The Occupy Wall Street movement is quite romantic: thousands of disenchanted citizens
fed up with a top 1% not paying their fair share. It evokes images of Tunisia or Egypt
from the Arab Spring. Hell, some might call this our Vietnam.
But Liberty Park is not Tahrir Square, and Wall Street isn’t even on Wall Street anymore
(someone should tell them that…). The “Occupants” are not the peace-seekers of the late
60s, mainly because they aren’t really “seekers” of anything. The movement’s followers
openly admit they don’t exactly know how Wall Street works. In fact, this movement and
its lack of leadership, direction, and clear demands or goals poses no real threat to the
“system” they rail against. The best thing Occupy Wall Street has going for it has been an
unusually warm couple of weeks for October.
But it’s going to get colder. And, without goals, progress can’t be measured. If this
movement has any chance of sticking, it needs to figure out what it’s for, and not just
what it’s against.
Reporter Bob Braun observes that the protesters are there to demand economic justice,
jobs, and just flat-out recognition of their economic pain. Okay, you’ve got everyone’s
sympathy. It’s not right that the 99% bear burdens imposed by the top 1%. It’s not fair
that the banking collapse on Wall Street has hurt people on Main, Maple, and Walnut.
But what’s next?
The danger in Occupy Wall Street is the same danger presented by the Tea Party: a large,
loosely-defined organization whose members don’t know much, but know they’re pissed.
And when those people who are willing to take everything to the brink get their way, our
country doesn’t work. When the American people voted in Tea Party members, they got
exactly what they asked for when the debt crisis happened this summer: no compromise,
no better ideas, just a stalwart denial of all that is.
If the Occupiers can’t steer their ship, they’ll be done in a couple of weeks. If they
continue along the path of radicalism, they’ll be labeled as the Glenn Becks of the left.
Am I happy that members of my generation have found their voices? Absolutely. I didn’t
know they really cared. Does our economic system need reforms? Many, and they need
to come quickly.
Is capitalism as a system at fault? Nope, and to assert this proves that one is unwilling or
incapable of grappling with more complex ideas. The founders of this country
undoubtedly knew the benefits of a regulated financial sector, having just seen the effects
of the South Sea Bubble. They knew that capitalism and regulation were not mortal
enemies, and that a free market can be regulated, just enough so that the little guys don’t
get stomped on in the process. That’s why their Revolution has lived for over 230 years,
and is why this one won’t go past Thanksgiving.
Thoughts of the above post are the sole views of Mr. Mann.