09 October 2011

Protest

I hate to rain on a parade, well actually I seem to enjoy it, but I still haven't figured out what exactly the occupy Wall St people want. Or at least, I haven't figured out what that could be that would be a potential policy that would make sense. Watching footage, I get the sense that yes, there are a few Paul-ites who want the Fed gone who are there (and may or may not be all that pleased with the tea party). They're not the driving elements, and they're more likely practically another species from the garden variety token protesters.

What seemed to be the complaints
1) We don't like banks. Like not even that we don't like that the banks got money from the federal government through TARP, but that we don't even like banking period. I guess that Sharon Angle quote about chicken bartering found an audience? Because that's just utterly stupid. One thing to have gripes and misgivings about centralised bankers or corporatisation of regulatory commissions, those may or may not be sensible and actually relate to our problems. Quite another to say Fuck this and want to get rid of the entire institution of finance.

2) We don't like Citizens United. Sorry, I can't get behind people who don't like what other people have to say using their free speech. I certainly agree that too often the political system is bought and sold, but it was too often BEFORE the Supreme Court said corporations and unions could throw more money into it. The problem is a) that too much of the political structure can be gamed by political influence in the first place or b) that there is too much that is left up to the political structure rather than left free to markets and social forces. Not that some of those social forces say things with which you may or may not agree. That strikes me as an essential function of democracy that people express themselves. Including even yourselves. It's not a required function of democracy that I, or anyone else, have to think everything you say is smart and clever and wonderful. This problem arises also with the morons like Palin who think that's what free speech means is that you don't criticize other people for saying idiotic things.

What it means is that you don't get put in jail for saying idiotic things. (note also that overlooked in the CU case is the expanded freedom for non-profits to say things in elections, for unions, and for basically anyone but the actual press. Also overlooked is that not all large business-corporate entities want the same things. They're no monolith. The road to profit has many turns.)

3) We don't like paying for student loans for our useless degrees that didn't give a decent job, or any job. I think the supposed policy proscription here is to bailout these protesters the way banks were. I don't see how that a) helps them get jobs b) helps the overall economy (it mostly destroys a lot of issued credit) c) sends appropriate and socially necessary signals about how useful a particular degree will be for employment purposes (a problem we clearly already possess). If you wanted to educate yourself for other purposes, self-enrichment, self-fulfillment, etc, that's one thing, but in that case, one supposes that you would find your education worthwhile and not be bothered that you are burdened with debts and unemployment as a possible outcome. If you thought it was somehow leading to a career field, then I suggest that somebody needed to have a chat with you at some point and somebody needed to say "no". It probably won't.

4) I still don't see how this becomes a useful left-wing political movement. I see some elements for class strife, but mostly I see some pretend anarchists who don't like much of anything about the current system (but who, curiously, want the government to do something). There are some Tea Partiers who had similar dispositions or even some actual anarchist leanings, but most were conservatives dressed up in funny hats. From what I can tell about the Tea Party. It cost the Republicans a chance at controlling the Senate, and possibly a couple of House seats, and in a few other cases shifted their base farther to the right. This has meant that the party establishment has had no control over making deals to manage to accomplish much of anything of a tea party demand (things like cutting government spending require the ability to make deals to reduce spending or things like passing new laws to overturn some of the old ones, etc).

Unless I guess the demand was for ineffectual government that accomplishes nothing. I suspect a similar insurgency of actual socialists in the Democratic party would be similarly useless. But hey, I'm a pragmatist. Not an ideologue or a movement guy.

PS, that Peter King quote, yeah. Peter King is a moron first class of the moron brigade. Particularly on assessing potential threats. Why exactly would this mean that he's got some idea to speak seriously about protesters? What it says is that he's annoyed by media attention given to it, not that it has taken on any higher purpose and as yet deserves that attention. In the 60s, the movement of protests had many facets, but the primary unifier among them was opposition to the Vietnam War and civil rights for blacks. I'm not seeing any protest points being used that can be turned into a simple and effective policy for influencing national policies at all. We are not getting rid of banks or nationalising them. Corporate influence in politics isn't going away. And so on.

Wake me when you reach a consensus on something we might actually wish to do as a society to improve ourselves. (Get out of Afghanistan! or something, anything of that ilk).
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