"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You Learn Something New Every Day

Some day, I believe the Occupy (insert city name here) protest will be in the school curriculum to teach children what pure Democracy really is. For those down on the front lines of the protests, no truer words could be spoken than , "This is what democracy looks like." Every day brings them a new abject lesson in why our world is structured the way it is and the difficulty those who run it have trying to make everyone happy. I just hope the Occupiers are paying attention, and maybe have brought a notepad and pen.

In the beginning they said they were anarchists, which many defined in the purest sense. They wanted no rules. They didn't even want to have a clear set of demands that they were protesting for. It took only a couple weeks for the problem with that theory to become clear.

Without a clear reason for your protest, the rest of society has little tolerance for your disruption. You have freedom of speech, but you have to have something to say. And so they began with the Macarena-meets-Roberts-Rules-of-Order gatherings to decide what their platform was. Ah, the birth of a movement, somewhat like a meeting held in Philadelphia a couple centuries ago. Unfortunately for the Occupiers, the similarity ends there.

For society to exist, and people to live amongst each other with some sense of security, there must be rules. Otherwise you have what the protesters have experienced and, surprisingly, had the nerve to complain about. Without the recognition of basic property rights you have the vandalism of the drummers' drums and the theft of food donated for the use of the protesters.

Without a commonly accepted code of behavior (laws, if you will) and people clearly in charge of enforcing this code, you get what happened to a 19 year old woman with autism who was raped by someone she thought she was told to share a tent with by an Occupy organizer. They said they didn't tell people to share tents, which is probably true. However, if you have authority, even just a little, you also have responsibility. The police in these cities where the Occupiers are have both, and are prepared to accept the inevitable criticism of their handling of this very difficult situation. I hope the organizers of Occupy are also.

Then there is their complaint against the banks. According to the Occupiers, the banks are evil capitalist bureaucracies run by the bourgeoisie who just want to steal from people. But several protesters found out, when they closed their accounts with the big banks and tried to move them to small credit unions, that the smaller banks have qualifications to be a checking account holder. With fewer depositers, the credit unions must be choosy about who they provide service to, and you actually have to have a decent credit rating to qualify for anything other than a savings account with those banks. The Occupiers never realized the larger banks could afford to take anyone's money because the percentage of those who have poor money management skills is relatively low when you have hundreds of thousands of depositers, and therefore they could afford to lose a little on the accounts of people who still live with mom and dad.

The Occupier's lack of understanding of fiscal policy doesn't end there. The OWS has reportedly amassed $500k which they, not surprisingly, chose to store in a bank as opposed to a tent or someone's apartment. The protesters think this money should go to support them at the protest. Those responsible for getting the money in the first place don't necessarily agree, which has led to some in fighting. So now they must set up a system to determine how the money is to be allocated. Doesn't this have the strangest resemblance to establishing some sort of a government to determine how to spend other people's money?

The latest demand from OWS is that they be allowed to print their own money. It is unclear who exactly would print this money, how its value would be determined, whether it would be backed by anything of value, and whether it would be accepted by any merchants. Sounds like a great lesson about the monetary system.

Once they handle their financial education, perhaps they can go on to environmental issues. You see, cramming that many people together, without an organized system of waste treatment leads to the stench, and potential disease transmission, now facing the Occupiers. It's not ok for bourgeoisie run large corporations to pollute the environment, but it's ok for protesters to foul the area with their human waste and trash? If "the ends justifies the means" is good enough for the Occupiers, then it should also be good enough for corporate America. The thing so many on the left conveniently forget is, all the reasons they come up with to excuse themselves from following the rules, are the same ones everyone else uses with the same clear conscience. Either way, the Occupiers are going to have to come up with a system to handle the byproducts of human living. Anarchy just doesn't seem compatible with sanitary living.

I wait with palpable anticipation for the perfect solutions that will present themselves when the Occupiers follow their democratic process to address these problems. When SEIU and the AFL-CIO (who fomented this idea in the first place) step in with their larger numbers of obedient union members to take over the meetings the Occupiers are having, they will finally see what democracy looks like. It looks very much like a system where the powerful ones who can come up with the necessary numbers get to do what they want at the expense of individual rights and wants. And that, children, is what democracy looks like.

1 comment:

  1. EXCELLENT! I've been teaching about this cultural shift now for several months to the organization I work for. It's amazing to me that "blindness" OWS has. Marx's was right....they are the "useful idiots" of a bigger agenda. Interesting that it's so openly before us....if you have eyes to see.

    Thanks for a great article!


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