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The Incoherent Agenda Of Occupy Wall Street

With the “Occupy Wall Street” protest getting national attention thanks to the ridiculous stunt of staging a sit-in on the Brooklyn Bridge, and the even more ridiculous comparisons that some have made between this relatively insignificant protest and the massive populist movements that have helped bring political change to at least three nations, it’s time to take a look at exactly what these people are protesting about. Not surprisingly, it turns out that there’s not much there:

Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon have dropped in. A seasoned diplomat dispenses free advice. Supporters send everything from boxes of food and clothes to Whole Foods gift cards. They even have their own app, for the legions of fans following them on iPhones and Androids.

Nearly two weeks into a sit-in at a park in Manhattan’s financial district, the “leaderless resistance movement” calling itself Occupy Wall Street is at a crossroads. The number of protesters on scene so far tops out at a few hundred, tiny by Athens or Cairo standards. But the traction they have gained from run-ins with police, a live feed from their encampment and celebrity visits is upping expectations. How about some specific demands, a long-term strategy, maybe even … office space?

So far the group, which generally defines itself as anti-greed, has none of those.

“At a certain point, there’s a valid criticism in people asking, ‘What are you doing here?'” protester Chris Biemer, 23, said on Wednesday, Day 11 of the demonstration. In an exchange that illuminated one of the dilemmas that any movement for change faces in trying to sustain momentum, Biemer and protester Victoria Sobel made it clear they had different visions for Occupy Wall Street.

Biemer, who recently moved to New York from Florida with a degree in business administration, says that ideally the group should team up with a nonprofit organization and get office space.

(…)

On its website, Occupy Wall Street describes itself as a “leaderless resistance movement” drawn from people of all backgrounds and political persuasions.

“The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent,” the website says. The posters in Zuccotti Park speak to the lack of a narrow platform: “End financial aid to Israel“; “End greed, end poverty, end war”; “No death penalty”; “Tired of racism.”

Some supporters of the premise wonder how far Occupy Wall Street can go in galvanizing others if it does not translate its anger into specific demands.

A valid question indeed. For the most part, the message, of “Occupy Wall Street” seems to be little different from the same leftist critiques of free market capitalism that we’ve been seeing for decades, and just as intellectually incoherent as those ideas were back then. Politically, it’s an odd movement simply because it’s rather obvious that these are people inclined to vote for Democrats. Likely, they were people swept up in the Obamamania of 2007 and 2008. To some degree, then, one wonders if they aren’t motivated as much by disappointment in a President who clearly never really shared the “progressive” goals that they hold dear, with a little bit of soak-the-rich resentful populism mixed in for good measure.

On Friday, this group of a few hundred people that purports to be the vanguard of some populist movement issued the ambitiously titled “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City” purporting to set forth the reasons they’re protesting:

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

This “corporations run the government” meme has been around since the 1970s, and it’s no more true now than it was then. As Rick Moran points out, if corporations really ran the government would we have an EPA, OSHA, SEC, the EEOC, the FHA, the Department of Labor, or any of the other number of state and federal agencies regulate corporate behavior? If corporations truly “ran” the government, then why would any of these organizations exist?

Corporations do influence the government, of course. But then so do labor unions, the legal profession, the medical profession, special interest groups based on one form of racial or ethnic grievance or another, and lobbying interests ranging from Iowa corn to Texas oil. The problem isn’t corporations, the problem is that we have a government that has its fingers in nearly every aspect of the economy. That means that policy makers have the ability to pick economic winners and losers every day, and it’s only natural that those policies would be of concern to the people that they’re going to impact most directly, the businesses affected by them. That’s lobbying and petitioning the government for redress of grievances, not “running the government.” This kind of reflexive anti-business mentality seems to be quite common in some sectors of society, but it has little basis in reality and seems firmly entrenched in resentment and envy rather than an honest examination of the country’s political system.

Other portions of the manifesto are similarly silly. Here’s just a few of the highlights:

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage

Yes it’s true that the collapse of the real estate market and the foreclosure process revealed many documentation problems in the mortgage industry, but what about the fact that in the overwhelming number of these cases, these foreclosure proceedings were brought against people who didn’t pay their debts? Some of these people who just ran into bad luck when they lost their job, some of them irresponsibly bought houses they couldn’t realistically afford, and some of them were just plain old deadbeats who walked away from their justly incurred debts. Blaming corporations for the fact that people lost their houses in foreclosure is like blaming McDonald’s for the fact that we have an obesity crisis. It eliminates any element of personal responsibility so that these people can claim to themselves and others that they were the victims of some faceless corporation. In reality, they lost their houses because they didn’t live up to their contractual duties. That’s how things are supported to work.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

Well, this is true, and there is plenty to criticize in the TARP and aut0 bailouts. However, if they really have a problem with these policies, why aren’t they protesting outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where the man who implemented many of these bailouts that they oppose resides and works?

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.

So this is an animal rights protest now? What, exactly, does that have to do with Wall Street?

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

No, what’s happened is that several states have started to ask public employee unions to contribute to the cost of benefits that are far more generous than most people in the private sector ever receive. What’s wrong with that? Moreover, while unions have done good over the years they’ve also helped hold American industry back, just ask the auto companies.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

Seriously? It that what this is about, you don’t want to pay your student loans? There’s much that can be said about the rising costs of education, and the extent to which universities are not preparing students for the world of work, but if you spend four years going to college, you’re going to have to pay for it at some point. It’s part of being a responsible adult, just like making your mortgage payment on time every month. Don’t like it? Then don’t incur student loan debt, nobody is putting a gun to your head. Saying your held “hostage” to a justly incurred debt just shows you have no understanding of how the real world works. And since when did a free ride at a university become a “human right”?

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.

In other words, they enforce their patent rights. If it weren’t for those rights, the live  life saving drugs we have now likely wouldn’t exist at all. Unless you’re saying that we can cure cancer using some bizarre herbal remedy.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

Henry Blodget responds quite nicely to this one:

No, they do not “determine” economic policy. They do have a lot of influence over economic policy But inasmuch as economic policy directly and primarily affects corporations—and the ~100 million Americans who work for corporations—it seems reasonable that they should have some influence here. Or do you exclude those ~100 million employees from “the people.”?

Precisely. As I noted above, as long as we have a government that picks economic winners and losers then the parties who stand to benefit or lose the most from that are going to be highly motivated to have their interests considered by policy makers. The solution isn’t to demonize corporations, the solution is to get the government out of the business of substituting political favoritism or whim for the judgment of the marketplace.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

No, “they” (by which I assume you mean companies like Facebook, et al) have shared information you provided based upon their easily accessible privacy policies. If you don’t like it, you can control what information you give them, or you can decline to use their services at all.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

What? Did the 82nd Airborne take over the offices of The New York Times without my knowledge?

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

It’s too bad there isn’t some alternative source of information out there that’s easily accessible from a device that fits into the palm of your hand. Oh wait, there is.

There’s more, of course, all of which you’re free to check out for yourself, but what’s clear is that if this is the intellectual vanguard of the movement that has set up camp in Lower Manhattan then what we’re looking at is more of a fad than a social movement. Letter From A Birmingham Jail it most certainly is not. But then, protests like this usually are little more than temper tantrums. Nothing that these people are doing is going to lead to real reform in government, and none of them strike me as the kind of people willing to do the hard work necessary to bring about that kind of change, unless maybe there was a Radiohead concert involved.

As I noted in a comment to James Joyner’s post this morning, the message I hear sounds to me like the same old warmed-over leftism I used to hear on my college campus back in the late 1980s. Corporations are evil. People over profits. Make love, not war. The slogans have been around for 30 years or more, but that’s all they really are, slogans. If these people were interested in bringing about political change, they wouldn’t be wasting their time like this. This isn’t a political movement, and in a city of 7 million people the only way they could get themselves noticed is by shutting down the Brooklyn Bridge. There really isn’t a coherent agenda here, just a bunch of spoiled children throwing a temper tantrum

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. WR says:

    Shorter Doug: They’re not Republicans, therefore they are stupid. Don’t these people know that the only role for the poor and powerless is to shut up and mind their betters?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 44 Thumb down 31

  2. G.A.Phillips says:

    There really isn’t a coherent agenda here, just a bunch of spoiled children throwing a temper tantrum

    lol….you should see Wisconsin…..

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 10

  3. eric florack says:

    Doug is correct. It’s just the same lefty laundy list, same il same ol.

    I note that greed doesn’t vilolate my rights.
    Theft, however, does.
    Too bad the left doesn’t understand the difference. That includes the “occupy wall street” nuts.

    I’l bet the will expand for hours on ‘the social contract’ though…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 32

  4. anjin-san says:

    just a bunch of spoiled children throwing a temper tantrum

    Not so different from the endless sting of whiny posts you produce from what I presume is a pretty comfortable professional life in Virginia.

    At least these folks have the balls to take it to streets and butt head with cops. You might want to dial back the contempt just a bit.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 58 Thumb down 26

  5. anjin-san says:

    I note that greed doesn’t vilolate my rights.
    Theft, however, does.

    What do you call it when Comcast & AT&T systematically over bill their customers for hundreds of millions of dollars?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 9

  6. WR says:

    Now the snark-free version, since these are actually pretty serious times…

    What the protestors are saying is that the American system, which is supposed to guarantee us all a level playing field, is now broken. That protections that should apply to all are being stripped away from the poor and middle class and increased for the wealthy, that the societal safety net erected to ensure a certain basic quality of life that would enable people to take the kinds of risks necessary to create wealth is being torn apart, and that fundamental ideas of law and governance are being changed to favor the tiny percentage of Americans who now own the majority of the nation’s wealth, and that any attempt by the majority of citizens to change this is stymied because our institutions have been corrupted by corporate cash.

    Doug’s response to all this is: These people are stupid. Don’t they know we have a system in place that takes care of all their problems?

    I understand that Doug thinks these people are dumb because they don’t follow his philosophy. But the fact is their argument, agree with it or not, is vastly more sophisticated than his.

    Protestors: “The system has become corrupted and now is incapable of doing what it was created to do.”

    Doug: “Ya know, there’s a system here, guys.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 54 Thumb down 17

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    Doug Says:

    the message, of “Occupy Wall Street” seems to be little different from the same leftist critques of free market capitalism that we’ve been seeing for decades

    ,
    Wrong Doug, if we had “free market capitalism” this wouldn’t be happening. Instead of “free market” we monopoly crony capitalism and that is what Wall Street is all about.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 10

  8. eric florack says:

    @anjin-san: If that bothers you, go elsewhere.
    And what do you consider ‘overbilling?’

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 20

  9. eric florack says:

    @Ron Beasley: You mean like Solyndra?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 21

  10. Peter says:

    Wall Street is not to blame for the huge amounts of student loan debt saddling so many people. Blame Congress instead. If the federal government didn’t back the student loan program no lending institutions would be making the loans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  11. Jay Tea says:

    Actually, their core message is quite coherent.

    “You have things. We want them.”

    When it gets incoherent is when they try to rationalize the message…

    J.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 30 Thumb down 35

  12. tps says:

    @anjin-san: Butt heads with the cops? Where? When? Most of what I have seen has been them acting fairly meek and mild with the cops putting up with their antics. That said, the pepper spray incident was over the top and unnecessary.

    So far the protestors have been like what Reagen said of the protestors in California in the 60’s “Act like Tarzan, look like Jane, and smell like Cheeta.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 15

  13. Liberty60 says:

    There’s a lot to respond to in the post, but I will focus on this for starters-

    “But inasmuch as economic policy directly and primarily affects corporations—and the ~100 million Americans who work for corporations—it seems reasonable that they should have some influence here.”

    Really? Is Henry Blodget(and by extension, Doug) seriously suggesting that corporations lobbyfor the benefit of ther 100 million employees??

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  14. anjin-san says:

    If that bothers you, go elsewhere.

    So your message is that if I don’t like corporations systematically screwing me, I should leave the country? Really?

    So you have basically come right out and admitted that you have “tool” tattooed on your forehead and “take me anytime you want” on your ass? Good for you.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 10

  15. Liberty60 says:

    The larger point would be that the many disparate themes of the protests actually do have one unifying thread, namely that the top 1% are driving the laws of the country for their own goals, which are at cross purpose with the best interests of the people.

    Whether it is the pointless wars, environmental destruction, unemployment, racism, or what have you, the 1% has entierly purchased the Republican Party, effectively neutered the Democratic Party, co-opted the religious establishment and media, all to the furtherance of its own interest.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 7

  16. anjin-san says:

    Here are a few links regarding Comcast overbilling issues:

    http://www.informationweek.com/news/201202136

    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Comcast-Antitrust-Suit-Moves-Forward-115939

    http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/comcast-c478285.html

    I could pretty much produce endless links, but at some point the spam filters will kick in. I know that personally I have had numerous overbilling incidents with Comcast. Funny that they never seem to under bill me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  17. steve says:

    “Blaming corporations for the fact that people lost their houses in foreclosure is like blaming McDonald’s for the fact that we have an obesity crisis.”

    This is stunningly ignorant. Many people did everything right, yet they are still losing their homes. The banks, they are corporations**, created a crisis that destroyed not just the US economy, but the economy of the whole world. people lost jobs. People had their home go underwater, so that they cannot sell them for enough to cover costs. This was all done so that the banks, corporations, could make billions. 40% of GDP growth in the last recovery went to the financial sector.

    The result of such incompetence and (probably) fraud? The banks, corporations, got bailed out. The bankers, working for those corporations, are reaping record profits again. Assuming the GOP wins in 2012, Dodd-Frank is overturned, and the banks are back to the same level or regulation they were at under which they created this mess.

    ** If these people are mad at all corporations, then they are nuts. Most corporations are not evil, they deliver a product for a price. Anger should be directed specifically at the financial sector.

    Steve

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  18. Gloria says:

    You, Doug, are an imbecile. This article is utter nonsense. Go read a book. Preferably a book on economics, law, or finance. You are deeply, painfully, miserably wrong at pretty much every stage of your ‘argument.’ You quite literally have the whole thing backwards. Your reflexive pro-business mentality has completely warped your ability to see the bigger picture. It’s kind of frightening.

    Also, check out the constitution. You might find the 1st amendment particularly illuminating.

    Love,

    A Harvard Economist.

    p.s., there are dozens of free spell-checking programs available for download online. Try one.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 28 Thumb down 14

  19. Nikki says:

    Apparently I posted this under the wrong “Wall Street Protesters are Smelly” post:

    You guys want to continue to believe that the protesters are all DFHers. They are not, not entirely. The middle class is finally waking up to realize the many, many ways in which they have been not-so-lovingly screwed. And in fact, it’s beginning to hurt very, very bad.

    Call the airline pilots and your children’s teachers and the neighborhood police and fire fighters dirty effin’ hippies if you want. But they used to be your next door neighbors and PTA leaders and church family members. How will you deal with that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  20. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san:

    So your message is that if I don’t like corporations systematically screwing me, I should leave the country? Really?

    I suppose such a move would unquestionably improve America, but no… I was suggesting you do business with another company. Free market and all, huh?

    Really? Is Henry Blodget(and by extension, Doug) seriously suggesting that corporations lobbyfor the benefit of ther 100 million employees??

    I suppose it’s not occurred to you that what benefits the company benefits it’s employees as well?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 17

  21. ponce says:

    The people who think Jesus rode on a dinosaur and cutting taxes increase government revenue are demanding these protesters come up with some coherent beliefs?

    Too funny.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 10

  22. Nikki says:

    I suppose it’s not occurred to you that what benefits the company benefits it’s employees as well?

    Paging the clerical staff from Goldman Sachs!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  23. Ben Wolf says:

    The right refuses to accept that history is cyclical. Conservatism in its current incarnation emerged in opposition to the radicals of the French Revolution; they stood for preservation of the social order which enriched and protected them from the rabble, and above all they resisted the idea of equality of all men. Having defeated the left, the American right is faced with a dllemma: it cannot exist except in opposition to progress. When the left wanes conservatism wanes, unless it finds new enemies to fight.

    So conservatism has gone completely off the rails in its battle to live, labelling yesterday’s republican as today’s communist and to do so requires it to move ever further to the right. The real irony here is that eventually that “radical conservatism” leads to the rebirth and ascendancy of the left as the masses throw off their masters’ shackles and demand to be treated as more than a cog in a national wealth generating machine. The harder the right squeezes the people for every last bit of flithy lucre it can stomp out of them, the quicker, more powerful and more violent the left’s rebirth will be.

    The aristocracy always overplays its hand.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 8

  24. Ben Wolf says:

    @Eric Florack: There is not and never has been a free market, but nice try.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6

  25. matt says:

    @Eric Florack: Hi Eric it appears that you keep missing a recurring theme in this thread. That theme is that there is little to NO free markets in this country. Specifically when it comes to communication companies your choices are severely limited if you have any at all..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  26. Eric Florack says:

    Hi Eric it appears that you keep missing a recurring theme in this thread. That theme is that there is little to NO free markets in this country. Specifically when it comes to communication companies your choices are severely limited if you have any at all..

    Saw a Tshirt yesterday that I shoulda bought.
    Said if I had a dollar for every time capitalism was blamed for a problem created by government, I’d be a fat film maker in a ballcap. Point being that THe situation you describe is because government regulated the free market to the degree it has….

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 18

  27. anjin-san says:

    do business with another company

    Because there are so many choices for cable providers. Comcast has succeeded at gaining a near monopoly.

    And in your definition of the “free market” corporations are free to systematically overbill their customers? I thought theft was theft.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

  28. Eric Florack says:

    Again, Anin, that’s a result of government, not of capitalism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

  29. michael reynolds says:

    More bootlicking the rich from Doug. Good little lapdog. Maybe there will be crumbs and if they hit the floor they’re all yours!

    As pretty much everyone has now pointed out, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Goldman Sachs runs this country and if they’re running it for the benefit of the working folks I wonder how it happens that Goldman and their ilk are getting huge bonuses while the working folks aren’t actually working?

    Money and power are held almost exclusively by the top 1%. The few shreds of power left in the hands of working people are being taken away but union-busting Republicans and budget cuts. We live in an oligarchy. We are props in a sham democracy. The Supreme Court decisions paving the way for unlimited and untraceable corporate campaign spending was the effective end of democracy in this country.

    Yes, it’s time to take to the streets. It’ll be time soon to burn effigies, erect barriers and occupy offices. It will be time for strikes and boycotts.

    But just keep wagging that tail of yours, Doug, and maybe you’ll even get a bone!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 9

  30. Nikki says:

    Point being that THe situation you describe is because government regulated the free market to the degree it has….

    Government regulation forced the free markets to privatize profit and socialize risk?!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Eric Florack:
    There’s no difference between government and business. Who do you think buys and sells government? Where’s your lobbyist, Eric? Is he dining at the Mayflower with my lobbyist?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 9

  32. Ben Wolf says:

    @Eric Florack: Capitalism is a creation of the state, Eric. Your defense of it would be laughable if it weren’t so incredibly tragic.

    Every nation whch practices your preferred economic system has a powerful centralized government. Every. One. They all subsidize that system. They are all lobbied by that system. And they all have policies to encourage and ennable the emergence and profits of massive corporate entities. Government and capitalism are one and the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

  33. lunaticllama says:

    Shorter Doug: some people don’t agree with the corporatist agenda of conservatives, therefore they are foolish and silly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 5

  34. Coogan says:

    @Ron Beasley:
    “just a bunch of spoiled children”: I couldn’t agree more. From the looks of some of them, they must be cutting class. They need to quit causing disruptions for the working class people and creating a big scene. Some of my friends are investors. They are not crooked or greedy – just hard working people. They have incomes of about $40,000 a year and make some money off of the stock market – not huge amounts, but enough to buy some extra groceries or pay for a night at the movies. They don’t seem to have a problem with Wall Street. I know that some of the Wall Street people are crooked and should be locked up (Goldman-Sachs fiasco), but most are honest people. These demonstrators obviously are being steered and directed by someone behind the scenes who stands to gain something. As I have said, the FBI needs to investigate these people’s backgrounds and who is really behind them. If they were really sincere, they wouldn’t be blocking traffic or creating a big scene. There are other ways to make their concerns known: write their elected representative, vote, get involved in community organizations and churches. This would be a worthwhile use of their time instead of creating disturbances.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 26

  35. samwide says:

    @Coogan:

    As I have said, the FBI needs to investigate these people’s backgrounds and who is really behind them.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s just resurrect COINTELPRO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  36. Stan says:

    @Coogan: Most members of the financial community aren’t crooked, but they made incredibly risky investments because they were blinded by greed and they didn’t pay the price when the bubble burst. It was truly bizarre to read about big bonuses paid to financial executives after the crash, like giving a big pay raise to a football coach after a losing season. Of course that’s nothing new in modern American capitalism. What we’re seeing now is corporate boards firing the company CEO for poor performance and then giving him a multimillion dollar going away present. It’s damnably unfair, and I were younger I’d be out there protesting with the kids.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  37. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds: Yes, it’s time to take to the streets. It’ll be time soon to burn effigies, erect barriers and occupy offices. It will be time for strikes and boycotts.

    Or you could have just had some tea a couple years ago. Then assist in getting sympathetic members elected to Congress and put the fear of the voter in others to the extent that people accuse you of holding the country hostage with a half dozen votes out of 535.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  38. WR says:

    @JKB: Right. Except that the “Tea Party” was conceived, organized and funded by corporate interests with unlimited bank accounts. It’s true that some of their more gullible members are still having trouble understanding this, and have been deceived into believing that voting against their own interests is somehow protecting the constitution. but stupidity is no longer an adequate excuse.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 6

  39. JKB says:

    @WR:

    You say this but you offer no proof that the Tea Party people are voting against their interests. In fact, given that the Tea Party is made up of productive members of society who create wealth through work and investment, they have a serious vested interest in getting government spending under control as well as stopping the uncontrolled growth of the public debt.

    So if the Tea Party was/is conceived, organized and funded by corporate interests with unlimited bank accounts, just exactly who is being gullible? The members or the backers?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 13

  40. ponce says:

    Oh dear,

    Just when the middle class right-wing toadies of the rich had convinced themselves there was nothing to see here, the Wall Street protests spread to other cities:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/10/protesters-set-up-camp-in-front-of-los-angeles-city-hall.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

  41. Ben Wolf says:

    I love your ideas, Coogan. We’ll turn the power of the government on anyone who dares disagree with the interests of the powerful! What could possibly go wrong?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  42. anjin-san says:

    You have to kind of feel for guys like JKB and bithead who fancy themselves as kindred spirits of plutocrats – cut from the same cloth and all that.

    Since Peter Gent just passed, this seems like an appropriate time to deliver a message to the water carriers. You are not on the team – you’re the equipment.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  43. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    You are not on the team – you’re the equipment.

    Nice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

  44. So this is an animal rights protest now? What, exactly, does that have to do with Wall Street?

    It’s a well known fact that corporate bonds are printed on extruded kittens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  45. @anjin-san: I wouldn’t say these people are “butting heads” with the cops. More like, they’re trying to antagonize the cops to make it an issue of POLICE BRUTALITY!!!!111!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

  46. anjin-san says:

    More like, they’re trying to antagonize the cops to make it an issue of POLICE BRUTALITY

    Right. Because everyone wants to have their face bounced off of a Volvo.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  47. Ernieyeball says:

    @matt: “Specifically when it comes to communication companies your choices are severely limited if you have any at all..”

    Huh? From WikiP:
    List of United States wireless communications service providers (In alphabetical order). According to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA), there are over 180 facilities-based wireless providers in the United States.
    The eight largest (in order of subscribers) are Verizon (102 million)[1], AT&T (97 million)[2], Sprint (51 million)[3], T-Mobile USA (34 million)[4][5], TracFone Wireless (17 million)[6], MetroPCS (9 million)[7], U.S. Cellular (6 million) [8] and Cricket Communications (6 million).

    This is just the wireless phone service available.
    There is at least one or more landline voice and internet service provider available in most telephone exchanges in this country.

    The Cable TV industry has offered telephone and internet service in their markets for some time.

    This is a far cry from the days of one phone company in town that existed before the Republican Justice Department under President Ford sued AT+T for anti trust violations.
    Of course if you want the government to do something about all this competition, you can support Washington Post columnist Joshua Topolsky who has written a column titled, “Want better wireless service in America? Socialize it.”

    http://reason.com/blog/2011/09/15/washington-post-columnist-plea

    Apparently we can return to the “one phone company in town” model. Only this time run by the government. I’ll bet it will be just as efficient as the Post Office. I can’t wait!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  48. ponce says:

    Oh dear,

    New Bloomberg report about Koch Bros bribing government officials, secretly selling oil to Iran and firing whistle blowers.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-02/koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-with-secret-iran-sales.html

    Painting a target for the Occupy Wall Street crowd?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  49. matt says:

    @Ernieyeball: I meant to say “Specifically when it comes to internet communication companies your choices are severely limited if you have any at all”

    I will give you a shot on the merits which you responded to then I’ll expand the point I meant to make.

    The Cable TV industry has offered telephone and internet service in their markets for some time.

    That is not true the cable provider in my hometown back in Illinois does not offer cable internet or phone service. When I moved out of the town your only choices were a handful of dial up and 900mhz or 2.4ghz wireless. I used the wireless and while it did hit 50KB/s most of the time it was down or slow. I went a whole months without service. THis was a mere 2 years ago. Fortunately for those left behind there is now a DSL option which performs fairly well. Down here in Texas I’ve actually only ran into one case where I couldn’t get internet and TV (was one smallish spot in the outskirts of town) from the cable company so the only option I had was sat. or 4g. The cable service here is split amongst a few companies and you have no choice beyond choosing to live in the area that belongs to the ISP you want. Was confusing as hell when we moved earlier this year and had to find a new provider.

    Apparently we can return to the “one phone company in town” model. Only this time run by the government. I’ll bet it will be just as efficient as the Post Office. I can’t wait!

    We’re already heading there with AT&T trying to gobble up the fourth largest wireless provider in your list. Markets seem to love monopolies and we’re down to four really big providers while the rest are just chumps in the marketplace.

    Now back to the original intent of my post. I am actually probably on your side with this as I would like MORE competition and the removal of exclusive zones for cable access. I find it ridiculous that I have to change cable providers every time I choose to move to a new place in the same town. I also found the dominance of Comcast in Chicago to be pretty ridiculous considering their service was pretty crappy :(

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  50. john personna says:

    I think I see some things coming together here, and not in a way that is good for Doug (as placeholder).

    We know the middle class (and lower) has been hammered for the last 10 years. We also know that it’s hard to collect taxes from people who are up against the wall. Michelle Bachmann’s line comes back to me, “everyone should pay income tax, even if it’s just $1.”

    Hard to run a government on a buck.

    At the same time, attempts to go after money where it is, with high earners have been answered with “that’s class warfare!” We’ve even heard this when it is about special privilege, carried interest, etc.

    Up until now this game has played to the GOP advantage, in my opinion because many of the middle to lower class voters are “aspirationally rich.” They don’t want to tax the rich, because they see themselves there, someday.

    Well, maybe this recession is hard enough (and the fear of a double dip strong enough) that people are starting to vote their current reality. In other words, Joe the part-time worker starts to see himself that way, and not as a future business owner.

    And really, in a weird way, all the people who said “that’s class warfare” get what they asked for. They could have diffused this with simple and not at all extreme policies, but they let themselves fall into too obvious a “protect the rich” pattern.

    Chickens come home to roost, so far in a small way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  51. john personna says:

    It’s weird how the “aspirationally rich” get mad when the “actual rich” lean left.

    When you really think about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  52. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Yet more evidence that the minimum voting age needs to be increased at least to 30 and more realistically to 35.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 12

  53. john personna says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:

    Come on, how can you not like her?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  54. Rob in CT says:

    I have no doubt these folks are incoherent. I doubt they’re more incoherent than the Tea Party.

    Right Wing populism has been active for some time now. It should not be surprising if Left wing populism flares up in response. I’m surprised it took this long.

    Once again Doug – do you realize what you (not really you, but rather the powers that be, such as they are) are playing with here? Do you really understand what a total refusal to compromise can lead to?

    I wonder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  55. Barry says:

    Doug: “Corporations do influence the government, of course. But then so do labor unions, the legal profession, the medical profession, special interest groups based on one form of racial or ethnic grievance or another, and lobbying interests ranging from Iowa corn to Texas oil. ”

    I don’t recall labor unions trashing the country and then getting a bailout whose vastness is still unknown.

    Can you help me out here?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  56. DrSpooN says:

    It’s “life saving” not “live saving”. You’re a lawyer for Pete’s sake. I’d expect better grammar.

    Come to think of it you being a lawyer makes sense in the reason for this article. You’ve got as much at stake as the Wall Street “professionals” that are being protested.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  57. Eric Florack says:

    Government regulation forced the free markets to privatize profit and socialize risk?!

    What were Obama’s bailiouts if not that?

    I don’t recall labor unions trashing the country and then getting a bailout whose vastness is still unknown.

    Tell me, who benefits most when GM gets bailed out? Certainly not the people who held stock… they got screwed over bigtime. Nope. The ones who benefit most are the unions.

    You are not on the team – you’re the equipment.

    Odd you shoudl put it that way, since that’s the description of the protestors themselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  58. Ernieyeball says:

    @matt: Sorry I didn’t pick up what you “meant to say” with my sixth sense. It seems to shut down around the time of the Autumnal Equinox.
    I am curious about your vision of an internet communications utopia.
    Can one ISP transmit information from various sources or does each information provider need to build it’s own network to insure integrity?
    Should every market, no matter how small like Makanda Township where I live, be required to have the same number of competing information services as Dallas-Fort Worth?
    Maybe the FCC should mandate that all content on the internet pass some sort of equal time test so all the details that reach citizens are fair and balanced.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  59. john personna says:

    @Eric Florack:

    One of the silliest arguments out there is that since some of these protesters voted for Obama, they can’t be against his bailouts, or his fundraising.

    Silly because:

    1) you are against those bailouts and that fundrasing
    2) you should be happy that they align with you all of a sudden.

    What is this “oh no, you can’t agree with me!

    (And also some of us can remember that previous Presidents did bailouts and collected contributions from Wall Street. It is strangely an indictment against Obama that he raised more money from them. As if that has nothing to do with the money they’ve been raking in for the last 10 years, and the money they now have to throw around in politics.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  60. anjin-san says:

    Bit… The protesters are smart enough to figure out their place in the big picture. You apparenty, are not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  61. john personna says:

    This just in:

    Paul supports anti-Wall Street protests

    Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R) offered support for some of the Occupy Wall Street protests that have built up in lower Manhattan over the weekend in an interview Friday with Reason magazine, where he also denounced the “militarization of our police forces.”

    “If they were demonstrating peacefully, and making a point, and arguing our case, and drawing attention to the Fed — I would say, good!” Paul said following a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  62. anjin-san says:

    I saw an ad for a tshirt bit should have bought too. It was on a right wing blog. There was a hot young chick with a tshirt on that said “I would never talk to you, but I will sell you a lame tshirt”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  63. Parah Salin says:

    Doug, Your prejudice is showing by blaming union members because you don’t even look for the facts, and you encourage people like Eric.

    Moreover, while unions have done good over the years they’ve also helped hold American industry back, just ask the auto companies.

    @Eric Florack:

    Tell me, who benefits most when GM gets bailed out? Certainly not the people who held stock… they got screwed over bigtime. Nope. The ones who benefit most are the unions.

    Remember the Hummer – the elite gas guzzler?
    GM management made this decision in literal smirking defiance of rising oil prices to the dismay of environmentalists: “GM to Produce More Hummer s3 SUVs“.

    People were displaying bumper stickers about how wasting gas was enabling terrorists.

    “General Motors Corp. said Thursday it will invest about $20 million in its Shreveport, La., truck assembly plant to increase production of the Hummer H3 sport utility vehicle and Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups.” In a time when the SUV sales are on the decline, this report from GM is either showing an improvement or a really stupid mistake.

    Oh, and then Chimpy the W. and Cheney allowed for the total price to be written of with the “SUV Tax Loophole” or the “Hummer Deduction”. A giant government promotion scheme like this for a private business and it still failed, due to lack of imagination and failure look at what other successful companies like Toyota were doing: producing gas saving automobiles.

    And before that, remember when GM’s management decided to spin off different companies and market the same cars under different names..e.g.: GM, chevy, pontiac, chrysler, etc.
    The unions didn’t force them to make these decisions.

    About those Pharmaceutical drugs, especially biologics: We The Taxpayers already subsidize drug research. There is no reason that very sick people should have to pay $500 to $1000 per month for life saving drugs, or be forced to use less effective chemotherapy and radiation when we’ve paid already bought in. This is the scam perpetrated on us by some cancer charities in cahoots with phrma. It’s why Howard Dean is a sellout.

    The same thing is true with research into most advanced technologies but the big companies score the patents from the government through universities, and we as Americans who funded it don’t get any special deals on the products.

    Here’s the tumblir site for the we are the 99%, the site you linked above isn’t necessarily an oficial site, if there is such a thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  64. Parah Salin says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Tell me, who benefits most when GM gets bailed out? Certainly not the people who held stock… they got screwed over bigtime. Nope. The ones who benefit most are the unions.

    Hey, guess who is supposed to get screwed over first?
    Those that bought the stock. They are making money because they assumed the risk. They should have done due diligence.

    The government shouldn’t be the insurance company, hedging bets for stockholders.

    The government stepped in to bail out a poorly run automobile company to save jobs, not just those of the auto factory workers but for the hundreds of upsteam and downstream businesses that sold them parts and supplies. We would have paid them with unemployment insurance and further destruction of the economy.

    It’s no wonder people are so screwed up in their thinking about the markets and the ridiculous notion that government should provide or encourage “confidence”. This is another by-product of moral hazard: Confusion.
    If people don’t have confidence in the market, it’s because its unstable, undercapitalized, that fractional reserve lending requirements aren’t high enough. Playing AIG for them because they destroyed AIG (with AIG’s help) is not the answer.

    With all the b*tching and complaining about he stinky, dirty, childish, know-nothing rabble you so called apologists for the master class who have achieved the largest wealth transfer known to man. – ought to understand that these people have become the biggest street beggars in the country, and they are whiners about maybe, perhaps, needing to have higher capital reserve requirements. We’re still buying their “Mark to Fantasy” garbage through the back doors of fanny and freddy, and Tim Giethner sneakily enabled unlimited bailouts in this manner through in just before midnight on Dec 31,2010
    PIck a side A$$holes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  65. matt says:

    @Ernieyeball:

    I am curious about your vision of an internet communications utopia.
    Can one ISP transmit information from various sources or does each information provider need to build it’s own network to insure integrity?

    What we have now works pretty well I see no reason to go in and change everything. It’s odd you should bring this up considering I haven’t even mentioned this.

    Should every market, no matter how small like Makanda Township where I live, be required to have the same number of competing information services as Dallas-Fort Worth?

    I don’t recall saying anything like that either. How would you require or even enforce such a thing? Somehow you’re turning “cities shouldn’t sign exclusive access agreements with single cable companies” into some sort of caricature of something stupid..

    Maybe the FCC should mandate that all content on the internet pass some sort of equal time test so all the details that reach citizens are fair and balanced.

    What?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  66. Ernieyeball says:

    @matt: Just askin’.
    Of course anyone can respond to these questions.
    So if you don’t want cities to sign exclusive contracts with cable TV companies what do you want?
    Two, six??? I think one reason the cities have done this is that cable TV companies did not want to spend the millions of $$$ to construct and maintain these transmission systems if they were not guaranteed a market. They wanted a return on their investment. This is an imperfect model I agree. But it might have been the only way to get a cable TV company to provide service to these markets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  67. matt says:

    @Ernieyeball: Well following your line of reasoning I’m not sure why most of Texas has power. The power companies down here are deregulated to the point that you can sign up with any of a wide variety of power companies. Despite not having exclusive agreements somehow you can get power everywhere. I’m not saying that Texas has the best system available but it certainly proves that you don’t have to create a government sponsored monopoly for service providers to step in.

    I follow the old line of reasoning that was used decades ago to get cable companies interested in running cable but I believe in today’s world we can do MUCH MUCH better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  68. sondra says:

    The irony list:
    Most of these protesters are wearing clothes, not handwoven, but made by….big business
    Most of these protesters are using smartphones and laptops, not tin cans and string, made by….big business
    Most of these protesters arrive at the protest sites courtesy of, not their own two feet but some mode of vehicle built by….big business
    See the irony here?…….

    Ok let me be more clear. Protesting against something from which you are currently benefiting seems ridiculous, inauthentic and frivolous. More clarity is needed on what this is about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  69. singfoom says:

    Oh yes Doug, those regulatory agencies worked so well for us in 08/09, there is obviously nothing wrong with how we deal with corporations in this country. Having our financial regulatory agencies staffed with former bankers or people that then go into the banking sector after regulating could never ever have a bad effect.

    Ever heard the phrase “regulatory capture”? Wake up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  70. TR says:

    Christ, what a shitty post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  71. Ben Wolf says:

    @sondra: They aren’t protesting Banana Republic which makes clothing, they’re protesting Goldman Sachs which makes financial deals that blow up the planet. No offense but your thinking on this is sloppy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  72. sondra says:

    @Ben Wolf: Thanks Ben, I wasn’t really sure what they are protesting (and still am not), and so we circle back to the title of this Blog post: The incoherent agenda of Occupy Wall Street.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  73. Eric Florack says:

    Remember the Hummer – the elite gas guzzler?
    GM management made this decision in literal smirking defiance of rising oil prices to the dismay of environmentalists: “GM to Produce More Hummer s3 SUVs“.

    Heh… I’d say the sales of the thing cripple your arguments. Govenment had to regulate vthe thing out of existence to get the sames to fall.

    Hey, guess who is supposed to get screwed over first?
    Those that bought the stock. They are making money because they assumed the risk. They should have done due diligence.

    Who figures government will be stupid enough to regulate the car makers out of business, hmmm?

    The government stepped in to bail out a poorly run automobile company

    No, government stepped in to “save’ the industry it crippled with regulation. The pattern is always the same… If you want another example to compare against, look what the leftists in government and the unions did to the passenger rail industry in this country. They ran it out of business and then stepped in to ‘save’ it.

    Do try again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  74. Dave Mowers says:

    “As Rick Moran points out, if corporations really ran the government would we have an EPA, OSHA, SEC, the EEOC, the FHA, the Department of Labor, or any of the other number of state and federal agencies regulate corporate behavior?”

    You mean the federal agencies who never investigate major corporations but act as barrier to entry for new, small business looking to compete? The S.E.C. is destroying all files of crimes (by banks) as we speak and Congress is pretending to be powerless to stop them. That is not collusion in your feeble mind?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  75. Dave Mowers says:

    @Eric Florack: But of course the government cannot step in and save the millions of small business owners? Those regulations you speak of include safety belts and standardized braking systems, fuel economy, airbags you know all the things auto makers used to think were unimportant and too expensive to install. Wouldn’t want profit margins to conflict with vehicular deaths, obviously no need to regulate. Your opinion of regulation is such that since auto companies have to abide by laws the tax payer should be liable for their debts and fund their operations….a conundrum don’t you think?

    You cry out for a “free” market while also accepting “free” bailouts? Curious…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  76. Dave Mowers says:

    @Ernieyeball: Well then I will gladly start am internet technology company worth billions in market cap but ONLY if my loans are guaranteed by the tax payer and ONLY if Congress enacts a law saying that if you want access to the internet you must use my operating system.

    I couldn’t possibly think of any other way that a technology company can exist without tax payer funding and support. Eat your heart out Bill I am going to take away your market share!

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  77. Dave Mowers says:

    @Parah Salin: “The government shouldn’t be the insurance company, hedging bets for stockholders”

    But they certainly need to hedge bets made by investment banks or the economy will fail. I am curiouser about this concept that government should intervene in free markets for some but not all? I had the incorrect notion that in a free market if you make derivatives bets and cannot pay them you are forced into bankruptcy, your assets are sold to new investors for pennies on the dollar creating new opportunity for wealth enhancement and you are not rewarded financially for failure to set aside money to cover your bets? Can someone please tell me where I can register my bets so that when I cannot pay them tax payers will cover my losses and give me a big bonus for a job well done?

    Thank You

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  78. Dave Mowers says:

    @Gloria: “p.s., there are dozens of free spell-checking programs available for download online. Try one”

    Lots of Laughter- perhaps he deserves a big bonus first?

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  79. Dave Mowers says:

    @anjin-san: “And in your definition of the “free market” corporations are free to systematically overbill their customers? I thought theft was theft”

    Strangely I happen to have researched this particular subject, it turns out that under federal law unless you can prove “intent” to willfully defraud or deceive, which of course you cannot, then their actions are considered to be error and it is your responsibility to catch the error and make them aware of the additional payment. Under federal law your extra payment is considered a “gift” and they can keep it.

    Obviously you intend to help them out every once in a while because you are Christian and you know they operate on thin margins and could used a hand out. i sure wish my customers would give my business gifts on a regular basis, it would allow me to retire earlier.

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  80. Dave Mowers says:

    @matt: “Markets seem to love monopolies” Well they do make a whole lotta money! No surprise there but may be surprising to you is how when the public decides they are at issue with a particular practice of an industry or company that dominates a market usually the agency tasked with pursuing the issue on behalf of the people works WITH the company or industry to draft regulations or legislation to curb their abuses.

    “I would like MORE competition and the removal of exclusive zones for cable access”

    This is an example of my last statement, the telecommunications companies want tough regulations that serve their interests but do not want them enforced on them so that a permanent barrier to entry is established allowing them to have a semi-monopoly since no one can afford to compete with them. They write the bills for Congress. Problem solved.

    It is a little like a five year old pitching in a baseball game who constantly hits the batters and then asks the umpire to strike them out because they are intentionally getting hit by you.

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  81. Dave Mowers says:

    Eric Florack while I disagree with almost all of your posts, I do want to thank you for presenting your opinions you have made this board a more lively debate…and your blog is actually interesting.

    Good Luck,

    David

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  82. James says:

    @anjin-san: @anjin-san:

    What’s wrong with having a “pretty comfortable professional life”? You shouldn’t be jealous or critcize somebody who is doing well. You (along with all these other modern day hippies) should strive to become the “rich 1%,” or be content with what you have. That’s what made this country great. Don’t expect wealthy people to pay for you to have a “Comfortable life.” Take responsibility for yourself.

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  83. anjin-san says:

    @James

    Take responsibility for yourself.

    Just in case you are still tuned in to this thread, I have a pretty comfortable professional life in California. I did grow up in the 60s & 70s though and consider myself to be a bit of a hippie at heart.

    Try harder.

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