So the first thing we must do as observers is to understand specifically what this movement is comprised of and the general message - assuming there is one. Because there is no clear leader or clear coherent goal, we must use what we have available to us and what I am finding is disturbing to say the least.
For starters, a list of demands by one user on the official website is fascinating as it provides for a window into the mindset of at least *some* of the occupy protesters.
Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending "Freetrade" by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr...and my favorite...
Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.
Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.
Demand four: Free college education.
Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.
Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.
Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America's nuclear power plants.
Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the "Books." World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the "Books." And I don't mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.
Of course there is this kid, who thinks that billionaires should pay his tuition because it is just unfair that they have so much money. He seems to lack even basic knowledge about America's tax system, but that does not stop him from demanding money like a spoiled little brat - I am sure his parents are quite proud.
Isolated events? Unlikely. This morning on NPR, Tom Ashbrook invited several OWS activists and interviewed them for an hour without interruption. The primary spokesman was Jon Phoenix, a 23 year old Northeastern senior who tantalized Tom Ashbrook with his eloquence and amusing knowledge of history. Phoenix's primary grievance was the high cost of tuition and his big question was how to solve this vexing issue. For one hour we heard about the failures of capitalism, demands for universal healthcare and living wages with Phoenix at one point just outright demanding Socialism in America. Nice to see that NPR really vets their guests, but judging by the volume of callers who supported the rhetoric and gleefully trashed capitalism perhaps NPR is just catering to its listening audience?
Anti-capitalism appears to be popular message that is coming through many of the protesters regardless of which city is being occupied. Many have reported that posters and t-shirts featuring Che Guevara have been spotted frequently. Indeed, the main photo from yesterday's NYT story confirms the rumors:
Should we just laugh at these socialists? After all, they appear to be harmless right? Or is this video from an OccupyLA protest a sign of bigger trouble?
The fact that he endorses the French revolution which resulted in a spree of murderous terror is disturbing enough, but Americans cheering "long live Socialism" is just exasperating.
A perfect combination.
America is wounded, no doubt. We have been badly plundered by the ruling elite and the crony capitalists that benefit from our broken system. Our Government has spent more and more money on education, healthcare, military and the environment. The result is that we are massively in debt, our colleges are not affordable, health care costs are crushing salaries, we are not any safer than we were 11 years ago and everyday we hear about solar companies going bankrupt with millions of taxpayer funded loans going down the drain.
On top of that, the quasi-private central bank known as the Fed has utterly devastated savers, devalued the dollar making everything more expensive and discouraged capital formation by making people chase risky investments just to keep up with inflation.
Yet the very same politicians who constantly push for these failed policies are now embracing this occupy movement that is reeking with Marxist and Socialist thought and has the potential to get much worse as time progresses. Even Al Gore has to chime in, care to guess where he stands on the issue?
We even heard comparisons that this occupy movement is the Left's response to the Tea Party movement. Oh really? Tea Partiers mobilized largely due to TARP and later emboldened by the Federal takeover of healthcare known as ObamaCare. Many Americans found the bailing out of failed banks to be entirely anti-capitalist, anti-American and economically dangerous and stupid. They also recognized that due to Medicare/Medicaid and mandates of employer funded health insurance that our Gov't is ruining our health care. Their anger was not against any particular group, did not espouse distribution, debt forgiveness or handouts. They simply wanted our markets to work properly with minimal intervention. While I do not embrace the religious component of the Tea Party movement, their primary grievances were for the restoration of things that once worked. While this movement is calling for and demanding forms of economics and Governments that have failed in every country while causing death, poverty and hardship for all.
Yet this is exactly what makes it so dangerous. This occupy movement has the sympathies of Hollywood, our media, the youth and the unemployed. As our economy continues to struggle, unemployment continues to rise the protesters will be further emboldened by their screeching cries for "equality". What makes matters worse, is that because of the partisan split that is clearly manifesting itself, if the GOP takes the Senate and possibly the White House then the movement will be injected with a healthy dose of steroids. Imagine, if there is already so much attention being given to these protesters with Obama the liberal darling in the White House - what will happen by the end of next year?