The Incoherence of Occupy Wall Street

Get a load of this video taken by Reason.tv of an Occupy Wall Street demonstration. Now, you must understand that Reason magazine is a libertarian-leaning organization, so I’m sure there was a certain amount of bias in the editing and selection of clips that went into the 6-minute video.

Still, some of the demands are incoherent and based on factually incorrect premises. To be fair, I suppose you could say the same about some of the Tea Party rallies, too. I’d have to go back and look at the record.

Consider some of the comments at this OWS protest:

  • I like the sign saying “Please no cameras at this meeting.” Isn’t one of the OWS protesters’ complaints that they weren’t getting adequate media coverage?
  • The nerdy guy in the glasses said the Citizens United decision allows “unlimited donations” to campaigns. Wrong. It upholds the rights of corporations to spend on independent political broadcasts during candidate elections, not give to the campaigns themselves. The latter has been illegal for a long time — and still is. Oh, CU also allows labor unions to do the same, but the guy didn’t mention that, perhaps because it doesn’t bother him? Or perhaps because the news articles on Alternet never mentioned it?
  • Another guy wants to get us off the monetary system and move us toward barter. Seriously?
  • Yet another interviewee wants the government to take over the banks, unless, of course, it happens to be a government run by Republicans. That was a real knee-slapper.
  • Did you see the looks on the protesters’ faces when the NYC councilman pointed out that fully 1/3 of the city’s revenues come from Wall Street? It’s as if they’d never even considered where the money comes from to run the city’s social programs and schools.
  • As for the anti-bailout guy who said he likes capitalism but that “when you lose, you lose,” I wonder what he would have said if the feds hadn’t bailed out the auto industry and 100,000 union jobs had disappeared. My guess is he had no problem with sending taxpayer cash to GM. But the interviewer didn’t ask him.

Back in the day, I saw an awful lot of dope smoking, so I speak from experience. I’d say there was some pretty good weed floating around that demonstration. And a lot of unemployed people who got up at the crack of noon to join in the fun.

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  • Anonymous

    Of course OWS is incoherent. They are a diverse group, unified by their outrage against the obscene excesses of corporate/bank greed and excess and the government complicity that has brought the country to it's knees. They are incoherent because the extent of the corporate fraud is mind-boggling – where does one start?

  • Fred Baumgarten

    Anonymous is spot-on with his/her comment. I would just add that the OWC people have issued a set of demands. It's true that there are many different colors of this rainbow, some of them self-interested, but as Anonymous says, the power of the 1% and the corporations over the rest of us is so pervasive and takes so many different forms that it would be a near-impossible task to frame an ideally cohesive response. Besides, it is the corporate media (and their friend Terry) who are demanding the demands to begin with. How about the fact that a significant number of people are joining together and taking a stance against the abuses of the system in the first place? I'd say that's a significant achievement, and not all that different from what has occurred in the Middle East, Greece, and elsewhere. Of course it is people's self-interest that drives them to protest. There's nothing wrong with that.

  • Terry Cowgill

    Haha! You don't buy the OWS line that the media asking what their demands are is some sort of trap? If you're protesting, then it's perfectly reasonable to ask what you want, don't you think?

  • Fred Baumgarten

    I think what they want is patently obvious: economic equity, fairness, and justice.

  • Terry Cowgill

    Those are nice platitudes, but how about a list of demands to make it happen? Otherwise it's just dreaming in the form of a protest.

  • Fred Baumgarten

    I think you know exactly what a "list of demands" would be: raise taxes on the fabulously wealthy; stimulate the economy; bail out the states, schools, and social services instead of the banks, corporations, and investors; and stop making the 99% "sacrifice" for the sake of the wealthy.

  • Terry Cowgill

    No, I don't know exactly what the demands are. That's why I asked. You ought to join their team, Fred. As vague as you are, you've still been more specific than any of the OWS types that I've seen.As for bailing out the investors, I don't know about you, but I have a pension plan that's tied directly to the health of the market. The notion that the stock market only serves the super-rich is tres passe.I would agree that the bailouts served to make the world safe for Goldman-Sachs. But the value of some of the CREF stocks in my pension portfolio has increased in part because of mergers that are facilitated by investment banks like GS. As much as I hated bailing out AIG and GS, we really had to save the pigs to save ourselves.