify what the myth we’re talking about is. You seem to think it is “hard work and perseverance can be a path from rags to riches”. Certainly it can be. The myth I’m talking about is the believe that hard work and perseverance will be a path from rags to riches, and conversely, that anyone wearing rags is does so purely because they lacked a proper work ethic, QED. (By the way, your own post suggests that even your own take on Horatio Alger is false; if it were true, then the recession could not have destroyed you financially, because your hard work would have paid off in riches, no? But then again you earlier said you were in the 1%, so perhaps by “destroyed” you meant that pre-recession you were a multimillionare and are now eking out a living at $390,000 a year.)

    The entire point of the OWS protests is that working to make it back is a failing strategy because you are working in a rigged system. It’s like trying to “win back” losses at poker in a game where the dealer marks the cards. It’s a system where somebody like you can work hard and proper and then get your clock cleaned through no fault of your own, while the people who kicked the sandcastle over are profiting from their misdeeds and getting government handouts to cushion them. You’re sneering at people who believe they are trying to make the dealer play with an unmarked deck, and telling them they’re spoiled because what they should be doing is just trying harder to get aces high.

  74. Count your blessings that you’ve got a job, Billy. Lots of people don’t, and have been looking for years without success. The fact that you’ve got a job and they don’t is not an indication of some special virtue on your part or some particular vice on theirs. Not everybody who’s poor deserves to be, just as not everybody who’s rich deserves to be.

    Part of OWS’s point is that the “rags to riches” path is getting harder because the rich and powerful are gaming the system to favor themselves; they are in effect able to purchase senators and legislation.

  75. I count my blessings every day, Kevin. But if someone looks for years to find a job without success they are not looking for a job. They are looking for an acceptable job.

    I make less than a quarter of what I made before the depression, but I’m working. Is it as much fun? Am I doing what I want to do? Of course not, but to make it back I’ve got to start somewhere.

    You say:
    “Part of OWS’s point is that the “rags to riches” path is getting harder because the rich and powerful are gaming the system to favor themselves; they are in effect able to purchase senators and legislation.”

    You are so very close to the truth here, but you emphasize the wrong group. It’s not the rich and powerful you should be worried about, it’s the senators and legislation. You don’t get to choose the CEO of Goldman Sachs, but you do get to choose the Senator who writes the legislation to regulate Goldman Sachs. Concentrate on that, as the Tea Party does, and you can have a real impact. Demand accountability! Barney Frank and Chris Dodd should be in jail.

    It’s not the corporations ruining everything, it’s the government. Transparency and accountability please.

  76. Your core fallacy is this: you made it, therefore anybody else should be able to because clearly your circumstances are as others’.

    Meditate upon this tonight.

  77. I made it by working hard, and working smart. I’m in a part of the country that lost tremendous wealth but has the advantage of fewer government obstacles to running a business. No state income tax, and not a lot of union control. It will be easier here to get back to the top, because of less government intervention.
    I never said “anybody” should be able to make it. Some will and some won’t. The two biggest keys are, working hard and less government.

  78. We need better ideas… and they probably won’t be reducible to bullet-points.

    Why do you say that? I agree that empty sloganeering is worthless. But why do you believe good ideas cannot be succinctly summarized?

    Separately, this thread is a microcosm of the whole broken dialogue in America. The Right sees Left-leaning discontents as lazy and stupid. The Left sees Right-leaning discontents as bigoted and uneducated. Such preconceived stereotypes serve only to reinforce the trenchant stalemate those on both sides claim to despise. The egotistical politicians and the handful of anti-free-market corporate and special interests they let write the tangled web of loophole filled laws know they can safely ignore the Tea Party and OCW and any other “fringe group” because any challengers to the status quo will fall on each other before they ever hold the powers-that-be accountable.

    At some point every citizen has to ask of themsleves, Do I care more about vilifying those I’ve identified as Them, or about calmly and rationally discussing the state of this country with Others I give the benefit of the doubt for the sake of constructive conversation. Well, do you? If you’re answer is, They started it, I’ll leave you to your playground.

  79. Let me summarize your post, Billy, to make sure I’m understanding you:
    People who complain about being unemployed are stupid and lazy (since you assert that you have a job on account of working smarter and harder), and also it’s the fault of the government and the unions.

    That about right?

    That’s a rather stereotypically teabagger outlook if I’m reading you rightly.

  80. I haven’t seen anyone calling anyone else here uneducated, or bigoted either, when it comes to that. But I would ask anyone who thinks that OWS is only targeting corporations: who do you think the powerful are? It’s not just the wealthy. It’s also the politicians in their pockets. The Tea Party hasn’t been particularly successful at electing politicians who care first and foremost about the people they represent. And you want to talk about hard work? Agricultural workers work harder than anybody. How many of them do you see making it into the 1%? I live in California, a state that it pretty routinely cited as an example of government run amok and failed liberal policies. We can talk about whether that’s an accurate characterization another time, but I can say that my husband managed to start his own business here, has kept it going throughout all this mess, and although we, too, took a big hit financially, we still have food on the table. To me, people who complain that they can’t run a profitable business because the big bad government won’t let them pollute at will, underpay employees, and provide unsafe working places — they are the whiners.

  81. Billy, there’s something that troubles me about your posts.
    No, it’s not that you kept ducking when someone asked you a direct question, nor is it that you started by throwing insults, yet later complained about people trying to tear you down. Nor is it the way you echoed Fox News talking points instead of forming your own opinion based on first-hand evidence; it’s this: You claimed to be in the top 1% (earning somewhere over $350k), and also that your income was 4x higher before the Bush-Cheney recession (which would be well over $1M/year!), but also that your job involves picking up “miscellaneous trash” and installing weatherstripping. I mean, that all could be true…
    So no, it’s not the thought that you might be exaggerating just to make a point that bothers me; what really troubles me is learning that I am apparently not paying my garbage man nearly enough.

  82. It’s not the corporations ruining everything, it’s the government.

    Billy, this is a statement of ideology, not a factual argument. It’s one thing to argue that, say, the economy would improve with fewer regulations. It’s another thing to pretend that gaming of the financial markets had nothing to do with the recession because OMFG GUBMINT.

    We do not get to choose who is CEO of Goldman Sachs (unless we are stockholders) but we do get to choose under what laws Goldman Sachs operates, and right now those laws are tilted very much in favor of Goldman Sachs and very much against you and I. And, for that matter, against small businesses. The fiction that all business is on the same side is one that large corporate interests push very, very hard, because people are a lot more sympathetic to Billy’s Hardware Shoppe than they are to BigCorp Gmbh. Particularly when BigCorp behaves in a way that is really not so good for Billy’s Hardware Shoppe.

    It’s funny that business always talks about ‘government intervention’ but is noticeably silent about ‘government benefits’ – for example, the government-created fiction of a corporation, which allows individuals to hide behind that fiction to avoid financial and legal liability for their acts, or the funding and maintenance of an infrastructure that allows you to do business.

    If you’re having trouble convincing people of your point of view, suggest you review Kevin’s comment as to why that might be. You really do come across as less having a particular opinion (e.g., the real cause of the economic crisis is government intervention because [reasons]) and more as general ideological griping – OWS protesters are lazy and spoiled, I worked hard so you can too, government bad business good.

    I’d also respectfully suggest that you stop making foolish assumptions about the economic status or experiences of people who have not explained those circumstances to you. Some posters here may actually be in the 1%, economically speaking. Some may be pretty close to being in the 1% if they’re not. Some have operated businesses, or “worked hard and made it”. The fact that someone is politically to your left or disagrees with your view of OWS does not mean that you’re the only person on this discussion who’s ever put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage, and your implication that you are is pretty toxic to any communication of meaningful ideas you say you want to achieve.

  83. I haven’t seen anyone calling anyone else here uneducated, or bigoted either, when it comes to that.

    SarahK, the following is from the article from which Billy Quiets quoted:

    The popular base of the Tea Party was always middle aged suburban white Republicans, most of middling economic means, anti-intellectual, terrified of social change—above all, for fear that what they saw as their one remaining buffer of privilege (basically, their whiteness) might finally be stripped away. OWS, by contrast, is at core forwards-looking youth movement, just a group of forward-looking people who have been stopped dead in their tracks; of mixed class backgrounds but with a significant element of working class origins; their one strongest common feature being a remarkably high level of education.

    This is a stereotyped view of the Tea Party pegging the whole movement based on the worst individuals that might be attracted to it, much as many on the Right (and a few on the Left) are trying to do to the OCW movement, so, in that respect, there is a despicable similarity in their critics if not in the movements’ respective bases. But hey, I guess as long as we can all get a little endorphin rush by calling everyone teabaggers and dirty hippies, who needs real change? And if rehashing the same old tired ad hominem arguments is all activists want to do, then I’ll, for one, welcome our new AI overlords, because they can’t arrive fast enough and they can’t possibly do any worse than humankind.

  84. @David,
    I did. In fact I quoted it. Here it is again:

    I haven’t seen anyone calling anyone else here uneducated, or bigoted either, when it comes to that.

    But since I was the one who first mentioned the stereotypes I was referencing, and SarahK subsequently mentioned not seeing that here, I decided to clarify that I was referring generally to the “my side is better than your side” dialogue this thread (and most on the internet) seems to me to embody. If you don’t think everyone in the Tea Party or OCW movements are the worst caricatures drawn by their opponents, more power to you. And while I do not and will not assume that deciding to quote that passage of David Graeber’s opinion of the Tea Party means Billy Quiets necessarily concurs with it, Billy Quiets did seem to be using it as an illustration of the respective movement’s constituencies. If Billy Quiets wishes to endorse it, Billy Quiets is perfectly capable of doing so personally.

    My point, however, that people across the political spectrum behave as if they are more interested in slinging mud at anyone with the gall to step out of line on the other side of the aisle, as opposed to addressing the actual problems our nation faces, stands. And if anyone thinks this recession was painful, wait ’till we really are a third world country because we let the political ruling class and their plutocratic buddies wreck the free markets while we whiled away our time railing at each other to reinforce our preconceptions about The Other Side.

  85. @Gulliver: Speaking of irony fail, do you think you are contributing to thoughtful, respectful discourse and an exchange of ideas by ignoring the actual conservation in order to shout that everybody here is a foolish ideologue better replaced with an AI? When SarahK pointed out to you that the discussion here on Whatever is nowhere near as broken as you portray, your response was that some guy on a blog stereotyped Tea Partiers, therefore you are correct to snarkily characterize everyone on this discussion thread as seeking nothing more than an endorphin rush.

    If your goal is to portray yourself as the one sensible voice of the Golden Mean in a sea of shrieking idiots, I have to tell you that Ross Douthat has that paying gig pretty well sewn up. If your goal is really to keep the discourse on an intelligent and respectful path, ur doin it rong.

  86. Having read my way through this discussion for the last couple of days, the one thing that makes me shake my head is Billy trying to defend the con artists scheme of supply-side economics. Lowering taxes on businesses does not nor, nor ever has, stimulated across the board growth. Yes, it stimulates growth in the pockets of the few people in charge of the company. The great promise of supply-side economics is that with fewer taxes, corporations/companies/rich people would just start sprinkling money around like fairy dust and everyone would benefit from their largess. Another part of the supply-side PR scam was that it would also increase revenues–as taxes collected–for the government.

    What has happened instead is a few people got rich, and keep getting richer, while the people who are the true backbone of this nation have seen their pay fail to rise (and no it isn’t because of taxes, we’ll discuss that in a few moments), benefits becoming mere tokens of their former selves, higher and higher insurance costs, and the wholesale packing up and moving overseas of entire industries because of tax incentives to NOT do business in the United States.

    As promised, here is the truth about taxes and the fraudulent tax scam called supply-side economics. During the time of greatest growth, from the time we dug ourselves out of the Great Depression, until St. Ronnie shilled for Voodoo Economics, the various income groups saw their situation improve with better pay, better hours, better benefits. As such the economy grew. Interestingly enough–despite what Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, and the Koch’s tell us–corporations had much higher tax rates than they do now. The reason for this is that in order to avoid paying all of the taxes, the heads of corporations found ways around it by reinvesting capital back in to the company; wage increases, bonuses, benefits, matching 401k funds, new equipment, hiring more workers… all of these–and more–were used as deductions, which lowered the bottom line yes, but also lowered the tax burden. Everyone benefitted.

    Enter supply-side economics and its chant of “lower taxes”. As the tax burden decreased, corporate heads no longer saw any reason to funnel money back in to the organization, nor into workers pockets. Instead, they funneled it in to their own pockets and have been slowly accumulating a larger and larger percentage of GDP. And despite what the flim-flam artists behind supply-side economics promised, they haven’t been sprinkling the cash around like fairy dust. They sit on it to see who can build up biggest pile, moving it to places where it can’t be taxed, and lining up to suck at the public teat labled “Corporate Welfare”.

    No Billy, and any other supply-siders out there, lowering taxes will not fix this mess, nor will deregulating anything that moves. When a company is told by the government that it is okay to move their entire business to competing nations, and are then told that they will get special treatment to bring it back into the country, you will get what we have now: a broken economy where the rich get ever richer, and every one moves back in to the lower class. I’m surprised we havent been hearing about bringing back indentured servitude to be honest.

    Raise taxes, especially on companies that move over seas (breaks for companies in the U.S. could be based on percentage of business kept here), and defenitely tariff the hell out of stuff from countries that allow environmental pollution and people to be used and treated as slave labor with piss-poor pay and working conditions.

  87. Speaking of irony fail, do you think you are contributing to thoughtful, respectful discourse and an exchange of ideas by ignoring the actual conservation in order to shout that everybody here is a foolish ideologue better replaced with an AI?

    I advised AIs usurping the political ruling class if we the People are unable to usurp them ourselves. I’d far prefer a participatory democracy (of human and any other sentient beings), but I’ll take nonhuman oligarchs over human oligarchs. Are you a member of the political ruling class, mythago?

    When SarahK pointed out to you that the discussion here on Whatever is nowhere near as broken as you portray, your response was that some guy on a blog stereotyped Tea Partiers,

    Actually it was that someone in this thread quoted some guy on a blog stereotyping Tea Partiers in order to illustrate their point.

    therefore you are correct to snarkily characterize everyone on this discussion thread as seeking nothing more than an endorphin rush.

    Not everyone, nor anyone with only that pursuit.

    If your goal is to portray yourself as the one sensible voice of the Golden Mean in a sea of shrieking idiots, I have to tell you that Ross Douthat has that paying gig pretty well sewn up.

    On the contrary. I think the commenters in this thread and on this blog generally are typically quite sensible, which makes it all the more frustrating when they trot out Left or Right talking points to prove the invalidity of the other side’s cause without even addressing their arguments. If I came off as supercilious, I do sincerely apologize. But I still want people to listen with open ears to the opposition, and not merely pigeonhole them. I hear competing arguments, here and across the blogosphere, with both shrieking idiots – less of those here than on many sites, thankfully, because Scalzi seems to attract intelligent commenters – as well as people making solid arguments. What I rarely hear, here or anywhere else, is those competing groups actually listening to what each other are saying. If saying so makes me seem self-congratulatory to you, I do not see that as a good reason to keep silent. If my approach or character are worth impugning, then I have no problem with that, as long as my arguments are clear.

    Have a Happy Halloween :)

  88. In Economics 101 I learned that increasing levels of aggregate consumer demand for goods and services grows an economy. With unemployment as high as it is now, far too many consumers are not spending the money they are not making. Not borrowing to spend either, which is a good thing for them individually. Smarter than the national government the non-spenders are, I think. Yet, at present the banking system and the corporate systems are awash in liquidity; thank you Federal Reserve system. All those jobs outsourced overseas and cash profits sitting in overseas accounts are diminishing aggregate demand. Occupy Wall Street citizens need to re-direct their anger to a national government (both parties) that have created a regulatory climate and federal policies that cannot seem to penalize outsourcing jobs overseas and retaining cash profits overseas. Wall Street is acting in its own best interests based on the current systemic economic policies. Last I checked, we are the government. We elected those national politicians. So why do we elect people to serve who formulate and pass such destructive policies. Because? Because we can’t agree on what the right penalties should be. If we did so, we could elect people who would support the changes to hurt Wall Street in their pocketbooks when they outsource jobs and don’t bring cash profits home to reinvest here. Aggregate consumer demand will not be increasing anytime soon until those two destructive corporate behaviors are called to account by rational Federal policies that penalize the behaviors enough to change the behaviors. So, all OWS commentators here at Whatever, what penalties should our national representatives support and enact into law? We need to start there. Until corporations find it in their self interest to insource those overseas jobs back here and to bring those overseas cash profits back here for reinvestment, we have little to no hope that aggregate demand will be taking an upward track anytime soon. We can’t buy more goods and services if we are suffering high unemployment and pessimism about our financial futures.

  89. I agree with you, Billy, and, I appreciate your posts. Political views, like religion, are personal beliefs.  We believe what we believe.  I believe that the government’s role should be to protect us and maintain free enterprise.  That we (the people) should be responsible for social and fiscal issues, not the government.

  90. @Gulliver: you might find it helpful go back and review your prior comments, because you’re now not accurately recounting what you’ve actually said; and repurposing snark under the guise of “if I said something you took wrong you clearly didn’t understand my entirely reasonable proposal” is, well, repurposing snark. If you believe PosterX has said something foolish or pigeonhole-y, then it would be much more productive to say “@PosterX, calling Soandso a flag-hugging reactionary is not really answering her point and it impedes discussion” than to go off on a rant about how everybody and their houseplants (excepting, of course, you) are shrieking ideologues who needs to get some perspective and think (which nobody, excepting, of course, you, is bothering to do right now), as evinced by this guy on a blog somewhere. Such a rant may have the effect of making you feel above the fray, but it’s not going to do much more than piss off people who are trying to have a respectful discussion.

    @Gary: as corporations tend to think solely in terms of money, presumably you’d need to create incentives for companies that retain jobs in the US and keep their money here that outweigh the benefits of doing business elsewhere. The problem is making incentives that are not only effective, but have the appropriate effect in a business environment where decisions are not entirely rational. By that I mean that you can implement [policy] that is supposed to overall result in corporate profit, but if the people running a corporation decide “If we ignore [policy] it will screw us in the long run but it’ll have GREAT results next quarter and I’ll be out of here before the stuff hits the fan,” it won’t do much good.

    As a short-term solution, metaphorically arming the SEC to the teeth and setting it on the US financial industry like an angry wolverine strikes me as the most bang for the buck.

  91. I’m going to say that American companies have a moral imperative to preferentially hire Americans instead of cheap third-world labor, simply because they enjoy the use of our national defense and infrastructure… which they sometimes don’t even pay taxes for.

  92. On the contrary. I think the commenters in this thread and on this blog generally are typically quite sensible, which makes it all the more frustrating when they trot out Left or Right talking points to prove the invalidity of the other side’s cause without even addressing their arguments

    You need to quote someone from *this* thread doing that, rather than a warmed over paragraph from a link someone used.

    Or, to be shorter, what mythago said.

  93. Like John, I’ve got some rather complicated and not altogether coherent thoughts and feelings about OWS. Every time I’ve sat down to write about it, either a) someone else has already said it all far better than I could, or b) I find myself slowly changing my mind about what, precisely, I would say to begin with.

    It may surprise some to know that part of my inability to structure an article, lies in the fact that I am partially sympathetic. OWS seems very much like a natural response to the ongoing recession, and the seeming immunity of the super-monied from the pressing, every day worries those of us on the ground floor face, while they’re serving champagne in the penthouse.

    On the flip side, I’m not terribly sympathetic to children who make rather head-scratching choices about which college degrees they will pursue, then use OWS as an excuse to complain about the fact that a very-expensive “soft” degree doesn’t get them a well-paying job. Caveat emptor applies. It’s not an evil corporations are evil thing. It’s a use-your-eyes-and-ears thing.

    If the end result of OWS is that more people are paying attention to issues and voting accordingly in 2012, then I cannot really call it a bad movement.

    I do think some of the rhetoric has been bad — warmed-over Marxism — and I think there are some bad people using OWS as an excuse to behave badly — faux-anarchists and professional troublemakers. I think some of OWS are merely in it for the spectacle and the self-gratification — the kids. But then this was true of the WTO ten years back. I was in Seattle for that. Can’t say I thought much of the roar and din that resulted. A very confused, incoherent week that appeared to accomplish almost nothing of value.

    Hopefully OWS is not just more of the same. Because I do think we need to get mega-corporate interests out of Washington D.C. and elect people who care about the common American instead. I don’t think this is a liberal or conservative thing. Cronyism is not just the Left or the Right’s problem. It’s everybody’s problem at this point, because Cronyism is so big and problematic as to threaten all comers.

  94. @Brad: As a person who probably has the softest degree evar and yet turned it into a productive career, I can’t say that I have much patience with the “why didn’t you go into aerospace engineering like a sensible person” argument. OWS doesn’t, as far as I can tell, consist of complaints that the world is not handing out six-figure checks to Hyborean Philosophy majors, but that the cost of higher education has skyrocketed at the same time as its value has gone down – but its use as a sorting tool has gone up. A generation or so ago, it was still possible to drop out of high school and nonetheless get a decent job working as a skilled tradesman, and a career in the military was not only available to kids with a less-than-stellar background, in some cases it was their only ladder up. Now even a bachelor’s degree is a minimum qualification, and it’s an expensive one.

    To pick an example with which I am somewhat familiar: I used to roll my eyes at new law-school graduates who complained about the legal recession, because there was a recession when I graduated, too. But then somebody pointed out to me that average tuition has gone up ten times since I was getting my JD, and top-end (not median) starting salaries have not risen even half as much. On top of that, law schools have not only been manipulating but flat-out lying about their graduates’ job prospects for years and that’s only recently coming to light. (Also, universities have been using said lying law schools as a cash cow to fund the rest of the colleges.) So yes, there are privileged little snotbags stamping their feet that they didn’t get that $160K BigLaw starting job they thought was their birthright, but there are also a very large number of graduates who simply thought they’d like to have a meaningful career in the law, and who were perfectly willing to work hard for a not-ludicrious salary, but who were lied to and who are now much more deeply in debt than they would have been ten or fifteen years ago.

    At least where I am, OWS has been trying very hard to keep out troublemakers and shit-disturbers (about whom I have my suspicions; remember the saying that you could tell the FBI guy because he’s the one wanting to blow things up?) and remain nonviolent, and I hope it stays that way. God knows I’ve gotten some rather sharp looks from my more-progressive friends when I suggest OWS merge with the “Second Amendment absolutist/open carry protesters” doing their thing.

  95. Billy: I made it by working hard, and working smart.

    Oh lord.

    You “made it” because you worked hard and worked smart, and because you did what you did inside of an economy where your efforts paid off, and a myriad of countless other things beyond your control. Things so big that no individual can directly impact. Things so big that even a mega-corporation was at the mercy of. Things we refer to as the “economy” and all its myriad components.

    This is the insanity of the Tea Party born the love child of Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan, two insane parents who begat a child that, well meaning as it may be, has been clearly handicapped by the homeschooling it received. These two completely insane parents would occasionally hand off the child raising responsibilities to Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Thatcher, who always had crazy ideas and crazy notions that never got off the ground (like that whole Star Wars/SDI thing, among others).

    Unfortunately, when a child is raised in such an environment, and worse, is home schooled in such an environment, the insanity of the parents is not diluted by the cultural experience that comes from interacting with sane adults and children who also happen to have different experiences of the world than mom and dad, resulting in a political organization like the Tea Party that thinks the world really is as simple as “work hard and you will get ahead”. And given they think the world is that simple, they believe the corollary that is “if you don’t get ahead, its because you’re a lazy bum”.

    See, the thing is, mom and dad, Ayn and Alan, had the economic maturity of a five year old. They believed in the economic equivalent of Santa Claus, the fairy tale known as the “invisible hand of capitalism”, an all knowing, wise, arbiter of money who knew who was naughty (lazy) and knew who was nice (hard working) and would reward the nice with stockings stuffed with greenbacks and leave the naughty folks lumps of coal and pink slips.

    There is no santa clause. And there is no invisible hand. And economies are far more complicated that mother Ayn, father Alan, or Uncle Ronnie and aunt Marg, could ever comprehend.

    To put it into terms that Mom and Dad might be able to understand, money is simply a way of indicating power. And unregulated power, power without checks and balances, results in tyranny. The problem is that mom and dad believed in the invisible hand, who would act as a check/balance against too much money turning into tyranny. So they could never comprehend this issue, because the invisible hand doesn’t exist. The reality is without any regulation whatsoever, you end up with monopolies with so much power that competition is impossible. Robber barons. Tyrants. What have you.

    Economies are also a lot more complicated than mom and dad could ever comprehend. For example, When the economy has some triggering event that causes companies to spend less, that can cause layoffs, which causes people to spend less, which creates a feed back loop that spirals down into a crash. The more companies cut back to stay afloat, the more they layoff and the less they pay those who are left. This causes individuals to spend even less on consumer products, which causes sales to drop even further. Which causes more layoffs.

    This is a very real phenomenom. The thing is it isn’t fair. And mom and dad really wanted to believe the universe was fair. So they believed that the invisible hand of capitalism watched over everyone and used his magic ticker-tape machine to find out what everyone was doing, and reward the hardworking people with jobs and reward the hardworking companies with sales.

    But, again, the invisible hand doesnt exist. So, in the real world, we get these feedback loops that are so big that no individual person and not even an individual corporation is big enough to stop it. When things get really bad, when the economy crashes really hard, it migh take something HUGE to get things back on track. Hell, it might even take getting the entire world to go to war with itself to get things going again.

    but it doesn’t fit with mom and dad’s morality tale that the universe is fair and just and rewards the hard working and punishes the lazy. So they refused to believe it. And instead invented the invisible hand, something that has absolutely no objective proof to show its existence, and quite a bit of proof to prove it doesn’t exist, to explain how the world was fair and just and operated on simple rules based on good and bad.

    Talking with mom and dad and uncle ron and aunt marg is like talking to people who believe in Santa Claus. Fully grown adults who believe in santa claus and who follow their idea of what they think Santa thinks is “good” so they will get something in their stocking in the morning. It’s maddening, because one cannot even begin to have an adult conversation about economics because first one has to explain to them that the invisible hand doesn’t exist. And in their view, you’re stripping away the thing that makes the world fair and just, and they want to know why we’ve declared war on christmas.

    The thing is, economics *can* be fair and just. It’s just that one has to stop believing in Santa and stop believing in the invisible hand, and start getting that unregulated markets are *unfair*, but can be made fair with some level of regulation to prevent money/power from turning into tyranny.

    Mom and dad always respond to this by saying that any time someone gets too much monopoly and too much power, that all you have to do is boycott them and make the bad men behave nicely. This is sort of like that part in Peter Pan where tinkerbell gets sick and Peter Pan asks the kids in the audience to wish for Tink to get better, and, by jove, Tink gets better.

    The problem is that only works in a five year old frame of mind. In the adult world, we call that magical thinking.

    A king, for example, is a form of a tyrant. And if the king has sufficient power to dominate the serfs, there is nothing the serfs can do. A monopoly can be like a king where it has so much power that no one can do anything about it.

    At which point, Uncle Ronnie will chime in about his grandfather taking up muskets against the King of England, and that guns solve any problem that can’t be fixed otherwise. It doesn’t occur to Ol’ Ron that the King/Tyrant thing is a metaphor and taking up arms against a monopolistic corporation doesn’t map very well to any sort of sane economic policy. A boycott against a robber baron monopoly would be like holding your breath to make mom and dad let you out of your room after grounding you. They have the power. Holding your breath just makes you pass out.

    “Every Tea Party person I know thinks”

    First of all, they don’t think, they believe. They believe in the magical invisible hand because they want to believe the economy and the world is simple and just. They have no proof for the existence of this believe and people who study economics have multiple examples that show the invisible hand doesn’t exist, at least in certain scenarios. For example, the “prisoner’s dilemma, is an example of two people looking out for their own selfish interest will result in the worst possible outcome for everyone involved. The fact that economic crashes and economic bubbles are feedback loops that reinforce their downward or upward spirals and that there really is no natural counter-balancing force to prevent them from spiraling into an econmic crash or a bubble that is followed by a crash.

    And what I am really really getting tired of is the fact that every time someone tells me about the invisible hand, or implies the existence of the invisible hand by telling me they “got ahead because they worked hard” and therefore make abundantly clear that their view of an amazingly complex economic system has been reduced to a story about Santa Claus, that we have to have the same, goddamn conversation all over again.

    “has the advantage of fewer government obstacles to running a business. No state income tax, and not a lot of union control. It will be easier here to get back to the top, because of less government intervention.

    Stop with the magical thinking about the economy already. Money is nothing more than a measure of power. And there are no natural checks and balances when too much power accumulates in one spot. Power actually attracts more power, reinforcing itself. The only way to make the system *fair* is for everyone to agree to change some of the rules to limit the accumulation of power.

    i.e. regulation

    “You don’t get to choose the CEO of Goldman Sachs, but you do get to choose the Senator who writes the legislation to regulate Goldman Sachs.”

    If Exxon has a bajillion dollars, and Citizens United says Exxon has voting rights and the right to free speech, and can spend as much money as it wants on political campaigns, it is impossible to show that this level of unrestricted spending has no effect, or whose effect can be cancelled by simply wishing hard enough.

    Nothing you’ve said is anything different than what Mom Ayn and Dad Alan and Uncle Ron and Aunt Marg have said. The only problem is that all those people have long ago been shown to be competely crazy when it comes to economic policy. magical thinking, believing Santa Claus and the invisible hand. Wanting it all to be true because they want to believe the economic world is just and fair all by itself and doesn’t need any complicated stuff that they don’t understand, like, for example, political processes, and other people.

    But I guess it’s hard sometimes for a child like the Tea Party to see that the family who raised them and loved them, Ayn, Alan, Ron, and Marge, were also batshit insane and pretty much everything they said about money and economics was nuts.

  96. Interesting news which is perhaps not totally unrelated: just one year after a heavy crackdown on illegals, Prince William County now leads Virginia in job creation and is third in a survey of 322 counties nationwide, see http://www.wtop.com/?nid=120&sid=2613109

    Funny what happens when money actually stays in a community and gets taxed and reinvested locally instead of being wired out of the country.

    Yes, I know what a lot of you are going to say. Save your e-breath. As a nation, we allow over a million people a year to enter the country in a perfectly legal fashion. They have to pass a criminal background check, be immunized, show some competency at the language and be willing to take an oath of loyalty to the US. It is a very low standard and one which is not being challenged in any meaningful way. If you’re going to say that people who won’t even follow that minimal standard should be rewarded or that we should tolerate an ingress of criminals or disease-carriers who place citizens of this nation at real risk, then you’re wasting pixels. You want American citizens to get back to work? Get rid of the freeloaders and leeches. It’s really that simple. It’s not unethical, unreasonable or unfair. People who don’t think they have to follow the same laws as everyone else desperately need to be disabused of that notion. Others who think they are entitled to something for nothing need similar education and those who think they can take from others to give to causes they, in their singular wisdom deem “worthy” need to understand that taking money without permission is stealing.

    As for the corporations – when they were initially chartered by the Kings of England, public service was an integral part of the charter. It was the quid pro quo which they had to tender to receive the insulation of liability which the law provided. Clearly, that balance has been permitted to fail. It should be restored. If they fail to do their public service, then their corporate charter should be revoked. If they break the law, it should be revoked. If they mislead, steal, cheat or otherwise misbehave, it should be revoked. If they government was serious about taming corporate malfeasance, it would raise the stakes and put something like this in place. It isn’t, of course, and corporations are top political donors, so until the voters actually start thinking and acting rationally the cozy relationship between the military-industrial complex, the Madison Avenue marketeers and K-Street lobbyists will never be broken.

  97. Well, if it were up to me, I’d shit-can the entire “degreeism” paradigm that insists you need a raft of college-level documents to do anything worthwhile. I only have a HS diploma (and a heap of experience) so I think it’s still possible for people who are creative and who can be go-getters to find and keep good jobs that pay well. And even I can’t dodge the bullet forever. My Army career and my civilian career demand a degree, sooner or later.

    So I agree with you 100% that the skyrocketing cost of college is rather obscene, considering that its overall practical and perceived value seems to be diminishing at the same time companies are using degreeism at the HR level to arbitrarily screen candidates. The feeling of swindle is undoubtedly quite high for many 20-somethings right now.

    I’m just wondering how much real-world research some of these OWS complainers did before they picked their fields, as opposed to simply buying whatever the university has been telling them? Again, caveat emptor. And no, that’s not an excuse for a broken collegiate system which seems to require and consume gargantuan amounts of cash. But it is a prod to the next crop of HS graduates, that there has never been a better time than the present to think carefully about career choices, plan for detours, assume there won’t be six figures at the end of the degree-rainbow, assume you might have to get the degree you need before going back — at a later date — and getting the degree you want.

    I personally would adore going back to school and getting a PhD. in History. As History of all sorts is a fascination for me, and I think I’d be happiest studying accordingly. Alas, I’ll need to have some novels spun up and bringing in advances/royalties before I’ll be convinced I’m safe burning tuition and hours on a “worthless” degree like that — even with civilian tuition assistance and Army tuition assistance thrown in.

  98. Whoops, my last post should have had an @Mythago in it. Sorry. And since this is my third post (“Three Strikes, I’m Out”) I will state again my belief that Cronyism is a problem created by the unintended consequences of both the Right and the Left together, thus I think it threatens both liberals and conservatives equally now because it’s basically allowing super-corporate and super-rich interests to insulate themselves from failure, and syphon at will from the public treasury, regardless of their serial malfeasance. If OWS stirs the voters — on all sides — to act more responsibly, and effect reform via the ballot box, then I cannot call it a bad thing. Even if a lot of the Marxist talk gives me major heebie-jeebies.

  99. @ Greg – “the invisible hand doesn’t exist” as a theme is tired and inaccurate. A free and open market does tend to move toward equilibrium. This is objectively provable and observable and has been demonstrated in more studies than can be counted. You’re just plain wrong on this point.

    Your other themes suggesting that wealth redistribution must be imposed because you simply can’t get any money by working hard (and what is your beef with working hard anyway?) fail as well. Money is not static. Scrooge McDuck is not actually down in his vault swimming around in piles of gold coins and jewels and laughing at the unemployed (he’s a *cartoon*). The Warren Buffets of the world put their money to work by investing where they can make a return on the investment. They buy factories, farms, assets of all kinds and put them to work making more money. This employs people who spend their money on local businesses, who then hire and thus a virtuous cycle is created. This tendency of money to remain in motion, the velocity of money, is a known element of any market and is tracked to show how quickly money is moving and working at any given time.

    Problems arise in two ways: first, if the money doesn’t remain in the community, but gets wired overseas to work abroad. It doesn’t matter what it does over there, it does no good whatsoever here. (In reality, it might do some good over the very long run, but the effects would be so attenuated and remote in time that they would be no real correlation or association). Second, if externalities like regulations, lawlessness, or uncertainty are interjected, the market becomes more and more sticky and can even seize up. Our problem right now is our politicians are being screamed at to “DO SOMETHING!!!” so they are doing a wild variety of things not all of which are being carefully considered or examined before they are thrown into effect. This is usually done through laws or regulations and creates, whether deliberately or not, a number of externalities which increase uncertainty and decrease investors’ willingness to invest here. They’re making things worse.

    As a society is recognize: we’ve been in a wreck. The first thing to do is take our feet off of the gas, stop screaming, shut down the car, get out and take a hard look at the situation. It’s not going to be fixed overnight, but if we think it through, anything which can be built can be rebuilt or repaired. We need to let creditors get what they can out of bad assets before they can think about making new investments.

  100. @Brad, at the risk of taking potshots at your back, I generally agree with you that this is not a “right” or “left” problem so much as it is a problem of greed and misbehavior.

    But on college degrees, I really tend to doubt that the most recent generation is much stupider than ours on choice-of-major issues. The problem is that nobody can predict the future. For example, you had been in college at the same time I was, every one of your professors would have confidently told you that a PhD was not simply something you might enjoy, but would be a smart career move, because many professors would be retiring right around the time you became Dr. Torgeson. And if you did your research, this was in fact backed up by demographic trends and past hiring practices. Of course, due to that lack-of-seeing-the-future thingy, neither you nor they would have known that over the next several years, colleges would become more “businesslike” and would simply choose not to replace those retiring professors at all.

    Less specifically, while you can probably guess that a degree in engineering is more strictly marketable than a degree in classical literature, you again can’t predict the future; think of all those people who went into the nursing field because, several years ago, Good Career Advice was “health care is booming and hospitals are starving for nurses.” Well, they’re not now, so maybe you should have gone to law school instead — oh, wait. (And as for law school, the traditional bastion of people who wanted to take a college major they didn’t loathe, I’ve already gone over all that.)

    So no, I don’t think warning high-school students not to take some dumbass major is particularly relevant to OWS.

  101. @KIA:Isn’t “lawlessness” the whole point of laissez faire market?The basic premise as I understand it is that if the government shouldn’t intervene(through regulations, taxes, etc) because the market is more efficient without them.

    In addition where and how has the free market observation you made took place?AFAIK there is no actual classical free market in the world today.

  102. KIA: Your other themes suggesting that wealth redistribution must be imposed

    Given that I never said anything about redistributing any wealth, I can only assume that you believe in Santa Claus and any suggestion that he doesn’t exist kicks in the “GAAHHH! They’re all COMMUNISTS SOCIALISTS FASCISTS!” as a blanket defense mechanism.

    Second, if externalities like regulations, lawlessness, or uncertainty are interjected, the market becomes more and more sticky and can even seize up.

    Uncertainty? Like when people are not certain whether the bank which holds their money might go belly up, so they withdraw their money, which reduces the amount of cash the bank has available to give to customers in the form of withdrawals, which will cause them to have to restrict how much a customer can withdraw because the bank doesn’t have the cash at the moment, which causes fear in the remaining customers that they will never see their money, which causes something known as a “run” on the bank? That kind of uncertainty?

    How do we solve runs on banks and prevent them from happening? FDIC. or in the words of Ayn, Alan, Ron, and Marg, and their teenager known as teh Tea Party, it would be known as “government interference”. Or your first bullet point up there, “regulation”.

    See that? You’ve just been proven completely wrong. Regulation can actually help the market by preventing panic. FDIC is the perfect example of this.

    But even proven wrong on the most basic and fundamental level won’t shake your belief in santa claus. You’re going to come back with more crazy ideology from mother Ayn, father Alan, Uncle Ron, and aunt Marg. It won’t even phase you a bit.

    “wealth redistribution” indeed.

  103. Okay, I see the term “Free Market” has popped up. First of all, the “Free Market” can NOT exist without regulation. Let me repeat that: “Free Market” can NOT exist without regulation. If you want to see what the “Free Market” that supply-side scam artists, Libertarians, and Corporate non-entities think they want, look no further than Somalia. In order for a “Free Market” to exist–although the term “Fair Market” is much better–there has to be a force outside of it to regulate interactions between people competing in the market, and to protect consumers in the market.

    An unregulated market, which is what supply-side scammers and Neo-con Republicans (please notice that is said “Neo-con”) push for would be a market in which corporations would be able to use any practice they wished to get ahead. Their whole speculation is that buyers will be able to vote with their bucks on who succeeds. But what happens when there is no competing product to vote for? An example: take a look at your cable service provider. Most of us live in areas where there is only one service provider. We can’t pick and choose. Satellite you say? Well yes for some people that is an option… for others it isn’t. Some places satellite service is spotty due to terrain and the like. “Free Market”, as seen by Rand-ites and supply-side followers provides no protection against monopolies. In order to protect the consumer, behaviors such as the ones corporations and robber barons of old have engaged in (and still engage in) need to be regulated by an outside agency; an agency with the power to levy fines/penalties, i.e. “teh Gubarmints”.

    The same also applies to safety, products used in manufacturing, and environmental concerns; the whole ball of wax will require regulation in order to be a “Fair Market”.

    Groups such as corporations/companies will always be trying to shill for lower taxes; most won’t be satisfied until they pay no taxes at all, and are free to suck at the public teat as long and hard as they wish. These self-same groups will also always be crying about regulations. Even if it was one simple rule–say “Play Nice”–they would be crying about how unjust regulations were holding them back from making the economy soar.

    Supply-side economic speculation, and free-market deregulation are two scams with one goal: to seperate the common citizen from his cash, and give nothing back. In essence, they are both just ways for people who can afford to pay to wiggle out of contributing to the community.

  104. @mythago

    you might find it helpful go back and review your prior comments, because you’re now not accurately recounting what you’ve actually said; and repurposing snark under the guise of “if I said something you took wrong you clearly didn’t understand my entirely reasonable proposal” is, well, repurposing snark.

    Not what I said. I said, “If I came off as supercilious, I do sincerely apologize.” If there was a misunderstanding, and it certainly seems there was, I take full responsibility for not accurately conveying my meaning. And, evidently, I also failed again since you misunderstood my attempt to clarify in a less combative and supercilious tone. I shall try again.

    If you believe PosterX has said something foolish or pigeonhole-y, then it would be much more productive to say “@PosterX, calling Soandso a flag-hugging reactionary is not really answering her point and it impedes discussion” than to go off on a rant about how everybody and their houseplants (excepting, of course, you) are shrieking ideologues who needs to get some perspective and think (which nobody, excepting, of course, you, is bothering to do right now), as evinced by this guy on a blog somewhere.

    Again, my frustration is emphatically not with any lack of perspective or “shrieking ideologues” – which, again, this site and thread are not prone to – but rather with rational interlocutors focusing on explaining to each other why they are wrong rather than seeking to understand each other’s points. I will try to think of a way to state that more clearly, though, off the top of my head, I cannot think how to put it more blatantly.

    Such a rant may have the effect of making you feel above the fray, but it’s not going to do much more than piss off people who are trying to have a respectful discussion.

    It does not make me “feel above the fray” because there is no “fray” to feel above – simply intelligent, rational people respectfully talking past each other. Since I did initially state that observation in a “ranting” tone, I had some hope apologizing for that tone would ameliorate your “pissed off” reaction. If it has not, I do not see what else I can do since I cannot go back in time to un-rant the post that angered you.

    As a short-term solution, metaphorically arming the SEC to the teeth and setting it on the US financial industry like an angry wolverine strikes me as the most bang for the buck.

    Unfortunately, SEC, the regulatory framework under which it operates, and both national political parties are firmly in the pockets of same said US financial industry and, more specifically, its largest players. Arming corrupt cops and the officials in charge of them doesn’t stop crime. I recommend creating clear, straight forward laws that aren’t so riddled with loop-holes that industry can drive a jobs market through them.

    God knows I’ve gotten some rather sharp looks from my more-progressive friends when I suggest OWS merge with the “Second Amendment absolutist/open carry protesters” doing their thing.

    Have any of them taken you seriously?

  105. @ Greg 12:45 and Kevin 9:29 – Aren’t they *cute*? Like fuzzy puppies, this declaration makes me go “awwwww”.

    Parts of it should give conservatives and libertarians that good, down-low, tingly feeling, especially the parts that are batshit insane; other parts were obviously contributed by the starry-eyed anarcho-eco-feminist brigade, and are also batshit insane. There’s a generous sprinkle of moderate idealism, and a soupçon of pragmatism. It’s non-partisan, though: there is something for everyone to get all foamy about, which is very traditional(*).

    (Ref: If I recall correctly, Fisher Ames thought that Tommy Jefferson was going to send the entire country to hell in a hand-basket, and TJ thought Ames was an obnoxious prig w/ a stick up his arse. Good times, good times…)

  106. Gulliver@1:30, maybe you could clarify how someone who understands the other point of view and knows it to be wrong, should take that which you find frustrating.

    The problem isnt that the Tea Party are highly intelligent economists who are being misunderstood by their critics. There is nothing to “understand” that cant be boiled down to “I dont like taxes and I have a gun. Every man for themselves.” It is the Leroy Jenkins approach to governance and fiscal policy. A bunch of people are trying to work out a way to move forwardthat works for everyone and the Tea Party thinks the only principle needed to govern is summed up in the fable “The ants and the Grasshopper”.

    This ‘try to understand’ thing kind of occurs to me not a little like we should “teach the controversy” around creationism versus evolution. what do I need to understand about the creationiat pov other than it is totally unscientific and violently anti scientific and shouldnt be taught in public achools?

  107. @Constance

    Did you have any specific criticisms of the recommendations, or did you just wish to sling epitaphs?

    @Greg

    This ‘try to understand’ thing kind of occurs to me not a little like we should “teach the controversy” around creationism versus evolution. what do I need to understand about the creationiat pov other than it is totally unscientific and violently anti scientific and shouldnt be taught in public achools?

    If you believe sociopolitical theory is scientific in the same sense that evolution is, then I can see why you would not want to cogitate on competing theories. Personally I couldn’t care less about the Tea Party (or any political party), but I will happily listen to the ideas of anyone who identifies with them without prejudging that they have nothing to offer.

  108. @Gulliver 2:54 pm: I don’t have specific criticisms, because I don’t criticize fuzzy puppies. That’s mean.

    In addition, while I suspect that the word “epitaphs” is not the word you intended to use, nonetheless I am thrilled by the invitation:

    Good friend, for Puppies’ sakes forebeare
    To examine closely the resolutions heare.
    Blest be she who waits for July
    To let her thoughts take wing and fly.
    (thx to Will Shakespeare)

    or how ’bout:

    Cast a cold eye on term limits, horsemen, pass by!
    (hat tip to WB Yeats)

    Or even:
    PACs and Corps will fill for him
    Coffers every term,
    For though his masters may be outcast men,
    Still do tax havens shelter them.
    (w/ apologies to Mr. Wilde, because that was awful!)

  109. Gulliver, what you are proposing is a “nice idea” but you cant even provide one working exampleof how it would be implemented in a real world conversation. I have had real world conversations with tea party people and they want certain things and hold certain beliefs. These things are in general alignmemt with the Tea Party as a whole. And what the tea party as a whole wants is simply wrong.

    And I am asking how you would expect someone like me to alter my conversations with someone in the Tea Party in any measurable way. And the best you have is to ignore that they are members of the Tea Party? or acknowlege that membership, but listen to them as if they might actually not deserve to be a member?

    What if the guy is a member of the KKK? Do I not “prejudice” myself towards this individual based solely on his membership views are wrong?

    s? Am I supposed to listen to what he has to say and ‘find the gold’ in his words? how extreme does some sociological group have to get before I can safely assume that someone is a member of that group specifically because his views align with the group views.

  110. @Constance

    You clearly pronounced them dead on arrival; your nebulous demeaning seemed to be delivered in postmortem spirit, though you’re no Yeats or even Wilde, just a hackneyed critic who uses ad hominem attacks to avoid addressing specific issues.

    @Greg

    I suppose it depends on your assessment of the group with which they are aligned. I think the KKK has zero redeeming value in their ideology. I think the Tea Party is simply a less hypocritical spin-off of the GOP, drawing its membership from Rublicans fed up with candidates who never fulfilled campaign promises. Even if someone was a member of the KKK, though, I wouldn’t hold it against their recopies for souffle, just against them as a person. Perhaps I should have said, prejudged their every idea and utterance.

  111. I think I am OK with prejudicing my listening to some individual’s political ideas based in the political groups that individual belongs to.

  112. Gulliver, could you please let me know whom I’ve declared DOA and/or demeaned? You keep saying “they”… you know what, never mind. You seem very combative, whereas I’ve been aiming for light humor, and vitriol bores me.

    Sorry, Scalzi. Should you read this far, I’m afraid I didn’t realize I was involved in an argument. I still don’t know which side I’m supposed to be on, but apparently that’s not necessary to be in an argument on the web. C’est la vie.

  113. I really don’t know how to respond to the Stockholm syndrome-like comments from so many posters on anti-OWS sites. What can you say to someone who brags “I work three jobs, live paycheck to paycheck, and have no health insurance or retirement, but you don’t see me complaining like those entitled OWS brats”?

  114. Actually Herr Johan, I’ve been very pleased with the amount of politeness in this post about a very contentious topic. Yes, there are some sharp barbs that have been traded amongst all sides here, however, compared to the level of discussion on some other sites I have been to, I would willingly invite everyone who has participated here to meet face to face and actually try to hash out a line of action that would help us all out. At least here, no one has out and out said that anyone who supports or participates in Occupy Wall Street is an out and out communist fluffer and should be shot on sight/sentenced to treason and deported.

    I know a couple of posts I have made may have seemed off topic as re. supply-side economic conjecture, and the supposed Rand-ite “Free Market” baloney, however, both really are at the heart of OWS.

    Personally I’m glad we made it this far before you fired up the forge to warm the Mallet of Loving Correction. :D Happy Halloween and Buenos Dias de los Muertos for the next two days :D

  115. @Constance

    Gulliver, could you please let me know whom I’ve declared DOA and/or demeaned? You keep saying “they”…

    Your light humor directed at the OCW draft declaration seemed more than a little condescending being as it wasn’t backed up by any actual critiques.

    you know what, never mind. You seem very combative, whereas I’ve been aiming for light humor, and vitriol bores me.

    I have my days, and I’m far from without fault, but I still think your “humor” was intentionally belittling. Perhaps I simply don’t share your sense of humor. I never was much for laughing at the powerlessness of the underdog…or puppy, if you prefer.

    But our host has asked for a higher standard of politeness, and I’m sure that was directed in part at me, so I’ll leave it at that and wish you a Happy Halloween.

    @Greg

    I think I am OK with prejudicing my listening to some individual’s political ideas based in the political groups that individual belongs to.

    Fair enough. As I said, I suppose it depends on your assessment of the group. I assess the KKK as having no redeeming value. I assess the Tea Party as having little redeeming value, and less since the social conservatives hijacked it a few months into its existence.

  116. Constance @4:31 10/31 I think the DOA thing has to do with your use of the word “epitaph” in your post. I think you meant to say “epigram”, but that is just a guess.

    My take on things: I am almost 60 years old. In the 1960’s a person could have a decent full time job, not an executive, but a good job (working the manufacturing line, waiting tables or tending bar, branch manager or head teller at a bank, elementary school teacher, pastor, cook, mill worker, carpenter, plumber – you get the idea). Those folks made enough money to buy a car, rent or buy a decent place to live, have kids, and maybe even save for retirement and save enough to help send the kids to college. This American Dream has gradually morphed into both parents working, not enought to save for college, not enough to buy a house, not enough to get by if one worker gets laid off. I have read articles and op-ed pieces about how this is capitalism at work and it is okay the way things are. What a bunch of bullshit! What we have now is an emerging oligarchy that is most definitely not capitalism. For capitalism to work, the capital must be circulating throughout the economy. It is time to double or even triple the minimum wage. We have people working 60 hours a week who make less than $20,000 a year – good luck getting ahead on that. Tax the rich. Tax the wealthy corporations. Get this money back into circulation! Raise wages and salaries. Give the capital to those who will actually spend it and put it back into the economy. If the corporations won’t do it, tax them extra and have the government spend the money directly on roads, bridges, and universal health insurance (not this mishmash negotiated one we have now – which is way better than what we had before). For those of you who think single payer health insurance is the same thing as socialized medicine, you have an internet connection, look up the difference).
    I saw something about illegal immigrants – they aren’t the problem (see Alabama’s economy right now).
    Well, hell, this is my respite from MissleBreak OutVaders.
    Increase wages and salaries -we’ll actually spend the money and buy products and services.
    Mr. Scalzi – way to start a discussion!

  117. Remember Logan’s Run? The 1976 movie where everyone was allowed to live to be 30 years old, and then went to the arena to be “Renewed”? They were told they might get another 30 years of life if they were Renewed. Only a small percentage of people were Renewed, they were told, but everyone had a chance. Everyone attended these Renewal sessions and shouted “Renew! Renew!” They were cheering for the people they hoped and believed would achieve Renewal, and lived in hope of it themselves.

    Of course, no one was Renewed. The device in the arena just killed them all.

    That’s what I think of when I see people who are not in the 1% and never will be, but who deeply believe they have a chance. They cheer on the people who ARE in the 1% because they hope to join them.

    You’re not going to join them. Almost no one who isn’t born into that class gets there. Certainly no one who makes their money doing manual labor will get there. You’re just going to work, living in this false hope, until you die.

    There’s no Sanctuary, either, in case you were wondering.

  118. @Xopher: Off-topic as hell, but if you haven’t already, you should track down the novel Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Their novel was actually based on a screen play they originally wrote. The whole premise of Logan’s Run–novel and original screenplay–is that people get to live to the ripe old age of 21. At 21 you either report to a Sleep Parlor, or the men of Deep Sleep (DS aka Sandmen) are dispatched to make your remaining few moments some of the most miserable ones you ever knew… especially if the Sandman decides to Homer you; Once a homer is fired it can’t be dodged and when it strikes it overloads and burns out every nerve you have in your body. In tone it is a lot more frightening than the movie, however your analogy of the movie as regards the half-baked teachings of supply-side economics/Rand-ite free market IS very valid. :D

  119. @ Phil Royce says October 31, 2011 at 7:27 pm :

    I was actually using the word supplied by Gulliver upthread. I think he mean “epithet,” but I ran with “epitaph” because I thought the mis-use was funny. My bad.

    @ Scalzi, our Evil Overlord: Can you *please* number posts, because this shizzle sucks the fomizzle. How can I possibly keep track of the defensive anarchists misreprecomprehending me if they are not tagged in the wild? I mean, *I’m* supposed to be the humorless lesbian Marxist feminist of color on your blog. I don’t know how to handle the humorless hetero white male puppies. Apparently, I’m now a conservative, which I find confusing, and I’m blaming it all on the new threading protocol. No love.

  120. @Constance:
    You should try being the redneck southern boy who is a facist marxist anarchist who is trying to usher in the New World Order and who cozies up to dirty Mexicans and other people of off-caucasion color. ;-)

  121. @Digital Atheist October 31, 2011 at 8:54 pm: OMG, we’re related! Let’s boycott XMas in Mississippi together. I’ll bring the hush puppies and mudbugs…

  122. Only if we can do New Year’s in South Carolina. I’ll bring the shotguns (for fireworks) and the barbeque and homemade biscuits. ;-)

  123. Hey, don’t leave me out. I’m the faggot socialist Pagan. That’s right, not so much a Godless commie as a many-godded commie faggot.

  124. Oh Xopher… a socialist and a pagan? How could you sink so low. But then I’m a treasonous bastard who hates the U.S. of A. even if i did do 9 years in the Army. Bright blessings be upon you and invite me over for the Winter Solstice ceremony. :-)

  125. So, it’s Easter at Xophers, ja? It’s a plan, assuming that I get a FT job–because of course it’s all my fault that my entire department was laid off April 2010. If only I’d tugged harder on those damned bootstraps! Maybe I should have used my Invisible Hand! Yeah, that’s it! Next time the whole country is plunged into a recession, I’ll use my Invisible Hand to yank myself into the 1% by my Jimmy Choi bootstraps. Because bootstraps are issued at birth to all right-thinking native-born Americans.

    Now I’m just babbling. Goodnight, Moon!

  126. @Constance

    I was actually using the word supplied by Gulliver upthread. I think he mean “epithet,” but I ran with “epitaph” because I thought the mis-use was funny. My bad.

    No, I meant epitaph, as in you seemed to be dancing on the graves of OCW before the movement was even out of the hanger doors. But epithet works too.

    Can you *please* number posts, because this shizzle sucks the fomizzle. How can I possibly keep track of the defensive anarchists misreprecomprehending me if they are not tagged in the wild? I mean, *I’m* supposed to be the humorless lesbian Marxist feminist of color on your blog. I don’t know how to handle the humorless hetero white male puppies. Apparently, I’m now a conservative, which I find confusing, and I’m blaming it all on the new threading protocol. No love.

    Now that is funny.

    P.S. – I have you all beat hands down. I’m a socially hyper-liberal free-market capitalist transhumanist atheist working tirelessly to bring about a hyper-liberal society and/or a free-market economy, and convince civilization to take environmental custodianship seriously and plan for tectonic shifts in the technological underpinnings of the global economy, all while decrying the creeping corporate cronyism masquerading as both free-market capitalism and communism, and I want everyone to lead happy, fulfilling lives and stop waging generational wars based on fairy tales and superficial characteristics. My list of allies is way shorter than the list of people that consider me nuts or just plain evil. Luckily I’m an inhumanly stubborn bastard :)

  127. Xopher: That’s what I think of when I see people who are not in the 1% and never will be, but who deeply believe they have a chance. They cheer on the people who ARE in the 1% because they hope to join them.

    Haven’t seen “Logan’s Run”, but now I’m curious.

    I think there’s a “lottery” effect to the laissez-faire capitalists, people who just want to win big. But I also think there’s definitely a “I got mine” effect going on as well. I run into it once in a while, and it doesn’t seem to be restricted to rich or poor or any other non-political demographic I’ve noticed. But it goes something like this: I worked hard and got everything I have by my own sweat and blood and you should work just as hard and you can get the same thing, and how dare you suggest that you tax some of mine and make it some of yours.

    I think it comes down to Aunt Maggs Thatcher and “there is no such thing as society” sort of mentality. A psychological mindset that is completely void of any empathy and any identity towards “other” except perhaps for some small circle of family and friends, defining the smallest possible subset that one could still call “tribe”. And to hell with anyone else. It’s a lack of empathy that would cause someone to believe that they got where they are all by themselves. Even though they went to public school on public roads protected by public police and public military, they can’t identify with the people who paid for all those services they’re using as part of the larger society to which they belong. And so their worldview, their lack of empathy, gives them the “I’ve got mine, you get your own” mentality.

    Certainly, the “lottery” effect gives them a carrot to dream about, but it is sourced by an internal mindset that doesn’t have much connection to “other”.

  128. Greg,
    Give yourself some credit. You don’t need the government to be your nanny. You’re a smart guy, your posts are proof of that. Why do you believe that the government does a better job spending your money than you would?

    Remember the pentagon’s $300 hammer?

    The government never, ever does better than the private sector at providing a valuable service at a reasonable price.

    You were pretty fed up with the government response to Katrina weren’t you? Was that because “George Bush hates black people” or was it because a giant money-sucking bureaucracy doesn’t respond well to a real crisis. (btw, is bureaucracy a bitch to spell or what?)

    You railed on the Tea Party for being anti-government, but you support a group of politically naive children many of whom call for anarchy.

    Which is it? Anarchy or government control? You can’t have it both ways. Should cigarettes be illegal but pot legal? Take it up with Bloomberg. I wouldn’t want to be in his head right now.

    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed Halloween, perhaps a bit too much. Lighten up. I could respond to all of your points, but dude, we are so not going to convince each other of anything.

    Seriously, lighten up.

  129. That was “President Bush doesn’t care about black people,” and if anything Kanye understated the case. I don’t think Dubya knows what it even means to care about another human being. I think he’s a complete sociopath.

    While I’m at it, let me say that I think he should be doing LWOP in a maximum-security prison…in TEXAS.

    Why? Because I’m liberal, so I’m against the death penalty.

  130. If your’e going to correct the unattributed quote that I pulled out of my ass after I spent all night drinking, at least correct it correctly.

    I’m going to bed.

  131. So our only options are lottery, anarchy or totalitarianism?

    *Scales fall away from eyes.*

    Now all of a sudden the Internets make sense.

    “When did we get to Disneyland?” ~ Lone Starr

  132. Something I find interesting is the idea I keep seeing that its the “soft” degrees failing to get jobs. In my experience it has been exactly the opposite for much of the newly graduated generation. The people I know who are in trouble tend to be the ones who specifically aimed at a “hard” degree in a job market that no longer exists, whereas the people who learned more widely applicable skills, like say writing, have mostly managed to find some sort of job, even if it isn’t their dream job.

    Seems to me that the degrees that teach things like art, languages, writing, and most of all critical thinking are also teaching the very skills needed to actually be successful in almost any career, while many of the harder degrees are effectively job training that only teaches one job. I also notice a correlation between the people in more intellectual degrees (and I include most “hard” science and math degrees here, as they also tend to teach that wonderful skill that is critical thought) and actually being serious about their education.

    But then, the fact that I put thinking critically as the single most important skill one can have for *any* labels me solidly liberal on education and goes against our anti-intellectual american ethos that seems to fuel much of the hostility to degrees where the correlation between degree and “use” is not clear. That people who swear fealty to a bunch of enlightenment trained revolution-prone gentlemen can hate critical thinking so much is one of the more ironic aspects of the hero worship of our founding fathers.

    “As a short-term solution, metaphorically arming the SEC to the teeth and setting it on the US financial industry like an angry wolverine strikes me as the most bang for the buck.”

    I could really get behind this particular suggestion.

  133. Gulliver @1:30pm: The SEC has been pretty crippled from the previous administration, and it’s outgunned by the fact that the companies and people it polices can afford very good lawyers; but it’s a pretty serious accusation to claim that it is actually corrupt. As for “clear, straight forward laws that aren’t so riddled with loop-holes that industry can drive a jobs market through them”, that is to law as this is to relationships. Which is not to say that regulatory reform is a bad thing (quite the contrary) or that it’s important to make regulations clear and with an eye to preventing, not enabling, bad behavior.

    Regarding the Second Amendment, yes, my friends took me very seriously indeed. They were also quick to observe (correctly, IMO) that the police as a group are ideologically much more sympathetic to right-wing “the Second Amendment is my only issue” protesters than they would be to a bunch of liberal hippie OWSers who decided “hey, let’s show everyone that we have Second Amendment rights, too.” They don’t want people to get shot because there’s a double standard (which there is).

    @Billy Quiets: again, you’re not going to convince anyone by shouting ideology at them. “Never, ever”? Really? That’s not a calm, thoughtful argument; that’s a longer version of “government bad”.

  134. And admitting to pulling things out of your ass after drinking all night doesn’t increase your credibility in general. But then you’re not really here to make credible arguments, are you?

  135. The government never, ever does better than the private sector at providing a valuable service at a reasonable price.

    I offer counter evidence in the shape of US vs. any other Western nation’s health-care.

  136. @Antongarou: It’s especially ironic when one realizes that the iconic “$500 hammer” is being sold by private industry to the government. In other words, the $500 price tag is being slapped on that hammer by a for-profit defense contractor who is “providing” that valuable item. One wonders if it would be that much more expensive for the government to manufacture its own darn hammers.

    And anyone who is in a high-expense profession is aware of the problem of books, tools, materials and so on costing a hell of a lot more than it should because ‘they can afford it’.

  137. @Joel D

    But then, the fact that I put thinking critically as the single most important skill one can have for *any* labels me solidly liberal on education and goes against our anti-intellectual american ethos that seems to fuel much of the hostility to degrees where the correlation between degree and “use” is not clear. That people who swear fealty to a bunch of enlightenment trained revolution-prone gentlemen can hate critical thinking so much is one of the more ironic aspects of the hero worship of our founding fathers.

    Yet you and I and many here are Americans who don’t share this ethos. I swear fealty to the Constitution (not to its authors), and while I have no use for hero cults, I do admire the founders’ then progressive and revolutionary politics. But, as the xkcd strip to which mythago linked says, people are complicated. While there are obviously no dearth of people who do embrace that ethos, I have my doubts that they are a majority of the electorate. Human beings just don’t fall into neat little “real America” and “liberal” categories, despite what pundits and groupthink-worded polls and traditional media pandering to the lowest common denominator would have us believe. It’s our America too.

    @Antongarou

    I offer counter evidence in the shape of US vs. any other Western nation’s health-care.

    This is slightly tangential, but I find it interesting that most of the debate over health care in the U.S. seems to be whether we should keep the unsustainable status quo or adopt a highly imperfect European style system. I see no reason why we shouldn’t try to do something better. There seems to be this outlook in general, which I think Billy Quiets last comment embodies perfectly, that anything government has any part in automatically can’t leverage the competitive power of markets or offer choices and self-determination to consumers. Just because that’s how government usually runs things doesn’t mean that’s the only way it can possibly function. To me it sounds like Bah! Man will never fly!

  138. @mythago

    It’s especially ironic when one realizes that the iconic “$500 hammer” is being sold by private industry to the government. In other words, the $500 price tag is being slapped on that hammer by a for-profit defense contractor who is “providing” that valuable item.

    Ah, the magical world of no-bid contracts and opaque procurement practices. Long live cronyism!

  139. Okay, I’m still awake so let me kick the beast.

    Antongarou offers “counter evidence in the shape of US vs. any other Western nation’s health-care.”

    Thanks for illustrating my point. Take a picture of our health-care greatness. The whole idea of Obama’s health-care reform is to fix the system that you just said is the best system by patterning it after a bunch of crappy inferior systems.

    Mythago,
    Re: My $300 hammer (your $500 hammer; notice how the price went up the minute a liberal touched it even though it was just a metaphor)

    Anyway. It’s a private company selling the hammer, certainly. Why are they doing it? Because they are motivated by profit. (and politically connected) But they can’t get away with that kind of egregious bullshit in the private sector for long. Only the government will institutionalize that level of graft. No other entity would pay even $200 for a hammer, although I saw a sweet framing hammer the other day for 40 bucks.

  140. @Billy Quiets: I remember the anecdote you were quoting as a $500 hammer, but I do appreciate your dropping the pretense that you’re “trying to understand people who don’t think like I do, and relate to them my point of view” rather than playing the game of political PvP. In vino veritas indeed!

    On the surface it appears that you’re shifting your arguments; first that the government can “never, ever” match the private sector for price and sales, and then moving to, okay, maybe the private sector sells hammers at a x10 or more markup, but that doesn’t matter because they won’t get away with it for long, dagnabit.

    Of course on the surface both of those arguments are false, the latter particularly and sharply so to anyone who’s been charged $50 for a Tylenol pill by a for-profit hospital or paid $500 for a book worth a tenth that because it’s a “professional publication”, and we all know doctors/lawyers/engineers can afford it so what the heck.

    And I keep saying “on the surface” because they’re not your real arguments. Your real argument is “government bad, private sector good”, and so it doesn’t especially matter to you whether the surface arguments you present are consistent or logical; the underlying argument, to you, is unassailable. It’s as if you praised your wife’s beauty by remarking on her flawless skin, and somebody pointed out that she’s got some pretty bad acne scars. They would have made the error of assuming that your surface argument (my wife’s complexion is beautiful) was a meaningful argument on its own, instead of an expression of your real, underlying argument (I love my wife and she is, to me, the most attractive woman in the world). Any conversation would therefore be more than a little frustrating to you both, with the other person wondering why you keep moving the goalposts when you’re wrong and you wondering why this bozo is picking nits instead of getting your real point.

  141. So you remember my post from about a hundred up the thread well enough to quote it, but you can’t get the last one right?

    In vino veritas works for me, try and follow along.

    The 300/500 hammer company will deliver the best product for the best price or they will go out of business. Circuit City: out of business. Best Buy: in business. For the big box stores in this economy it’s down to Highlander, there can be only one.
    (hey it’s a sci-fi thread)

    But when you add in the monolithic, unaccountable, pork-fest government, someone is going to sell the army a hammer. Only the government can skew the process so badly that it costs $400.

    Sadly, the government is buying the hammer with your dollars.

    Now, as to my point that the government could “never, ever” match the private sector on price. How the hell could they? The stupid bastards just paid between 300 and 500 bucks for a stinking hammer. And not even the bad-ass framing hammer I saw at Home Depot the other day.

  142. Billy, I live in Israel. We are literally afraid of our health-care becoming anywhere near the way US health care has been for as far back as memory goes(i.e. “health insurance”, everything private, etc). You’ll find similar attitudes in all western countries(examples of note: Canada, UK).

    Why?Because for the last generation at least the US has spent more per capita country and gotten worse care back then any western country: check the statistics if you don’t believe me(and do include the 10% or so who don’t have access to non-emergency health care for monetary reasons). Just so you aren’t mistaken: when I’m talking about “the US” I’m very definitely not talking about just government spending, I’m talking both government and private expenditure in aggregate(AFAIK private spendings way outstrip government spending).

  143. @Billy Quiets: No, I’m thinking of the actual “the Pentagon bought overpriced hammers and toilet seats and ashtrays” anecdotes, which I remember as being a $500 hammer, regardless of who touched it first.

    If you didn’t have that grounding in classical languages neocons insist is essential to all educated citizens, you might want to Google in vino veritas. It doesn’t mean “you’re drunk, so if you simply repeat your arguments louder they’ll make sense”. It does mean that the next time you say something like “I’m not playing a game. I found this site because I loved Old Man’s War, but I read and comment on the political threads here because I’m trying to understand people who don’t think like I do, and relate to them my point of view”, fewer people are likely to have the patience to pretend they believe you.

  144. Oh, and Billy, as to that 300$ hammer…a simple Google check got rid of that mystery:

    One problem: “There never was a $600 hammer,”http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1298/120798t1.htm said Steven Kelman, public policy professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. It was, he said, “an accounting artifact.”
    E-MAIL THIS ARTICLE PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION COMMENT ON THIS STORY

    The military bought the hammer, Kelman explained, bundled into one bulk purchase of many different spare parts. But when the contractors allocated their engineering expenses among the individual spare parts on the list – a bookkeeping exercise that had no effect on the price the Pentagon paid overall – they simply treated every item the same. So the hammer, originally $15, picked up the same amount of research and development overhead – $420 – as each of the highly technical components, recalled retired procurement official LeRoy Haugh. (Later news stories inflated the $435 figure to $600.)

    (from this article)

    I know it’s fun to bash the government, but I recommend you check your facts beforehand.

  145. Antongarou,
    Mayo clinic. King Hussein of Jordan. Cancer treatment.

    Spare me about how terrible our care is when everyone comes here to get treated.

    Get ready for the 300/500 scalpel.

    Did he go to Canada? Nope. 18 months for a knee replacement. Gonna need a better time frame for curing cancer, Thanks.

  146. Thinking about going for the dreaded double post just to hammer down the hammer thread.

    Antongarou, your source is a shill for the government.

    Government Executive in its print incarnation is a biweekly business magazine serving senior executives and managers in the federal government’s departments and agencies. Our subscribers are high-ranking civilian and military officials who are responsible for defending the nation and carrying out the many laws that define the government’s role in our economy and society.

  147. Billy, as someone who served in IDF quartermasters I can totally see exactly what he described happening. As to the top end care being very good:that tangential to my point at best. Your top end care can be the best in the world, but if a large percentage of the population can’t afford non-emergency health care of any kind then your health care system is worse then that of people whose top care is a bit worse but where everybody can get reasonable non-emergency care.

  148. “The government never, ever does better than the private sector at providing a valuable service at a reasonable price.”

    I am calling bullshit on this one. Fire departments, police, roads, military, and at least where I live EMTs and ambulances.

    Imagine a world where the fire department was a company instead of a government backed common. In the old days many fire departments were employeed by insurance companies to protect the property of their policy holders. Now let us suppose your neighbor’s house catches on fire. He has State Farm insurance who sends out their fire department. In the mean time the fire spreads to your property. You have All State insurance. The fire fighters putting out your neighbor’s fire are under no obligation to do so for your property. They can let it burn, or they can put it out and charge you a fee. You can either pay that fee or wait for your insurance backed company to get there.

    The same kind of arguments apply to all of the rest. You can either go with what we have, or fall into the craziness of worrying about who is gonna put out the fire on your property when your neighbor catches fire.

    The “Gubmint bad/evil/devil and Private sector good/sweet/angel” arguement is silly at best. Believe me, when private companies are given no-bid contracts to supply food and water to U.S. soldiers, don’t be surprised at what you get: http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/news/contamination.html

    The private sector is just as dirty and low down as you accuse “Gubmint” of being. Neither is a saint nor a devil.

  149. Oh, and one difference between the two: at least if you can get enough people to go along with you, you can get rid of people in government for shitty work. Private business…? not so much; they are more likely to get a raise and bonus.

  150. Antongarou & Billy: In re rationalizing expenses as an accounting artifact, we do it in private industry, as well. Thus an $.83 light bulb ends up “costing” $4 because ABC Corp purchases a service contract which includes installation and warehousing of sufficient stock to keep service times low, as well as (probably) some sort of buy-back agreement if the bulbs in question are non-standard. The cost of service is rolled into the cost of the product for accounting reasons.

    Also, in Packing for Mars, Mary Roach does a great job of explaining why a toilet can get really, really(!!!) expensive. Terrific book, btw.

  151. Billy Quiets November 1, 2011 at 3:04 am:
    “Spare me about how terrible our care is when everyone comes here to get treated.”

    Whoa. That statement is so wrong that Google can refute it. Look up Dental Tourism, Medical Tourism, etc. Every year nearly a million Americans go abroad for medical or dental treatment, and not necessarily for elective or cosmetic treatments. Americans go abroad for cardiac surgeries, knee replacements, Lasik, organ transplants, etc. Costs are 30-50% lower than in the US, wait times are shorter, and patients don’t get kicked off a list because they don’t have insurance. Medical tourism is considered a growing field in over 50 countries actively targeting US citizens because our system is crappy.

    Mexico and Canada get the bulk of American dental tourism, so much so that employer-provided CA insurance companies now offer Mexican dental plans, and in the northern US states a common reason provided to CBP officers for visiting Canada is Lasik surgery, which is 60% cheaper than in the US. Patients also report being more satisfied with their treatments abroad: 90% or higher.

    By contrast, America receives only about 75K medical tourists per year, from other countries. Most of those come for high-end, specialist treatments affordable only by the insanely wealthy.

  152. @Constance: Except that Billy’s argument is not really “foreigners come to the US for medical treatment, therefore the private sector > government”. His argument is “government is a bad thing and should leave just about everything to the private sector, therefore [ ],” and you can fill in the brackets with medical tourism, $500 hammers, the US Postal Service, or whatever example you wish. If the example turns out to be wrong then he can discard it and find a different example – but he’s not going to re-examine “government is evil” because that argument has not really been presented for debate, and isn’t going to be.

  153. @mythago

    His argument is “government is a bad thing and should leave just about everything to the private sector, therefore [ ],”

    Actually from some of his arguments here, his stance is that government should leave everything to the private sector: The government never, ever does better than the private sector at providing a valuable service at a reasonable price.”

    While everyone here will admit that there are problems in government, his assertion is that government is the problem. The way to fix problems like that is to keep government from regulating any industry or taxing any corporation/company… in other words a wish for anarchy in the marketplace.

    What all of these unregulated market believers want is a world where they can do anything they want to the environment, pay slave wages to their workers, suppress competition and form monopolies, charge–gouge–as much as they can from the populace at large, while never having to bear any responsibility for their actions and never having to lose money or go broke.

    Environment: See recent House of Representative attempts to gut the EPA, and neuter The Clean Air act, The Clean Water act, waste disposal laws, and trying to stop the EPA from limiting mercury and other pollutants from various industries.

    Pay: for some reason a certain segment of the population wants to get rid of the minimum wage–Michele Bachmann being one–so that employers can employee more people. Really this is a corporate desire; if your workers are lean and hungry they are willing to work as many hours as possible just to be able to feed their kids.

    Suppress competition/form monopolies: this is one of the main goals of deregulation advocates. As I noted before, check with your cable provider and see what other companies are allowed to operate in the area. If you are lucky to live in a large city you may have a choice but more rural areas? They sign exclusivity agreements with the governing body. You have ONE choice and you pay their price. There is no competition. In other words you have a monopoly.

    Charge/gouge customers: again, see cable companies in rural areas. There is no reason for cable internet service to be as costly as it is other than they can charge as they wish. Cell phone companies are also taking up the same gouging practices. They routinely take lower priced well-liked features, change them or get rid of them, and then charge you more for a different package… in some cases (see AT&T wireless for messaging plans), they offer only one package to the user at exorbitantly high fees.

    Responibility (or avoiding of self-same): Bhopal, Exxon Valdez, Deep Horizon… in all of these cases, the companies involved–Union Carbide/Dow, Exxon, and BP have all tried to wiggle off the hook and some have managed to drag out paying settlements for long periods of time.

    Always Solvent: look no further than the recent economic disaster, and the banking industry.

  154. Billy@after a bit of drinking: Why do you believe that the government does a better job spending your money than you would?

    explain to me how we would all be better off if all the roads within 10 miles of the empire state building were owned by Bank of America? What incentive would they have to charge a “fair” price to drive on their roads? No one could compete with them. Once they own all the roads, no one could build new roads to compete against them. You’d have to buy skyscrapers and tear them down to make room for competing roads. And Exxon would probably not allow the competitor to tie his new roads into Exxon’s roads.

    How is that free market solution better than publicly owned roads?

    The problem is Mother Ayn, Father Alan, Uncle Ronnie, and Aunt Marg, and their love child the Tea Party, none of them have a set of guiding principles that would allow them to distinguish situations like roads that are better solved by government solutions from other situations like iPods, which are better solved by the free market.

    These people chant the mantra that the Free Market is always better than the government.

    Except when it isn’t.

    Which means they take a “I’ll know it when I see it” attitude. Which means their guiding principle is flawed, but they use this as an escape clause to “correct” its failings.

    i.e. they will allow that “roads” are better run by the govenrment, but only roads. and nothing else like roads.

    “The government never, ever does better than the private sector at providing a valuable service at a reasonable price.”

    Except when they do.

    Like roads.

    But you have no way to identify the scenarios when the government is a better solution, other than “you’ll know it when you see it”.

    “You railed on the Tea Party for being anti-government, but you support a group of politically naive children many of whom call for anarchy.”

    If anyone has been calling for anarchy, its’ the Tea Party. They want to get rid of as much governmen as possible, regardless of whether its good government or not, and they threaten violence and second ammendment solutiosn if they don’t get their way. No govenrment plus violence equals anarchy.

    See that? That’s like a “guiding principle” that allows me to distinguish who is and is not calling for anarchy. It’s not based on “they’re anarchists because I disagree withthem”. It’s based on how they behave. If OWS was calling for violence and trying to kneecap all govenrment, then I’d call them anarchists too. But the Tea Party is caling for violence and is trying to kneecap govenment. So they’re anarchists.

  155. @Kevin Williams

    The libertarian religion says that government is the problem, full stop.

    Wouldn’t know about this libertarian “religion” you speak of, though it sounds a lot like anarchism. The libertarian philosophy, however, says that one’s liberties should extend so far as they can and still be no greater than the liberties of others. The American “Libertarian” Party, Ayn Rand’s moronic rants, Glen Beck & Co. and a general ignorance, in the United States, of any political philosophy not directly related to the two-party system has reduced the awareness, among many, of libertarianism to the same sort of knee-jerk emotional rhetoric the terms communism and Marxism elicit. It’s too bad really. Libertarian philosophy has a rich history of thought including libertarian socialism. Oh well, long live binary group-think!

    Disclaimer: I am not a libertarian or a Marxist, just someone who likes to clear up misunderstandings – which, I realize, are perfectly honest ones in most cases – and tear down walls both between people and in my own mind.

    Sorry I was so querulous day before last. I do try to stay cheerful and keep the argumentativeness of the internet from getting to me. Sometimes I don’t succeed as well as I‘d prefer.

  156. @Gulliver

    What the Libertarian party wants in the way of the economy is anarchy. They want government to deregulate and let the market watch itself. Of course some of them realize they can be screwed this way so they still want the government to protect against fraud. Mind you this requires regulations of course. And what constitutes fraud? Is it unresonable pricing? Lying about the properties of a product? Using substandard parts? Using carcingenic compounds? Lead paint? All of these and more will harm the consumer and require regulations to protect the consumer. The one thing libertarians won’t except is that an industry will NOT regulate itself to the best intrest of all involved. It will only regulate itself to the biggest black digits on the bottom of the profit statement. Other than their crazy deregulate everything and bring on Somalia economic beliefs, I can totally get behind a lot of their personal liberty beliefs. However, what they truly don’t understand deep in their bones is that your liberty ends where mine is encroached upon. My mother has COPD… so the tighter the clean air regs, the happier I am. For the libertarians, the tighter the clean air regs the more bullying the government. shrug.

  157. @Digital Atheist

    What the Libertarian party wants in the way of the economy is anarchy.

    The Libertarian Party in America economic platform – and you seem informed enough to already know this, so I’m adding it for the benefit of any who may not – is closest to what’s known historically as anarcho-capitalism.

    Of course some of them realize they can be screwed this way so they still want the government to protect against fraud. Mind you this requires regulations of course. And what constitutes fraud?

    Exactly. And this question and a variety of answers have arisen throughout the many-branched history of libertarian philosophy.

    The one thing libertarians won’t except is that an industry will NOT regulate itself to the best intrest of all involved.

    I’ll agree the Libertarian Party as an institution fails to accept that. Lower-case libertarians, it varies…a lot.

    However, what they truly don’t understand deep in their bones is that your liberty ends where mine is encroached upon.

    If I may offer an observation, it’s that internet forums do not seem to draw out the most thoughtful of libertarians.

    Plus, many people whose own political philosophies are influenced by libertarians (and mines is influenced by them), don’t self indentify as libertarians. I think there are two primary reasons for this. In some cases it’s because they don’t support core principles of either major branch. For instance, I support a basic social safety net, which is antithetical to right libertarianism. And I support a monetary standard, which is antithetical to left libertarianism. And there are a lot of other things I support government doing that some libertarian schools would acknowledge as legitimate roles and some would not. Which is the other reason; by their very nature lower-case libertarians aren’t partisan. Suffice it to say that the branch of libertarianism my own outlook draws on is one that polices fraud, defends natural commons and, perhaps most importantly, esteems the free-flow of honest information as the cornerstone not only of society’s economic weal, but also the health of its body politic.

    My mother has COPD… so the tighter the clean air regs, the happier I am. For the libertarians, the tighter the clean air regs the more bullying the government. shrug.

    I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t believe in any deities and, from your handle, I’d guess you’re similarly realistic, but I hope her health improves. I’ve lived in major metropolitan areas my whole life, and I’ve literally seen firsthand was tighter regs can do for air quality. As I said, defense of natural commons is key to ensuring the exercise of one’s own liberty does not encroaches on the liberty of another.

  158. @mythago

    Sorry I didn’t get to this yesterday. Hopefully you still see it.

    The SEC has been pretty crippled from the previous administration, and it’s outgunned by the fact that the companies and people it polices can afford very good lawyers; but it’s a pretty serious accusation to claim that it is actually corrupt.

    It ranges from this…

    http://www.npr.org/2011/08/18/139758303/sec-documents-destroyed-employee-tells-congress

    …to this…

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/sec-pornography-employees-spent-hours-surfing-porn-sites/story?id=10452544

    That said, I’m confident there are plenty of good apples there as well. But Congress routinely invites industry to draft its own regulatory legislation. So yeah, I think that leads to corrupt legislation. They draft tomes of legal-ease few lawyers can fully review or, in some cases, even find. And whether by design or sheer complexity, they leave myriad loopholes that large enterprises can exploit with their armies of lawyers. But not all companies and people can afford very good lawyers, let alone whole departments of them. The end result is that the bigger the business, the better insulated it is against regulations so tangled that smaller businesses may run afoul of them without even realizing it. So yes, we need regulation of the financial industry. But we need regulatory laws and practices that hold big businesses equally accountable and lay out laws and the punishments for transgressing them in a manner straight-forward enough that a constant team of Brown-educated council doesn’t need to be kept on retainer to make heads or tales of them.

    Here is how I put it to a friend of mine:
    “Nor are all corporations equal. As someone who was part owner in a small tech firm for seven years, I can tell you that Mom and Pops are a whole different ballgame from the Goldman Sachs or JP Morgans of the world. Somewhere along the line Americans across the political spectrum somehow got it into their heads that ‘free market’ means the freedom to use government lobbies and our fiscally unequal court system to smash competition and beat customers into submission. It doesn’t, and Adam Smith is spinning in his grave as the very East India company model he railed against is taking over the world in the name of his ideas. It’s on par with saying that ‘freedom of religion’ is the freedom of a religion to take over the state and burn unbelievers at the stake.”

    Or, to put it another way, Republicans keep using the term free-market. I don’t think that term means what they think it means.

  159. @Gulliver

    I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t believe in any deities and, from your handle, I’d guess you’re similarly realistic, but I hope her health improves. I’ve lived in major metropolitan areas my whole life, and I’ve literally seen firsthand was tighter regs can do for air quality. As I said, defense of natural commons is key to ensuring the exercise of one’s own liberty does not encroaches on the liberty of another.

    First of all, thank you for concern. Unfortunately my mother has had asthma all of her life, and later developed COPD on top of that… after having polio as a child, and Alzheimer’s as an adult. However she keeps hanging in there… she ain’t got a lot of quit in her system.

    As regards libertarians, trust me, I know there are different branches of them with different ideals. It just seems that way too often the most extreme ones are the ones that pop their head up and start spouting their “economic vision” all over the place… Anarchy.

    Based on what you said, I could toss a vote your way if you were running for office. And no, it wouldn’t be the first time. I’ve voted for a few different parties in the past because the people they ran seemed to be saner choices than what we had. Libertarians, Constitutionalists, Green, and a couple others I’m probably forgetting.

    And yes, before I forget, I am an atheist as my screen name indicates. Years ago I got crazy and decided to study “The Bible”–not merely read it–and poke in to its origins and all that other good stuff. After that, and long, LONG list of errors, inaccuracies, inconcistencies, and out and out foolishness I had to ask how anyone could believe that junk. I reached the same conclusion after reading “The Qu’ran” and a whole slew of pagan, heretical, apochryphal, and gnostic texts from all over the world.

    Have a great day.

  160. Looks like the police are evicting the protesters from Zuccotti park today, citing “health” issues. Black plaque or something.

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