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The Irresistible Angst
©2011 Ross Williams
It’s getting tough to be a success in this country nowadays. First, it’s hard enough to accomplish to begin with and second, if success does come then there will be scads of people who are not, Not, Not envious marching on Wall Street with signs and slogans to ... something. It’s not really decided what the real problem is. Whatever the problem is, though, they don’t like it, and the success of other people is responsible for it. That much is certain.
Greece is bankrupt and to prevent a Greek default from tipping the entire continent of Europe into a second Dark Age, other European countries are pooling what little money they have to pay off Greek debt.
In 2008, the US financial industry, paper-rich in overvalued mortgages, got bailed out by the US government in order to prevent the loss of value from taking down the entire US economy and threatening an American Dark Age.
The Greek economy is defaulting because of socialistic government policies 70 years in the making. The US economy hit mortgage crisis three years ago because of semi-socialistic government requirements to ignore credit ratings in the mortgage loan process, thus pushing people into houses they could not afford and, in many cases, had no business buying. This drove up the value of real estate, overvaluing the paper the mortgage was written on, which made mortgage lenders paper-rich in an asset they couldn’t sell for its value if their lives depended on it.
Frequently, as we found out, it did. RIP Lehman.
All of which proves one thing: there’s nothing so bad that government intervention can’t make it worse.
The solution desired by those who tend to protest the results of government intervention is usually another form of government intervention.
Health care used to be cheap for basic care and treatments, and insurance for the disastrous conditions used to be cheap. Then government added requirement after requirement onto health insurers and the cost of insurance went up, the cost of all services went up, which caused the cost of insurance to go up again, which caused the cost of all services to go up again ...
... which led to the demand for government healthcare. That oughta learn those greedy insurance companies! ...who were only doing what the government required it to do: cover everything under the sun while still making a profit.
Who are the people who like Obamacare the best...? health insurers. Yes, health insurers like Obamacare even more than the [ironic term] “progressives” do. More government intervention means that the larger the company is which provides the government-intervened service, the more likely they are to provide the service for the government, and the “too big” they will become for the government to allow to fail when government intervention causes fiscal crisis – as is virtually guaranteed.
Which brings us back to Wall Street bankers and the mortgage crisis of our government’s creation being protested by the scads of folks intent on protesting what is obvious they don’t understand. Government regulations required banks to use stupid lending practices, and then when they got into so much trouble by doing it they could have taken down the whole US economy, the US government covered their bad paper.
So it’s the fault of Wall Street for doing what the government made them do, and not the government for making them do it. And this is being intensely protested by the same type of person who, in 1773, would have dressed as an Indian, boarded His Majesty’s ships in Boston Harbor, and milled about satisfied that aimless disgruntlement was enough to impress George that, darn it, he was serious. This same type of person would have, in Paris in 1789, stormed the Bastille and the Tuileries looking for the cake Marie Antoinette spoke of.
In 2011, they have squatted in the New York financial district, and in various cities around the country, to protest ... “whatever”. Protesters are vaguely aware that Wall Street has more money and political influence than they do, but they aren’t raiding the offices of Citibank, throwing open the vaults, and issuing memos on official letterhead to rescind all bank fees and cease all foreclosures. While I doubt they’d be opposed to such moves, they don’t specifically want that. They don’t specifically want anything.
Except to demonstrate to everyone else that they are aimless, vapid, self-satisfied and lazy. And this they are accomplishing. Entering their fourth week, they have issued no demands on anyone or anything. Partly because they don’t know what they want, partly because they don’t know what they’re protesting well enough to figure out what they want, and partly because even if they did it would require a consensus among the protesters, which they are certain to not arrive at.
Congressman John Lewis from Georgia, attempted to address the crowd gathered in Atlanta last week, but could not get the megaphone. Lewis is among the black civil rights leaders who entered politics, and he knows more than most about protesting and getting results. And since he’s a Democrat, and the Democrats are currently demonizing everyone who has any money [except rich Democrats], he is rather sympathetic to the protesters’ cause.
...or would be, if the protesters knew what their cause actually was. When Lewis asked to address the crowd he was told that he was no more important than anyone else and thus could not speak unless the protesters achieved consensus to allow it. He was told this by the guy with the megaphone, who was enough better than the crowd that he himself was addressing ... by virtue of the fact that he had a megaphone and the crowd didn’t. John Lewis, after a series of “debates”, some gesticulated “votes” and various “straw polls” demonstrated general indifference to the notion of someone with a sense of purpose talking to them at all, ended up wandering away.
Herman Cain, the black Horatio Alger running for president as a Republican, cut to the chase and called them anti-American. The counter claim is, of course, that protesting is very American. However, protesters typically protest for a reason they can easily identify: “stop the war”, “end hunger”, “better wages”, regardless of the futility it may carry with it.
Those protesting have been asked repeatedly what they’re protesting against, and each time they’re asked they give a different answer, and it includes – apparently – having lousy movies coming out of Hollywood. Cain is partly right; this demonstration is not American – it’s a nursery school deprived of its nap, which is universal.
The most common of their different answers is “corporate greed”. Which is another name for “success”. And the list of grievances is contained in snivel-list compiled by the original aimless lazies squatting on Wall Street, who call themselves the New York City General Assembly.
Their Declaration of the Occupation of New York City is a dog’s vomit of environmentalist whines, century-old labor/management gripes largely settled by law, animal rights whimpers, various other group rights, factually insupportable conspiracy theories, semi-slanderous accusations, reanimated neo-Marxist caterwauling, kvetches about the realities of capitalism, and – as every gripe is prefaced with the same “they” who perpetuates all evils, as in “They have sold our privacy as a commodity” – their screed comprises a mega-conspiracy theory identifying no one and nothing as their evil nemesis. ...and doing it so vaguely as to implicate everyone and everything.
This, naturally, plays into the Democrats’ hands, as Democrats, the party of everyone and everything too disparate to have a cohesive purpose, have latched onto the Occupy Wall Street movement as a middle class uprising against everything that would save the nation from the results of Democrats’ policies ... currently on display in Greece. To the degree that the protesters are college kids – and that’s certainly what they started as – then they are not the middle class; they are the children of the middle class who may aspire to it themselves one day but, as children, they are long on entitlement, short on responsibility to themselves and others, and have a thoroughly insufficient grasp of the real world, mostly being filtered through Spongebob and MTV’s *>ahem<* Real World drivel.
To the degree that the protesters are the unemployed caught up in the toilet swirl of the largely Democrat intrusion into The Economic System, they are possibly the once and future middle class ... but they are not currently.
To the degree that the protesters are union laborers offering “solidarity” with ideologically inept nitwits bitching about the same people with money that unions bitch about, they represent only 9% of the middle class, and are a stilted and poisonous subsection, at that. And seeing as the protests have entered their fourth nonstop week, the majority of protesters are then either college kids skipping class, unemployed with nothing to do, or union laborers who cannot be fired just for missing work.
To be middle class they’d have to have jobs they report for; people with jobs confine their political protests to special events, evenings and weekends.
Instead, it is the Tea Party which is more middle class. And the middle class, through the Tea Party, is currently protesting a whole ‘nuther set of issues mostly having nothing to do with the scattergun screed of Occupy Wall Street. For the middle class understands enough of the issues behind the headlines to understand that what the Occupiers want done is doomed to failure before it starts. Not only is there no free lunch, there’s no free healthcare, free education, free energy or free freedom – all things listed as what the big, bad, ubiquitous “they” have deprived Americans of. Somebody’s gotta pay for it. In the US it’s the American middle and wealthy class, while in Greece it’s the German middle and wealthy class.
The middle class understands – from their history of having credit cards and mortgages – that if somebody doesn’t pay for it, the result is bankruptcy and ruination. Many in the middle class have themselves felt the results of not paying for it after they, at the urging of the banks doing the government’s Frank-Dodd Act bidding, took on more mortgage than they could afford and had their houses taken from them when they couldn’t make payments.
But all is not as lost as it would appear. Iran has taken to calling the Occupy Wall Street whining the “American Spring”. It is seen as a nascent revolution that will ultimately topple the western capitalist system, which they see as a good thing, just as the Occupiers do.
This revolution may actually happen.
And then the vapid malcontents will have gotten what they asked for: the end of economic wealth not indistinguishable from political power.
I’ve always wondered what apocalypse would precede the events of such movies as The Road, or The Postman, or A Boy and His Dog. Now we know.