OccupyOct 18th, 2011 | By Submitted | Category: Editorials
By Joe Boyles
We’ve just completed our first month of a civil disobedience movement known as “Occupy Wall Street” or OWS. It has sporadically spread to other cities in America – this past weekend, there was an Occupy Valdosta march. What to make of all this?
The original movement in New York’s lower Manhattan has the most endurance – about three hundred protesters are camping in Zuccotti Park. They are joined by day-protesters for various events. The other protests across the country are primarily day marches, generally on the weekend.
The protesters are mostly young, disaffected idealists. Their themes are varied. They have used social media – notably Facebook and Twitter – to organize their effort. This is an American takeoff on the Arab Spring uprisings we saw earlier this year, but OWS lacks the central organizing theme that we saw played out across North Africa.
Most of the statements coming from OWS are leftist – stop corporate greed; living wage; universal health care; defund the Pentagon, etc. I think the core members of this group are the usual suspects that picket and sometimes riot at every G8 or economic summit around the world. Now they are being joined by various groups who have a beef to air – public sector unions and even small Nazi and Communist cells. This is creating even more confusion.
It is interesting that the centroid of this protest is a privately owned (but publicly accessible) park. It’s hard to imagine the value of three-quarters of an acre in lower Manhattan; presumably the owners are part of the 1 percent that OWS rails against. When the owners tried to get the protesters to leave the park last week so it could be cleaned (don’t you know the place is a mess), they were unsuccessful.
The OWS protesters claim they are part of the 99 percent. This is a takeoff on President Obama’s theme that he wants to raise taxes on the top one percent of wage earners to pay for new spending. So these OWS clowns are saying they represent me. I object! I adamantly refuse to get caught up in this “class warfare” idea that motivates the left.
More precisely, the president says that we need to “raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires because they aren’t paying their fair share,” whatever that is. I did a little fact-checking (which of course lefties hate). In the most recent 2010 tax returns, the IRS reports that the top 1 percent earned more than $380, 000 in adjusted gross income. Did you know they paid 38 percent of all the income taxes? If 38 percent isn’t fair, according to the president, what is?
Just to “go on the record,” I’ve never earned $380K in a single tax year – not even close. That’s a lot of money to me, but I have no objection to those who earn that much. In fact, I admire them … unless their name is Bernie Madoff. I admire them, but I’m not envious because the good book says that envy is wrong. It is not going to help me one iota to tear these people down. Instead, I hope that we can create more of these high wage earners because it is their investments that create new business, new products, and more jobs.
Back to the dissidents at Zuccotti Park – I’m not sure their idealism can survive the first bout of nasty winter weather which isn’t too distant. A little freezing rain or snow will test their resolve, but even so, I don’t think we’ve heard the end to this. Some have predicted that we’ll see a resurgence in 2012, with a spike at the two party nominating conventions in Tampa and Charlotte. The disastrous 1968 Democrat Convention in Chicago comes to mind.
It is an easy thing to sit far away from these events and suggest that the authorities need to wade in and disburse this movement, but history tells us that more often than not, things can go terribly wrong and spin out-of-control. Throughout the 20th Century, popular movements that are broken-up by the police result in deaths, martyrs, and a wider cause. In this country, we saw this repeatedly with the late 1960 Vietnam War protests which culminated in the National Guard firing into student protesters at Kent State.
There has been an effort by the media to portray OWS as the liberal version of the Tea Party, but that is a stretch. The Tea (Taxed Enough Already) crowd is much more organized and respectful. The Tea Party is a lot closer to the 99 percent than the claim made by OWS. I and many other ordinary Americans like you can identify with the Tea Party but want nothing whatsoever to do with Occupy Wall Street.