03 October 2011


The Bay Citizen | Queena Kim | Who Are the '99 Percent'? : Anti-Wall Street protesters have differing motivations

I don't understand anything these protestors are quoted as wanting. It's all emotion; no substance. Hardly any of it even has to do with Wall St. What are the actual grievances these people have, and the actual policy changes they would like to see happen to address them?

I don't know the politics of the Bay Citizen. I assume they did a reasonable job of finding articulate supports, or at least did not looking for the most mush-mouthed cranks to quote. If this is even a random sampling of what the Ragers want, they strike me as even less coherent than your typical picket sign-waver.

NYC General Assembly | Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

Okay, this document makes their demands slightly clearer. I still wouldn't call them coherent, but at least it's moving from emotions into thoughts.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality [...] that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth [...]
This is the exact opposite of reality. A corporation does not get your money unless you agree to do business with them. A government does what it likes to you, regardless of what you choose. Perhaps it deigns to find the support of 51% of your neighbors, but your opinion is irrelevant to it.

I think divide between the way I see this and the way the "NYC General Assembly" sees it is one of the single most fundamental differences in America right now. I don't see how I can have a productive conversation with someone who sees market transactions as coercive but governmental action as voluntary.

I really don't want to spend the time fisking the rest of this thing, but this line caught my eye:
[Corporations] have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
I hate bailouts as much as anyone. Far more than most, actually. But corporations can't take bailouts. They must be given. In America, they were given by that very same government that the writers of this manifesto claim derives its legitimacy from the people.

Getting mad a company for taking free money is like getting mad a dog for eating the pork chop someone put in its bowl. You should be mad at the guy who put the chop there, not at the dog for chowing down.

PS At first I didn't want to give these clowns the satisfaction of using their self-styled label of the "NYC General Assembly," but I am all in favor of people convening their own governments and parliaments and organizations whenever and wherever. I would vastly prefer they do so in a way that leaves everyone else free to go about their business,* but they do have every bit as much right to run NYC as the "official" government of New York city, which is also the exact same right as I do governing NYC. I doubt you would find many people in this "General Assembly" who were actually in favor of such dynamic geography and distributed republics and fluid sovereignty and other structural libertarian solutions though.

* In the main, I agree with Josh Barro in that linked piece. But he does says that "But alas, an amorphous clot does not have lawgiving power." Actually, it does. It does not have legislation-creating power, but amorphous clots are the source of all laws.

Reason: Hit & Run | Matt Welch | Occupy Wall Street: Ghosts of Seattle '99 and Nader 2000

Welch runs down some of the other manifestos and demands and tantrums. I have neither time nor inclination to try and make sense of this, but one of the other huge disconnects I see between me and them is a massive, probably irreconcilable difference over what a job is. To me, an income is what you get when you produce value for other people. To them, it is something that the world simply owes you. It has nothing to do with your productivity, or your ability to satisfy other people's demands, or the choices of employers. To them, someone, somewhere, needs to give you something to do and then give you resources for doing it, and that payment has to be based not on what you've produced, but what you demand to consume. This view of job-as-right rather than job-as-voluntary-transaction is made explicitly, for instance by these Maoist fellows:

Here's another Rager, Lloyd J. Hart, making this explicit as well:
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 [...]. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.
I have to wonder how the Workers World Party member feels about his fellow traveler throwing workers in the rest of the world under the bus like that?

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