The president and his attorney general, along with a number of other high-ranking administration officials, found themselves in deep trouble this week as their scandalous conduct in Solyndra and Fast and Furious received increased congressional scrutiny and some media attention. To distract voters from the real cause of their unhappiness, the friends and supporters of the almost-hero of Altgeld Gardens (Obama, the community organizer who almost got the asbestos out of that Chicago slum property but never succeeded) have organized largely astroturf occupations of Wall Street, D.C., and elsewhere which demonize the very forces which could and do improve our lives.
My friend who posts under the pen name "Danube of Thought" calls the people occupying Wall Street and elsewhere Adullamites, after the Biblical description (Samuel 22:1-2) of those who gathered around David when he escaped Saul and went to the cave of Adullam: "everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented." It seems a perfect fit for these mobs.
Unlike Altgeld Gardens, where there was a defined target -- asbestos removal -- the goal of these folks (besides getting others to give them the wherewithal, like blankets and food, to carry on) is unclear.
It seems to me that today's Adullamites' message is at bottom:
When do we want it?
What do we want?
On what might -- were this not billed as a totally unstructured movement -- be deemed Occupy Wall Street's "official website," one poster listed these demands:
Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending "Freetrade" by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.
Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.
Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.
Demand four: Free college education.
Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.
Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.
Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America's nuclear power plants.
Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.
Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.
Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.
Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the "Books." World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the "Books." And I don't mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.
Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.
Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.
These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy.
The administrators of the website, however, indicate that this was not a position adopted by "consensus"; it represents only one supporter's view. But there is hardly more clarity elsewhere, and this utterly childish list seems to accurately convey the varied naïve and unworkable demands by a powerless group of dopes and dupes.
In D.C., the turnout was paltry. The legitimate ranks the event turned out were even thinner than they appeared. The marchers included Hispanics who were paid to carry signs whose meaning they didn't understand.
In Los Angeles, the crowd was also thin and astroturfed by various labor unions:
"The marchers also included scores of people bused in by various labor unions, which led observer Andrew Breitbart to smell conspiracy. The conservative blogger was videotaping the march and argued that the union involvement meant the demonstration had been 'astroturfed' -- that is, manufactured to give the false appearance that it was a public groundswell." Well, when even sympathetic media accounts can only report "hundreds" of protesters it's not a very successful false appearance.
But it is clear that whatever these people think they are doing, Nancy Pelosi applauds them and blesses them "for their spontaneity. It's independent ... it's young, it's spontaneous, and it's focused. And it's going to be effective." Like maggots drawn to rotting meat, she's joined by other rich lefties egging the demonstrators on.
Hip hop and credit card mogul Russell Simmons (net worth: $340 million), alleged comedian Roseanne Barr (net worth: $80 million), actress Susan Sarandon (net worth: $50 million), and celluloid propagandist Michael Moore (net worth: $50 million) have all dropped by to cheer on the protesters in their quest to redistribute wealth while radically transforming the nation.
Simmons stood beside Frances Fox Piven as the Bolshevik academic unwittingly created an impromptu parody of the "we're all individuals" crowd scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian. "Wall Street is the center of the neo-liberal cancer that has spread across the world," Piven said, pausing every few seconds to allow the mob to repeat her words.
After Piven finished, Simmons stood up and did the same routine like an automaton from a creepy cult. As the mob repeated his words, Simmons condemned the "class warfare being waged on the poor and the middle class" and claimed:
The fact is our problem, at least our number one problem, is the corporations and the other special interest groups that are more important to our politicians than the people. The lobbyists and the money gotta get the f*** out of Washington.
But as Professor Bainbridge and our own Rick Moran note, the claim that the corporations run the government is ridiculous on its face.
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.
In any event, those who are supporting the Occupiers and marching with them include many who are the very beneficiaries of Obama's stimulus legislation, which bailed out them and their employers.
"Several major labor groups--including the Transport Workers Union, the Service Employees International Union, the United Federation of Teachers and the United Auto Workers--took part in the march," the Times adds, although "some more traditionally conservative ones, like those in the construction trades, stayed away."
One common characteristic of the four unions the Times cites is that they all include members who work for the government or, in the case of the UAW, for corporate welfare cases. As Michael Barone noted in a February 2010 column: "One-third of [2009's] $787 billion stimulus package was aid to state and local governments--an obvious attempt to bolster public-sector unions."
In the interest of truth in advertising, the unions ought to print up signs that read "Project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act." And now of course President Obama is demanding yet another stimulus, which would subsidize these protests further.
Thus far Occupiers have been carrying around largely hand-lettered signs saying things like "I could lose my job 4 having a voice" or "Bank's got bailed-out We got sold out!!!" to quote verbatim a couple of examples from a recent slide show from London's Daily Mail.
I think it clear that the Occupiers cannot refine or focus their demands. If they do pick discrete objectives, it will alienate significant portions of their already limited number of supporters. The mob is not particularly cohesive. They have a wide range of inconsistent desires. I doubt that without a goal there can be a victory, just as I doubt that hiring organizers to mobilize tenants instead of engaging asbestos removal teams was the way to go at Altgeld Gardens. These folks need engineers, entrepreneurs, and people willing to invest again, not rabble-rousers, if they wish to recharge our economy, which has been battered by Obama-generated uncertainty and regulatory overreach.
The untimely death of Steve Jobs last week underscored the vast difference between organizing malcontents and improving the world. Online, the picture of the occupation that most emphasized the incongruity of it all to me was an anti-corporation protester being taped on an Apple iPad. And surely, the tweets and texting and e-mailing and reporting on the demonstrations involved the use of millions of Jobs-created Apple products.
Heritage's Edwin Feulner described the divide between the occupiers and Jobs better than I can:
Jobs and innovators like him epitomize that immeasurable quality the left somehow finds most abject -- American exceptionalism.
The meme of the left is that drudgery and mediocrity is not just our future but probably also our just deserts-for being too imperialistic, consumerist, wasteful, patriarchal, or what have you. (For an inexhaustible list of all our ills and sins, please check with the mob gathered at the "Occupy Wall Street" protest.) One should compare this deadened vision with the wonders Jobs wrought.
Apple Computer, the company Jobs founded at the age of 21 along with his friend Steve Wozniak, was valued at the close of business yesterday at $350 billion and some change, more than $100 billion ahead of Microsoft. General Electric, another American giant, weighed in at less than half the price, $161 billion. Ford, GM and Volkswagen? Respectively, $40 billion, $35 billion and $42 billion. That should give some idea of where we are in the 21st century.
That beauty contest, how much a company is worth, is a result of decisions made by millions of investors voting with people's savings (that is, for most of us, the sweat of our brow and our hedge against an uncertain future). Investors voted for Jobs' company because consumers loved its products, and consumers bought Apple products not because they were ordered to do so by central planners but because they saw them as magic.
From computing to music to journalism, Jobs changed the way the world did its business and leisure. ...
All this was the result of the happy coincidence of genius in an individual and a system. Jobs was an individual with special DNA, no question. But this half-Arab boy who was given up for adoption at birth and went on to drop out of college was able to transform the lives of individuals across the world because he lived and worked in this country.
The genius of the American system is comprised of the rule of law, respect for private property and the freedom of the individual to strive to be better than himself and his neighbor and reap the rewards that come from his innate abilities and effort. All of these and many other liberties are safeguarded in our Constitution. It is all part of what makes us an exceptional country.