Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: Those Who Get It and Those Who Never Will

On perusing the local papers lately, as well as the WSJ (for their jaundiced views), it appears the country is divided between those who understand and sympathize with the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, and those who don't. In the latter category, the degree of misapprehension is more often than not exaggerated by a profound ignorance, of the nation's history, world history (especially European) and our own Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

Lets begin with the Colorado Springs Independent, and a letter from a typical Springs wingnut lackey, Joan Christensen (e.g., who bloviates - in a furious attack on Jim Hightower for supporting OWS):

"Jim Hightower ("Get off the couch! (or not)," cover package, Nov. 3) doesn't believe in the free market, i.e. capitalism, but socialism and its kissing cousins, communism, totalitarianism, facism and its entire entourage. He'd rather see bootleggers run the country, distributing the wealth that the private sector creates. You know, we fools that work in factories, restaurants, offices, retailers, hospitals, etc.

Can we manage without the innovators and their creations; the reason why we have jobs? Those monsters that get paid so much notwithstanding the time, worry, responsibilities they have?

Greed you say, that these lazy, spoiled clowns occupying Wall Street have as their reason for this anarchy? I say it's a combination of economic ignorance, stupidity and hypocrisy!

One cannot say, as Obama does, that they embrace the American dream, yet vilify those who attain it without realizing the duplicity and intellectual defect in that belief.

Mankind isn't perfect, and there will always be both the private sector and government who game the system. Read your history of the world. Socialism is destroying Europe; communism has murdered over 100 million people. And we worry about greed in America that kills no one. There is always a job. The OWS crowd is a bunch of unappreciative prigs."

Okay, let's attempt to take this doggerel apart. We start with the myth of a "free market". According to this myth, equal competition exists between more or less "equal private capitalists". In such a case, the competition almost always acts in the interests of the consuming public. However, this quaint concept was demolished by the arch-capitalists (Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller) after their creature, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, was enacted in 1890. This, along with the absurd legal definition of corporation as a 'person' in the infamous 1886 Santa Clara decision of the Supreme Court, effectively allowed corporations to trump actual persons-citizens in the market. Hence, there emerged a coercive market, with the "free" version exterminated.

As socio-economists Maxine Baca-Zinn and D. Stanley Eitzen observe (In Conflict and Order., p. 343) that more accurately:

"The American economy is no longer based on competition among more or less equal private capitalists. It is now dominated by huge corporations that, contrary to classical economic theory, control demand rather than being responsive to the demands of the market."

One of the more recent and profound examples of legislation that actually annihilated any residue of competitive pricing in the electronic media markets was the 1996 Telecommunications Act, arguably one of the most important pieces of U.S. legislation in the past 20-odd years. While its promoters argued it would "increase competition", i.e. among cable companies, and "lower costs" it actually had the opposite effect. Because of the conditions appended, it left only vast single players - like Comcast - and with little or no competition, able to set whatever prices they wanted. The smaller players have had to drop out! What kind of "free market" is that? Let's call it 'Bollocks'!

A subsequent example, reported in USA Today, March 23, 1999, concerned three major Oil producing companies which banded together to limit production. This was done to force an increase in oil prices, by artificially limiting supply. If these companies were truly responsive to the 'demands of the market' they would allow consumers to continue to purchase and use current oil supplies until they began to dwindle, then raise prices.

Another hidden aspect - that belies the free market myth - is the special subsidies and government support given to corporations - i.e. for their advertising overseas, not bestowed on private entrepreneurs. This government largesse goes by the name "corporate welfare."

Neither is the market 'free' in terms of work or employment. Because of centralization of many corporations - and application of the same hierarchical Managerial structure to most, the same rules generally apply. Workers therefore have no choice in setting their terms and conditions of employment. It is 'take it or leave it'.

Perhaps the most succinct verbal discriminant to parse a genuine free market was given by Charles Reich, in his book, Opposing the System, Crown Books, 1995, p. 22:

"A free market produces results that favor the health of society as a whole, because an essential balance is maintained. But in a coercive market, the balance is destroyed, the earning power of work and the standard of living of workers declines, and society as a whole is devastated while those with economic power gain an ever more unbalanced share of the nation's economic wealth."

Using this template and definition, I seriously doubt anyone in his or her right mind could claim that a true free market operated in these United States! If it did, why do we behold a prolonged decline in workers' standards of living?

Moving on to other shibboleths, we see Ms. Christensen then conflates fascism with communism and socialism, but as the American Heritage Dictionary notes, fascism is:

"A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

She then compounds this ignorance by asserting "Socialism is destroying Europe". In fact, no. The strongest economic European nation now, Germany, has for decades supported Rhine Capitalism, and fared much better than the U.S. during the global recession. Also, other Rhine-social welfare economies have done better, as documented by Matt Miller (‘The Tyranny of Dead Ideas’), by higher taxation which fuels spending generated by the "welfare" side of the economy. It is this which props up the demand side of the macro-economic equation, and preserves growth!

Christensen also asserts "communism has murdered 100 million" but this is nonsense. She conflates totalitarian-megalomaniacal rule (e.g. by Josef Stalin, Mao etc) with Communism. In fact, Stalin butchered more than 5.5 million communist followers of Leon Trotsky! Meanwhile, "Chairman Mao" in his agrarian reforms of the 1960s slaughtered more than 15 million of the most educated communists in China – mostly of the professional, intellectual classes.

Her most egregious remark was "greed in America never killed anyone". But I want her to tell that to the next family denied insurance coverage for a critical, life-saving operation by an HMO – leaving their loved one dead.

She claims that OWS displays an "anarchy" which is a "a combination of economic ignorance, stupidity and hypocrisy"

But in truth, SHE is the only one displaying anarchy - of her pre-senile brain- as well as the combination of economic ignorance, stupidity and hypocrisy she imputed to OWS. She is indeed the hypocrite, if she benefits from this unbalanced and iniquitous faux market (not free market) system we have to endure, and imputes an unwillingness to see on others!

In her last line she fulminates that "The OWS crowd is a bunch of unappreciative prigs" - but it is she who displays being a greed-worshipping, unappreciative PIG.

Next we come to a Denver Post letter writer, a Bob Simmons, who's just as clueless and smug as Christensen. He bloviates about the 'Occupy Denver' prostest and insists:

"Some of these hypocrites feel the only way to make their point is to trample on the rights of others. They force the police to take action in order to protect all rights and then are quick to paint themselves as victims"

But in fact they were victims! They were peaceably demonstrating and it was not the cops' warp or woof to plow into the demonstrators to "clear them out" when they had as much right to use civic space in Denver as anyone else, anyplace else. That was the cops' choice to interfere, so it is somewhat like Simmons is blaming a mugging victim who is set upon by cops for not having any money or ID. He needs to have his attitude adjusted, as well as his misaligned perceptions. (Like the many who, back in March, 1991, believed Rodney King was assaulting the cops, when he was getting the living fuck beaten out of him!)

This sort of repeated misperception also increases my suspicion that too many fellow Americans are allowing their minds to be hijacked by a fascist false consciousness, or at least one overly submissive to authority figures.. They are seeing actual victims being throttled by misplaced authority yet see the latter as the victims! Stockholm syndrome anyone?

This lunatic then goes on to write:

"Shame on the protestors for acting in a way that presumes that your ideals are the only ones that matter. Isn't that basically what you're protesting with regard to the banks?"

Actually, they're not, you dumb cluck! They're protesting that the banks have been allowed to become a law and financial fiefdom all to themselves- making all their own rules as they go along. And also not displaying one micro-byte of accountability, even after receiving hundreds of billions of government and taxpayer largesse. And they're attempting, by their rallies and occupations, to make dumb shits like you aware!

As for "acting in a way that presumes their ideals are the only ones that matter", hardly! Rather they're acting in a way that presumes the ideals and rights enshrined in our Constitution are appreciated and recognized by all their fellow citizens- who will then share their efforts and express concord with them.

Evidently, that doesn't include a dimwit like you!

Then there is the DP letter from yet another unctuous turkey who gives his (or her) name as "S. Atkins", and writes:

"This movement is an assault on every one of us who have a right to clean and safe cities and parks, and on those of us who are concerned about the increasingly precarious financial position of our municipal and state governments"

So, he or she is bellyaching about the inconvenience, and the costs of the protests. In other words, this turd's comfort and money-spending issues comes before constitutional principles! No wonder the country is going to hell in a hand basket with such insular, ghetto-ized thought processes.

This moron doesn't even get it that neither he nor his family can ever achieve true safety- in Denver or anywhere else- if the mass of the population is forced to survive day to day without basic economic or other security: homes nearing foreclosure and being turfed onto the streets, no home at all, and 1 of 6 kids malnourished and crying in their beds for more food each night, even as they get sick from the flu and can't afford to be taken to the hospital because Mommy's Medicaid has been cut or altered!

What was that famous JFK 1963 saying?:

"If a nation cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich"

Very true. So here's the deal: when a state or local government is about to cut 20% of its teachers' jobs to save money, then they deserve to still have to spend that money for the "protection" of the smug and secure when the disenfranchised take to the streets for fierce opposition, occupation and protest. That is the downside price you pay for being cheapskates and jumping on the repukes' low tax bandwagons.

Now, we come to messages from those that actually get it!

Letter writer Chun Pan writes to the D Post (Nov. 17):

"Occupy Denver's confrontation with the Denver Police has always been over tents. Why put such an importance on tents? It's such a trivial item...

Tents were at Cindy Sheehan's vigil against President Bush oj the plains of Texas. Tents were at Tahrir Square, and now tents are near Wall Street.

Tents are visible expressions of protest, but they are also recognized symbols of poverty worldwide. This is befitting Occupy Wall Street's message about corporate greed."

Very well put! And now a couple more intense positive takes:

From letter writer James Herne (DP, Nov. 17):

"Somehow the establishment believes that confronting Occupy Wall Street demosntrators will make them go away. As repressive regimes around the world have discovered over the ages, the more you attempt to repress, the higher the level of frustration rises.

Keep on confronting Occupy Wall Street and ultimately you will provoke the last thing you want: open rebellion. People confronted by violent police will ultimately arm themselves and rebellion will result".

This makes some good points, but it would also be difficult to mount an armed "open" rebellion in a Patriot Act, fusion -centered, hyper-militarized superpower that has tons of sophisticated weapons, including of diabolical crowd-dispersal types, e.g.

Indeed, the most effective rebellion of all would not require any guns or arms. In a capitalist pseudo-market nation, it would simply require millions of "consumers" cease all purchasing and working. Given GDP depends 70% on consumption, and hence on workers with the $$$ to spend on it, once that treadmill is fractured, the whole house collapses.

A similar point is made by letter writer Richard Everstine:

"As I watch the continuing violence in the streets by police against the Occupy protestors, I can't help but see similarities to the violence in Russia in 1916-17 when the peasants were protesting their economic inequality. The violence of the Czar's Cossacks against the peaceful, peasant protestors, didn't help the Czar retain power very long. Maybe we are seeing just the tip of the iceberg here in Denver and other protest cities. History lesson, anyone?"

Well, maybe, maybe not. Again, the only way the historical parallel would come full arc, is if the U.S. military - or most of it - joined Occupy - including with all the latest weapons, which I can't see happening. Recall the success of the Bolshevik Revolution was in getting the Czar's armies to fall in line and bring all their weapon stores and ammo with them to side with the Bolsheviks. This is simply not going to happen in a superpower like the one we have so, again, the economic drop out solution would be best.

Lastly, we have the take from the smarmy Wall Street Journal in their op-ed yesterday:

"A favorite saying of the American Left dating to a song from the 70s is 'The revolution will not be televised'. If true, Occupy Wall Street was not the revolution. This most media -conscious of protests appears to be in the process of a slow fade after wearing out its welcome in virtually every single city if 'occupied'."

Not processed in this smug, arrogant take, are:

1) Occupy need not be the revolution itself, only the trigger for a mass revolution in the consciousness of the remaining unaffected citizens

2) As austerity measures are imposed, possibly by a total takeover by Repukes next year, the unaffected will become the affected as the economic dislocation, pain and insecurity spreads,

3) In that case, indeed, the revolution need not be televised.

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