Some poor guy in New York was trying to get to work, and some Occupy Wall Street people were blocking his way, and one of them explained why. “This society is stopping a lot of people from going to work,” the person told a Los Angeles Times reporter. “It’s OK that we’re stopping people one day.”
No it’s not, but the rationale sums up a whole lot that’s wrong with a movement that seems to believe the First Amendment guarantees a right to harass pedestrians, block traffic for hours, destroy public property and damage small businesses through customer deterrence and restroom havoc.
I think the First Amendment guarantees other things, such as free speech and free press, and I am going to take advantage of those rights in explaining why I think the Occupy mobs differ from the unfairly, viciously castigated Tea Party in roughly the same way the American Revolution differed from the French Revolution.
Both revolutions aimed at equal rights and liberty, but Americans exacted no horrific vengeance on Tories after the fighting was done, and soon established a republic that has stayed intact to this day. It wasn’t long before the French Revolution evolved into the Reign of Terror, during which those seen as enemies of the dictatorship got to see what a guillotine felt like. It was the rich, the aristocrats, who were most hated, though what happened fairly quickly was a different kind of aristocracy under Napoleon.
Some Tea Party activists have had their problems with Wall Street bailouts, but few are yelping about using tax hikes to get even with some 1 percent supposedly shirking their share and lording it over the rest of us because of their wealth. They want limited government, not still more regulatory, ever-demanding excesses, and they have been orderly. Some objectionable signs have been seen and there was an unverified incident of maybe a few people using a racial slur, but that is about it.
Envy and resentment
To the extent that you can ferret out meaning from the rhetorical escapades of the Occupiers, they want unending freebies at the expense of the rest of us and think capitalism a horrible system. They believe the rich are ripping everyone else off by not getting taxed their fair share and assume these rich people are the ruling equivalent of Louis XVI. At least figuratively, they want their heads chopped off. They see more government as a way out, and their mode of operation is French mob chaos. I am not sure what percentage are anti-Semitic. Let’s hope those worrying about “Jewish bankers” represent a tiny number.
The movement was egged on in its envy and resentment, you know. In a style that would make Huey Long proud, Barack Obama and the aristocracy of academic elites around him have been barking about greedy Wall Street, overfed CEOs and corporate evils since 2008. He has said the rich don’t pay their fair share when in fact he absolutely has to know that the rich pay most of the taxes in this country and that his predecessor, George W. Bush, did more to relieve middle- and low-income groups of tax burdens than he has dreamed of.
This joblessness we are now suffering was primarily instigated not by too little government, but by too much — as in trying to enable those who cannot afford home mortgages to get stuck with them anyway. What we need from government now is not more of the same — as in Obama promising a million of those owing student loans that the taxpayers will relieve them of much of their obligation — but less of the same, as in Congress agreeing to a debt fix involving both tax and entitlement reform.
A number of Democrats have already aligned themselves with these Occupiers, but it just may be that the average voter will not like being pushed around anymore than that guy on his way to work in New York, and average voters count for more than the rich any day.