Occupy Wall Street: Something For Everyone

What do this people want? Can't you read the signs?

The above photo, which illustrate’s Dahlia Lithwick‘s rant about the media’s inability to understand Occupy Wall Street, undercuts its central argument.

I don’t purport to speak for anyone but myself here, although I spent time this weekend at Occupy Wall Street and my husband spent much of last week adding his voice to the protesters there. I saw an incredible array of people that defy any simple demographic characterization and a broad range of signs that made—imagine!—more than a single point. But if I may hazard an opinion, it would be this: One of the most fatuous themes of mainstream OWS coverage is the endless loop of media bafflement at this movement that doesn’t have a message. Here’s CNN’s Erin Burnett in a classic put-down of the OWS’ refusal to tailor its message to her. It takes a walloping amount of willful cluelessness to look at a mass of people holding up signs and claim that they have no message.

I’m not going to defend the fatuousness of most of cable news and don’t believe I’ve ever heard of Erin Burnett. Her segment was pretty silly: pointing to a couple of weirdos in the crowd, making fun of the way they were dressed, and then talking to some poor sap about TARP to demonstrate that he–and by extension everyone else at the protest–is unaware of the fundamentals. Still, her point seems to be that the movement is incoherent and attract a lot of people who are there for the party.

Lithwick’s collection of signs (or, actually, Buzzfeed’s) actually reinforces that point. There are approximately 50 different messages among the 50 signs in the montage! Some of them are anti-war, others anti-police, others anti-business suit, others anti-Republican, and anti-nuclear power. The only repeated theme were variations on “Eat the rich.” A lot of them are just nonsense or hipsterish irony (it’s a subtle distinction).

Some are grammatically challenged but expressive: “WHEN THE RICH ROB THE POOR IT CALL BUSINESS WHEN THE POOR FIGHT BACK IT CALL VIOLENCE AND WHEN THEY JOIN POLITICA THEY ROB EVEN MORE.”

Most just express frustration at various things: “SHOOT SPERM NOT BULLETS.” “YOU KNOW THINGS ARE MESSED UP WHEN LIBRARIANS START MARCHING.” “I LOVE HUMANITY! LETS FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT TOGETHER!” “I’M 84 AND MAD AS HELL.” “EDUCATION IN PERSONAL FINANCE SHOULD BE REQUIRED LIKE MATH, SCIENCE, AND HISTORY.” “YOUR TIE LOOKS LIKE A NOOSE.” “MY CARDBOARD CAN BEAT YOUR BILLBOARD.”

One sign has something for everyone: “CLOSE CORPORATE TAX LOOPHOLES, TAX RELIGIOUS GROUPS, END THE WARS, LEGALIZE WEED, AND BRING BACK ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.” [OWS has a victory on the last one. “Arrested Development” has been renewed for another season.]

Perhaps the most quoted of the signs may sum up the movement best: “SHIT IS FUCKED UP AND BULLSHIT.”

I don’t mean that disparagingly, by the way: That really is the message. The wreckage to the economy caused by greedy bankers who were then rewarded with a taxpayer bailout, the sense that the economic and political games are rigged, and the chasm between the wealthiest few and the rest are at the core of the movement but it’s attracting so much support precisely because there are so many damned grievances to air. We’ve been in two unpopular wars for seemingly forever and the public’s opinion seems irrelevant. (Iraq is winding down because of Iraqi public opinion moreso than our own. Afghanistan will end in 2014 for reasons largely unrelated to what the American people want.) And there’s not insignificant resentment of all manner of rules imposed from above that seem not to have any rationale (that covers everything from anger over police brutality to TSA pat-downs to having to wear a suit to work to the illegality of lighting up a joint).

These protests are a way to get out and vent about all of that and more. Indeed, Lithwick has managed to fit her own gripes right in:

For the past several years, while the mainstream media was dutifully reporting on all things Kardashian or (more recently) a wholly manufactured debt-ceiling crisis, ordinary people were losing their health care, their homes, their jobs, and their savings. Those people have taken that narrative to Facebook and Twitter—just as citizens took to those alternative forms of media throughout the Middle East as part of the Arab Spring. And just to be clear: They aren’t holding up signs that say “I want Bill O’Reilly’s stuff.” They aren’t holding up signs that say “I am animated by toxic levels of envy and entitlement.” They are holding up signs that are perfectly and intrinsically clear: They want accountability for the banks that took their money, they want to end corporate control of government. They want their jobs back. They would like to feed their children. They want—wait, no, we want—to be heard by a media that has devoted four mind-numbing years to channeling and interpreting every word uttered by a member of the Palin family while ignoring the voices of everyone else.

[…]

Mark your calendars: The corporate media died when it announced it was too sophisticated to understand simple declarative sentences. While the mainstream media expresses puzzlement and fear at these incomprehensible “protesters” with their oddly well-worded “signs,” the rest of us see our own concerns reflected back at us and understand perfectly. Turning off mindless programming might be the best thing that ever happens to this polity. Hey, occupiers: You’re the new news. And even better, by refusing to explain yourselves, you’re actually changing what’s reported as news. Because it takes a tremendous mental effort to refuse to see that the rich are getting richer in America while the rest of us are struggling. Maybe the days of explaining the patently obvious to the transparently compromised are finally behind us.

It’s all so clear! The protests are really aimed at the insipidness of cable news!

But Lithwick is right, too: it’s about people who think the system–and the media is part of that probably every bit as much as the banking sector and the government–is failing them and not hearing them.

The Occupy DC encampment at McPherson Square is just a couple blocks from my office. I had a late (for DC) event across town that let out around 9:30 last night and, despite a bit of ill-founded trepidation about doing so in the official uniform of The Man, walked through the encampment on the way back to get my car. It was pretty much what I expected: 20-somethings playing Hacky Sack, various small groups sitting around chatting, three or four people half-heartedly playing bongos, a couple of really strange looking people in costumes, a couple more with the requisite double nose rings, and a handful of homeless people who would otherwise have had the park to themselves but hopefully got some free food for their trouble. The only thing that surprised me slightly was a tent with a Ron Paul sign. Everything was perfectly peaceful and, given that it had been raining most of the day and the encampment has been in a small area for a couple weeks now, in reasonably good order.

The “occupy” part of the movement will almost surely go away soon. It’s already getting too cold to camp out in DC and New York and it’ll get dangerous to do it within a month. Maybe most of the folks will just show up for daytime rallies and go home. Maybe a few weeks or months of commiserating with others who have similar–and not so similar–grievances will end most people’s motivation for active protest.

These protests have altered the national conversation, at least for a bit. While income inequality and related issues has been a steady topic of conversation in wonky blog circles for quite some time, it’s been at best peripheral to the political debates in Washington. But successful movements–women’s suffrage, civil rights for blacks, Solidarity, gay rights, etc.–have typically honed in on a more precise policy demand than ”SHIT IS FUCKED UP AND BULLSHIT.”

To the extent Occupy turns into an effective tool for political change, then, what policy objectives will they hone in on? Presumably, not legalizing weed, ending the tyranny of the necktie, or bringing back “Arrested Development.” So, what? Ending the Bush tax cuts? Raising estate taxes? Closing the “carried interest” loophole? Those would go some way to leveling the playing field and redistributing wealth but they seem like awfully small beer.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ben Wolf says:

    Going back to the New Deal financial regulatory regime would be a good start. While it was in place we had no financial crises, and as it has been dismantled we’ve had repeated shocks.

  2. rodney dill says:

    “What do we want?” “WE DON”T KNOW!”
    “When do we want it? “NOW!!!”

  3. superdestroyer says:

    Within a year of the Tea Party movement starting, there were Tea party type candidates challenging establishment Republicans. Where are the OWS candidates and who are they doing to challenge. Holding up signs is easy. Putting ideas into policy is hard. Who is going tod the hard work and how do the OWS types think that they will get the establishment to change.

  4. Nikki says:

    That you guys appear to be so upset that OWS has not articulated its policy positions tells the rest of us that they need to keep doing what they are doing. It’s been a little over a month since OWS emerged and you guys say they should have candidates ready to challenge incumbents by now. Yeah…OWS sure is failing as a movement, isn’t it?

  5. @Nikki:

    I can’t speak for James, but I’m not upset by OWS. I am, however, still struggling to figure out what, if anything, they stand for beyond the supposed right to camp out in public spaces and play bongos.

  6. Stan says:

    Take a look at the graph at this URL, http://tinyurl.com/4x62m5o, and you’ll see why so many people are upset at what’s happened in the US over the last 30 years. Thirty years ago, CEO’s of major corporations made 40 times as much as their average worker. Now it’s 400 times as much. Thirty years ago the combined incomes of all families below the median income was twice as much as the combined incomes of the top 1%. Now they’re equal. Changes in the distribution of net worth are equally dramatic.

    If this trend continues, and it certainly will if the Republicans regain control of the government, what will things be like in 2041? Will we still have a democracy? That’s the question the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are posing.

  7. @Stan:

    Why should I care that successful people make more than I do? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

    And what, exactly, is your remedy for this? Laws setting maximum wages? Expropriation of wealth?

  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    Occupy Wall Street started around September 20th. Arrested Development announced a 4th season on October 2nd. For that victory alone I think OWS was worth it.

    http://screenrant.com/arrested-development-season-4-movie-mcrid-134277/

  9. James Joyner says:

    @Nikki: I’m not upset that Occupy is about a lot of things. That’s the nature of nascent movements and, to the extent that a lot of people are able to use Occupy to give voice to their frustrations in a peaceful manner is on balance a good thing.

    I’m just trying to figure out how it ultimately translates into policy. There are a lot of frustrations here, many of them unlikely to be resolved. But there are some policy solutions that would help. But the nature of going from “we are the 99 percent” to enacting policies that can avoid Senate filibuster is likely to fracture the movement.

    @Stan: It’s a hell of a trend and it’s been exacerbated by policy decisions, both in terms of tax cuts and various rent-seeking. It’s also likely a function of an increasingly technocratic society that can outsource labor.

    Apple, which is highly esteemed by the sort of folks at the core of the OWS movement, makes a lot of great products. But they do it with relatively few Americans getting filthy rich and a lot of Chinese making modest wages. We’ve cut out the process by which regular folks used to make a nice living. I think it’s very much in our interest to fix that but hate all the obvious solutions.

  10. superdestroyer says:

    @Nikki:

    Policy is how the government gets things done. The OWS keep screaming, like little children, that they want certain outcomes but refuse to discuss how those changes will occur.

    Th OWS movement has it roots in liberal activism and those activist have always been nitpickers of others while refusing to make their own proposals (to avoid being nitpicked).

    Unless one is willing to discuss policy, governance, and laws, then there is no point in discussing one’s political poistions. That is why the Republicans have been such failures. The Republicans refuse to think about policy and governance.

  11. Arrested Development is carried by a major corporate media conglomerate. I wish the OWS crowd would see that irony. And isn’t it a Fox show? Oh, the irony burns.

  12. sam says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m not upset by OWS. I am, however, still struggling to figure out what, if anything, they stand for beyond the supposed right to camp out in public spaces and play bongos.

    You know, that’s kinda crappy of you, Doug. It’s really a way dumping on OWS while appearing not to be doing so. A kind of political passive aggression.

    What part of this didn’t you get?

    Perhaps the most quoted of the signs may sum up the movement best: “SHIT IS F∪CKED UP AND BULLSHIT.”

    I don’t mean that disparagingly, by the way: That really is the message. The wreckage to the economy caused by greedy bankers who were then rewarded with a taxpayer bailout, the sense that the economic and political games are rigged, and the chasm between the wealthiest few and the rest are at the core of the movement…

    Maybe OWS’s goal, unspoken or no, is to get folks talking about this shitty state of affairs. Really talking about it. Maybe that’s what OWS basically stands for — giving voice, loudly, to the fυcked over. Will it translate into something more substantive, like some legislation? I don’t know. But I do know folks are listening, and lots and lots are saying, “Yeah, that’s right, Shit is fυcked up and bullshit.”

    That’s how stuff gets started.

  13. Stan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Taxes on high incomes should go up both to discourage the absurd compensation policies of our major corporations regarding pay for their top management and to finance needed public investments in our human capital. If we are to pay our way in the world we need a healthy, well educated, and well motivated workforce. We need more affordable prenatal care to lower our infant mortality rate and more preventive medical care in general. High schools, community colleges, and public universities have to be made more affordable to the working poor and the middle classes, if necessary by cutting federal aid to institutions that refuse to control their tuition increases. And last but not least, we should recognize that economic incentives operate at all income levels. If a worker is poorly paid and poorly treated, he’ll do enough to get by and not much more. Most of all, he has to have the belief that he can live a decent life if he works hard and plays by the rules. People are motivated more by hope than fear, and right now they’re not seeing much hope.

    If you have the leisure, I suggest you read books by Corelli Barnett and others on the economic decline of Great Britain in the period after the American Civil War. We’re following the same path, and for the same reasons: a poorly trained and poorly motivated work force, lack of domestic demand because of income inequality, overdevelopment of the financial sector at the expense of science and engineering, and imperial overstretch.

    There are moral reasons why I favor less income inequality, but I’ll omit them because I don’t think you’d find them very convincing.

  14. jpmeyer says:

    Aw man, because that Buzzfeed post was from 2 weeks ago, it was before The Abacus Sign.

  15. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Why should I care that successful people make more than I do? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

    Back when a rising tide arguably raised all boats, no. When the tide turned, and lower and middle class incomes actually fell then yeah, you missed something important.

    I’m sure a lot of people formed their political identity back in “rising tide” days and their beliefs were at that point reality-based, but when the facts stopped being true, they should have adapted.

    And what, exactly, is your remedy for this? Laws setting maximum wages? Expropriation of wealth?

    Better than manning the barricades.

  16. john personna says:

    @Christopher Bowen:

    I think you missed a joke.

  17. Hey Norm says:

    “…Why should I care that successful people make more than I do? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?”

    You shouldn’t care that people make more than you…what you should care about is that the after-tax income of people who make more than you has grown 15x faster in the last 30 years than for those that don’t. Inequality, and stagnant income levels of the middle class, is at the heart of our economic problems. And no, in spite of your ideology, it’s not government regulation. This inequality was hidden by the tech bubble, and the housing bubble…but with no bubble to hide behind this inequality has left us with a lack of DEMAND. Sluggish demand, sluggish recovery. That’s what you should care about.

  18. James H says:

    I actually agree with James. The OWS folks have done a great job of articulating our nation’s multifarious problems. But so far, they’re really, really short of solutions.

  19. john personna says:

    @James H:

    Much of our political problem comes down to the path dependency of solutions. We can’t for instance throw over our health care system for one the right or the left actually loves, because a political scrum locks us in place. That really sucks. We are in situations like that stubbornly broken.

    So given the wider framework, the entrenched Republicans and Democrats, the votes blocked by secret holds, etc. – wouldn’t any concrete proposal by a group this unorthodox just break itself upon the rocks?

    I can see how Doug and superdestroyer might like that (despite their stated hatred of the status quo), but it really seems a way to waste energy.

    I think these guys might be right that they have to permeate the discourse, rather than challenge it in anything as conventional as a vote or election campaign.

  20. Vast Variety says:

    Erin Burnett used to be on CNBC and spent most of her time reporting from the floor of the NYSE. She recently moved to CNN and is now doing a broader version business and finacial news reporting.

  21. john personna says:

    (James, for example, has been permeated.)

  22. Moosebreath says:

    “Her segment was pretty silly: pointing to a couple of weirdos in the crowd, making fun of the way they were dressed, and then talking to some poor sap about TARP to demonstrate that he–and by extension everyone else at the protest–is unaware of the fundamentals.”

    Sounds like Doug should apply for a job at CNN. He already has the talking points down.

  23. Vast Variety says:

    The current tax system is weighted in favor of the wealthy and those that use “other people’s money, pensions, home mortgages, etc, to gamble on the market, for they have the money to buy the lobbyists which “help” congress write the bills that become our tax code. That’s what need to change. Money earned through investments should not be tax free.

  24. mike says:

    If I were unemployed, had little money, single, and nothing to do, I’d be out there to. It’s like a free party. Great way to meet people, be pissed off at someone, get a date. The possibilities are endless.

  25. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: @Moosebreath: That’s pretty much my reaction to most protests. In the case of the two sustained movements underway right now–the Tea Party and OWS–I’m really working hard to distinguish between the grievances and demands and the demonstrators themselves. For a variety of understandable reasons, the latter are almost always disproportionately made up of yahoos.

    Michael Reynolds makes the point that extremists show up at these things because they think they’re welcome, and that simply being welcome (i.e., racists and gun nuts at TP rallies and commies and anarchists at OWS) somewhat taints the movements. That’s probably right. But there are vast numbers of decent folks, few of whom will ever show up at a rally much less pitch a tent on a public square for weeks on end, who feel their frustrations being voiced. And it’s those people that I think are ultimately more interesting than yahoos banging drums, wearing costumes, or holding silly signs.

  26. JKB says:

    Sure they got something for everyone. How can they not, as soon as they move their anti-capitalism, socialist message to the fore, their support will evaporate like dry ice.

    They protest the bailout, quite late in the day I might add, but not to the politicians but by camping out. If they want change they have to inspire the wrong people down in DC to do the right thing but somehow make it stick for the next time something like this happens.

    But as they protest against the bailout of the banks, they protest for a bailout of the majority white, privileged, selective private university, graduates who pursued worthless degrees in subjects not useful for making a living. Oh, and they want evil corporations to give them a job doing something they deem important and nothing that might not be fun. In other words, they want the 1% to pay them a high salary to pursue a hobby rather for creating value.

    Isn’t it odd they don’t seem to resent the rich Hollywood stars, who owe their riches more to luckily being given their big break when compared to the other talents who don’t make it. Or the sports stars, who owe their riches more to their lucky natural talents.

    Isn’t it odd they seem to resent those who got their riches by persistence, hard work and a willingness to take a risk. Could it be that they don’t like seeing someone succeed by putting off immediate gratification, working hard everyday and putting their very home on the line?

  27. john personna says:

    BTW, one common OWS (or at least OWS-NY) demand is “forgive college loans.”

    I don’t support that one at all. Beyond the fairness and moral hazard issues, there is the big practical problem of “what do you do next year?” Do you forgive all loans, and then begin again offering new loans?

  28. Nikki says:

    Why should I care that successful people make more than I do? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

    Here is a graphic that will probably make it’s way onto a few protest signs. I feel it does the best job so far of displaying the wealth inequality in America. This is what OWS is pissed about. This is why more than half the country (including a majority of millionaires) wants to raise taxes on the rich. The only group whose majority did not support the tax increase is Republicans (a clear case of ideology trumping logic).

    No one cares that successful people become rich. That’s how it’s supposed to work. What the 99% care about is that the rich pay THEIR FAIR SHARE to improve the quality of life for all of us. That’s what makes us countrymen.

  29. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    It is possible that “forgive my loans” is as brain dead as “keep government out of medicare.”

    I’ll give you that.

  30. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: It’s probably unreasonable to expect frustrated people to be clearheaded. But, yeah.

  31. Rob in CT says:

    Isn’t it odd they seem to resent those who got their riches by persistence, hard work and a willingness to take a risk

    Hahahahahaha.

    They’re protesting Wall St. Persistence, hard work, and willingness to take risks? My ass.

    Hard work, sure. Persistence, perhaps, in part to find out ways of gaming the system. Risk? Hah. When things went south, Wall St. went straight to Uncle Sammy, hat in hand, asking for their bailout. They got it, and turned right around and resisted any sort of reform (loudly whining and blathering about the “free market” and such).

    People don’t mind talent + hard work resulting in success. Hell, they don’t even mind luck leading to success, when things are going pretty well for everyone. When things fall apart, however, there is a re-assessment.

    It’s funny you think people wanting jobs is something worthy of mockery. I guess “they’re just lazy leeches who don’t want to work” didn’t stick, so it’s time to back up to “they want a job! Hah! Entitled brats!”

    Seriously, how did it come to this? Ridiculing people for wanting gainful employment?

  32. Hey Norm says:

    “…In other words, they want the 1% to pay them a high salary to pursue a hobby rather for creating value…”

    Pure unmitigated BS…but then you have to consider the source.

  33. john personna says:

    JKB just believes in a karmically fair universe. In that universe his opinions make sense 😉

  34. sam says:

    @JKB:

    But as they protest against the bailout of the banks, they protest for a bailout of the majority white, privileged, selective private university, graduates who pursued worthless degrees in subjects not useful for making a living.

    The irony will no doubt be lost on JKB, but a whole bunch of folks who took advanced degrees in Math and Physics and such other really, really practical things, ended up whoring themselves out to Wall Street for really big bux , not producing a goddamned thing — just manipulating money to make money. And here we are. Who was more dangerous, in the end, the math whizzes or the English majors?

  35. Liberty60 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I am, however, still struggling to figure out vainly to avoid understanding what, if anything, they stand for

    @James Joyner:
    ANy widespread movement- civil rights, gay rights, feminism- is always going to have a hundred separate grievances.
    Otherwise, there wouldn’t be any way for a large group of people to coalesce into a movement in the first place. If the only single thing wrong with America was the passive carry rule, if everything else were peachy, then OWS would not exist.

    The problem is deeper, much more widespread than any specific policy, and won’t be cured by a specific policy.

    The hundred grievances do have one root cause, which is that the 1% have a stranglehold over our government,

    While the solution could entail a hundred or more specific poilicy items, the first and fundamental solution is to convince Americans that the imbalance must be corrected.

    Its almost like criticizing the lunch counter protests of the 1960’s and asking what their specific policy changes to the Atlanta Municipal Code would be.

    Once there is a consensus that the focus of American policy should be strengthening the middle class and asking a greater accountability and responsibility from the 1%, then the policy solutions will come easily enough.

  36. john personna says:

    Martin Wolf is discussing this at the Financial Times. Here are a good couple paragraphs that tie threads from above:

    This is a debate we need. In my view, both perspectives are useful. The Tea Party is wrong on the future of government. Even the US is not going back to the 19th-century state. But its more coherent members are right – and even agree with today’s protesters – that we have promoted an insider form of capitalism which exploits and indeed creates subsidies and tax loopholes on which the insiders prosper. The need to rescue banks was horrifying. The role of money in politics is disturbing. The danger is that we are moving from what the Nobel laureate economic historian, Douglass North, calls an “open-access order” to its opposite, a system in which political influence is decisive.

    This is not merely inefficient. It is unjust. Few begrudged Steve Jobs his fortune. The view on those who emerged rich from rescued businesses is very different. The era of bail-outs must end. Restructuring finance to make this credible is of huge importance for the future. Yet this is not all. Market capitalism creates inherent difficulties. The two most obvious are macroeconomic instability and extremes of inequality. The tendency of a market-oriented financial system to run away with itself has, again, been demonstrated on a large scale. On the free market right people argue that if only we went back to the gold standard or ended fractional reserve banking, all would be well. I question such claims. Instability is inherent in the game of betting on the future. Humans seem prone to self-fulfilling waves of optimism and pessimism. Ways of mitigating the extent and the consequences of such instability always need to be found.

    They may miss the Apple-Foxconn connection that James draws above, but it is true that Apple did not need a trillion in bailouts.

  37. Jeremy says:

    @rodney dill:

    You, sir, win the Internets.

  38. @James Joyner:

    But there are vast numbers of decent folks, few of whom will ever show up at a rally much less pitch a tent on a public square for weeks on end, who feel their frustrations being voiced. And it’s those people that I think are ultimately more interesting than yahoos banging drums, wearing costumes, or holding silly signs.

    I think this is on target There are real issues here that deserve attention but are, for reasons John Persona noted above, very difficult to addresss, even the “wek beer” options James mentioned I the main post.

  39. Nikki says:

    Paul Ryan, the Republican whose budget proposal effectively destroys the safety net for the poor, sends out a fundraising letter lamenting that the safety net for the poor is being destroyed and you say OWS needs to be more articulate.

  40. john personna says:

    If you want funny signs, look here:

    Egyptians march from Tahrir Square to support Occupy Oakland protestors

    Sorry Doug, OWS is still not dead.

  41. Hey Norm says:

    Nikki…I saw that too…I was left wondering if Ryan is the worlds biggest grifter with a huge set of cajones…or if he is simply clueless/naive to the end result of policies the so-called right pursues in the name of their ideology???

  42. john personna says:

    (Oakland may prove to be a Kent State moment.)

  43. ponce says:

    I’m just trying to figure out how it ultimately translates into policy.

    OWS may not lead to any policy changes.

    But it will force America’s greedy rich to spend more money to keep control of the corrupt politicians they own.

    The Koch Brothers alone are coughing up $200 million this election.

    And don’t forget…the capital gains tax will soon be going up to 20% if the rich can’t get their trained political monkey to dance for them…a 33% increase in their current tax rate.

  44. gVOR08 says:

    @Hey Norm: I’m not sure about Ryan either, but remember the flap over Bachmann’s eyes in the Newsweek cover photo? Like Bachmann, Virginia Foxx, and Scott Walker, Ryan has those same true believer eyes. I think he believes. I think he can try to destroy SS on Monday and say he’s saving it on Tuesday and never recognize the contradiction.

    That’s always been a major failing of conservatives generally. They believe their own BS. Supply Side economics started as a lie to support low taxes. Now, in the face of massive historical evidence to the contrary, they all believe it.

  45. Tina says:

    Everytime I see the news about NY I am scared witless for two of my children who relocated to NY and work near Occupy Wall street camp. Mob rule is never a good idea. It may have started with good intentions and motives, but there is no way to control mob rule and something bad is going to happen. Those who every day toil in their jobs are living in fear. Those who live near the park are living in fear, living near filth and unbelievable noise levels that don’t let them enjoy their lives or sleep adequately. Enough is enough. Occupy wall street has made their point and it’s time to leave the parks for the enjoyment of all. I was 100 percent behind the occupy wall street movement, but now all I have is fear.

  46. Hey Norm says:

    “…Ryan has those same true believer eyes…”

    Anyone who reads, and believes, the crap that Ayn Rand spewed out is bound to have those “true believer eyes”.

  47. michael reynolds says:

    We’ve known for a long time that the GOP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of big money. We’ve known that in their secret, dark hearts Republicans would eliminate the safety net entirely and let the poor starve in the streets.

    That’s not exaggeration, that’s core libertarian philosophy. People like Paul Ryan are perfectly okay with American citizens dying of treatable diseases, perfectly okay with old people living on dog food, perfectly okay with the lower classes falling still lower.

    What has changed is that the Democrats also seem to be working for big money. That’s what’s changed. Now, being Democrats they won’t fall quite as far into depravity as Republicans, but there is a sense of betrayal. OWS’s political impact is to stiffen the spine of Democrats. To remind Democrats that we already have a party devoted to licking the boots of the wealthy and we don’t need a second one.

    OWS has already begun to accomplish that. The chastening of Democrats is the net political effect. We still do have a two party system and granting that Republicans are the party of free BJ’s for Billionaires, we need a party that actually gives something of a damn about the 99%.

  48. john personna says:

    @Tina:

    Did you see this?

    WASHINGTON — A new Quinnipiac University poll finds New Yorkers overwhelmingly back the Occupy Wall Street protesters, and even Republicans think they should be allowed to continue their demonstrations.

    New York City voters agree with the views of the Occupy Wall Street movement by a nearly three-to-one margin; 67 percent agree with the protesters’ views and 23 percent disagree, according to the Quinnipiac poll.

  49. mike says:

    @ponce: so only the rich pay capital gains taxes?

  50. Rob in CT says:

    What has changed is that the Democrats also seem to be working for big money. That’s what’s changed. Now, being Democrats they won’t fall quite as far into depravity as Republicans, but there is a sense of betrayal. OWS’s political impact is to stiffen the spine of Democrats. To remind Democrats that we already have a party devoted to licking the boots of the wealthy and we don’t need a second one.

    Well said, and I certainly hope so.

    This is a party whose leader once spoke of how he welcomed the hatred of malefactors of great wealth. They’ve come a long way. Parties change over time. The GOP is nothing like the Party of Lincoln, or the Party of TR. The Dems barely resemble the Party of FDR and LBJ (in some ways that’s good, of course, but in this instance it sucks). Those things don’t happen for no reason. Give them a reason to stand up straight and fight, and they might just do it.

  51. Rob in CT says:

    @mike:

    It’s the rich that are going to pay capital gains tax but not income tax.

    Further, while a non-rich person might pay some cap gains (as I will this year), nobody poor will.

  52. jan says:

    @Stan:

    Taxes on high incomes should go up both to discourage the absurd compensation policies of our major corporations regarding pay for their top management and to finance needed public investments in our human capital.

    More likely this would result in government revenue decreasing. What ever happened to simply more oversight in justifying compensation policies?

    If we are to pay our way in the world we need a healthy, well educated, and well motivated workforce.

    People, though, have to partner in maintaining their own health by living a healthier lifestyle — the whole diet, exercise, stop smoking thing. Motivation too, is not something that can be necessarily ‘given’ to someone. Much of what you list starts on the ‘inside,’ rather than fixating on external governmental machinations.

    We need more affordable prenatal care to lower our infant mortality rate….

    The United State’s standards for measuring infant mortality is much stricter than many other countries, therefore appear ‘higher’ when in fact they are not.

    High schools, community colleges, and public universities have to be made more affordable to the working poor and the middle classes, if necessary by cutting federal aid to institutions that refuse to control their tuition increases.

    Public high school is free. Community colleges remain very affordable. Much of the increased cost of 4-year colleges (especially the elite ones) can be directly traced to government intervention in student loans, making it easier for colleges to demand higher tuition, while cajoling students to encumber themselves with huge student debt visa vie the government — it’s similar to the spider enticing the fly into his web.

    If a worker is poorly paid and poorly treated, he’ll do enough to get by and not much more. Most of all, he has to have the belief that he can live a decent life if he works hard and plays by the rules

    Totally agree about worker compensation and treatment. However, merit should also be a component of higher salaries, this being especially important among teachers.

  53. EMRVentures says:

    @Vast Variety: Erin Burnett began her career at Goldman Sachs, and moved on to Citibank before ending up on TV. She is engaged to a Citibank executive.

    It’s no wonder she’s scoffing. Our liberal media at work.

  54. jan says:

    What has changed is that the Democrats also seem to be working for big money. That’s what’s changed. Now, being Democrats they won’t fall quite as far into depravity as Republicans, but there is a sense of betrayal. OWS’s political impact is to stiffen the spine of Democrats.

    Politicians, both democrat and republican, have always been tempted by big money, bribes, cronyism — all those back-room, deep pocket deals which mortals, of all color, creed and political inclinations, tend to gravitate towards. It is utter nonsense, though, to separate out such depravity, whereby the D’s are merely temporary fallen angels, while the R’s are perpetually disgusting rip-offs. The only difference is that the dems clad themselves in empathetic costumes, much like people do at Halloween, appearing like everything they do is justified by their overt garments of ‘caring.’

    If you’re going to be honest (not partisan or ideological), then weighing a party’s words or ‘intent’ is far less relevant than evaluating their policies and actions as to what was really accomplished, what really ‘helps’ people live independent, meaningful lives.

  55. WR says:

    @jan: Cool. Jan knows the Rove-approved lie for every situation. This is my all-time favorite:

    “The United State’s standards for measuring infant mortality is much stricter than many other countries, therefore appear ‘higher’ when in fact they are not. ”

    Apparently in all them dirty furrin countries, only some dead babies are counted as dead, while the rest of them are sent home to their parents.

    Good to know there is no lie so loathesome Jan won’t repeat it here!

  56. WR says:

    @jan: “If you’re going to be honest (not partisan or ideological), then weighing a party’s words or ‘intent’ is far less relevant than evaluating their policies and actions as to what was really accomplished, what really ‘helps’ people live independent, meaningful lives. ”

    Dems passed Social Security.

    Republicans want to end Social Security.

    Dems passed Medicare.

    Republicans want to kill Medicare.

    Yes, let us evaluate their policies in action and see which one wants to help the poor and middle class and which doesn’t.

  57. Nikki says:

    More likely this would result in government revenue decreasing.

    Just because you say this doesn’t make it so. Please show your work.

    People, though, have to partner in maintaining their own health by living a healthier lifestyle — the whole diet, exercise, stop smoking thing.

    True, but what good is it to request one to live a healthier lifestyle when people do not have the means for adequate health care? One drives the other.

    The United State’s standards for measuring infant mortality is much stricter than many other countries, therefore appear ‘higher’ when in fact they are not.

    Good grief. This is straight out of your ass. As is this:

    Much of the increased cost of 4-year colleges (especially the elite ones) can be directly traced to government intervention in student loans…

  58. DRE says:

    @James H:
    The OWS folks have done a great job of articulating our nation’s multifarious problems. But so far, they’re really, really short of solutions.

    The most important solution is to have a far greater portion of our political discussion and process be about what kind of society we want to have, and what policies are consistent with that, rather than the quasi-religious debate over what is the one “correct” set of rules for how a society should be organized. I think that they have already forced this somewhat, at least partially by articulating problems, rather than claiming to know the perfect solutions.

  59. john personna says:

    You can make capital gains etc (more) progressive. You don’t need to worry that the poor sometimes earn them.

  60. jan says:

    @john personna:

    The era of bail-outs must end.

    It’s rather ironic that you would site an article saying this. Just go back over the past few years, including the Bush one dealing with TARP, and count the number of D’s who voted for bailouts and a failed stimulus, versus the number of R’s who voted for it. Which party supported the now disparaged Cash for Clunkers Program or the First Time Home Buyer Credit Plan, followed by the ineffective Home modification Program, now being reinvented into a new Mortgage Relief Program (this one having many of the inherent weaknesses of the sub-prime mortgage era, which lacked buyer-qualification oversight)? Program after program, all cherry-picking it’s participants, like the Obama administration has done with it’s loan guarantees to Green Programs (Solyndra).

    Like some have said here, OWS should be on the WH lawn protesting.

    They may miss the Apple-Foxconn connection that James draws above, but it is true that Apple did not need a trillion in bailouts.

    Steve Jobs business model didn’t need bailouts because he took his manufacturing business to China, while advising President Obama that the US needed a more ‘business-friendly’ climate in order to improve job creation and our economy over here. If you idolize Apple so much, respecting the man who created and successfully drove it, than it is totally absurd that you don’t also support the R’s call for cutting non-sensical, costly regulations and giving more incentives to business, as this is what the Job’s paradigm called for.

  61. Liberty60 says:

    @Rob in CT:
    When I read the manifesto produced by OWS, it sounds very much like something a New Dealer might have written.

    We look back on the New Deal with that gauzy patina that softens the rage but at that time, FDR was just about the only thing standing between the bankers and the pitchforks.

    @jan:

    There was a time, in the 1950’s and 60’s, when student loans were a rarity; back then, colleges were massively funded by state governments, and tuition was so low that UCLA was known as the college where plumbers sent their kids.
    In addition to heavy funding by state governments, the federal governments devised the Pell Grant, which I used to obtain a college education.

    In addition, if you were a veteran, the government would practically give you a college education free of charge, and when you graduated, the VA would give you a low interest government back loan to buy a house.

    Today, the Pell Grants have nearly been oblilterated, and state governments have reduced funding to colleges which forces them to increase tuition to make up the difference.

    In short, back when today’s conservatives were lifting themselves up by other people’s bootstraps, college for the most part was provided by the taxpayers.

    It wasn’t because we magically “had the money”- it was hard, and expensive, and a tremendous sacrifice by the “Greatest Generation” because they believed that educating all of America’s young people was a worthwhile investment.

    Today’s conservatives simply don’t believe that.

  62. ponce says:

    @ponce: so only the rich pay capital gains taxes?

    No, but the poorest 50% of American families have zero net worth, so the 33% increase in the capital gains tax will affect them very little.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MeanNetWorth2007.png

  63. Rob in CT says:

    the R’s call for cutting non-sensical, costly regulations

    Which ones, exactly.

    I’ll wait.

  64. Scott F. says:

    @Steven Taylor: Cultural change leads political change. Hasn’t it always?

    If OWS leads to a cultural differentiation between winners of merit and “winners” who cheat, then the movement will have done what it should. As the Taibbi item James posted here makes clear, the cheating is pervasive (in the financial sector first and foremost, but well beyond that) and it’s got nothing to do with the “job creators” the Republicans purport to be protecting from the unruly mobs.

  65. Rob in CT says:

    FDR was just about the only thing standing between the bankers and the pitchforks.

    That’s my read of it too.

    It’s really amazing. We’ve fallen behind most of the rest of Western civilization in social mobility (exceptions: UK, Italy). The rationale when I was growing up was: ok, there may be more wealth equality in Europe, but here in the US we have greater mobility, whereas over there you’ve less. So we have the better meritocracy and anyway, we have a solid safety net for those who stumble (note: I didn’t really evaluate the truthfulness of this claim back then – mid90s – but I sure did buy it).

    Now, it’s the Europeans (and Aussies, etc) who have greater mobility as well as greater equality. The old equation no longer adds up.

    Land of Opportunity, right? That’s what we all want, right? RIGHT?

  66. WR says:

    @jan: “If you idolize Apple so much, respecting the man who created and successfully drove it, than it is totally absurd that you don’t also support the R’s call for cutting non-sensical, costly regulations and giving more incentives to business, as this is what the Job’s paradigm called for. ”

    Yes, I love my iPod, but that doesn’t I mean I believe we should repeal all labor laws so Apple can hire Americans to work in dangerous factories for a dollar a day anymore than the fact that I love The Ring of the Niebelungs means I believe we should put Jews in concentration camps.

    And personally, I like clean air and clean water and OSHA and child labor laws — all of which Republicans in congress have tried to eliminate over the last year.

  67. john personna says:

    @jan:

    It is only ironic to someone who didn’t read me at the time.

    I said that since we lack the will to avoid bailouts, we should use appropriate oversight to see that it does not happen again.

    Your group basically says that since you wish you could avoid bailouts, business should be given free reign – ignoring the central narrative that these WS firms mobbed Washington to get their bailouts and then turned around to make their monster donations.

    You are a WS stooge.

  68. Rob in CT says:

    Raise your hand if you want the US to act like China.

    Seriously, that’s the advice? BE MORE LIKE CHINA?!

    Think it through. They’ve got an authoritarian government that’s still got a lot of central planning going on, a lack of political freedom, horrible pollution problems… this is the template?

    The boogeyman for the Right currently seems to be the EPA. Where do you think the EPA came from? It was created to help address serious problems. Air quality problems, acid rain, rivers on fire, toxins seeping out of the ground, etc. Those things were brought to us by the wonderful “job creators,” those paragons of the free market.

    It wasn’t like businesses didn’t have a chance to get their act together before the government got involved. They did. There were all sorts of industrial conferences on pollution issues. But those things did not result in self-regulation. Why not? I suspect, as usual, the tragedy of the commons. It was always about each individual company’s bottom line, so it was always a case of “you go first” when it came to efforts to curtail pollution (unless it dovetailed perfectly with an increase in efficiency such that it saved money).

    Unless an entire industry is *required* to internalize the costs of their pollution, there will be a strong incentive against internalizing those costs, because a competitor might refuse and therefore make more money. If the government sets up a baseline, everyone has to comply (or face consequences, which sadly are often inadequately enforced) and the playing field is level.

    This is where globalization really presents a problem, because of course (getting back to China) some countries desperate for economic development will forego the luxury of environmental protection. Get the jobs, worry about the pollution later.

    We’ll see where this all goes, but I don’t think the solution is to roll back our protections.

  69. Nikki says:

    I believe this cartoon adequately sums up the libertarian view of OWS.

  70. Drew says:

    “We’ve known that in their secret, dark hearts Republicans would eliminate the safety net entirely and let the poor starve in the streets.

    That’s not exaggeration, that’s core libertarian philosophy. People like Paul Ryan are perfectly okay with American citizens dying of treatable diseases, perfectly okay with old people living on dog food, perfectly okay with the lower classes falling still lower.”

    Reynolds got it almost right. The real goal is for Republicans to use the poor or sick FOR the food for their exotic dogs. Not have those losers eating the pedestrian dog food allocated to pedestrian dogs. C’mon, Micheal, get your “just as wicked as it seems” assertions right..

    Furthermore, Republicans want you get your money for nothing and your chicks for free.

    Spread it……..

  71. jan says:

    @Nikki:

    True, but what good is it to request one to live a healthier lifestyle when people do not have the means for adequate health care? One drives the other.

    Obesity is rampant in the United states, a huge factor in our growing diabetes problems and cardiovascular diseases. Smoking is linked to almost all diseases, but especially to lung cancer. All of these are directly related to people’s own habits and proclivities, not simply to being rich or poor. Exercise is another self-governoring factor to better health…and, I’m not talking about going to an expensive Gym. Walking is all it takes. Anybody can obtain healthcare from an ER. It’s done all the time, which is why these places are so overwhelmed. Healthcare costs and access definitely needs to be addressed, updated and reformed. But, there are still avenues people themselves can take to insure better health for themselves.

    As for the infant mortality comment, you’re just being another conduit of misinformation. WHO has established the following as a standard for a live birth:

    all babies showing any signs of life, such as muscle activity, a gasp for breath or a heartbeat, should be included as a live birth. The U.S. strictly follows this definition.

    Other countries don’t follow this same standard, therefore showing a much lower rate of infant mortality.

    First, it’s shaky ground to compare U.S. infant mortality with reports from other countries. The United States counts all births as live if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity or size. This includes what many other countries report as stillbirths. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) to count as a live birth; in other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless. And some countries don’t reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth. Thus, the United States is sure to report higher infant mortality rates. For this very reason, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which collects the European numbers, warns of head-to-head comparisons by country.

    Most of the infant mortality statistics out there just mix all the countries together, not separating their mortality rates by the standards followed, giving great distortion as to what our infant mortality rate really comprises.

  72. Nikki says:

    This Slate article shows that, as far as Google searches go, OWS is FAR more popular than the Tea Party. This Bloomberg Business article attempts to explain why.

  73. john personna says:

    @jan:

    BTW, if you want irony, note that I don’t actually own any Apple products. You just assume I must, since I am sympathetic to OWS.

  74. john personna says:

    @Nikki:

    I’ve actually considered recommending that hook to James or Doug. By the polls OWS also has more support than the TP.

    It would make a great headline.

  75. jan says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Have you ever read the book FDR’s Folly by Jim Powell. I’ve mentioned this well documented title before here. It might just change (straighten out) some of your New Deal perspective.

  76. jan says:

    @john personna:

    You just assume I must, since I am sympathetic to OWS.

    I don’t assume anything about you JP, as your thinking can be quite inscrutable. Apple was only responded to because you mentioned it as an example in your post.

  77. john personna says:

    @jan:

    I guess it was inscrutable, because James and I were already talking about it in connection to Foxconn and Chinese jobs.

  78. Nikki says:

    @jan: From Wikipedia:

    However, in 2009, the US CDC issued a report that stated that the American rates of infant mortality were affected by the United States’ high rates of premature babies compared to European countries. It also outlined the differences in reporting requirements between the United States and Europe, noting that France, the Czech Republic, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Poland do not report all live births of babies under 500 g and/or 22 weeks of gestation.[6][9][10] The report concluded, however, that the differences in reporting are unlikely to be the primary explanation for the United States’ relatively low international ranking.[10]

    Whether you believe it or not, our for-profit health care system is not working and has not for a long time.

  79. john personna says:

    @jan:

    I don’t even know where you got that crazy laundry list of things you think counter me and OWS, when (a) I am not a Democrat, and (b) OWS is not about that old status quo.

  80. Stan says:

    @jan: “Much of the increased cost of 4-year colleges (especially the elite ones) can be directly traced to government intervention in student loans, making it easier for colleges to demand higher tuition…”

    Where I live the major public research university gets less than 15% of its operating budget from the state. It makes up the shortfall from overhead on sponsored research grants and from tuition. If you’re a high school student and your family can’t come up with $25,000 to $30,000 a year for tuition and other expenses (twice that for out of state students), you take out a student loan or you don’t attend. The other public universities in the state aren’t that much cheaper. Ending the student loan program would slow down the rate of tuition increases, but it would also drastically reduce attendance at our state universities by low income students. Our class system is hardening, and I think this is unhealthy in a democratic country.

  81. john personna says:

    I do consider OWS a confirmation of my old arguments that:

    – there is a student loan bubble
    – affordable education should be about low costs rather than easy loans
    – technology should be used to reduce costs
    – in a high costs environment, low ROI study plans should be discouraged

  82. Stan says:

    @Nikki: Our infant mortality rates are essentially the same as those in western Europe among one segment of the population, the active service military. Is it a coincidence that the military also gets free or heavily subsidized medical care?

  83. Eric Florack says:

    Going back to the New Deal financial regulatory regime would be a good start…. TO OBLIVION….

    There, fixed it.

  84. @Tina: Oh no — a mob that wants the right to clean-up the park it is mobbing in, and to bring in Porta-potties —- that is definately a dangerous mob….. [/snark]

  85. @mike: Pretty much — the major middle class capital assets are in descending order:

    1) Primary residence (capital gains taxes excluded for the first $250,000 for a single owner or $500,000 for a married couple filing jointly)

    2) Cars (you try to sell a used car for a capital gain….)

    3) 401(K) which are already taxed sheltered and withdrawals are taxed at normal income rates after the age threshold is met.

    4) Maybe a 529 or an IRA or a Roth IRA which are already tax advantaged in one way or another….

    5) Rapidly depreciating consumer goods.

    Sure, people will may own a few hundred/thousand shares in a mutual fund outside of their tax sheltered/tax advantage accounts, but most middle class people have minimal taxable capital gains. They don’t have enough assets.

  86. ponce says:

    Going back to the New Deal financial regulatory regime would be a good start…. TO OBLIVION….

    To eric, and the other hate-filled wingnuts here, I keep this data handy just to refute your inane and constant hissy fits directed at FDR:

    Pre-WWII Roosevelt Real U.S. GDP Growth Rates:

    1933 -1.3%
    1934 10.9%
    1935 8.9%
    1936 13.0%
    1937 5.1%
    1938 -3.4%
    1939 8.1%
    1940 8.8%
    1941 17.1%

    The U.S. economy has never grown faster than it did under FDR.

  87. @Eric Florack: Evidence please that restrictions on bank ownership, market share, and types of products/risks that could be brought onto a bank would hinder the US economy compared to the costs of the Too Big to Fail put…. [Heritage Foundation “work” does not count….]

  88. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Anderson:
    That’s the worst kind of mob.

  89. James Joyner says:

    @Nikki: @john personna: It’s hardly surprising that OWS is more popular than the Tea Party at this stage. As the title and body of this post note, OWS is currently a giant bitch-fest aiming to represent 99 percent of the country and attracting sympathy from across the political spectrum for some legitimate gripes.

    The Tea Party has always been much more politics and policy oriented and has subsequently managed to alienate even a lot of people who would otherwise be sympathetic by fielding lunatic candidates or otherwise staking out hard core positions. OWS is still all about peace, love, and understanding. Let’s see how they’re doing in the polls once that start advocating specific policies or endorsing actual candidates.

  90. David M says:

    There’s still a disagreement about whether or not the GOP is the party of permanent bailouts? I thought their “permanent bailout authority” lies about the orderly liquidation section of Dodd-Frank settled that question.

    The issue of is real, and hasn’t gone away. After seeing the bailouts, there were basically 2 options going forward. One, publicly decry the bailouts, but consistently oppose plans to better handle too big to fail in the future. Two, set up a system so future institutions that are considered too big to fail can be liquidated in an orderly fashion. And make no mistake, absent a plan to handle too big to fail, those institutions will be bailed out again.

    The GOP is on record wanting to maintain the status quo where bailing out too big to fail banks is the only option. They are the party of the financial industry and endless bailouts.

  91. WR says:

    @jan: We all know there’s a major right-wing industry in churning out books claiming that the New Deal was a bad thing. Most of us are smart enough to know that they are nothing but proganda meant to give the sheep a bleat or two in an argument with someone who actually has an education. So, no, I haven’t read this tripe and I never will.

  92. ponce says:

    OWS is still all about peace, love, and understanding.

    Elvis!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RVDQgVxprE

  93. Rob in CT says:

    @jan:

    Ooh, some winger wrote a revisionist history of the Depression so as to claim that FDR & the New Deal actually hindered the recovery. Gosh, I haven’t heard that one before (the Forgotten Man is the one wingnuts usually cite, but I’m unsurprised to learn that there is more to that genre).

    Up is down, war is peace, and yeah, the New Deal didn’t save American Capitalism and kick off an era of widely-shared prosperity… no, it was actually terrible! Who ya gonna believe? Me, or your lying eyes?

    Pfft. The bullshit is thick with this one.

  94. Rob in CT says:

    Googled it. Written by a “senior fellow at the Cato Institute.”

    You never disappoint, Jan. All right-wing sources, all the time.

    The funny part is, when you look at the growth rates under FDR, the claim is *absurd on its face* The claim must be that if the austerity folks had been in power, we’d have done BETTER than:

    1933 -1.3%
    1934 10.9%
    1935 8.9%
    1936 13.0%
    1937 5.1%
    1938 -3.4%
    1939 8.1%
    1940 8.8%
    1941 17.1%

    Of course, in 1937-8, FDR & Co. tried austerity. How’d that go? Oh, right…

  95. Larry says:

    @James Joyner:

    If the mass media are really interested in finding out and actually understanding what the protest is all about..they need to get up off their asses and do some real reporting..do the real investigation work..they need to get their hands dirty. It’s pretty clear to millions of us what this protest is about…What appears to be mass medias real job, what they are actually doing is cover up, they have done nothing but cover up the reality of most Americans…The rich got rich by cheating and gaming the system…trillions in pension funds have been stolen, home values have been ruined, people who worked hard, played be the rules, have been publicly robbed and the thieves get to keep on doing it. They can all go rot in hell.

  96. sam says:

    @James Joyner:

    The Tea Party has always been much more politics and policy oriented

    That’s probably because the Tea Party was early on co-opted by professional politicians (Dick Armey, et al.) OWS doesn’t strike me as the same kind of animal. As I said upthread, I think its effect is more galvanizing than organizing. Thus, I’m not sure it’ll “start advocating specific policies or endorsing actual candidates.” I even feel a little funny referring to an “it”. OWS seems too inchoate to me to be an it. Time will tell, I guess, but to date I haven’t seen any Carl Oglesbys or Mario Savios out there.

  97. KansasMom says:

    @jan:

    I don’t know how things are done in California, but here in Kansas, public high schools are far from free. A friend of mine just paid $500 in fees to send her daughter to public high school. I have a 3 year old and one year old twins so in 13 years, I anticipate a minimum of $2000 in fees per school year to send my kids to the “free” public high school.

    I am also a nursing student at a nearby community college. I plan to borrow at least $21,000 over the next two years to pay tuition, books, day care and to purchase the required health insurance out of pocket. Because I have a bachelor’s degree, I don’t qualify for Pell grants, even though my degree is in high demand and my family size and income place me squarely in the eligible bracket.

    I guess “free” and “affordable” are completely dependent on where you sit.

  98. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    That’s what you go into AFTER you use the big hook.

    Seriously though, it would be easier for OWS to be smaller than the TP. Bongo players and anarchists. That they are big, that the frustration is big, is a viable story.

    That they are getting both Financial Times editorials and Egyptian protests at this point is pretty amazing. This is their second wind.

  99. Hey Norm says:

    Stan sez:

    “…Taxes on high incomes should go up…”

    Jan replies:

    “…More likely this would result in government revenue decreasing…”

    Jesus-god how often do we have to hear this BS right-wing myth? I’m so friggin’ sick of it. There’s no factual basis for it and yet they just keep repeating it ad-nauseum. Jan…and the rest of you…do some research…try thinking for yourself…PLEASE…for the good of the country. It’s impossible to make any progress if half of the country is operating in a goddamn fantasy world.
    Bruce Bartlett, a true conservative, addresses the idiocy of Jan almost directly:

    “…Perhaps the whole point of the apparent Republican disinformation effort to deny that the Bush tax cuts reduced federal revenue is to make the reverse argument next year — allowing them to expire will not raise revenue…”

    And:

    “…It would have been one thing if the Bush tax cuts had at least bought the country a higher rate of economic growth, even temporarily. They did not. Real G.D.P. growth peaked at just 3.6 percent in 2004 before fading rapidly. Even before the crisis hit, real G.D.P. was growing less than 2 percent a year.
    By contrast, after the 1982 and 1993 tax increases, growth was much more robust. Real G.D.P. rose 7.2 percent in 1984 and continued to rise at more than 3 percent a year for the balance of the 1980s.
    Real G.D.P. growth was 4.1 percent in 1994 despite widespread predictions by opponents of the 1993 tax increase that it would bring on another recession. Real growth averaged 4 percent for the balance of the 1990s. By contrast, real G.D.P. growth in the nonrecession years of the 2000s averaged just 2.7 percent a year — barely above the postwar average…”

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/are-the-bush-tax-cuts-the-root-of-our-fiscal-problem/

  100. Barb Hartwell says:

    These people who take to the streets keep it up to be thorn s in the eyes of the greedy SOB`s that have taken away the American dream for them. There has always been wealthy people that were not hated for that. We always dreamed what if, like winning the lottery. Now just the dream of the working -class home, a healthy family, maybe a modest vacation every year is quickly disappearing from so many. If it were happening to anyone that opposes OWS you would be there too. Many people suffered alone until a few stood up and I applaud the first brave ones that did. Keep it going because you are the true patriots.

  101. jan says:

    @Liberty60:

    if you were a veteran, the government would practically give you a college education free of charge,

    An informative, straight-forward post, Liberty.

    While you used the Pell Grant for your education, my husband got a stipend from being in the military, which helped fund some of his college education. The two areas of assistance, VA and Pell, are not loans, though, requiring any pay-backs.

    Where the problem in education arises is from how accessible and easy it has been to get student funding from the government, which then becomes a loan creating all the current debt-service misery out there today . The advantageous part of such a loan has been it’s low interest rate. Other than that, it has become like any other borrowing experience — a financial burden once a person finishes college.

    However, I truly don’t think every student thought this onerous aftertaste of college completely through, beforehand. Most high school kids, just want to get into the best, most popular institutions they can. And, their parents support them on this quest, prodding them onward. Sought-after schools know that low-interest government loans are available, only for the asking, so structure their ever-increasing tuition costs accordingly. IMO, this is where the complicity arises between the government and colleges, whereby the school’s understand, no matter how outrageous their fees are, the government will be there to lend money to any willing, eager student covering said costs, which then has to be paid back. “Oh well, that’s their problem,” is what this kind of ill-conceived agreement basically says.

    If this government/student relationship, though, had greater oversight, reasonably established financial perimeters, where a student had to qualify for a certain loan amount before receiving it, I don’t believe you would see quite as many indentured young adults working so hard to pay off these $100,000 plus loans to the government. It’s similar to the government’s gift of caring, demanding home ownership equality for all, during the sub-prime fiasco.. Here the government mandated lending changes, lowering loan qualifications/requirements making it once again easier for more people to buy housing (they actually couldn’t afford), which eventually ended up financially cratering them once the housing market weakened and crashed. All the bad loans, bundled with good loans, came back to haunt the banks and then the housing markets, just like it seems to be doing to the educational system, as heard in the OWS movement’s grievances today.

    Currently, the maximum allowed in Pell Grants is $5,550/ year to augment lower income students in their education costs. And, you’re right, these grants are being reduced, because of our states’ large deficits. Basically, there are really no easy fixes at the moment. Many of our ways of living and doing business need rehabilitation and redirection, and that includes a retooling of people’s expectations of what is a right versus a privilege, what people should expect from others (government, entitlements, Grants etc.) and what they need to do for themselves, as a cooperative society.

  102. David M says:

    @jan: Jan, this is a real question. Why should we take your post seriously when it contains obvious falsehoods like this:

    It’s similar to the government’s gift of caring, demanding home ownership equality for all, during the sub-prime fiasco.. Here the government mandated lending changes, lowering loan qualifications/requirements making it once again easier for more people to buy housing (they actually couldn’t afford), which eventually ended up financially cratering them once the housing market weakened and crashed.

    The lie is repeated without end by the right, but there is absolutely no evidence for it.

  103. WR says:

    @jan: “If this government/student relationship, though, had greater oversight, reasonably established financial perimeters, where a student had to qualify for a certain loan amount before receiving it, I don’t believe you would see quite as many indentured young adults working so hard to pay off these $100,000 plus loans to the government.”

    In other words, only rich kids should get loans to go to prestige schools.

  104. john personna says:

    There have been ugly examples of college loan corruption, like college loan officers earning vacations on a point system … by placing as many students as they can into loans.

    But it isn’t really “complicity” when the government tries to police it, as in this:

    Cozy arrangements between colleges and the companies that lend their students billions of dollars are far more widespread than anticipated, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo told The Associated Press Tuesday, just as two more college financial aid officers were suspended amid a probe into the $85 billion industry.

  105. anjin-san says:

    It might just change (straighten out) some of your New Deal perspective.

    My wife’s boss is a hardcore conservative. Loved Bush, hates Obama. He is wildly successful in business and as an investor – one of the job/wealth creators the right loves to talk about. To employ a cliche, he has forgotten more about business and making money than most people will ever know.

    He is old enough to have lived through the depression, and says flatly that FDR saved the country – twice.

    You have to feel at least a little sorry for the Jan’s and bithead’s of the world, serving up laughable warmed over right wing talking points, all the wile thinking that they are the ones who know the score.

  106. Liberty60 says:

    Loans are what people take out when Pell grants are reduced.

    Had I (and Mr. Jan and a million other middle aged guys) not had access to grant money, we would be in exactly the same boat as these kids today.

    And I doubt we would hear so much bitching about spoiled young brats.

    There is no reason why Pell grants needed to be reduced from 1980 to today. Not one reason why state spending on colleges needed to be cut from 1980 today.

    Not when states were able to shower gazillions of dollars on the 1%.

    We don’t provide free education to young people today, for the simple reason that we don’t make it a priority, when our parents did.

  107. john personna says:

    @Liberty60:

    According to the chart here, Pell Grants generally grew over time but no where near the rate of tuition rise.

    There was a small dip in grants, as tuition rocketed, but I think the rocket part is the real story.

  108. Lomax says:

    This “movement” has not been focused and disciplined enough. It is more like the ’70′s protestors that took over college campuses and did more harm than good. There is little or no comparison to the discipline of the 1960′s civil rights movement. The OWS has over stayed its welcome, becoming a rude neighbor that has created a lot of trash, damage, and disregard for working people of the area they are occupying. The behavior has been a big turnoff to families. In talking to some of them in my city, I cannot get a coherent message about anything. This is the result of reading Harry Potter books for most of their school life. Their opinions are inane and run the gamut from populist to Marxist to Tea Party. Americans are also turned off by demands that their tax money go to pay off someone’s graduate degree loan at some Ivy League university. That’s their problem. They have reached a “mid life ” crisis in their twenties. A few were so out of it the only solution to me is some quick shock treatment at the local lunatic asylum. (Maybe they can do that on an out patient basis.) I don’t know where they are getting money for their laptops and Halloween costumes. These people have missed a golden opportunity by not trying to be involved in the debates. They could pick one of their people who can articulate and speak coherently (maybe not possible after all) about the issues. They could persistently persuade the networks to involve them, if they are truly the “99%.” We could then, perhaps, maybe, possibly get some clue about what they are thinking (I use that term very loosely here).
    But I think the time for any intelligent actions such as political involvement, community action, third party movement, etc. has slipped past as they have now turned on themselves, gotten tired of each other (too many nights in the same tent) and are turning increasingly to violent behavior.

  109. Ben Wolf says:

    @jan: The CRA did not in any way require banks to make high-risk loans or force lowering of lending standards.

    http://www.federalreserve.gov/communitydev/cra_about.htm

    Fannie and Freddie did not create the sub-prime mess, they were directed to buy sub-prime loans from banks which had already made them. So there.

  110. Scott O. says:

    @Lomax: You’re repeating yourself from yesterday. This behavior is a big turnoff. That’s your problem. Quick shock treatment at the local lunatic asylum might help.

  111. Ben Wolf says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Going back to the New Deal financial regulatory regime would be a good start…. TO OBLIVION….

    Before New Deal regulatory scheme: Financial Panics of 1819, 1837, 1857, 1873, 1884, 1890, 1893, 1896, 1907, 1910-1911, 1929.

    During New Deal regulatory scheme: No financial crises.

    After New Deal regulatory scheme: Latin American Crisis, S&L Crisis, Mexican Financial Crisis, Asian Financial Crisis, Dot-com Bubble, 2008 Global Financial Crisis and the Great Recession.

    Clearly the periods before and after the New Deal were way better.

  112. G.A.Phillips says:

    Occupy the police blotter….

  113. G.A.Phillips says:
  114. john personna says:

    As regards the fantasy that without governments markets would just be stable, here is a good read:

    The natural chaos of markets

    I think the thesis is true, that markets are never “in balance,” that is just a comforting lie we tell ourselves.

    (They may move slowly most of the time, which gives us enough day-to-day stability to be happy, until a disruption rolls around.)

  115. john personna says:

    @john personna:

    Re. that “complicity” thing above, I want to restate. There was complicity, but it wasn’t top-down. I think the loan programs, while misguided, were intended for “good loans.” The complicity took root, as that article shows, when some loan companies and some colleges started shoveling students in, for no reason other than to build volume.

    Even now Obama pictures good loans and campaigns for them. That is misguided, not IMO complicity.

  116. john personna says:

    Der Spiegel’s take on OWS:

    Has America Become an Oligarchy?

  117. jpe says:

    Maybe OWS’s goal, unspoken or no, is to get folks talking about this shitty state of affairs.

    So we just pass a law banning shitty states of affairs and we’re all set.

    I can’t believe people don’t think OWS has a coherent, clear message!

  118. john personna says:

    @jpe:

    Or we could just complain that no one else should complain.

  119. john personna says:

    This story made The Guardian in the UK:

    Occupy San Francisco: the teenager who was refused cancer treatment

    What must they think of us American market fanatics?

    Better she get no treatment than someone wait 2 weeks for a national health appointment, right guys?

  120. This is the real democracy and I am happy that it is happening. However I fear that it will lead to a total censorship of the internet, because it’s the last real stronghold of free speech and this fact is unbearable for the elites.