The Sage Grouse

Occupy Fever: Running Amuck

In the early 70s I thought that occupying college buildings, draft centers, federal buildings, and ROTC centers was the best way to vent my personal frustrations about government, make a public statement and meet girls. Retrospective judgment is harsh. The venting and making statements parts vanished about as fast as a Newt Gingrich victory in South Carolina. Who cares?

I did meet some girls. All of whom warned me not to mistake the togetherness born of sucking teargas as a license to do other things together. (I don’t think George Will indulges in these digressions.)

Your Sage Grouse offers some observations.

The Occupy Oakland folks recently deemed it appropriate, in a momentary collective abandonment of  restraint, to destroy public and private property, make messes and behave like stoned maniacs. This is what happens when aging hippies mix LSD and Viagra. (If any readers have ever actually mixed LSD and Viagra, would you drop us a line?)

The Sage Grouse has been all over the Tea Party for bad manners, incivility and surrender of judgment to rampant emotion. But now, leftists, it is time to take your medicine. The Tea Party is rude and one-dimensional, but they don’t burn cars and destroy buildings.

Occupy Dudes: Pay Attention!!! Smashing the State is SO 1970s. Rack and Ruin makes you feel hot in the moment and hungover the next day. Especially if one is dehydrated, bleeding and reeking of pepper spray, in jail.

Is there a legitimate basis to question how our socio-economic system has allowed 5 percent of our citizens to control almost all of the wealth, while most people struggle to pay the rent?

Yes, there is. Checks and balances are needed, and lately they have failed, badly.

Note: Lest you all think The Sage Grouse has gone Commie; remember the Biblical concept of Jubilee? Every seven years the people who had made the wrong choices and become mired in debt got total debt forgiveness. Level the field and let the stupid and arrogant along with the afflicted and disabled get a fresh start.

But wait, isn’t that what we are doing with mortgage refinancing?

Free enterprise, free economic opportunity, involve risk and reward. But many folks are not aware that there are opportunities for risk and reward, or they don’t know how to create opportunities or they fear risk, so they have to work for someone else. Others, like me, routinely make bad investing decisions. Others, not so much like me, make bad lifestyle decisions. Some of those people will never deserve our help, but others will.

Marx and Lenin deplored economies which allowed the risk-takers to reap rewards while the laborers, who allegedly created all of the wealth, trudged along for a pittance. Fortunately, most iterations of Marxism-Leninism have vanished, discredited, into the soiled annals of history. Except for North Korea.

Both entrepreneurs and workers contribute to each others’ needs; we need them all.

Occupy activists: if your solution to socio-economic inefficiencies is a reversion to Marx and Lenin, such naivete strips you of all credibility. Remember the Beatles song Revolution: “But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone any how…..”  President Obama, you do not need this kind of bad publicity.

The President spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, delivering a highly political speech while citing multiple New Testament admonitions, but I liked his not-novel suggestion that those to whom our socio-economic structures have been generous should be asked, if not required, to give more back.

Most rich people I know contribute generously to charities, the arts and institutions of culture, many of which create jobs while others provide safety nets for the jobless. The Occupy mobs give no credit for philanthropy.

The latest issue of Fortune magazine points out that Main Street has been subsidizing Wall Street for quite a long time now, including the huge “too big to fail”  bailouts; now’s it time for Wall Street to chip in to help Main Street. It may require some regulatory overhaul to get Wall Street to help anyone, which is part of what the Occupy movement is about.

These discussions all revolve around perceptions of fairness. What is fair? Taxing Mitt Romney’s millions at 14 percent? Drug dealers and pimps pay no taxes. Billionaires get tax credits and single parents get child tax credits paid out of my taxes. Is any of this fair?

Wall Street and “too big to fail” banks keep on giving multi-million dollar hiring bonuses, salaries, annual bonuses and golden parachutes as if the 2008 crisis had never happened. That’s not fair.

Notwithstanding recent interesting events in Tunisia,Libya and Bahrain, I don’t favor street riots and revolution as constructive tools to create durable social and economic institutions. But I fear that elections, too, are not effective tools during these times.

The conservative right is totally contemptuous of the President and Congress and the “99 percent” are equally contemptuous of those institutions. We will probably see a Republican majority in both houses and a Democrat in the White House, both of whom will continue to be widely loathed. Don’t count on the government to fix much of anything, folks; we are in for a long period of total gridlock. I don’t see Wall Street or the wealthy coming to help the 99 percent any time soon.

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Published on February 7, 2012

{ 5 comments }

lousewort rodgers February 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm

journalism will save us

Dennis Paulson February 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Good essay, with tongue both in and out of cheek! Why is it that we’re always begging for good manners? Why don’t more people listen to their moms?

RK February 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I think your comment about aging hippies on LSD and Viagra is confused. An aging hippie who purchased LSD would be unlikely to afford the Viagra, even IF he had health insurance and the prescription for the Viagra. Further, if an aging hippie needed Viagra and had it, he wouldn’t waste it at a riot.

john February 7, 2012 at 11:41 am

there was general support in the U.S. for the “Arab Spring” movement in Egypt; yet when the protests are in the U.S. and against the U.S. establishment and status quo the same people get very touchy.

It is a big assumption that there will be an election of 2012.

Inky February 7, 2012 at 10:42 am

Occupy Oakland had some anarchists show up and don the Occupy mantle, so please don’t conflate Oakland with the national movement. And don’t assume a GOP sweep of House and Senate in November, given the GOP’s extreme obstructionism and hypocricy in recent years. Obama might get a Democratic House and Senate again, and this time, know what to do with it! (No more misguided attempts at bipartisanship.) If there is continued gridlock, then the hopes for peaceful change dim. Do we really want to go there? I don’t.

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