November 16, 2011

#OWS officially loses contact with reality

OK, Occupy Wall Street has posted a list of demands, talking points, or whatever. Let's not get into semantics, let's just analyze them.

1. Repeal Taft-Hartley? Absolutely. One of the few smart things on this list.
2. An $18/hour minimum wage? How idiotically stupid, clueless and uninformed can you be? That would be economically iffy in NYC or San Francisco. In Chicago, it would be harmful. In a Dallas or Atlanta, it would be destructive. Per state-by-state figures, the state of Mississippi, if everybody is working full-time, has a median household income of $18/hour. Household. A number of states are below the $18 an hour for per-capita individual income, and the U.S. as a nation is just barely over that. In short, OWS is proposing communism.
3. Six weeks of paid vacation? Not even Western European countries have more than four or five.
4. A six-hour workday? Even France's old 35-hour work week didn't go that low.
5. Allow workers to elect their own supervisors? We tried that with the volunteer Army in the Civil War and it took the better part of two years to weed out most "political" officers.
6. Lower the retirement age to 55? Social Security WILL, no hyperbole, be headed toward bankruptcy.
7. Reduce the age of majority to 16? Even as Gen Y takes even longer to grow up? (And, as the iGeneration folks who wrote this manifesto show, still haven't fully grown up.)
8. A "negative tax"? We already have that; it's the earned income credit.
9. A 5 percent wealth tax on top of a 90 percent top marginal rate?
10. Make homeschooling illegal? First, it's not just the religious right that homeschools. Second, for a movement that wants to be libertarian on social issues, that one certainly isn't.
11. Ban the private ownership of land? Really? You been watching "The Gods Must Be Crazy" too many times at OWS Friday Night at the Movies, right?

That's not to mention stupidities like a maximum wage.

That said, there's the disclaimer at top: "This content is user submitted and not an official statement." At the same time, the post is three weeks old and was originally in a subforum, so SOMEBODY boosted it to the main page. Why? C'mon, fess up, anybody who knows OWS internal machinations. WHO promoted this to the top of the main page.

In other words, OWS is trying to have it both ways again on the myths of leaderlessness and related ones.

And, beyond that, a laundry list like that does nothing but underscore my contention that a fair amount of OWS is precisely labeled by the term "iGeneration," deliberate riff on Steve Jobs and all. We can all work for more equality in life, yet bluntly admit that, even besides semi-sociopathic CEOs, life is still going to be unequal, lack guarantees, and at times, boil down to elements of luck and contingency. Too bad your helicopter mom parents, or your later half of Gen X trickle downs, led you to believe the world was not only your oyster, but an oyster that would come to you on a plate without much effort on your part, or without a heaping helping of luck.

Related to this, per this great podcast by left-liberal journalist and economist Doug Henwood, OWS has little nuance, little depth of understanding of fiscal realities in a country of 310 million and, yes, has leaders .... specifically, "a small cabal." Henwood has a summary of part of the podcast, in text form, here. (Basically, he says, moving your money to a credit union won't solve much.)

Speaking of OWS, too ... will it actually do anything for the two-month "anniversary" tomorrow? Odds are 2,000 people occupy the subways and at least one gets punched in the face, and that anybody causing any trouble in front of the NYSE gets arrested on New York's version of "engaging in organized criminal activity" or something. Update: I may have been generous. News accounts list "hundreds" and not more in the financial district.

I'm beginning to think that OWS is in a race with the medieval Children's Crusade for level of childishness. Yes, I "drifted" through most my 20s, but it was while working, most of that time, or else working through a boatload of family psychology.

That said, I'm not unsympathetic to at least part of OWS "rank and file." Not only am I not unsympathetic to non-Communist, reality-based OWS ideas, I'd like for them to succeed. As I told several people during a Facebook conversation thread, that's how OWS's "backers" differ from, say, the 1960s civil rights movement.

What that movement had was A: Plenty of leadership. B. Leadership in the open. C. Leadership willing to take responsibility. None of that, IMO, describes Adbusters or Anonymous, nor will it in weeks and months ahead. If OWS is to wind up accomplishing anything, it will have to move in the direction of A/B/C and without Adbusters/Anonymous leaderless underground "leadership." I truly hope OWS can do that. But ... I won't hold my breath. In part, that's because it is such a youth movement. Even for Obama 08, youth voting rates in the US didn't tick upward all that much. (That's as much a myth as is his "small donors" campaign fundraising in 2008.)

Again, I'd love for it to succeed. But, I'm not holding my breath. And, this is why I'm skeptical about my own left-liberal political world, too.


You're Wrong said...

An excellent post. I sympathy with the movement, but these demands are ridiculous, and overtly communist.
I'm always skeptical of humans rights, equality, or green movements (And on my Uni campus, I see so many of them), that use their ideaology to hide and promote marxism, or communism as the solution to problems. I'm not opposed to socialism, but I understand that they're not the only solution, and by suggesting they are, groups like these misrepresent views that agree with them on their disguising viewpoint.

You're Wrong said...

Oops, I meant sympathise.