Free Markets, Free People

Occupy Wall Street – grass roots or astro-turf?

I’m kind of digging the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests because they’re so … well, I don’t know.  Entertaining?  Provocative?  Clueless?

Are they a genuine protest or just, as Doug Mataconis thinks, a collective temper tantrum?

I’m not sure (a little of both? Percentage of the mix to be determined.), but what I am pretty sure of is “corporations and bankers” didn’t get us into the fiscal mess our government is in, politicians did.  So I’m having difficulty understanding the current focus of the protest.   And the 99% claim (they’re protesting the 1% with all the money and who, coincidentally, also pay most of the freight when it comes to income taxes).

Look I understand the frustration of those who are out of work and who believe that we’ve been shafted.  But the “shaft” didn’t originate on Wall Street.

Of course all the usual suspects on the left, now that OWS has picked up a little steam thanks to the media, are trying to claim the mess as a reflection of their ideology and attempting to co-opt it. 

But I’m still at a loss to understand what it actually is all about and, if it is about what I think it is about, how misguided it is.  While there’s certainly some reason to think Wall Street (to use the apparent OWS “generic” term, it seems, for corporate America and bankers) isn’t blameless in all of this mess, it is absolutely clueless to try to sell the premise that it is they who are solely or mostly responsible for it. 

I do know one thing, while they may claim to represent the 99%, that’s a claim that doesn’t include me, for many reasons, the top picture being one of them.

On the other hand, I certainly understand the frustration that has driven people out into the street.  The average length of unemployment is now at 40.5 weeks, the longest in 60 years.   From June 2009, when the recession officially ended to June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income has fallen 6.7 % to $49,909.

Lots of reasons to be frustrated, certainly.

But, and here’s the question I see no one answering, why is it to the advantage of corporate America and the banks to have people unemployed and with less money to spend?  How does that “help” them or advance whatever agenda it is that the OWS crowd would like to pin on them?

That makes no sense does it?  And, of course, the one thing corporate American can’t do is make you buy or use their product, so it would seem self-defeating to hurt you financially or alienate you.   Yet if you listen to many of the OWS folks, that’s exactly what they believe those folks want to do.

That said, ideologically and politically, this is perfect for a particular side.  It’s exactly what the Obama administration wants to see happen as it helps underscore their class warfare pivot and it helps legitimize it while also helping, even mindlessly, to shift the blame – something this administration constantly seeks to do.

But according to the Financial Times, the President himself is unofficially backing their cause.

The paper wrote: ‘While not endorsing the protests, Barack Obama and Joe Biden have expressed understanding of the movement that has spread rapidly across the country.

‘Mr Obama said people were angry because Wall Street had not been ‘following the rules’.

‘His vice-president even compared the movement on Thursday to the Tea Party, the conservative movement which has upended national politics in the past two years.’

In fact, Wall Street has been following the rules – those outlined by government in their legislation and policies.   See Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. See housing bubble.  See what government facilitated. While we may find that to be intrusion into a market that distorted it beyond recognition and facilitated the collapse of the housing market and the consequent disruption of all other markets, but you won’t find Obama and the boys talking about that. 

There are no protesters in front of Fannie and Freddy.  Instead we’re led to believe by people who know better that this is all a result of a plot by greedy Wall Streeters to cash in at the expense of the people and to collapse the economy – or something like that.

Nope, this is a handy adjunct to a particular ideological argument.  This is the result of political rhetoric that has targeted a certain group or class as the “bad guys”.  Look through history, folks, this is an argument that at various times has resonated.  I won’t bore you with the examples, but there are plenty.  And for those that succeeded, they essentially diverted attention from the real evil that was either in the process of installing itself or further strengthening its hold.

So my question, and it would actually take someone in the media who had a sense for getting to the bottom of something like this, is how much of this is really grassroots and how much of it is actually astro-turf?

We have a president who is foundering.  We have a political party in desperate trouble, electorally.  We have a class warfare argument begun to attempt to distract the public and shift blame.   And now we have the “popular” uprising to complement it.  And, of course, the compliant lefty pundits to carry the water of class warfare and attempt to use emotional arguments to sell the blame shifting.

Yes, a bit too convenient for me.   But we’ll probably never know because there simply don’t seem to be any real investigative reporter types who have an interest in chasing down possibilities like this (following connect-the-dot relationships, tracking money, etc) at least when it might redound on the current administration.

I remember their reporting about the Tea Party and how, without any proof whatsoever, they claimed much of it was a result of astro-turf.  Now, there really seems to be no curiosity at all about what the roots of this little movement might be.

Should people be frustrated and mad about where we are today?  Sure.  It’s a result of decades of bad decisions, poor policies and attempted social engineering.  It isn’t a result of “Wall Street” per se.  But admitting that or letting that meme establish itself would be fatal to the current administration.  Diversion and blame shifting are necessary.

Thus the rhetoric.  Thus the convenient and properly themed protest.

It is suspiciously like political theater designed to divert and earn re-election because there are few other options.  Nothing more.


Twitter: @McQandO

43 Responses to Occupy Wall Street – grass roots or astro-turf?

  • Green-roots, as in Soros $$$.  The lineaments are very obvious and blatant.
    As I’ve noted, this is as spontaneous and democratic as the Soviet/Nazi invasion of Poland.

  • “Look I understand the frustration of those who are out of work and who believe that we’ve been shafted.”
    I watched some of these pencil neck twerps from various sites and posts on the weekend – there’s way to much gender studies, “I’m a poet”, gee I discovered my desire to be paid to play Nintendo (pick a major like gender studies, and to me, playing Nintendo is as valuable to society) isn’t drawing thousands of companies to call me to come down and get on board.
    There’s a lot of ‘real’ unemployed people who can’t show up, won’t show up because they know that’s NOT WHAT THEY NEED TO BE DOING.  I was there for 10 or 11 months a few years back, you don’t DO crap like this, because it isn’t productive and it’s not going to help you solve your personal problem of being out of work.
    If they’re unemployed and still have I-pads and I-phones and accounts to access the net, I have a problem with that.  That’s not scaling back, they’re not desperate if they can afford that stuff and be taking this kind of time to wander around Wall Street on a fruitless and pointless exercise in demanding the rest of us us buckle down more and provide for them.
    Watch the video of them dissing John Lewis in Atlanta – these are childish, most likely over educated, feel good totalitarians.  Watch the geek with the microphone get charged up at the end that people are questioning their “consensus” decision to make Lewis wait till they’ve addressed their ‘human microphone’ delivered agenda.   These are the useful idiots (caps, bold, blinking, underlined, italics) that provide the body piles for people like Hugo Chavez, Castro, Lenin, to stand on when coming into or keeping their power.   They’re the cannon fodder every takeover requires, the soon to be dead and trampled clueless idealist martyrs that every revolutionary group of ruthless pragmatists needs.
    I should probably go back and decide how I feel about them before I say anything else  🙂

    • Yes. Remember Obama said he wanted a domestic army. The Unions are the backbone and now he has the cannon fodder. The mob that will start the violence.

      • Well, the unions better be prepared to man the barricades, because these clowns are the ones that Napoleon dispersed with a few well placed cannon.  The going will get hard, and these people will go back to whatever they were doing two months ago before this ‘fad’ intersected their gnat like focus.  The weather will get cold and rainy and momsy will want them home for the holidays and this will be so passe.
        The fallout when a bunch of whiney over educated college types discover who’s really in charge when they team up with union thugs will be highly entertaining.  Seriously, can you see Traumka using the ‘human microphone’ to give a speech to exhort his men?, can you see them all waving their hands in the air to express their consensus?   The first time these geeks try to get all consensus and touchy feely on them when they want to really take action they’ll steamroll over them like a brigade of baton wielding riot police.

        • My favorite observation about their durability came from a true Urban Pioneer…
          “They’ll be gone in the first bad wind.”  North Slope and LL Bean gear notwithstanding…

  • OccupyWherever = The Eloi Protest
    Anybody care to join me in a BlueBell or Baskin-Robins BUYcott…???

    • I’ve had Ben&Jerry’s once.  I would rather have Blue Bell.

    • Yet another reason not to pay for overpriced frozen cream and sugar from Vermont.   Once again, the clueless exhorting the clueless forward.
      Perhaps this will cause the disaffected and unemployed to choose Ben and Jerry’s ice cream at $7.00 a pint instead of Hagan Daz for about the same price (shipping prices not included….).

      • I do know it will cause me to choose to direct my shopping dollar elsewhere when it comes to purchasing ice cream.

  • This all may blow back in the Left’s face if the average joe associates it with defecating on cop cars or whatever. I was trying to be open-minded, but I’m losing that ability.
    They also have no clear-cut demand…they should have made explicit that it was raising taxes on the rich, but they are so used to being able to be a blank slate and have the media help out, they didn’t think of that.
    I also am inclined to believe this is a bit astro-turf…just as the president wants to raise taxes, suddenly a protest movement materializes? Remember Obama was a community organizer and he thinks this stuff works. I don’t think it works as well with unemployed white hipsters.

    • Yes these idiots are so incoherent, and filled with mindless hate, the more the public see them, the more they will be turned off.

  • The OWS people would be protesting themselves if they would answer the freaking clue phone.  A lot of these people are all for big government but don’t seem to figure out that big government sells them out.  I’ve got zero sympathy for this level of idiocy.

  • While some of these cretins may be getting paid, I don’t believe that of the bulk of them, and I think the “paid” meme misses the real problem with the demonstrations in general.
    These poor souls look everywhere they have been taught to look, but seem utterly unable to look in those other places for culprits.
    Take for example, the complaints about student loans.  Obama has taken “the banks” out of the federally guaranteed student loan gig.  This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of other loans out there, but thanks to some changes in bankruptcy laws, starting in 1998, these loans can not be escaped (unless you can show sever hardship) through bankruptcy.  This leaves nothing to be said about how the schools themselves have been increasing tuition faster than inflation, much faster, but standard liberal arts education prohibits them from looking at their schools or professors when assessing blame.
    Then just look at the Wall Street “thing” in general.  Obama has taken more money from Wall Street than any public official in the last decade, but I guess since he did “get money” from them, his indiscretion is ignored.  On top of that, the bailouts of the banks didn’t really happen, at least not in the classic definition of “bailout.”  The banks subject to the largesse of TARP had to pay the money back.  Most now have.  The biggest beneficiary of a TARP bailout are GM and Chrysler, or more specifically the UAW, who now owns most of these two companies (or at least their pension fund probably does), yet the unions are pledging support for OccupyWallStreet.  Pot meet kettle.
    This sort of thing seems to signal that bailouts aren’t bad, but rather their targets need to be expanded to help these folks.
    I guess these folks never heard or just don’t want to beleve that there is no such thing as a free

    • By the way, AIG wasn’t a bank.  It was an insurance company.

    • Historically, it was fairly common for a private investor to literally underwrite the education of a professional.  A simple market transaction.
      Now that is broadly illegal.  Made so in favor of making the process a monopoly.  Always stupid.

  • One thing I will disagree with is the idea that Wall Street is harmless in this.  The crony capitalists of TBTF are part of the problem but that problem is a government that intrudes into markets on their behalf.  So instead of the market determining who wins and who fail the government does.  The OWS can’t seem to figure out that central planning frequently devolves into this sort of crap.  They’re protesting that the rich and powerful didn’t pick the OWS crowd over themselves.

    And, of course, the one thing corporate American can’t do is make you buy or use their product, so it would seem self-defeating to hurt you financially or alienate you.

    Unless Obamacare survives the court challenges against it.  If you think health insurance is expensive now then wait till you are forced to buy it.

    • Crony capitalism is alive and well in the Obama administration, true enough, but that does not help the OWS idiots to articulate a message.
      They seem to be saying, The government is corrupt and in bed with big business, so we need, More big government!

      • “so we need, More big government! ”
        More Democrat controlled big government, pretty simple really.
        Re-elect Obama, and give the House back to the Democrats.  Restore Nancy Pelosi to her rightful throne,  Let Eric Holder do his job!  Up with the EPA!  Up with DOE and Solyndra!   Down with rich conservatives, take their money, behead them, support the unions, down with the racist Tea Party.

      • I’ve thought about this, and come to the conclusion that there’s no conflict in their own minds because their desired end state is no big business at all. They’re either outright communist, or they want some ridiculous utopian “mom and pop” model where everything is made by small, local companies (using organic raw materials and recycled whatever, of course).

        • That iconic picture we’ve all seen of the Eloi idiot rubbing his butt on the NYPD car…he was just recycling and trying to buff up the cruiser…
          it proves that they really don’t know sh*t from shinola.

        • My lefty friends who continuously post OWS stuff on FB now say they are actually not against capitalism, are not communists, but blah bblah blah….one guys had a picture of a fat kid in McDonalds juxtaposed with a starving African and the line was Enjoy Capitalism…this was wrong on so many levels that it really, really pissed me off. Many of the famines in Africa were under Marxist rule, capitalism produced the fat kid, so isn’t it a success? We already give aid to Africa paid for by capitalism, etc.
          When pointed out that the famines in Africa occurred under communism, the poster immediately said they weren’t for communism or against capitalism, but wanted to some are of commons, or some such nonsense, which makes even less sense…okay, let”s have a mixed economy…how does that help the kid in Africa? It doesn’t! And if you don’t like the fat kid, then your plan is to socialize the restaurant portion of our economy? LOL.
          So, i think I have to stay off FB until OWS is discredit FB.

          • What they want, is free sh*t.
            As I got ready for work this morning, using all the sh*t that I’ve paid for, bathing facilities, towels, soap, lights, heat, hot water,and thinking about the free loaders at Zucotti park using up the restroom facilities of the local public venues, using their sinks to ‘shower’ and their toilet paper as towels, it suddenly hit me, I (with the help of the wife of course) PAID for all this stuff, there’s probably too much stuff really, but the point is I actually paid for it and I pay to continue to use it for the consumables, and I’m still paying the bank for their half of the house.  And it all seems perfectly natural to me that I pay others for the things they provide, and they pay me for the things I provide in return.
            And as I stood there, I tried to grasp the idea that someone else ought to be providing me with all this stuff,  and it occurred to me that socialists are nothing more than children who never grew up (or haven’t had to yet).

          • There’s a (quite attractive) chickie named Payne who you see a lot on TV or hear on the radio.  She’s a very effective apologist for this outfit, mouthing the meme that these guys are just alike TEA Party people (see Erp, below).
            It is a meme that was shaped BEFORE this thing ever came together.  They knew they could NOT appear to be who they are…
            so they lie.  Collectivism 101.

  • I’m not sure (a little of both? Percentage of the mix to be determined.), but what I am pretty sure of is “corporations and bankers” didn’t get us into the fiscal mess our government is in, politicians did.  So I’m having difficulty understanding the current focus of the protest.
    The are mostly a pro-marxist group trying to keep focused on ‘corporation and bankers’ to try to pass as a quasi anti-bailout group.  They are being vague on purpose to try to get as many people under their tent as possible.
    And make no mistake, this isn’t serious.  This is a trial/learning experience for the future.  Things like learning the boundaries of how to elicit a response to appear like victims.  Do they need toilets, do they need food or shelter.  Do they recruit better with just girls, just guys, or both.
    This is the first of many intended.

    • I’ll take them seriously when they setup their protest outside of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    • Then they should try looking back at the history of Hoovervilles or the WWI veterans camped out in Washington to see how it can go when the ‘new’ government decides they have served their purpose and their services are no longer required.
      But by then the ones who intend to profit will have moved on, out and up, and left behind the necessary collection of useful idiots, who will have learned how to live in their future societies’ planned hovels where they are all equal.

    • United Front tactics…exactly. Thanks for bringing that up.


    Obama political advisor Patrick Gaspard holds the same White House position his Bush-era predecessor, Karl Rove, did. But before he was the White House political czar he worked in several far left organizations as activist and agitator. reported:
    One of the more disturbing aspects of the Obama-ACORN connection is that the White House political affairs director is one Patrick Gaspard.
    Gaspard doesn’t register on the media radar screen in the way that his immediate Bush-era predecessor, Karl Rove, did. But as the New Orleans-based ACORN has been implicated in a host of illegal schemes ranging from voter registration fraud to embezzlement to tax evasion, he may get there. That’s because prior to assuming his current job, Gaspard, at least according to ACORN founder Wade Rathke, had been political director for the New York City chapter of ACORN under Bertha Lewis, who last year replaced Rathke as the group’s chief organizer and CEO. What’s more, he’s worked closely with the ACORN-controlled Working Families Party and the largest local within the Service Employees International Union.
    This weekend the Working Families Party of New York, Gaspard’s organization, placed an ad on Craig’s list for paid activists to fight Wall Street.

    The Attack of the Eloi is…
    paid for by Soros…and
    run out of the White House.

  • Your response to Occupy Wall Street is similar to the response of the left to the tea party.  The two groups have more in common than they might care to admit, and they’re driven by the same root frustration.    Also, the reason they focus on Wall Street is that it is the money and power behind the politicians of both parties, in their view.  One sign read “Obama eats with Wall Street,” they think Obama has been too centrist and nice to the GOP.   They’ll pressure the Democrats the same way that the tea party pressured Boehner.   Read more here.  Politics next year should be very interesting.

    • Yeah…no.  Typical Erp BS.  Is that dismissive?  Wull, yah.  Exactly as you deserve.

    • Scott, I am trying to be open-minded. I do think many of the OWS protestors have points in common with the Tea Party, but their conclusions would be wildly divergent.

      Would they let banks fail, or would they nationalize them all?
      Would they be okay with getting rid of tax free muni bonds, which the wealthy use to avoid taxes?
      Would they ever consider rolling back government to avoid crony capitalism and regulatory capture?

      • ” I do think many of the OWS protestors have points in common with the Tea Party, but their conclusions would be wildly divergent.”
        My God, you’re giving the majority of them waaaaay too much credit for thinking beyond someone providing them a room, a bed, whatever neat toys their fancy imagines, free money,  and a nice warm cup of cocoa every night at bed time, just like mommy used to do before she tucked them in.
        The ones who know what they’re doing?  they plan to tell everyone else how to live their lives once they’ve gotten control.  As for the details of control? that’s a very few who understand how THAT will happen and man, it’ll be good to be them and not the rest of us.

        • Oh!  Wait!  I just realized, that happened in 2008!
          Well, except for the part of the details of control, they kinda got there and, well, turned out they were only the stage 2 guys who wanted to tell us how to live our lives.   But it’s still good to be them and if you’ll give them another 4 years, they’ll have it figured out, really!

    • Couldn’t stay off this one huh?
      ” They’ll pressure the Democrats the same way that the tea party pressured Boehner.  ”
      Yeah, all to the good, let em.  That’s what this country needs is a visible reminder that your party is a collection of whiney do nothing feel good handout queens and their enablers.

    • Ahem, ahem. Let me tune up my holier-than-thou, moderate, chin-pulling, “I’m in the middle because I criticize both sides” persona. Which isn’t either just a mask to try and deflect attention from my doctrinnaire leftism. Stop saying that.

      Your response to Occupy Wall Street is similar to the response of the left to the tea party. I decree it. So don’t even start about how the left called the tea party racists and made up sexual slurs, which I didn’t even realize were sexual slurs until you guys pointed it out to me after I used it. No, don’t start, and don’t try and convince me that the right hasn’t done just as bad in misrepresenting the occupy people.

      Even though I have no evidence of that or links or anything like that, because I don’t need them. Besides, I do have evidence on the stuff I discuss. Just come over to my blog and you’ll see a bunch of numbers as part of my argument. Which of course don’t have links, because I’m a professor with godlike powers of political science, and I don’t have to take the extra five seconds to put the links to where I got those numbers. And it’s not either to prevent my readers from finding out where I cribbed all the stuff in my blog entries. Because I don’t do that. Really.

      Anyway, the two groups have more in common than they might care to admit. They’re both carbon-based forms of life, for one thing, and I’ve explained before that this means we don’t have natural rights, and if that connection makes no sense to you, well, it’s just because you lack an advanced degree.

      Yes, they’re driven by the same root frustration. Which I don’t have to describe, and not because I just made that up to sound wise and chin-pulling. No, it’s the same root frustration, and I’ll figure out what it is soon and tell you.

      Also, the reason they focus on Wall Street is that it is the money and power behind the politicians of both parties, in their view. What does that sentence mean, you ask. Well, again, your lack of advanced degree means, first, that you don’t get it, and second, that I don’t have to explain any further.

      One sign read “Obama eats with Wall Street,” they think Obama has been too centrist and nice to the GOP. Of course, most of them think anyone to the right of Mao are too centrist, but still.

      They’ll pressure the Democrats the same way that the tea party pressured Boehner. Well, they will! It’s the same! So shut up about how the tea party has actually proven it can defeat candidates and elect their own, and the occupy people haven’t proven anything except they know how to poop on police cars. I’m sure they will be a powerful force, just as sure as I was that the tea party was a small minority of extremists who would never make any political difference, and for god’s sake don’t start up with my 2010 election predictions which were so far off that I apologized for them

      Read more at my blog. Just don’t ask me to supply the links to support my rich, interesting, analytical, and totally, totally original posts.

      Politics next year should be very interesting. Yes, I’ll have to work overtime to put up enough different posts with different predictions so that I can point back to one of them no matter what happens.

    • Your capacity for critical thinking (making crucial distinctions) is always the basis for humor and ridicule.
      For Erp, there’s no distinction between OWS and the Beer Hall Putsch or Krystalnacht.

  • I’m confused. First the left and the likes of Erb claimed the Tea Party was a bunch of racist, ignorant gunlovers being lead around by the evil Palin and co. They even turned their intellect to coming up with a very witty sexual epithet in some kind of clever political statement whose significance right now escapes me. But then they did real well in 2010 and the now the left, getting jealous claim the success is just a racist backlash against Obama. Now its close to 2012 and a bunch of confused unemployed students stage an incoherent protest and they ate all of a sudden like the despised Teabaggers? Now I know leftists are pretty much goldfish when it comes to memory, but can’t they at least pretend to have one of their “narratives” last longer than a year before stealing a diametric one from the right? My confusion? I can’t come up with a good sexual epithet for these new lefty teabaggers.