Sunday, October 16, 2011

Let’s Talk OWS…

Hey, how ya doing? I thought today would be a good day to just chat about The “Occupy Wall Street” movement –something I have been purposefully avoiding because I wanted to see how it developed. I guess now is as good a time as any to put my foot in my mouth and express a few personal opinions and observations.

First let me say that I can easily understand the frustration being expressed by the people who started the movement. The gap between the “common people” and the rich continues to grow and our elected officials are absolutely clueless about how serious the problem really is –let alone how to address the problem. The fact is that the average American has seen his income decline while watching the uber-rich take home record profits. Over ten million Americans are out of work looking for jobs and Washington is locked in political argument about what to do –the problem there is that no one, not Republicans nor Democrats, have a descent plan to truly fix the problem (not that it matters because they can’t seem to get along long enough to pass anything anyway).

The average household income has decreased over 6% in just the last year and the average starting salary is down about 17% while the cost of living has increased dramatically. While this is happening the government uses complex formulas and try to claim that the cost of living has increased about 3% -just who are they trying to kid? Obviously none of them making up these formulas have been to the grocery store or a gas station lately, nor taken into account the increase in the hundreds of little taxes and fees plaguing us “commoners”. Every time we turn around someone in increasing fees (banks, cell phone companies, cable companies -have you looked at the list of "additional fees and taxes" on your utility or cable bills lately?).

And what is their answer? Raise taxes on the rich (a move they admit would only increase revenues enough to cover government spending for less than 2 days!). What good is that going to do? The rich have so many deductions and ways of hiding cash that they don’t pay much in tax anyway. What they need to do is fix the damned tax code! And I do not mean do away with mortgage deductions and charitable deductions – I mean things like stop allowing the richer private citizens to incorporate themselves to hide their property and assets, start penalizing corporations who keep their money in foreign countries to avoid paying taxes here, and tax the hell out of companies like GE who close down operations in the US and send them to China because of cheaper labor, but bring their products here because of higher sales prices.

As for the “movement” itself, well, it is just too unorganized and to vague in its goals to take seriously -yet. The other night President Clinton said they need to ‘find something to be for’ instead of just ‘things to be against’ –and he is right. If they want lasting support, they will need to come up with some very clear purpose and focus all that energy and frustration into actually accomplishing something. They need to get off the streets so much and start organizing politically like the Tea Party did -And they need to resist being taken over by special interests handing out money and support, like, the unions or even George Soros and his moneyed minions. Until they get better organized and come up with a clear statement of purpose, they will just be an interesting sideshow –and there is an underlying danger no one seems to want to talk about.

Movements like this one, that express general and unfocused frustration, have a tendency to bring the crazies out of the woodwork. This kind of anger expressed at billionaires could easily result in some mentally depraved person going out and blowing up a mansion or two, or shooting up some symbol of the rich –just as the anti-abortion movement had some psycho's bombing  clinics and the murdering doctors, or the environmentalist movement saw splinter groups burning Humvees, attacking car dealerships and blowing up logging camps. And when that happens, who gets hurt? The poor slob working in those places to feed his kids. If that starts happening it will turn people against them and destroy any credibility the movement may have –and I think there is a strong possibility that will happen.

The other thing that could well happen is that the protestors will turn into mobs. Mobs easily become violent and that will turn off much of the sympathy they are currently enjoying. Remember the Peace Movement of the late 60's? When their protests turned violent at the Democrat Convention people turned against it and the movement wound becoming just an footnote in American history.

There, now I feel better but I’ll bet you are bored by now so I’ll stop ranting for today and do something more productive, like mixing a martini….. See ya’ll tomorrow….

In the meanwhile, Live Long and Prosper….

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