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“Occupy” Themes

November 15, 2011

Far be it from me to suggest an answer to the media criticism of the “Occupy” protests lacking a clear message, not because I do not Know, or shy from presumption, but because I believe it is so obvious that I can only assume those who ask the question are disingenuous.

I do believe, however, there are a few “Themes” that characterize the protest. I suggest the following three:

1. Massive and growing economic inequality is socially intolerable.

Please read Bill Moyers recent speech to Citizens United in which he states:

Evidence abounds that large inequalities undermine community life, reduces trust among citizens, and increases violence. In one major study from data collected over 30 years [by the epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in their book: The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger] the most consistent predictor of mental illness, infant mortality, educational achievements, teenage births, homicides, and incarceration, is economic inequality. And as Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow has written, “Vast inequalities of income weakens a society’s sense of mutual concern…The sense that we are all members of the social order is vital to the meaning of civilization.”


2. The social contract. We are not going to take is any more.

“Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom to those without wealth, income or power?”
Trenz Pruca

3. They (the 1%) are not better than the rest of us or more intelligent, more or more capable but in fact, perhaps frighteningly less so.

A recent study conducted in England published in the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, confirmed what a number of studies of Wall Street traders and other business leaders have disclosed that after testing 39 senior managers and chief executives from leading British businesses researchers Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon compared the results to the same tests on patients at Broadmoor special hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are incarcerated. On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosses’s scores either matched or exceeded those of the patients. In fact, on these criteria, they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders.

I have also been asked, some times as an accusation, are these people occupying public property in our cities, Socialists, Atheists or shudder Communists.

I like to point out in response that some undoubtedly are, as they exists in society as a whole and that I am sure one would find almost every political and ideological beliefs living in those tents. What unites them, as it unites many in the Tea party, who now find themselves frustrated by the takeover of the movement by the Republican Party and Faux News is the belief, no, the certainty, that something is rotten in the highest levels of American society. That feeling is good old American populism of which I often have written about here.

Finally, a word about the recent police actions to remove the protesters from their encampments in New York, Oakland and other locations. It is stunningly absurd when you think that the main official complaint about the encampments are their poor sanitary conditions. Instead of deploying heavily armed police, why not deploy sanitation workers? It would be better for everyone concerned were the respective local governments to deploy sanitation workers rather than the police. That by the way would be consistent with what the “Occupy” movement is all about, government decisions benefiting everyone. How about that for a change?

Points to ponder and ponderous points:

Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers. ~Aristotle

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.
~Plato

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
~John Kenneth Galbraith

Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.
~William E. Gladstone

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