Occupy versus Tea Party

There has been much ink and air time given over to how the Occupy Movement is the Left’s Tea Party. As a conservative, I wish that were true, but it’s unfair and I would caution politicians against aligning themselves with Occupiers. It’s unfair unless the Left wants to take up the cloak of overthrowing the system rather than working within it. The Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party was established to impress upon our representatives three basic principles of governance: stop spending money you don’t have; stop assuming we will gladly pay to match your influence-peddling; and, please pay attention to the Constitution you swear to protect and defend as a condition of holding office.

Occupy Wall Street – the no-agenda agenda, its name, the location of the encampment and the date that it began – was the brainchild of two anarchists at Adbuster Magazine, as now chronicled in The New Yorker, a publication of impeccable liberal credentials.

The anarchists were quickly joined by leftists whose agenda couldn’t be more different – all-encompassing government versus no government, highly organized versus “horizontal” organization (read: no organization) – thereby muddling whatever message could be deciphered from the crowd. These were joined by the homeless who were in search of food and shelter. The result is a collection of differing causes, all culminating in contempt for authority, hostility toward people trying to get through them to go to work (mostly “99-percenters”), and an unfocused anger that began to express itself in ugly ways.

After weeks at Zuccotti Park, they had become a health hazard and a dangerous place for citizens to be after dark. Women were assaulted, cars were used as toilets, hundreds were arrested, nearby businesses were shut down for lack of customers, and so on. Many of those who jumped on the Occupy bandwagon are now putting distance between themselves and the Movement.

As badly as the press would love to find a congruity between the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement, they haven’t been able to do so because there is no real message coming out of these encampments other than cities should leave them alone and let them squat.

I wish there was a vocal expression of a contemporary liberal agenda, more specific than “eat the rich.” What, exactly, is “rich;” what, exactly, is their “fair share;” where, exactly, is your budget for FY2011 or FY2012? It’s a debate the voters deserve.

See Mattathias Schwartz, Pre-Occupied, in The New Yorker, November 28 2011.

25 thoughts on “Occupy versus Tea Party

  1. I get your general drift:

    Tea Party = GOOD!!!

    Occupy Wall Street = BAD! VERY BAD!!

    Your last paragraph is patronizing and not very truthful. IMO.

  2. Actually, the message was intended to be: Tea Party = relevant (working through the system to improve it, as they see it).  Occupy Wall Street = irrelevant (we don’t know what they want, we don’t know what their “answers” are to whatever their complaints are).  So far, it’s just street theater, not a serious political statement.  

    I actually do wish there was a clear liberal message out there, as I say other than it’s (whatever the complaint d’jour) “is Bush’s/the rich’s/fill-in-your-favorite-boogeyman’s fault.”  I wish you guys would define “rich.”  I wish you guys would define “fair share.”  I wish you guys would produce a budget.  I do think voters deserve to see a specific liberal plan.  I’m not sure what’s not truthful about the paragraph.  

  3. Got to go with EW on this one. He called it dead on.

    The difference between the Tea Party and the Occupy crowd is simple. Members of the Tea Party want to keep what they earn. Members of the Occupy mob want to make it possible for anyone with even a glimmer of a reason be allowed to love of those that are working for a living.

    It is pretty much the same thing as robbing a gas station to buy groceries. The only difference is that when the government takes it from you, they won’t be convicted of theft.

  4. It is true that government – even a representative one – gets what it wants from the citizenry by coercion. While the blow can be softened by persuasive argument, in the end, government gets what it wants because the cost of refusal involves some form of retribution. That’s why it is desirable to precisely limit the powers of government to the legitimate functions of State, rather than the minutia of the states’ or peoples’ daily lives.

    The Founders envisioned a society based on self-reliance, where one’s needs were met by one’s efforts and the assistance (if needed) of family and neighbors. As long as everyone knows this, the importance of preparing children for responsible adulthood is a given; respect for the person and property of others is taught in the home; and upward mobility is celebrated. We’ve opted out of that for a more hedonistic, no-fault existence whereby society is responsible for equalizing results, rather than protecting liberty. We have a word for how this ends. “Greece.”

  5. QUOTE:
    “Occupy Wall Street = irrelevant (we don’t know what they want, we don’t know what their “answers” are to whatever their complaints are). So far, it’s just street theater, not a serious political statement.”

    Here’s the answer:

    Alan Collinge (Spokesman Occupy La) has his list ready — return bankruptcy protection to student loans. Bring back regulations that were removed from the Glass-Steagall Act. End corporate personhood.

    And another answer:

    The greater purpose isn’t to influence the government or the financial system through classic demands, but to foster broad cultural changes that will gradually empower people to stop depending on big corporations and Wall Street money.

    “Our best hope is inspiring other people to take action to bring economic justice.”

    If that doesn’t clarify things for you I recommend you spend some time watching MSNBC’s political pundits. They’ll help you out. LOL.

  6. Fair enough – student loans, Glass-Steagall, and corporate personhood are things that can be discussed. The rest (touchy-feely “consciousness raising”, and “stop[ing] people [from] depending on big corporations and Wall Street money”, is just so much meaningless clap-trap).

    Again, define “economic justice” – I suspect it misspelled “wealth redistribution”.

    As I say, the first three issues are actual things that can be discussed by adults who can actually do something about it. The rest (MSNBC included) is just professional complainers making noise.

  7. I will address your question in this posting “What, exactly, is rich?” and the same question you asked in your response to my initial comment “I wish you guys would define rich”.

    The answer is pretty obvious according to the OWS people:

    The one percent (the 400 wealthiest people) who’s economic worth is greater than that of 160 million fellow American citizens (the ninety-nine percent).

    They are DEFINITELY rich. But I wouldn’t stop there in my assessment of who is rich. I would include Mitt Romney, New Gingrich, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman in my personal “Rogue’s galary”. (Chuckle).

  8. I see, the wealthiest 400 people in the country and Republican candidates for nomination are the “rich.” OK, now, what’s their “fair share”? And where are Democratic budgets?

  9. The rich’s fair share would be what they were paying before the Bush Tax Cuts at the very least. No one expects or is asking them to pay what was considered their fair share back in the good old days of the Eisenhower Adm.

    As far as a Democratic budget goes, anything that they would or did propose would include increased revenues and that would go nowhere in this Congress. Only the Ryan Plan is an acceptable proposal. It’s a tremendous victory for the conservative Tea Party members of Congress and the movement in general. Congratulations. You people are calling the shots, and the country in general loves it.

    Of course the people who are part of the OWS movement don’t. But Hey! PIFFLE! They are just a bunch of leftover hippies who need to cut their hair, take a bath, and get a job. They are in such a minority that they don’t deserve ANY media attention!

  10. You might want to check with professional Democrats about your “nobody’s asking” comment – I think they would take 100% of their wealth if they thought they could get away with it.

    You may be right that any Democratic budget proposal would be rejected by Congress, but that doesn’t remove the legal requirement that the administration propose one. And by the way, the Ryan budget isn’t even being brought for a vote by Leader Reid. The object isn’t to avoid getting your feelings hurt, it’s to fulfill the administration’s obligation to present a budget to Congress.

    Au contraire, the Occupy Movement deserves all the media attention it gets. The more we see of this aimless, angry, roving mob, the better.

  11. I keep forgetting that you are of the opinion that all Democrats are nothing but thieves. You have said it enough times you’d think that I’d learn not to challenge you on that opinion. Silly me.

    Question: If it’s a legal requirement that an administration must propose a budget every year and the Obama administration has not, then why don’t the Republicans challenge him with the fact that he is breaking the law and take him to court or start impeachment proceedings against him? Pretty Dumb on their part, I’d say!

    I agree with you that the more we see of the Occupy Movement the better. And it will be up to the “Wise-American-People” [aka] voters to decide whether it is an aimless, angry, roving mob or something more relevant and substantial. We’ll find out next year.

  12. It’s useless for a political party to take a sitting administration to court – for one thing, there are so many protections in-place protecting sitting politicians from litigation – the process would take years (during which the administration would probably continue to neglect budgetary matters), and doesn’t solve the problem at hand: a budget for the year we’re in. We have been running the country on continuing resolutions since 2009.

    Yes, I’m in favor of covering the Occupy Movement, even with the fawning coverage we’ve seen – because most Americans, while angry at Washington and Wall Street, don’t identify with blathering ideologues talking about upending the system in favor of some hazy consciousness-raised utopia. And you’re correct … we’ll see in November.

  13. …Continuing resolutions since 2009???? Well shame on the Obama Administration and those lousy damn Dems in Congress! No doubt they will get their come-uppance next year when they all get thrown out of office. It’ll serve them right.

    I can’t wait to see how the Romney? / Gingrich? Administration is going to attack this problem and right the Ship-of-State “starting on Day One”…That will be interesting to watch.

    Let’s see if either of these two “politicians” can fulfill their campaign speech promises any better than Obama did since their promises (like his) require cooperation from Congress.

  14. Yes, shame on the Democratic Congress’s for refusing to do their job of producing a budget, as required by law. I’m not sure why you’re so sanguine about this.

    And yes, you’re probably right that whoever gets elected to the Oval Office will face difficulties in producing their campaign promises – they all do – but at least the tendency will be a return to sanity, both domestically and abroad.

    That task will be somewhat eased for a Republican in that we will probably have a Republican one-party government, which may not prove to be any better than the Democratic government of 2008-2010. If all they manage to do is repeal ObamaCare, it will be worth it, going a long way to unburdening the economy in the out years, making an actual recovery far more likely.

    Actually, Obama didn’t do badly on his promise to “fundamentally transform America,” pulling far closer to the European Social Democratic model than ever before. The 2010s interrupted that, but he got a start on it.

  15. I’ll explain my sanguine attitude by saying that the OWS movement gives me some hope that Americans are beginning to realize that the terrible state of our economy and the lack of job creation will not be solved by electing a bunch of conservative Tea Party reactionaries to office.

    People who promise that all of this can be fixed by simply paying down the country’s debt and removing all obstacles such as government regulations and taxes on “the job-creators” so that capitalism and free enterprise can flourish–once again.

    People who maintain that everyone will be much better off if we just start eliminating all the “socialist” safety nets that have been (artificially) helping people to live a relatively dignified and comfortable life. You know….Like those crazy Europeans?

    People who say that you 99% just need to undergo an attitude adjustment and quit whining about a system that stacks the deck in favor of the 1% unfairly. They and the whole country will be much better off if they will just realize that “Fairness and equality” are relative terms and no one should ever assume that there is or should be economic justice in America. We don’t “share the wealth” and the very idea of asking anyone to share their wealth is an affront to those who have accumulated their wealth through their superior abilities to survive and thrive.

    I see glimmers of hope that the American people are not quite ready to embrace “a tendency to return to [that version] of sanity” yet.

    We will now see if Newt Gingrich can convince them that that is their only hope. Because it’s pretty obvious that Mitt Romney hasn’t even convinced his own base who cling to all those “values” that he can do it.

    And that explains why I’m “sanguine”.

  16. Again, no one is calling for the elimination of the safety net. Indeed, they are trying to stabilize it so it can last for all who need it. If left as is, it will, in fact, fail in the near future.

    You’re quite right that “Fairness” is subjective, but “equality” is not. “Equality” is enforced outcomes, regardless of merit or effort. The two are not conflatable. One assumption of the Occupiers is that an economy is a zero-sum game – that the rich got that way at the expense of the poor. That’s wrong, and that’s why economic growth favors all who participate in an economy. To stifle growth is to stifle overall prosperity.

    Asking someone to “share the wealth” is qualitatively different from ripping from their hands and giving to whomever government decides is worthy. Americans voluntarily give more of their money to people at home and abroad than any other culture on Earth (and that’s aside from government programs).

    Interesting points all, but still unanswered is my question as to why you are so sanguine about not producing a budget for two years (and counting).

  17. A comment and a question.

    First, you are right that no one is calling for the elimination of the social safety net[s]. With the possible exception of Ron Paul. To do so by any politician looking to win an election for any office is political suicide. And Republicans know it. Philosophically, Republicans and especially conservatives do not agree with governments establishing government programs to “take care” of people. And you know it. It is hypocritical to maintain that “some” social welfare programs are perfectly fine but “most” are not and “none” should be expanded. IMO.

    And now for my question: What has been the consequences of not having a budget for two years? The budget deficit has been growing? Is that what you are so worried about? Do you seriously think that if “we” wrote and passed a budget that it would stabilize the economy and the “job creators” would start creating jobs (in this country)? I suppose you do. I doubt it, personally.

    Because there is no incentive to make products if there is no market for selling them to. And that has to do with the disappearance of the middle class. But that’s an argument that I’ll leave for another day.

  18. I don’t mind taking care of the helpless, I do mind taking care of the clueless. There is a role for government in providing a safety net for the truly disadvantaged; but the problem is political, not philosophical. Social Security was never meant to be a retirement program (the preamble to the Act says this), but has been expanded by bottom-feeding politicians to more things to more people without any thought given as to how to pay for it. That’s what I’m against. Offering “poverty assistance” to those living at three times the poverty level is hypocritical.

    Excellent questions. Continuing resolutions merely fund all departments at levels reflected in the most recent budget signed by the president. By abandoning their obligation to produce a new budget, Democrats locked-in the spending levels of the 2009 “panic” budget that was throwing money out of every opening to stave off another “Great Depression.” By not passing a new budget, they were getting the spending they wanted without having to go on record as voting for it. Politically smart, but totally lacking in courage and transparency. And yes, a new budget could ameliorate deficits by budgeting less money in the first place. It also allows for the re-directing of funds within government in order to adjust to changing conditions. But mostly, I just think its sloppy governing to just refuse to issue annual budgets – it’s as though they don’t care about informing the people how they intend to spend their money. It’s arrogant and rife with aspects of government that people hate.

    I’ll be glad to discuss class warfare with you on that other day (if the middle class has “disappeared”, from where are you writing?).

  19. You have made a very good point. About the middle class, I mean. I used to be in the category of the “middle class”. I am now in what is considered to be in the lower end of the middle class. But the very fact that I am indeed middle class just proves that there is at least ONE person left in the middle class. So I was incorrect when I made the statement that the middle class has disappeared. And I am living proof that there is indeed a middle class left. Score one for you. Ha ha!

  20. Ford sales are up, Chrysler sales are up, General Motors sales are up … who’s buying them? Not the rich – they all drive Mercedes, Bentleys and Porsches (yachts and personal jets). Flat screen TVs (ever-larger) sales are up, ever-more powerful personal computer sales are up … who’s buying all these things? Certainly not the rich – they already have even bigger flat screens and corporate-issued state-of-the-art computers. Or does “poor” end at $249,999 annual income?

  21. Oh. Ok then. The middle class is alive and well and thriving just as it has done for decades and if anyone tries to tell you differently, don’t believe them. They are Left Wing Radical Propagandists who just want to stir up trouble and start a class warfare revolution. And your advice to everyone would be if you read or see anything that says anything to the contrary just ignore it. For instance, the following:

    AP NEWPAPER ARTICLE DATED DEC. 14, 2011 [by Hope Yen]

    “Middle class vanishing: Half of U.S. classified ‘low income'”

    WASHINGTON–Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans–nearly 1 in 2–have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

    The latest census data depict a middle class that’s shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families….

    …Many middle class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold–roughly $45,000 for a family of four–because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job. Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half of a family’s income…

    …About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million or 48 percent of the U.S. population…

    The article is quite long and I think even if you read it all you would question it’s veracity, so I won’t copy any more of it. I think what I have copied makes my case rather pointedly.

  22. I didn’t say we were thriving … I was merely refuting your rather hyperbolic statement that the middle class had “disappeared.” Of course a recession squeezes all classes (yes, even the “rich”), and that’s why it’s more important to return to economic expansion than it is to quibble over definitions. The problem isn’t who is “poor” by whose definition, rather that our government is dysfunctional and that is making the healing of the economy inordinately more difficult. We aren’t addressing economic issues, we’re obsessed with social engineering.

  23. I take issue with your statement, ‘Of course a recession squeezes all classes…”

    The middle class’ problems with income inequality start long before the current recession. It actually began in the late 1970s. Since then they have been losing their buying power and their incomes have not stayed stable. They have been falling lower and lower on the economic scale.

    To quote David Frum: “The thing most wrong with present-day Republicanism is its passivity in the face of the economic crisis, its indifference to the economic troubles of the huge majority of the American population, and its blithe insistence that everything was fine for the typical American worker up until Inauguration Day 2009 or (at the outer bound of the thinkable) the financial crisis of the fall 2008. It is the lack of concern to the travails of middle-class America that “reform Republicans” should most centrally be concerned with…”

    And in conclusion, I don’t think you can separate economic issues from as you would describe it, “social engineering experiments”. Just sayin’.

  24. I realize we will never agree on the middle class issue, so I’ll leave this argument, giving you the last word.

    The demarcation line between economic issues and social engineering is that the former is a search for economic solutions to economic problems, while the latter seeks to reshape society regardless of economic realities.

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