Some Really Interesting Reporting & Writing on "Occupy Wall Street"

Via the Twitter feed of John Perry Barlow, I was pointed to this really interesting, heavily reported analysis of the "Occupy Wall Street" protest in New York City.

It's written by Robert Graham (ErrataRob), a self-identified libertarian at the blog Errata Security. He compares the #OWS protests to the Tea Party (and not in an invidious, snarkariffic way), gives actual details about the mass arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge (not a set-up by the coppers but the result of "stupidity and ignorance on both sides...barring a few on both sides who want to see the problem escalate"), notes that many of well-intentioned and dedicated participants are prisoners of pre-fab discourse (they spout "only propaganda" on various issues and, like many critics, are prisoners of "the filter bubble").

It's a terrific read, rich in details and thoughts I haven't seen elsewhere. Here's citizen journalism at its best. Which isn't to say it's holy writ, just that it's damn good stuff done by someone who did what pros claim to be doing. And aren't.

Snippets (all emphasis in original):

If you look at photographs in the news, you see the typical angry protester. This is the sort of action shot newsrooms prefer, i.e., showing the emotion of the scene.

But the protest isn’t angry. Quite the opposite, it is loving and accepting. If you go up to protesters with the opposite political view and debate them, they will express their undying love for you and ask for you to join them to increase the diversity of viewpoints. I did this myself, and watched this happen to others, including cops. This attitude pervades everything they do, and is frequently reinforced by the hard-core occupiers....

This is the opposite of what happened during the protests against the Iraq war, the protests against the last Republican convention in New York or the violent protests during every G8 summit. Not only is this different than most other protests, it is the similar to the hyper-tolerant “Burning Man” festival that takes place in the Nevada desert every summer. Whether it’s Burning Man or Occupy Wall Street, there is a cultural shift somewhere here. ...

In many ways, the press treats this protest the way they treated the Tea Party, completely distorting the story. Journalists ignored the mainstream of the Tea Party and instead focused on the fringe. Instead of showing the hundreds of signs calling for smaller government, reporters instead focused on the one sign showing Obama as Hitler. In the end, this reporting became self-fulfilling. The Republican fringe disaffected with the establishment were convinced by this reporting, believing that they, too, should join the Tea Party, thus derailing it....

[The protesters'] loving acceptance of those who disagree with them is astonishing, but it’s totalitarian. It asks that people give up their individuality to the state the occupiers are creating. Rather than free speech, the protest has a sort of "managed speech" to make sure everyone has equal time. There is also the flip side, that not to join the movement or to disagree with the protesters means that you are working against the interest of the people....

The protesters are...predominantly white with blacks underrepresented. On the flip side, blacks are over-represented in the police force. The protesters often compare themselves to the Civil Rights Movement, but the photographs of the recent arrests often show black policemen arresting white protesters. I don’t know if this is a vindication of the Civil Rights Movement or if there is still more work to go, to get the blacks better ensconced in middle-class American to send their kids off to college with that combination of privilege and entitlement that turns them into protesters.

The makeup of the protesters also led to amusement among the cops, stationed in pairs on all four sides of the park. For some, their normal beat is in the poor areas of New York City. The police, who daily see the struggle of the real poor, had little use for protesters complaining about jobs while they carried around expensive MacBook computers paid for by their parents.

I mention the racial makeup for a specific reason. The Tea Party was also predominantly white, which was frequently reported in the news, despite the fact that guidelines tell reporters to avoid mentioning race when it’s not relevant. They nonetheless reported it because it fit the narrative they wanted to tell about the Tea Party (that it has a racist component). In much the same way, they don’t mention the racial makeup of the Occupation because it doesn’t fit their narrative....

He concludes:

The press and pundits have already decided on the "narrative" that's independent of what's really going on. For example, many Republicans and Fox News commentators insist that this is "planned" by the left for some nefarious purpose. It isn't (although that might change if politicos seize control of the occupation). Conversely, the Left has a narrative about police oppression that isn't quite right, either....

Read the whole thing, including the serious and sharp ending that he neatly punctures with a smart, prophetic joke:

A decade from now, when the U.S. invades France over a cheese dispute, protesters will 'occupy' the streets using the same principles being developed now.

Trust me, it makes perfect sense in context.

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  • Au H20||

    Riggs, in my office right now! You're a good cop, but you play it too fast and loose with the morning links! I'm taking your badge!

  • ||

    "[The protesters'] loving acceptance of those who disagree with them is astonishing, but it’s totalitarian. It asks that people give up their individuality to the state the occupiers are creating."

    This is typical of true believers of whatever stripe.

    Quite frankly, I'm picturing Tony. This is like Tony's defining characteristic. People like that don't see what they're advocating as totalitarian--because they're advocating it from the bottom of their well-meaning hearts.

    But insisting on everyone else agreeing with what you think--that really is the definition of totalitarian. And just because you think it from the bottom of your well-meaning heart doesn't make it any less so.

    We libertarians, some of us can present that way too sometimes. It's shameful.

  • rather||

    sometimes? Or, every time you don't get your way?

  • ||

    when do libertarians ever get their way exactly?

  • rather||

    I wish I could say

  • Good Intentions||

    I'm just doing roadwork...what's the problem?

  • sarcasmic||

    We libertarians, some of us can present that way too sometimes. It's shameful.

    I completely disagree.

    We libertarians try get people to agree with us through persuasion, while totalitarians always use force of law.

    We want people to agree with us by choice, while totalitarians want people to agree with them because there is no other choice.

  • rather||

    Just because libertarians use a different vocabulary does not make their methods pure.
    The demand of easy foreign adoption is still eminent domain of children, truly theft.

  • ||

    Theft from who? An overcrowded underfunded orphanage?

  • rather||

    From parents who are lied to or bullied

  • Libertarian Regulators||

    We libertarians try get people to agree with us through persuasion

    Bullshit.

    Regulating the land surface of Mother Earth with privation property -- the agricultural city-State's biggest government entitlement program for the privileged -- requires violence.

    Lots of violent enforcement of privation property "rights."

    “Those in power have made it so we have to pay simply to exist on the planet. We have to pay for a place to sleep, and we have to pay for food. If we don't, people with guns come and force us to pay. That's violent.”

    ― Derrick Jensen, Endgame: Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization

  • sarcasmic||

    I see the library has reopened.

  • Libertarian Regulators||

    Libertarians argue just like Obama.

    Intellectually bankrupt.

    Sad.

  • sarcasmic||

    One reason I don't go to the library anymore is all the smelly homeless people on the computers.
    Ruins it for everyone.

  • rather||

    A homeless man can take a shower; you could never wash off your bullshit

  • kilroy||

    Not for the homeless person.

  • ||

    Don't miss my point.

    The difference between authoritarians and totalitarians is that where authoritarians want to control what people do, totalitarians want to control what people think.

    Over the years, I've seen plenty of libertarian commenters around here go cyber-jackboot on people who disagree with us--as if you should have an official libertarian decoder ring and membership card to say what you think.

    If we want to appeal to people who don't know us and increase our numbers, that kind of behavior is counterproductive. If we don't want to try to control what people think, then we shouldn't act like that.

    ...shouldn't act like the Borg/Hive/Progressive/Totalitarians do over on the left.

    I don't see why that statement should be especially controversial.

  • ||

    I don't think we do. The problem most of the leftists who show up here are just trolls and come to shit all over all the threads. How do you have an intelligent conversation with double asshole? You can have one with MNG sometimes. But the leftist who actually is willing to listen and make an honest argument without invective is pretty hard to find.

  • sarcasmic||

    But the leftist who actually is willing to listen and make an honest argument without invective is pretty hard to find.

    Leftists get away with being dishonest because they try to persuade with emotion, not reason.

    Remember that whole thing about Bush's National Guard records being
    "Fake but Accurate"?

    Leftists were completely persuaded because it felt right, even though it was a self admitted lie.

    They don't give a shit about being honest.

  • ||

    There's the appeals to the heart, and there's also an inherent desire and willingness to force people to behave in certain ways. Hard to have a logical argument with such a one.

  • ||

    "I don't think we do. The problem most of the leftists who show up here are just trolls and come to shit all over all the threads."

    It's not just the leftists, John.

    It's Christians, Europeans, as well as environmentalists, and a laundry list of others too.

    Are you honestly gonna tell me you have seen any hostility directed at libertarian Christians around here--because they're Christian?

    That's not libertarianism--that's group think.

    I've caught it around here a number of times for being a libertarian environmentalist.

    Oh noes! Some people supports what Obama is doing in Libya--they must be stopped! Here's someone who thinks the Ground Zero Imam should be free to build a monument to the hijackers if he wants to--but that he's a jackhole for doing it!

    And that isn't libertarian enough!

    It's not just the left they're goin' after. I've seen 'em go after you, John. They drive libertarian minded people like us--without stiffer backbones--away. ...and they do it for no good reason.

  • ||

    Are you honestly gonna tell me you have[n't] seen any hostility directed at libertarian Christians around here--because they're Christian?

    Fixed.

  • ||

    Sure I have. But that is not because the people on here are Libertarians. That is because the people on here are atheists. And yeah, most atheists are close minded and arrogant as hell. It is just how they roll.

    And I think people are open to environmentalism just not the AGW cult. Some people who should know better have absolutely bizzaro ideas about the meaning of property ownership and get crazy over zoning. And the neo confederates are pretty intolerant. But all and all it is a pretty easy going board. If you don't believe me, go to Free Republic or Daily Kos sometime.

  • sarcasmic||

    There is a difference between atheists and what I call 'anti-religionists'.

    I am an atheist but I am not against religion. I'm just a guy without faith.

  • Coeus||

    There is a difference between atheists and what I call 'anti-religionists'.

    I used to be an "anti-religionist" when I first started posting here. Over time, I've come to understand that it wasn't religion that made people act like busy-body totalitarian douches, it was just them being people. I've since come to see religion as a vaccine against statism, as it somewhat limits (compared to statism) the power of the 80% who want to tell others what to do.

  • wayne||

    But the leftist who actually is willing to listen and make an honest argument without invective is pretty hard to find.

    That is why I liked Joe Boyle. He was a very good debater, and he mostly stayed away from name calling and ass holishness. He was a lefty through to his core, but he was smart and fun to have around.

  • ||

    Joe was completely dishonest. The problem with him was that when he was wrong, he would never admit it. He would just keep defending the indefensible making more and more disingenuous arguments.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    But MNG on the other hand: we need him. I also kinda wish the real Tony would come back.

  • Neu Mejican||

    We?

  • Neu Mejican||

    But the leftist person who actually is willing to listen and make an honest argument without invective is pretty hard to find.

    FIFY. And even those that are only do it periodically. Interestingly, those who typically aren't willing, sometimes are.

  • ||

    I don't think so. I know plenty of people who can have an honest discussion. And not all of them are from the right. But I don't know a single hard liberal who will. And I know a lot of them. When you point out things like corporations create wealth and give people jobs and lots of neat products, they just get angry. Most really hard liberals I am friends with refuse to discuss politics with me. Now the liberals I do know who will discuss things and have an honest argument tend to be left libertarians and not particularly partisan.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    I know plenty of people who can have an honest discussion. And not all of them are from the right. But I don't know a single hard liberal who will.

    "No one I know voted for Nixon!"

  • ||

    Yeah, I think there might be a little bit of that going on.

    I'm pretty much a non-voter now...I'd say on principle, but I could probably be persuaded...

    Anyway, I can see a libertarian argument for always voting against the incumbent--no matter the party.

    That way, you're always voting against the emperor.

    I'd like to think of libertarianism like...there's a million different ways to get here. And not everybody is as far along as everybody else on every single issue. Some people care more about civil liberties than economic ones--and they still hold out hope that maybe the right politician can save them.

    I certainly don't think we should slam the church door in those people's faces. I didn't always know everything I know now either, and there are still a lot of things I can learn from people who aren't especially libertarian.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Here's the thing about voting: vote R, vote D, vote L, vote third-party, stay home, or pass your firstborn through the fire to Molech. You get the same government either way.

    All this talk about the ethics and tactics of voting is silly, because your vote is inconsequential. Do whatever you like on election day, it's meaningless.

  • ||

    "All this talk about the ethics and tactics of voting is silly, because your vote is inconsequential. Do whatever you like on election day, it's meaningless."

    I think what people say to each other about how they're voting is more important than how they really vote.

    People won't ask each other about their religious beliefs much, and hardly anybody wants to ask the Bible-thumping Baptists what they think about religion. I think it's important for us libertarians not be the Bible thumping Baptist in that analogy.

    When people ask me how I'm voting, I see it as a great opportunity--to tell them that I don't see any politician as the solution to my problems. If I never use the word "libertarian" in the conversation, in some situations, that might even be better for the cause.

  • Neu Mejican||

    John|10.7.11 @ 10:12AM|#

    I don't think so. I know plenty of people who can have an honest discussion. And not all of them are from the right.

    It will depend upon the topic and how far apart you are on the subject.

    But I don't know a single hard liberal who will. And I know a lot of them.

    I am sure it is harder for you and them to have an honest discussion that doesn't lead to invective. You sure jump on that wagon quick around here when the comment is from the group you deem "hard left" (and don't deny it...I've been reading your comments for YEARS).

    When you point out things like corporations create wealth and give people jobs and lots of neat products, they just get angry. Most really hard liberals I am friends with refuse to discuss politics with me.

    But I would be willing to be they have open and honest discussion without invective with moderates.

    Now the liberals I do know who will discuss things and have an honest argument tend to be left libertarians and not particularly partisan.

    Because you are already closer to agreement on the issues.

    The rare bird is the one that can avoid the invective when discussing things with a person who has a radically different world view.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    The difference between authoritarians and totalitarians

    There's no such thing. That was some bullshit argument as to why Beacon of Freedom Freest Country Ever Ever Fucking Ever The United States of America propped up some repressive dictatorships while condemning others. It was a rationalization for pure power politics.

  • ||

    And, yet, Chile isn't a vicious dictatorship anymore.

    North Korea, and other totalitarian states, mostly, still are.

    I think there was something to it.

  • Britt||

    Exactly. Yielding or being succeeded by to a democratically elected leader is a good rule of thumb for authoritarian versus totalitarian, to me anyway. People like Franco or Pinochet, for example.

  • NotSure||

    I view totalitarian as something where people are forced to live a certain kind of way by somebody else. Not agreeing with somebody and not compromising with their world view is not totalitarian.

  • Libertarian Regulators||

    totalitarian as something where people are forced to live a certain kind of way

    Precisely.

    That's why Daniel Quinn calls the demon engine that feeds the city-State by the term Totalitarian Agriculture.

    Daniel Quinn on Totalitarian Agriculture
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPRJQpWhE0o

  • NotSure||

    You are more than welcome to live a hunter gatherer life if you want, the problem is that, as you have already stated, to do this you need the entire earths surface area. This means that those who don't want to live like savages have no escape.

    There is more than enough land on the planet to live the life you want to, libertarians will respect that land, (can't say the same about other political beliefs), so why you target libertarians as the main villains is perplexing.

  • ||

    "I view totalitarian as something where people are forced to live a certain kind of way by somebody else. Not agreeing with somebody and not compromising with their world view is not totalitarian."

    I'd love to say I was the one that made this up, but it's really Jean Kirkpatrick's definition.

    She was famous for arguing that the difference between authoritarian dictatorships and totalitarian dictatorships is that authoritarian dictatorships just try to control what their people do--and totalitarian dictatorships try to control with their people think.

    In North Korea, it isn't just about what people do. You have to believe--in your heart--that Kim Jong Il is a Christlike figure. ...and the state devotes itself to convincing the masses individually that Kim John Il is god on earth.

    Pinochet didn't care so much about what you believed in your heart of hearts. If you were a communist, he'd prefer you STFU, but he's not using the mechanism of the state to punish any deviation in their thoughts. He might torture you to death for speaking your mind, but there's no reeducation camps like there were in China and Cambodia.

    Now, I'm not saying that some libertarians want to use the government to control what people think--but I am saying that sometimes we present or look that way to the outside world.

    It shouldn't be controversial within a libertarian forum to suggest that some libertarians are ideologically rigid and highly offended by anything they see as a deviation from the libertarian ideal.

    We're not totalitarians. We don't want to use the state as a matter of fact. But I won't pretend that I don't see libertarians accuse each other of thought-crime--some of us do it all the time.

  • NotSure||

    There is an old saying: "Compromise on style but never on your principles".

  • Tony||

    People like that don't see what they're advocating as totalitarian--because they're advocating it from the bottom of their well-meaning hearts.

    And this is how I feel about most libertarians I interact with. Not even with respect to controlling what people think--I think a lot of libertarian principles are fundamentally wrongheaded, but your individualism tends to negate any tendency toward what you'd perceive as groupthink.

    The problem is, often I'm the only person defending the basic principles of democracy. Doesn't seem to popular around here. And it seems achingly difficult for libertarians to admit that their type of society would be every bit as much an imposition on individual lives as any other regime. In my opinion, oppressively so.

    If I do have a totalitarian impulse with respect to thought, it's that I believe in objective fact, which is very important to me because political beliefs in this day and age aren't just disagreements about how to interpret or respond to facts, but disagreements about facts themselves. That's a dangerous place to be.

  • NotSure||

    You believe your opinions are objective facts, and since you have no problems with imposing your will on others because you believe they are facts, it makes you a tyrant. Actually even if your facts really are facts imposing them on others still makes you a tyrant.

  • ||

    "The problem is, often I'm the only person defending the basic principles of democracy. Doesn't seem to popular around here. And it seems achingly difficult for libertarians to admit that their type of society would be every bit as much an imposition on individual lives as any other regime. In my opinion, oppressively so."

    Democracy is no substitute for personal responsibility.

    There is no question but that a libertarian society would put more responsibilities on individuals than we have now. Personal responsibility and personal freedom go hand in hand--you can't have one without the other.

    The difference is that the libertarians you talk to aren't advocating using the government to force you to do their will.

    But you are sometimes advocating using the government to force other people to do your will.

    That's a big difference.

    I care a lot about abused and neglected dogs, hungry homeless people, and the environment. So I give money to organizations and volunteer to do things that rescue abused dogs, feed homeless people and save the environment.

    Because I actually do things, I'm willing to venture that I care more about the causes I volunteer for--more than people who don't volunteer and just vote for the government to solve those problems.

    So the difference between me and them isn't how much I care...

    Do you see the difference between what I do--and trying to use the government to force other people to do what I want them to do?

    Elections don't justify using the force of government to make other people do your will. Having good intentions in the bottom of your heart? That doesn't justify using the power of government to scare other people into doing your will either.

    There's really only one thing that justifies using the power of government to scare people--and things isn't winning an election.

  • ||

    There's really only one thing that justifies using the power of government to scare people--and [that thing] isn't winning an election.

  • Tony||

    The difference is that the libertarians you talk to aren't advocating using the government to force you to do their will.

    Sure they are. How do you rearrange society without government force? There is a very long list of things people are not allowed to do via democratic action in a libertarian society, no matter how much popular demand exists for them. This is a distinction you want to make but that doesn't really exist. After all, property rights entail government force.

    So what we have is not only the use of government force to achieve your ends, but an extra amount of force requiring that people aren't allowed to act collectively in certain ways, even if they overwhelmingly want to.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    So what we have is not only the use of government force to achieve your ends, but an extra amount of force requiring that people aren't allowed to act collectively in certain ways

    That can be a good thing. I don't think lynch mobs or ochlocratic behavior should be legal.

  • Tony||

    True, but nobody has yet articulated an alternative to majority rule that isn't a form of tyranny. Not talking simple majorities always, but a sufficient exertion of popular will in this country could even overturn the Bill of Rights. Thank goodness the barrier to such a thing is quite high. But I don't see how there exists a convincing alternative to letting people have the society they want, and it certainly isn't forcing them to live in a laissez-faire society.

  • ||

    "True, but nobody has yet articulated an alternative to majority rule that isn't a form of tyranny."

    It's called "personal autonomy" and individual rights.

    That's what libertarianism is all about to me. I want to make my own choices--I don't want politicians making my choices for me.

    I want my rights protected. Using the government to violate my rights is simply the abuse of government.

    It's articulated. It's an alternative to majority rule. It isn't a form of tyranny.

  • Tony||

    Except the right to have men with guns implicitly threaten homicide against your neighbors if they want your stuff. A society of radical individualists still comes with collective consequences. And no democracy has ever chosen to be a society of radical individualists--perhaps there's a good reason for that.

  • ||

    "Except the right to have men with guns implicitly threaten homicide against your neighbors if they want your stuff."

    I've covered that clearly.

    If government has any legitimate function at all--it's to protect people's rights. ...from things like armed robbers.

    The cover of an election doesn't justify the government violating people's rights. If 51% of the voters voted to reinstate Japanese interment camps, that still wouldn't justify them.

    In addition to wanting the government to protect our rights from being violated by criminals, I said I wanted the military there to protect our rights from foreign invaders too.

    I said I wanted a court system so that if I'm accused of violating someone's rights that I'll be treated fairly--and that my rights will be protected. ...by the government.

    Why should the government act like armed robbers? Winning an election certainly doesn't justify using the government to violate other people's rights. Using your example, the armed robbers outside my door aren't justified--even if 51% of the voters voted for them.

    How could an election justify violating someone's rights?

  • Tony||

    But where does this justification come from? Isn't that the crux of the matter? Who says you are justified in keeping your property, but someone isn't justified in taking it? Are you asserting a mystical origin of a fundamental set of rights that not only can't be violated legitimately, but can't be added to?

  • ||

    Are you asserting a mystical origin of a fundamental set of rights that not only can't be violated legitimately, but can't be added to?

    They can be added to. I'm not convinced chimpanzees don't have certain rights.

    I have a right to put my own page out there on the internet for everyone to see. The internet didn't even exist when the Constitution was drawn up--but the Constitution mentioned that right!

    The constitution says that our rights originate with the people--not with the state. Do you understand that the reason we have juries is because going way back--we didn't want the government to decide whether to violate an individual's rights?

    A jury of your peers. ...not the government.

    Anyway, the question of where our rights come from a tricky one. Not everyone needs to agree. My take is that they're a social adaptation--like language and religion.

    I think they're natural--not in that they originate from our creator necessarily--but that they're the natural result of taking responsibility for...anything. When I take responsibility for the damage I may cause to other people with my driving, I gain the right to drive.

    They also arrive naturally when we assert rights for other people. When I say that Larry Flynt has a right to free speech, I'm claiming that right for myself also. When I say the government should protect my right to free speech, I'm also saying that the government should protect Larry Flynt's right to free speech also.

    So, anyway, short version is that however our rights originate, they come from the people--not from the government. As the Civil Rights movement, Gandhi's movement, the Arab Spring, and the American Revolution all proved, the government may be an enforce or rights--but it tends to recognize them only reluctantly.

    Martin Luther King didn't wait for the segregationist governments of the South to grant him his rights--that was never gonna happen. He demanded his rights. The government is almost always the last one to the party.

    So, if you want to make the case that people have a right to free healthcare--and that the government should make everyone respect your right to free healthcare? Then you should make your case in those terms.

    Denigrating the very existence of rights is a losing strategy. And arguing that they ultimately come from the government just isn't borne out by the facts. The rights people have, we've had to force the government to respect at one point or another. And it's a never ending fight. The best way to lose is to argue that our rights only exist at the whim of the government--or 51% of the voters.

    That's just plain baloney.

  • Tony||

    Great response. I admit to being too quick to defend government's role, but this is a libertarian site so that comes with the territory of being the opposition.

    But the fact remains that there still is no such thing as actualized rights without government enforcement. You seem to be agreeing with me--our differences are merely in the scope of which rights government should enforce. I don't see a meaningful qualitative distinction between a right to claim a portion of the earth as one's own and have it secured by men with guns, and a right to access healthcare. Except, maybe, that the right to healthcare is even more necessary to an underlying right to life than is a right to own stuff.

  • oncogenesis||

    Are you asserting a mystical origin of a fundamental set of rights that not only can't be violated legitimately, but can't be added to?

    Yes.

  • Loki||

    @ Tony:

    So, if I understand you correctly, you're advocating against a government that prevents people from taking all my stuff, if and when they "overwhelmingly want to." Instead, you suggest that it's an imposition on someone to be forbidden by law from taking my stuff.

    No wonder people on this site don't like you.

  • Tony||

    It's an imposition to make people have a type of society they don't choose democratically. And all types of society require some amount of "stuff taking" to fund, even ones that just serve to protect your claim to stuff.

    I don't even know how you'd have a libertarian society without forcing it on people.

  • ||

    Really?

    You vote to remove governmental powers that are in excess of the things you need to have a libertarian based society.

    No force--people vote.

    See?

  • ||

    "There's really only one thing that justifies using the power of government to scare people--and [that thing] isn't winning an election."

    The only thing that justifies using the power of government to scare people--is to protect people's rights.

    To protect people's rights, we use the military to compel would be invaders. We use the courts and the police to compel criminals to take responsibility--for violating people's rights. We use the courts to make sure that the rights of the accused are well protected. All of these things might/could be justified--if and only if they're done to protect people's rights.

    Democracy does not justify the use of government force to make other people do whatever it is Tony wants them to do.

    Your refusal to recognize that fact is what generates a lot of the hostility you experience around here.

  • Tony||

    Democracy does not justify the use of government force to make other people do whatever it is Tony wants them to do.

    But it's not about what I want, it's what people want collectively. Hostility seems to exist against people as a whole if they don't collectively choose the type of society you want them to.

    All other considerations are a distraction from this. Any society requires the threat of force behind tax collecting to fund its functions. For some reason libertarians want to claim that only its force-backed functions are legitimate, even to the extent that people ought not to be able to fund anything else.

  • ||

    "But it's not about what I want, it's what people want collectively."

    That's a major misconception on two counts.

    1) It isn't what the people want.

    Sometimes it's what 51% of the voters want. But when you add in all the people who didn't vote? There's no way it's what the people want.

    When people are free to do what they want--so long as they respect each others rights--that's what the people want collectively.

    The politicians make choices about what people want occasionally; individuals make choices about what they want hundreds of times a day--and the sum total of their individual choices is the true collective will of the people.

    Not how 535 politicians and the president vote.

    2) Sometime the "collective will" of the people--as you described it--is used to pass and justify things like Jim Crow laws.

    If 51% of the people voted to violate the rights of millions of Americans by way of some 21st Century Jim Crow law--why should how someone voted justify that?!

    You and 51% of the American people got together and decided that Ken Shultz's rights should be violated to suit your purposes--and you think America should violate my rights because you got 51% of the vote instead of 49%?

    People's rights are not and should not be a popularity contest. Either our rights exist regardless of how 51% of the vote, or they don't really exist at all.

  • Tony||

    Sometimes it's what 51% of the voters want. But when you add in all the people who didn't vote? There's no way it's what the people want.

    Given a policy choice between A and not-A, isn't doing the will of 51% better than doing the will of 49%? And those who don't vote made the conscious decision to leave it up to those who do vote. I don't see what their grievance is.

    When people are free to do what they want--so long as they respect each others rights--that's what the people want collectively.

    The all-important caveat of "respect each others rights" is what makes our two conceptions of society a difference of degree, not kind. People live in communities--there must be police power so that freedom does not become the lack of freedom that is anarchy. People have the right to form governments to impose this power in whatever way they see fit. From protecting property claims up to providing social insurance.

    individuals make choices about what they want hundreds of times a day--and the sum total of their individual choices is the true collective will of the people.

    Except that in a market economy, some people are more equal than others. Government is the most democratic institution people have access to. It allows people to have a collective will without regard to their purchasing power. Some people see a virtue in letting people choose the makeup of their own society on equal terms with everybody else, as human beings alone. The fact that it will never actually be equal given marketplace disparities makes it all the more imperative to have a democratic outlet.

    If 51% of the people voted to violate the rights of millions of Americans by way of some 21st Century Jim Crow law--why should how someone voted justify that?!

    There's nothing wrong with having supermajoritarian requirements for certain types of consent. Protecting minority rights is fundamental to modern democracy. Still, in theory, large enough majorities could do just that. But I fail to see what would stop them. Principles? Benevolent dictator who knows better than they do?

    Either our rights exist regardless of how 51% of the vote, or they don't really exist at all.

    Exist in what form?

  • ||

    "Given a policy choice between A and not-A, isn't doing the will of 51% better than doing the will of 49%? And those who don't vote made the conscious decision to leave it up to those who do vote. I don't see what their grievance is."

    When I don't vote, I'm saying that I don't want any politician of any party making my decisions for me.

    When I don't vote for president, I'm saying that the president has become like an emperor--and I will never vote for any emperor to make decisions on my behalf that I would rather make for myself.

    The other part you're missing is that when everyone has personal autonomy and is free to make their own choices? Then the choices ALL of them make is the true collective will of the people.

    That includes BOTH the people who voted for one candidate AND the people who voted against them.

    Some people are willing to pay the extra costs of buying organic produce at Whole Foods. Some people aren't, and they shop at your regular run of the mill supermarket. The extent to which consumer tastes are willing to pay for organic produce? That's the collective will of the people.

    If 51% of 535 politicians (and one president) weighed in and decided that all food sold in the United States would now be organic?

    That would not be the collective will of the people. That would be the collective will of 51% of 535 politicians--and maybe the people who voted for them. Not the collective will of the people.

    My definition of "collective will" of the people includes everyone for, everyone against, and everyone indifferent. All of them.

    Your definition only includes 51% of 535 people plus the president only--and a plurality of the people who voted for them. What you're calling "collective" isn't very collective. ...and certainly not when compared to personal autonomy and individual rights.

  • ||

    This is typically a problem area with Progressives.

    They cannot accept that people already make their collective will known. They refuse to accept it when the collective will of the people is other than what they want.

    This is why they always resort to the use of force. This is why Obama resorted to sending the IRS after poor working families if those parents don't spend their limited incomes on health insurance.

    It always starts with good intentions. They imagine they their good intentions justify government force. When people react negatively to government force?

    It's because the people are uneducated or were deceived by the media or the rich.

    All because they refuse to accept that individuals make their collective will obvious in the hundreds of choices each of us makes individually every day.

  • Tony||

    The other part you're missing is that when everyone has personal autonomy and is free to make their own choices? Then the choices ALL of them make is the true collective will of the people.

    I don't understand how national healthcare hinders this in any way. The ONLY reason I'm for such policies as national healthcare and the welfare state in general is because it frees more people to act more. Individual autonomy is my standard too. But as anyone who realizes the flaws of anarchy knows, meaningful freedom can only be realized if certain collective fees are paid to do it by maintaining order and mitigating risk.

    The organizing principles of the market are well and good, but they aren't democratic. There has to be some entity that operates on behalf of the people as a whole and equally, because there's always going to be a social environment that has to be managed. That's going to happen either by some form of tyranny (even in a market economy), or by democratic legitimacy. It's not a choice between perfect and evil, but nothing is.

  • ||

    You know, it "frees" those doctors to treat everyone no matter what. Because doctor's aren't people, they are machines sent to do thy bidding.

  • ||

    When I don't vote, I'm saying that I don't want any politician of any party making my decisions for me.

    When I don't vote for president, I'm saying that the president has become like an emperor--and I will never vote for any emperor to make decisions on my behalf that I would rather make for myself.

    When you don't vote you leave your voice out of the mix--you become inconsequential.

    Even in Libertopia there will be some governmental structure to implement the powers we give it. Will there be voting? Probably. Will there be an apathetic group? Absolutely. Will there be a non-voting group who insists that they're making a 'statement'? Absolutely. Will either groups views matter? No. Not even in Libertopia. If you won't talk, no one will hear you.

  • ||

    By voting you lend legitimacy to the office of President.

    If I don't vote, I am refusing to lend any legitimacy to the office of the president.

    Why would libertarians wish to lend any legitimacy to politicians as they presently are?

    There's nothin' in it for me.

  • guy in the back row||

    I think most folks around here would say you can "collectivize' all of your property that you and your friends would like.

    But don't touch my property, that would be stealing.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    If I do have a totalitarian impulse with respect to thought, it's that I believe in objective fact

    LOL at this goonfiction--you dismiss every set of data that contradicts your preconceived notions as "flawed," without showing how; outright ignore those which blatanty refute your arguments; and use circular logic and strawmen like a porn star uses antibiotics.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    How much of a persons' income should be paid in taxes, Tony?

    As in "their fair share".

    Percentage, please.

    After all, if you are so fucking keen on them paying "their fair share", there must be an amount, on each dollar earned, that must be paid in taxes.

    Quit avoiding the question.

  • Tony||

    I've never used the phrase "their fair share" that I'm aware of. I think that way of framing the issue is distracting. Regardless, their "fair share" is certainly not less than someone with lower income.

    I've answered the question plenty of times: people should pay the taxes necessary to fund the government they want without burdening anyone's lifestyle. You're welcome to educate yourself on the principles of progressive taxation. But we have to make sure our entire system doesn't fall into regressive taxation first--which is the stated goal of the GOP and anyone else who wants a flat national income tax or to abolish it.

  • ||

    To think that some rich douchebag (of which there are plenty) paid less than the 6% my wife and I paid last year is fucking laughable on its fucking face.

    And we're considered middle class so there is no way on God's green earth that poor people pay more in income taxes than someone like Warren Buffet or Timmah Geithner.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    In order for there to be fair taxation under a progressive system (which is like finding a beneficial skin rash cause), there has to be a dollar amount.

    What IS that dollar amount, Tony?

    Why do you insist on dancing around the question? Candyassery?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Oh, and you can knock it the fuck off on the superiority thing, Tony... I *know* what "progressive taxation" is, even though I never went to an Approved Liberal College.

    Though, basically, all it means is "the more you make, the more we take".

    Elitist fuck.

  • cynical||

    "The problem is, often I'm the only person defending the basic principles of democracy."

    Democracy is a means to an end, and there are lots of different types of democracies, some of which are more effective at pursuing that end than others. A lynch mob is a small democracy, but so is a jury.

    At any rate, geographic democracy is a stupid concept. If you impose a "democracy" onto a territory containing two warring ethnicities, all you're going to do is transform the nature of violence and oppression, not eliminate it. In some cases, you make it worse, by suggesting that the cruelty of the larger tribe is legitimate simply because they have greater numbers.

    To have a functional democracy, you need to have a reasonably coherent community with shared values and objectives. Gerrymandering is such a problem because it deliberately destroys democracy based on community and association and instead replaces it with arbitrary geographic democracies intended to silence the opposition.

    To the extent that centrists complain about our government being dysfunctional, it's at least in part because there is no longer a coherent national community. It might be better for us to reorganize democracy based on something like Stephenson's concept of "phyles", with each phyle being largely self-governing, and "government" as we know it mainly existing as a neutral arbiter to referee disputes between phyles.

    Just as a side note: Is it really a democracy if the people can only exercise their power in the most indirect, hands-off way, and only once a year (or less), and only to pick which member of the elites will be granted true, year-round power, and even those elites have ceded much of their power to unelected officials (or had it usurped)? How crippled and compromised does it have to become before it ceases to be a democracy?

  • Tony||

    Good points. I'm really referring to those who seem so frustrated that people continue to vote themselves a welfare state that they seem tempted to prefer something like libertarian despotism--because people just don't know what's good for them.

    In fact some of the problems I have with our system are about it being too democratic in specific ways. We do have a representative government. But for complex reasons, government is hampered by the need for representatives to pander rather than govern. I think Congresspeople, in some ways, ought to be less accountable for their votes. The whole point of representative democracy is that sometimes unpopular things have to be done. It's a tough balance and I don't really know how to improve it.

  • cynical||

    Surely at least part of the problem is that 535 people can't actually manage overseeing the amount of the things the government actually does (especially since they aren't entirely dividing it up -- at the end of the day, every one of them needs to be clued in enough to vote intelligently, or else they become just a sockpuppet for party leadership or special interests).

    It would almost make more sense to have several Congresses, each devoted to a specific area of governance (possibly attached to a specific Cabinet department or agency). You could literally pick the right representive for the job, instead of just whoever is least offensive to your worldview.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    There is no such thing as "libertarian despotism". It's an impossibility, a contradiction in and of itself, as a phrase - let alone a real-world model.

    Nice try, though.

  • ||

    I guess it's a good thing we don't live in a fucking democracy but a Constitutional Republic.

  • ||

    If we invade France, ze French will taunt us unmercifully! Zey will say our father was a hamster!

  • ||

    your mother is the hamster, dude. Your father, though, well, he smells of elderberries.

  • Tim||

    I say let them lynch a few bankers and go home in triumph.

  • ||

    Biden likens Occupy Wall Street to tea party

    Vice President Joe Biden likened the Occupy Wall Street movement to the tea party at a forum in Washington on Thursday, saying both were driven by middle-class frustration with government bailouts of corporate America.

    “What is the core of that protest, and why is it increasing in terms of the people its attracting? The core is that the bargain has been breached with the American people. The core is that the American people do not think the system is fair or on the level," Biden said at forum sponsored by the Atlantic magazine and the Aspen Institute at the Newseum in Washington.

    “There’s a lot in common with the tea party,” Biden said. “The tea party started why? TARP. They thought it was unfair we were bailing out the big guys.”

    -

    Really? Because the left's narrative of The TEA Party has always been that it is a racist reaction to the election of a black president.

    Also, I like the way "Occupy Wall Street movement" is in Important Capitals and "The TEA Party" is in who-gives-a-shit lowercase. You stay classy, los angeles times.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    So either the V.P. is smarter than most of the mainstream media, or the mainstream media were being mendacious. Ha ha, pick your poison.

  • Ska||

    I'm not going to shit on the real man of genius during his moment of clarity.

  • White Indian||

    Crack open a can of Bud Light, Biden's finally a real man of genius.

  • ||

    I'm not going to shit on the real man of genius during his moment of clarity.

    He's not having a moment of clarity. He's having a moment of "Oh, right, now we need to start emphasizing how the concept of populist protests is all cool and awesome and legitimate."

  • Neu Mejican||

    Really? Because the left's narrative of The TEA Party has always been that it is a racist reaction to the election of a black president.

    I don't think that's entirely accurate. That's just as much a way to dismiss real criticism of the conduct of the Tea Party as the "it's racism at its root" charges are a way to dismiss the Tea Party. Some from the left do it, but that isn't THE NARRATIVE.

  • Coeus||

    Holy shit. Barack gonna be pissed he lost his talking point's manual and had to speak from memory of actual events.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Good God, an insightful comment from Biden? Is the Rapture next?

  • cynical||

    I give up. Why would this guy be a worse president that current jerkass in chief?

  • ||

    Nick, thanks. This may be the most elucidating article about the protests that I've read yet. I especially like this part:

    [The Protest} asks that people give up their individuality to the state the occupiers are creating. Rather than free speech, the protest has a sort of "managed speech" to make sure everyone has equal time.

    This might sum up my whole frustration with movements, counseling, PC, tolerance education, etc. It's the demand that, regardless of your background or interests or personal feelings, you must respect what others have to say and how they feel. As a simple human, I sometimes don't sympathize with others or care what they have to say, but am made to feel guilty about my lack of Understanding and Tolerance for it. This may be the most irritating aspect of the Pollyannish protests.

    I had an encounter with local protesters the other day that was more or less neutral. I had a welling up of negative emotion but ultimately decided to let it go; in the long run it won't make a difference to the way I choose to live. The entitled kids (with iPhones and data plans and pre-distressed Abercrombie jeans) didn't seem to realize what it was they wanted. I think they just desperately wanted to be part of something that went against the proverbial grain, but I can't tell what the "grain" is anymore, and they likely can't either.

    There is no grain. At least I'd like to think it's diminishing. I understand the frustration of joblessness and the hatred for corporate corruption. It seems that people are attacking the wrong target, though. GREED is the number one thing I heard from my local protest cadre and on local radio (NJ101.5), but what goes overlooked is the government collusion with and regulation of Wall Street that is halting a real change. I wonder that people cannot grasp this.

    Sorry, I'm getting emotional about this and for a site like Reason.com...I do appreciate that Graham was able to give some good reporting on this issue that trumps whatever babble I catch on the news or net.

  • ||

    You don't have to be dead inside to comment here, but it helps.

  • Au H20||

    That's why we're basically all functional alcoholics.

  • ||

    Do you know how hard it is to go through life sober?

  • Warty||

    He needs more serum!

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    I think that was the point of the new South Park this week. The only way Stan could go through life without everything looking & sounding like shit was to drink Jameson all day long.

  • Coeus||

    Works for me (although it's chivas).

  • White Indian||

    Civilization is a raging alcoholic bender.* The planet is trashed, victims abused, and we're on the way to the bottom fast.

    I want a new drug.** One that won't make me sick.

    * Did a thirst for beer spark civilization?
    http://www.independent.co.uk/l.....69187.html

    ** Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution
    http://www.amazon.com/Food-God.....553078682/

  • Warty||

    You're a moron, rectal.

  • ||

    Erasing all fear and joining the Cybermen never seemed like fun to me.

  • ||

    I use that phrase at work more then you might think:

    "So, what are your thoughts about the new Processing Policy?"

    "I don't care; I'm dead inside."

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Dude, that is awesome. I'm guessing you have that bag-eyed pallor of Edward Norton in Fight Club when you say so?

  • ||

    No, I usually give them the reverse passive-aggressive...

    "Well, I think this is a really bad idea that will either be useless or worse, useless and time-consuming. You can order me to do it, so I guess I have to do it, but I don't see the point in all this."

    And I once told my boss: "You can order me to do whatever you want, but you can't order me to be happy about it."

    As bad as it sounds, most here consider me to be the easiest one to work with. Think about that and weep for this place.

  • Warty||

    the reverse passive-aggressive

    What, the aggressive?

  • ||

    What, the aggressive?

    I guess you could call it that if you are just looking to be crude.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Alan Rickman was the perfect voice for Marvin the Paranoid Android. Is it wrong that I heard that when I read those quotes you just posted?

  • ||

    Not quite. I say all that stuff in a light-hearted tone, but I try to make my eyes sing a different tune.

  • ||

    Sounds like most places I have ever had to work, private, non-profit, or public. Sad state of affairs.

  • ||

    You're just not a team player.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    That's pretty much what I do. I tell my bosses my opinion or recommendation if it's necessary, but I also tell them I'll follow orders I openly disagree with. (Unless I had a huge ethical problem with what they want, in which case I would quit.) I'm here for the paycheck and they get my labor in return.

    Melodramatic women are the only ones who have a problem with that attitude, because they think every mundane task requires maximum emotional investment.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Tone of voice: mirthful. Eyes: baleful. I agree, SugarFree, that is a winning combo.

  • Peter Gibbons||

    It's a question of motivation, Bob.

  • The Sego Sago Kid||

    Well stated. I had a similar discussion with someone sympathetic to these protests the other day with similar results. I told him that government collusion is really the source of all these problems. His response was that we need more regulation because "corporations are evil".

    Seriously, some of these people believe that running a successful business automatically makes you some sort of Captain Planet-esque super-villain.

  • NoVAHockey||

    Similar conversation. The concept and reality of regulatory capture is lost on them. I saw a sign in DC yesterday that read "regulate regulate regulate". Had to laugh. Thanks for wanting to increasing my billables.

  • Raven Nation||

    Especially a successful business which expands e.g. local coffee shop owned by local people and making a profit is good. Starbucks is bad. Ditto local bookstore vs. Barnes & Noble (or, formerly, Borders). In other words, you can be successful but not too successful.

  • ||

    ""Seriously, some of these people believe that running a successful business automatically makes you some sort of Captain Planet-esque super-villain""

    Except for Steve Jobs and Apple. They love Apple products.

  • The Sego Sago Kid||

    Haha, the funny thing about that is that Jobs was pretty much the closest a CEO can get to being a super-villain.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Hank Scorpio was partially modeled on Jobs, correct?

  • The Sego Sago Kid||

    The turtleneck is a dead give away.

  • ||

    The problem is that they don't have the tools to interpret the world around them. They have grown up in the cocoon of the American education system which is run by people who still think it is 1968. The problem is that it is not 1968. Communism and socialism are not viable ideologies anymore. And even if they were, you can't square scientific Marxism which hated indigenous cultures and sought to create the new socialist man with multiculturalism. So these kids are left with a dog's breakfast of failed and Utopian ideologies. It is not surprising that they have no idea what they want or really even what they are protesting. They just know protesting is good because it was in 1968.

  • ||

    I can't tell you how true this is. From elementary school on up, a Marxist view of life, work, and government pervades all. I didn't even realize it was Marxist until I went to college and had a class in Marxist Feminist Social Philosophy (not the actual name but a concise description of content).

    There are some kids whose parents teach them differently, and they skate by and keep their heads down, but for the most part students believe they can create Utopia.

    I had the opportunity to teach Harrison Bergeron (one of the best stories ever written) to a group of 9th graders. We discussed Utopian idealism and how great it would be if everyone were truly equal. Then I asked "who is the better basketball player: LeBron or Bryant?" almost every kid had an opinion. Then I said, well, what if LeBron had to wear braces that limited the reach of his arms, and Bryant was made to wear weights so he couldn't jump as high, in order to equalize their abilities? Who would be better then?

    Well, the discussion got real interesting and without much more input from me, kids decided that maybe a truly equal society wouldn't be so awesome.

    I know its a simple example. But for 9th grade, I think they got it.

    And I don't teach anymore.

  • ||

    And I don't teach anymore.

    Which is a tragedy, since you had such opportunity to gum up the works and generate some actual thinkers, instead of sheep.

    But, I get it, you can only bang your head against the wall for so long before getting bloody.

  • ||

    I was forcibly removed before I could further gum up the works.

    Long story, told before, but summation: accused of making racist comments while discussing de Crevecour's work in an AmLit class in an upper middle-class HS in NJ. Comparing a students comments about "dirty, greasy Mexicans" to what people said about Italians, etc. in the late 19th/early 20th century is no way to keep a job.

    LSS: don't call kids out on their bullshit, you'll get fired.

  • ||

    Ah, missed the details of the affair. That sounds ten different ways of shitty.

    Never happy to hear that happen to anyone, but not all that surprising, considering the hypersensitive, collectivist fuckstains running the show now.

  • Tony||

    Circa 2008 free market capitalism became a failed ideology.

    The single biggest achievement of the right in recent decades is the deregulation of finance. It created a lot of wealth--for a few people, then it destroyed the global economy.

  • KDN||

    Parroting the deregulation canard shows complete ignorance for the way the sector operated then and now. I can tell you from first hand experience that the banks, brokerage houses, and stock exchanges in NYC spent a ton of time and money pre-crash just making sure their compliance apparatuses were up to snuff.

  • Tony||

    Look, just because the state and regulations existed doesn't mean things were regulated enough.

    Communism has never been implemented in a pure fashion, so does that mean it can't be called a failed ideology?

  • KDN||

    That would be a fair point if a decline in regulation were truly the cause of all this mess, but that's at best an incomplete view of of the crisis. The most complete short-form explanation is probably the dissenting opinion of the investigatory panel, summarized in the WSJ back in January: http://online.wsj.com/article/.....98280.html

    We agree with our colleagues that individuals across the financial sector pursued their self-interest first, sometimes to the detriment of borrowers, investors, taxpayers and even their own firms. We also agree that the mountain of government programs supporting the housing market produced distorted investment incentives, and that the government's implicit support of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was a ticking time bomb.

    But it is dangerous to conclude that the crisis would have been avoided if only we had regulated everything a lot more, had fewer housing subsidies, and had more responsible bankers. Simple narratives like these ignore the global nature of this crisis, and promote a simplistic explanation of a complex problem. Though tempting politically, they will ultimately lead to mistaken policies.

  • Tony||

    Let's break down what they claim are the real factors:

    1) 2) Credit and housing bubbles in Europe and the US.

    3) "Ineffectively regulated primary mortgage market" that led to an increase in nontraditional mortgages.

    These are the first links in the chain--by their own admission it was too little regulation here. Leading us to:

    4) "Failures in credit-rating and securitization transformed bad mortgages into toxic financial assets."

    There's no law of nature that the underwriting had to be faulty--proper oversight could have fixed that.

    5) "Managers of many large and midsize financial institutions amassed enormous concentrations of highly correlated housing risk."

    6) "they amplified this risk by holding too little capital relative to the risks and funded these exposures with short-term debt"

    Again, something regulators could have prevented if they wanted to, by having the tools to better assess risk and having higher capital requirements.

    7) and 8) are about contagion and exposure. This isn't something prevented by the private sector--it's the very reason regulatory power must exist, because failures or bad behavior on the part of a slice of the sector can affect the global system.

    9) is the rapid succession of failures that caused shock and panic, i.e., too big to fail. Again, only government can prevent this type of thing.

    Finally 10) is the economic consequences. Regulation may not have been able to prevent effects in the real economy, but it could have prevented the things above in the chain of events leading to them.

    There very own dissent is an admission of the failures of inadequate regulation, even though their purpose was to try to pin it on government per se, but really only because that's their ideological assumption behind everything.

  • iamtheeviltwin||

    As someone who has recently entered into a business that is tangentially connected to the finance and banking industry my eyes are being continually openened to just how regulated this industry is. Claiming this industry was poorly regulated and free-market is just a blatant ignorance of the facts.

    I came from the aircraft industry and thought the reach of the FAA into our business was bad...banking regulators and their reach into the business is incredible. Not to mention aircraft usually only had to satisfy one Federal organization...we just had auditors out here over the last few weeks and there were at least a half a dozen different organizations represented.

    We have to jump through tons of hoops and all my company does is print and mail financial/bank statements. Some of the changes we are having to make right now because of Dodd/Frank give me true sympathy for real financial institutions and what sort of hoops they are having to go through.

  • Tony||

    Important difference between quantity and quality. See above--clearly a lack of government police power was an overriding problem.

  • iamtheeviltwin||

    Simple regulations and policies that demand transparency, make fraud illegal, and allow institutions that over-reach to actually fail would have done far more than the mountain of regulations that were passed before and after the "crisis".

    The failure of "government police power" was when it stepped in and prevented bad actors from suffering the consequences of their actions.

    Not the fact they didn't pass a few more "quality" regulations before or after the bad actions took place.

  • Raven Nation||

    If a lack of government police power was the overriding problem, would that suggest that the best response (at least initially) would be to enforce existing regulations rather than create new ones?

    I seem to recall that some reviews of the crash argued that a lot of regulations were not really being enforced.

  • Tony||

    Yes. And bear in mind that a LOT of the relevant deregulating happened under Clinton, lest anyone thing this is a partisan thing.

  • NotSure||

    Ignoring that deregulation has actually happened (the opposite is true), you would have to explain why very regulated countries are in utter ruin. They had all the regulations you want and then some more, yet they still did not protect them. Or you can look at a commonality they all did share, easy credit and complete disregard to their unsustainable government debt levels.

  • Tony||

    This is indeed a simplistic overview of things. But the fact remains, a housing bubble fueled by easy credit and poor underwriting was allowed to happen.

    I'm sometimes fatalistic about these things--given the profits available in a bubble, it may be simply politically impossible to go against that pressure and adequately regulate it to prevent its collapse. But the overriding point remains: it was not a financial industry that was too shackled by prudence that was at fault.

  • iamtheeviltwin||

    This is indeed a simplistic overview of things. But the fact remains, a housing bubble fueled by easy credit and poor underwriting was allowed to happen.

    a) What people do with their own money in a legal fashion is none of your (or the government's) business...even if it causes bubbles.

    b) The housing bubble was a direct result of goverment regulations and rules distorting the housing market and standard lending practices. Primarily in the name of "social justice" and "equality".

    c) It is not the government's job to "shackle" an industry and demand "prudence"...at best it is the government's job to punish fraud and enforce contracts between willing parties.

  • Tony||

    If private transactions can add up to systemic ill effects that affect everyone, meaning people not involved in the transactions, well that's the very reason governments exist in the first place.

    It wasn't government housing programs that caused the housing bubble. That's just a post hoc narrative invented by people who like to blame poor blacks for everything that goes wrong in the world. Toxic derivatives were given fraudulently positive ratings--the fault of government, yes, for not better policing ratings agencies.

  • ChrisO||

    You can't handle the truth, apparently, Tony. It was the Community Reinvestment Act amendments that got the ball rolling on risky mortgage practices and mortgage-based derivatives, all in the name of increasing home ownership in "disadvantaged communities." And no, it wasn't only Democrats who favored this.

    Once the lending industry and the investment houses developed a taste for this higher risk and needed a place to park investors' money after the dot-com bubble burst, they went all-in, far beyond the requirements of the CRA. But they did so primarily because they knew they would be bailed out by their good friends in Washington. They KNEW it, and they were right.

    All of the big investment firms should have been allowed to fold. Yes, the immediate pain would have been severe, but the recovery would actually be underway.

    More regulation would not have worked, primarily for the reason that the regulators and their political overlords were working for the benefit of Wall Street. What you fail to see is that such a state of affairs was inevitable--power follows money. The only way to keep Wall Street honest was to make sure that it was their own asses on the line for losses, not the taxpayers'.

  • iamtheeviltwin||

    That's just a post hoc narrative invented by people who like to blame poor blacks for everything that goes wrong in the world.

    That's just race-baiting BULLSHIT Tony.

    I probably should address the rest of your post, but this "you just blame brown people for the world's problems" bullshit irritates the fuck out of me.

    It just shows me that you don't want to have a real conversation....so taking your lead as my cue.

    Fuck Off Slaver.

  • J.Daniel||

    ^ This, exactly.

  • J.Daniel||

    "The problem is that they don't have the tools to interpret the world around them. They have grown up in the cocoon of the American education system which is run by people who still think it is 1968."

    ^ THIS, exactly.

  • GILMORE||

    [The Protest} asks that people give up their individuality to the state the occupiers are creating. Rather than free speech, the protest has a sort of "managed speech" to make sure everyone has equal time.

    "This might sum up my whole frustration with movements, counseling, PC, tolerance education, etc. ..."

    Dude... time to read or reread The True Believer (1951)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_True_Believer

    e.g.People who see their lives as irremediably spoiled cannot find a worth-while purpose in self-advancement. The prospect of an individual career cannot stir them to a mighty effort, nor can it evoke in them faith and a single-minded dedication. They look on self-interest as on something tainted and evil; something unclean and unlucky. Anything undertaken under the auspices of the self seems to them foredoomed. Nothing that has its roots and reasons in the self can be noble and good. Their innermost craving is for a new life — a rebirth — or, failing this, a chance to acquire new elements of pride, confidence, hope, a sense of purpose and worth by an identification with a holy cause

  • ||

    Thanks for the link, I'm going to add to the queue.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    There is no grain. At least I'd like to think it's diminishing. I understand the frustration of joblessness and the hatred for corporate corruption. It seems that people are attacking the wrong target, though.

    The banks they're protesting against are really just a specific class of parasite, but they've been indoctrinated their whole lives to believe that when things don't go the way they want them to, it's always someone else's fault. So they're looking for any boogeyman to blame for their empty, meaningless, superficial lives.

  • ||

    There is also the flip side, that not to join the movement or to disagree with the protesters means that you are working against the interest of the people....

    And just because that idea has ended in the deaths of hundreds of millions in the last hundred years...

    They are a bunch of dumb, ignorant kids. As long as the union thugs don't show up or a real demagogue doesn't manage to take control of them, this is a non story. A few hundred dumb kids are marching a few cities. So what?

  • Spoonman.||

    The morons protesting in Houston yelled at my wife's boss because he was wearing a suit.

    Frankly I'm disappointed there's any of these people in Houston at all. I guess it gives something for the horse cops to do though.

  • ||

    Meanwhile, when I interview college kids for summer internships, I have trouble finding qualified American students. Industrial Engineering, Business, Statistics majors are in high demand. You also have to dress professionally and not act like an entitled asshole - which disqualifies a lot of American applicants.

    We usually end up with more Chinese and Indian students than American.

  • ||

    Really? We have honors interns in our office from various law schools. And they seem like pretty nice people, especially for lawyers.

  • ||

    We need students who have really strong math / stats skills along with business operations. They are harder to find than I ever expected.

    Tell your kids to be Industrial Engineers.

  • ||

    I know. Part of me wants to take my ridiculously generous GI Bill and go back and become an engineer now. I am so board with the law. But I am probably too well paid to be able to do that.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    The way you spell, John, I'm surprised you're not already an engineer.

  • ||

    I should have been. And I am a master proof reader. I just don't proof read on here.

  • ||

    Use Firefox or Sea Monkey - they spell your comments.

  • Colin||

    Yeah, the hardest thing in the world in proofing yourself.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Colin for the win.

  • ||

    I didn't misspell a single word on my nonsense sentence!

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Drake with two very subtle good jests, too.

  • ||

    I half a spelling checker as ewe can clearly sea. I ran this threw the checker an it looked awl wright too me.

  • ||

    I've gone back to school to take science and math courses. (I majored in English round 1 and education round 2). No particular goal just yet, but having some real knowledge of the world can't hurt once I return to the workforce.

    Yeah, I'm one of the people who thought a CollegeDegree would be the ticket to prosperity; how can you help it when it's fed to you from Day One? I realized early that initiative and experience count, but was always told "get that degree and no one can stop you." Just like buying real estate (which will NEVER! EVER! depreciate) is a good investment. I don't know that at 35 I can change careers for the better, but that won't stop me from trying.

    Just a curiosity, but would your firm hire an older intern with good skills and a desire to pick up the skills necessary to make one viable in the workforce? Because in NJ, I don't see many intern or entry-level opportunities offered to older applicants - and I don't think I'm that old! It might be an untapped resource if companies were willing (not forced via gov't fiat) to make internship packages attractive to older career-changers who might then repay the experience with loyalty.

  • ||

    I work for the feds. How they hire is really a mystery to me Mad Biker.

  • Kristen||

    SkyNet* does the hiring for the Feds

    *aka HR database that spits out resumes based on keywords that match the job description.

  • ||

    I don't know that at 35 I can change careers for the better, but that won't stop me from trying.

    Just so you know, I managed to do that.

    Late in the game, I thought I was going to go to law school, until I worked for a law firm and saw the soul-sucking and back-breaking student loan burden up close and personal. I also realized that I would have made a shitty, shitty lawyer. I had romanticized the idea a bit too much.

    Plan B time. Um...yeah...I'm sure I had a Plan B. Long story short, I begged the law firm's IT director, whom I got to know when his office was around the corner from mine, for a spot on the IT staff, despite knowing nothing about computers.

    Sold my beloved Honda CBR600, bought my first PC with the proceeds ($2300!) and got to work. It was more than a worthwhile investment, being that I'm still in IT and making decent money, but man do I fucking miss that bike.

  • ||

    Find job at a firm with a strong Six Sigma department. Volunteer for Green Belt training or apply for a Blackbelt position - if your math skills are strong, it won't be hard to pick up.

  • ||

    ""The morons protesting in Houston yelled at my wife's boss because he was wearing a suit.""

    Really? Doesn't sound right. Half my family is Mormon and they don't protest anything, or yell. They are generaly so damn friendly it's creepy.

  • ||

    The entitled kids...

    As childhood has seemingly been extended into middle age, I think you've hit on a general problem with OWS so far...a failure to accept responsibility and accountability within a system of principles that enables one to be 'for' something rather than just against...CHildhood, especially the teenage years, seems notable for its instinctive reaction 'against' everything that clothed, fed and generally enabled it. When the protestors grow up, they may be able to articulate something coherent that they are for. Til then, I guess these 'children' will enable their own manipulation.

  • ||

    Yes - good point.

    My parents beat most that nonsense out of me - and my Drill Instructors finished the job. When I see these stupid kids, the NCO in me wants to go berserk and try to fix them.

    The Libertarian in me just shrugs and tries to ignore it.

  • ||

    They people I know who are drill instructors tell me that the kids they get today are a lot more entitled and less self reliant than they used to be. They can be fixed but it is hard. And these are the kids who have enough on the ball or are desperate enough to join the military. Think about how bad the rich and entitled ones must be.

  • ||

    I cringe whenever some douche-bag politician suggests bringing back the draft. Boot Camp would have to be 6 months long and brutal beyond anything the politicians would tolerate in order get some discipline into them.

  • ||

    Bingo. That is what they never mention. Right now the military is pretty gentle. Mostly we just chapter them out and fire them. That is a deterrent because they all want to be there and want to get their GI bills. But if we had a draft, chaptering them out would no longer be a threat since they wouldn't want to be there. They would have to go back to doing massive summary courts martial and administrative detention for Article 15s and bread and water and hard labor and charlie's chicken farm and such. The military was a brutal cruel place when we had the draft.

  • ||

    ""kids they get today are a lot more entitled and less self reliant than they used to be.""

    I think every older generation has been saying that about the current generation for awhile. What do you mean you don't kill, pluck, and butcher your own chickens? Lazy bastards and your supermarkets.

    Computers make things easier, therefore I expect that the first generation to grow-up with computers to think much labor isn't necessary in life. They expect a device to do things for them. Devices made by corporations which is what cracks me up about the wall street protesters.

  • ||

    They also seem to overlook the fact that the colleges that ripped them off and unions trying to exploit them are also corporations.

  • SCOTUS||

    I don't think I would put state colleges under the corporate label. It can go under government. Who are they looking to for solutions again?

  • ||

    the infantilization of the "kids" that schools propose to turn into productive adults is a pervasive meme that schools don't seem to realize they perpetuate.

    Or perhaps they do. Maybe I've been seeing it all wrong; they KNOW some people KNOW school is BS at a certain point, and are willing to give them a pass so they can move on, "give up" on education, and become successful entrepreneurs or worker-bees or welfare recipients, and just maintain the narrative.

    And then there are the kids who do what they say, and work hard academically, kids who want to do something other than manual labor (NTTAWWT) and who think they can change the world - and, here's the caveat - are DEMONSTRATIVE about it. Schools focus their energy on these students as "saviors of society."

    By keeping these demonstrative and compliant kids on the hook with the narrative of Progressive Policy, they can keep moving forward towards an oligarchic control of the masses.

    Sorry, my inner conspiracy-theorist just reared her strangely attractive head for a minute there...

  • Abdul||

    Pundits and media can spin #OWS however they like. We know it's hippies all the way down.

  • ||

    It has been nearly 50 years since the hippie movement started. It is as old now as World War I was when it started. Can't these people find something new? I am sorry but hippie and punk chic are just fucking boring.

  • Colin||

    The problem is when you reach an extreme there's nowhere else to go.

  • ||

    "For example, many Republicans and Fox News commentators insist that this is "planned" by the left for some nefarious purpose. It isn't (although that might change if politicos seize control of the occupation)."

    I don't think this was planned necessarily by the left for some nefarious purpose--but I think it would be naive to pretend that forces on the left won't use this for a nefarious purpose.

    Black blocks exist to use honest, well-meaning protestors as opportunities to provoke the police into abusing innocent protestors in front of the TV cameras. To think elements on the left that won't use the protestors for that purpose would be naive.

    Especially if we already understand that the narrative the press is trying to create--wants to see this as a good against evil/civil rights sort of struggle.

    Oh, and when I see unions jump on board behind the protestors? I don't think we can say it isn't planned or coordinated anymore. Where are the protestors getting their food and supplies?

    Just because it started our organic doesn't mean it still is or will be next week.

  • Rhywun||

    The unions have been on board for over a week now. They don't hang around the hippies all that much - mostly I see them marching up and down Broadway.

  • Tony||

    I don't know who's making the decisions but there seems to be resistance to letting unions or any other political force take over or provide funding with which to control messaging.

    The Democratic party would tread lightly if they know what's good for them. The protesters see them as part of the problem.

  • ||

    Somebody's writing some checks somewhere. If they're living on the donations of concerned individuals everywhere? Then bully for them!

    But you can't keep feeding that many people like that for that long without getting some donations from somebody. ...unless they've got somebody who can feed 5,000 people with seven loaves and two fishes.

  • B. Obama||

    You rang?

  • duke||

    The Amish are anti-Wall Street. Why isn't the New York Times writing about them?

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    I thought the Amish were only anti-NASDAQ?

  • duke||

    NYSE too. FTSE they're ok with, I think.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    because unlike the OWS the Amish are self reliant and hard workers.

  • duke||

    Yeah, and they aren't cool because they don't use i-pads and wish they had a starship parked next to their sustainable organic berry farm.

  • Ray||

    I've said this before, even commented on it at the huffpo, but these protests are being organized via apple products ( iPhones, MacBooks,) and Facebook, two of the largest and most profit seeking and earning corporations in the entire fucking world. Oh, and drum circles aren't for anyone except those who don't know how to play drums.

  • NotSure||

    I wonder if these champions of the oppressed would be willing trade in their top of the range computers and other expensive goods they own, for cheaper alternative. The money made could be donated to the 99% they are fighting for.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Is that like "you can't be a libertarian and drive on the roads"?

    (This perfect purity nonsense cuts both ways.)

  • 0x90||

    False equivalence. I don't have an iphone, because nobody forced me to buy one. I have a macbook because Steve Jobs wouldn't let me compile software for your apple if I didn't.

  • Colin||

    On the flip side, blacks are over-represented in the police force.

    This reminds me of scene from Good Times:

    Father: Where were you?
    Son: Out demonstrating for more black policemen.
    Father: What happened?
    Son: It was broken up . . . by some black policemen.

  • ||

    +1 I loved that show.

  • ||

    By the way, while Wall Street may be responsible for bad things, it is Wall Street who financed putting a million miles of fiber optic cables crisscrossing continents and under oceans. It is Wall Street that financed the thousands of cell towers. It is Wall Street from which venture capital comes to finance startups like Twitter. Thus, tweeting “Down with capitalism” from your iPhone for those around the word to read seems to be the most ironic thing a person can do. The live stream from the protest site, shared with 12,000 (at this moment) people across the Internet is a testament to Wall Street's allocation of capital that these protesters fight against. [Obligatory Monty Python reference]

    And, this, is why the protesters can go fuck themselves.

    They may have legitimate grievances, especially on the corrupt nature of corporatism, but their heads are so far up their collectives asses to actually try and connect the dots for even a moment, it makes them a supreme galactic joke and not worthy of anyone's support.

  • ||

    "Wall Street may be responsible for bad things..."

    I really hate that fucking street.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Hmmm...sounds like a Stephen King short story waiting to happen.

  • ||

    Plenty of willing victims, just laying around.

  • ||

    Hipsters screaming in agony while sinking into the pavement. I would see it.

  • ChrisO||

    I was surprised how small it is the first time I visited. It's really more like an alley. Probably not capable of too much mischief on its own. Now Houston St., that motherfucker is ready to cause some trouble.

  • ||

    Hey John: Where can i get a job like yours? Where I get to sit at work and fuck MNG all day on someone else's dime and rail about these stupid fucking kids? I mean these lazy little fuckers could go get jobs...if they really wanted. There are so many of these jobs out there. Like fucking grapes to be picked off the line.

    If you fucking assholes haven't noticed, the whole fucking world seems to be coming off the rails. Oh sorry, I didn't mean to step your stupid fucking dirty-lazy-hippies meme. Yeah, stupid kids, go to school and learn a trade....oh wait, they DID fucking do that. Well, go learn a RELEVANT trade.

  • ||

    Sorry, but i won't be albe to respond. I will be spending the rest of the day looking for work. You obviously don' have a fucking clue but looking for work is a full time job. So I hope to fin a job where I can sit on my ass in front of a computer and rail about people who are too fucking lazy to get one of them easily obtainable jobs.

  • Coeus||

    When I couldn't get a job with my MIS degree (which is as damn near as practical a degree as it gets), I worked as a roustabout offshore. People are almost always hunting for manual labor. It sucks, but it's a decent paycheck with no work experience required.

  • ||

    Hey Troy, sorry things didn't work out so well for you.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    You gotta work somewhere where there are a lot of computers and a lot of self-directed work (not a ton of customers).

    Also, be strong, Troy. I was severely underemployed for about 5 months last year. I had savings so I was OK, but it is kinda hard to find jobs. And the one I did find, I was working in a warehouse which really cut into my Hit & Run time.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Also, I went to Art School. While I would probably do it again, in hindsight it was kinda a horrifically poor decision. It did lead to me joining the Army because I had student loans, man.

    After 4 years, I left Active Duty and became a drilling reservist, and eventually found that aforementioned job. I was taking the odd math class at community college before I got deployed again.

    The End for now.

  • ||

    And honestly ART. I am not sure I will post on here much longer. I like a lot of the people. But I get tired of explaining myself. It kind of creeping me out to be honest with you. To me asking someone "don't you have a job" is the height of bad form. Who cares if I kill people for a living? It is no one's business but mine.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    I'm not sure entirely what you mean, but it seems like you just implied that you're a Mechanic.

    But in all seriousness, you're quality commenter and the board would miss you.

  • ||

    I do a lot of self directed work. I mostly write things for people and review documents. I also go to a lot of meetings in the afternoon. I am basically bored out of my mind in my job. But thanks to our wonderful economy and my wife having a fabulous job she won't quit so I could move to take another job, I am stuck here.

  • Kristen||

    Interesting that both of us are bored and underutilized and our skills are inefficiently allocated and we both have a connection to the all-knowing, benevolent, efficient government.

    I'm not stuck by spousal obligation, though - I'm stuck because of real estate. Might as well keep grinding it out til I can sell my condo for a decent price, I figure.

  • ||

    Government managers are the worst. And all they do is empire build. Hire more people to do the same amount of work so they can say "hey look how many people work for me and how important I am". The fact that all those people are under employed and bored out of their minds means nothing.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Yeah, stupid kids, go to school and learn a trade....oh wait, they DID fucking do that. Well, go learn a RELEVANT trade.

    Grievance Studies isn't a trade, dipshit. Just because you think you're too good to do manual labor doesn't mean you're entitled to a job.

  • cynical||

    Don't get mad at John. The things he's failing to achieve by posting here means more work to be done by others. John is creating jobs.

  • Mark||

    There was by the way a really nice Dilbert comic yesterday:
    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2011-10-06/

    "One percent of engineers create all of the industry-changing products.
    I propose replacing the other 99% with robotic arms that hold coffee cups.
    You won't see any of the laggards in the 99% come up with great ideas like this one."

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    That's funny stuff. Although there is something vaguely menacing (in a Magritte sort of way) about a robotic arm holding a coffee cup.

  • PR||

    nothing new here. apparently the world is doing it wrong, and these guys have something better in mind, and naturally we're going to need someone to run this new system...

  • Jersey Patriot||

    The protesters'] loving acceptance of those who disagree with them is astonishing, but it’s totalitarian. It asks that people give up their individuality to the state the occupiers are creating. Rather than free speech, the protest has a sort of "managed speech" to make sure everyone has equal time.

    In which case, every meeting I've ever attended has been totalitarian. Apparently we now need a new word to describe the difference between Robert's Rules of Order and the Khmer Rouge.

  • Tony||

    Are you suggesting that freedom and anarchy are not the same thing?

  • Jersey Patriot||

    I think they are the same thing, but I don't equate either one with chaos.

  • Mr. Mark||

    They're twits.

  • Jeff Cambeis||

    I would much rather see them occupy voting booths with common sense and foresight.

    Occupy voting booths maybe a nice movement to start.

  • Joe M||

    the “Arts and Culture Committee”, responsible for making signs and running the drum circle

    I just can't stop laughing about that.

  • ||

    But the protest isn’t angry. Quite the opposite, it is loving and accepting. If you go up to protesters with the opposite political view and debate them, they will express their undying love for you and ask for you to join them to increase the diversity of viewpoints. I did this myself, and watched this happen to others, including cops. This attitude pervades everything they do, and is frequently reinforced by the hard-core occupiers....

    Now that the unions are shipping in "protesters", we can expect that to change.

  • Joe M||

    Actually, I will be really interested to see how the "ground floor" protesters respond to these astrourf phonies stepping on their toes.

  • ChrisO||

    It sounds a lot like the campground at Bonnaroo, but without the bands or the organized weed-dealing.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    because people just don't know what's good for them

    IOW, Team Red/Team Blue.

  • SFC MAC||

    The one thing about these cockroaches crawling out from the woodwork to put their behavior on display, is that the entire world gets a good look at just how repugnant and stupid they are.

    The hacks in the leftwing media may adore these scumbags, but the rest of America hasn’t developed a taste for lazy, unwashed derelicts whose idea of ‘activism’ is trashing their communities with vandalism and screaming incoherent obscenities at the “establishment”.

    In contrast, the Tea Party was formed in response to an out-of-control government and a (former) Dem majority in Congress who held the Republic and the Constitution hostage while they rammed ObamaCare through Congress, declared a class war, and inflicted considerable damage on this country since Obama took office.

    There’s a huge difference between American patriots who demand that elected officials follow the U.S. Constitution, and the raging moonbats who want to “occupy” everything except a job and a responsible lifestyle.

  • online mexican store||

    The protest was interesting but I do not like the fact that some were just paid to go there.

  • Nike Dunk High||

    thanks

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