Disclaimer: I am neither conservative nor liberal. I criticize both heavily. I never, ever vote for either Republicans or Democrats (and frankly, you shouldn’t either).
I really have been trying to not talk about this, but I just can’t stand it. (And a few of you have asked.) Since I last posted about this, the protests have spread all over the country, and violence has started to erupt in earnest.
The Violence, and Who’s Really At Fault
As in all situations like this, both sides need to calm down for a minute. The “They’re a bunch of hippies, get them the hell outta our city!” side and the “Fascist cops attacked us! We weren’t doing anything wrong!” side both need to take a deep breath, calm the emotions for a minute, and turn on their brains.
I’ll take the violence in Oakland as an example. The facts of the situation as I understand them are:
1. There were several hundred protesters more or less obeying the law and protesting peacefully.
2. Some protesters began vandalizing private property.
3. Fights started breaking out amongst the protesters.
4. On two occasions, protesters did not allow ambulance personnel to enter into the protest area to assist the wounded.
5. Because of all this, the city finally decided to move the protesters, and sent in the cops.
6. The protesters moved peacefully.
7. A few hours later, the protesters came back in much larger numbers, screaming and yelling at the police. Some of them threw glass bottles at the cops.
8. As they always do in situations like this, the cops reacted badly, using way more force than was necessary, sometimes directly firing at unarmed protesters (yes, I saw the videos).
9. Some people got seriously hurt.
10. Both sides now blame the other and claim innocence of wrongdoing.
(If I got any of the above facts wrong, please let me know and source your assertion, but those are the facts as I understand them.)
As you can see, once you look at the facts, it’s clear that, as is usually the case, there is tons of blame on both sides. All over the world it always happens the same way. Left-liberals protest, do stupid shit, the cops come in and use extremely excessive and ridiculous force, a lot of people get hurt, then everyone blames each other while throwing up their hands claiming innocence. Both sides = dumb.
My conclusions are:
1. Progressives really, really need to learn how to protest peacefully and learn to keep their rage issues to a minimum. Martin Luther King would not approve. Rushing at armed police officers while screaming at them? Throwing bottles at them? I don’t care if I might agree with your message, that’s just dumb. It also damages your message and completely destroys your moral high ground. Yeah, the cops were animals, but so were you.
2. Police officers clearly shown to be using excessive force against unarmed civilians (especially if there’s video showing it), should not only be terminated without pay immediately, but also should immediately be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law, up to and including jail time.
Do I think either one of these things will ever happen? Nope.
The Positions of the Protesters
I’ll repeat what I said in my first post about this. Even if I don’t agree with all of their positions, I’m glad that people are protesting. Anything that freaks out the government and the power structure is a good thing, especially when the government is thoroughly corrupt like ours. Voting to change government no longer works (and hasn’t for at least the last 20 years). Writing your congressman no longer works. Bitching on political blogs or radio talk shows doesn’t work. However, huge protests and strikes might work. So, good. There’s a huge strike in Oakland scheduled for tomorrow and I’m 100% behind it (as long as you guys can stay non-violent!). If executed correctly, that will really piss off the government. Excellent. (Again, assuming the “peace-loving” liberals can stay civil and keep things non-violent. I’m not optimistic about that part. I’m reasonably sure some of the younger liberal hotheads will throw something at some cop who’s just itching to shoot someone. I’ll lay the odds at about 50/50.)
Now to the protesters’ actual positions. According to Wikipedia, the demands of the Occupy Wall Street protests sum up as follows:
…more and better jobs, more equal distribution of income, less profit (or no profit) for banks, lower compensation for bankers, and more strictures on banks with regard to negotiating consumer services such as mortgages and debit cards. They also want to reduce the influence that corporations—financial firms in particular—wield in politics, and they want a more populist set of government priorities: bailouts for student debtors and mortgage holders, not just for banks…
That’s a lot of demands, which is part of this movement’s problem. The more complicated your message is, the less effective it is. I’m not saying the Tea Party’s message was much better, but it was certainly less complicated and there was much less confusion about it. Simple is good.
Regardless, I’ll tackle each one.
more and better jobs
100% agree. The current unemployment rate is unacceptable.
more equal distribution of income
I agree, HOWEVER, the primary reason for the income disparity in the United States is because of the government coddling and bailing out of certain very wealthy people. So I’m for a more equal “distribution” of income as long as it’s the result of government getting the hell out of the banking business (and the insurance business, and the auto business, and the energy business, and healthcare, etc.). I am not for government taxing one group of people and giving it to another group of people (after the government takes their 60% cut of course). I’m sorry guys, but Europe already tried that and they’re in worse financial shape than we are. Go take a vacation in Greece if you don’t believe me.
less profit (or no profit) for banks
Half agree. There is nothing wrong with banks making a profit as long as government never gives banks or bankers any money.
more strictures on banks with regard to negotiating consumer services such as mortgages and debit cards
Completely agree with the goal and the spirit behind this position. Disagree with the method. Instead of imposing more rules on banks, just let them go out of business when they make bad loans. Let them get sued into oblivion if they rip customers off. Then this is all a moot point. When big banks start failing left and right because no one is bailing them out, when banks are losing billions because of successful class action lawsuits, when fatcat bankers are getting fired and losing their retirements, trust me, banks will stop ripping people off and blowing people’s money. You won’t need another 50,000 pages of arcane regulations the banks will just find ways around.
I’m not for more governmental regulation of banks, I’m for removing all governmental protection of banks. It’s trillions of dollars less expensive and (eventually) accomplishes the same exact thing.
reduce the influence that corporations—financial firms in particular—wield in politics
Absolutely 100% agree. This is where I’m in total solidarity with liberals/progressives and where I support the protests the most.
Let me add one more thought to that. If government had very little power, then corporations won’t bother trying to influence it. Something to think about.
bailouts for student debtors and mortgage holders, not just for banks
Annnnnnndd this is where everything falls down. Completely disagree. You can’t say “Don’t bail THESE people out, instead bail THESE people out!” It destroys your entire argument and I’m still astonished that progressives don’t see that. The government shouldn’t bailing ANYONE out. Namely because it DOESN’T HAVE ANY MORE MONEY. If government never bailed anyone out, it would always have plenty of money for things it does need, like roads and firetrucks. But because government spends all its money bailing out banks, insurance companies, auto companies, poor people, stupid people, old people, Haliburton, foreign dictators, “green” companies, etc, now it doesn’t even have money to build fucking roads. Have you driven on a southern California freeway lately? It’s ridiculous. Our roads are starting to look like a third-world country because big, fat, stupid government is spending all its (borrowed) cash bailing everyone out who cries Mommie. Because of this (and Presidents Bush and Obama) we are now 14 trillion dollars in debt with an additional almost 60 trillion in unfunded future liabilities. This. Is. Insane.
The government of the United States is now mathematically guaranteed to collapse because of this “bail out” attitude of the liberals and the conservatives. We don’t know when it will collapse, and we don’t know how bad the collapse will be or what form the collapse will take. But it WILL collapse. It’s guaranteed no matter what we do at this point. (Why do you think I’m setting up a financial base in Asia?) All we can do is minimize the damage by having the government back off on everyone and focus on critical services like roads and bridges, not bailing out corrupt bankers or stupid college students.
Sadly most people don’t see it this way, so this will all just get worse.
It’s just getting started…