From “Reinvest” to “Occupy”


The “Occupy” movement attacks only the superficial side of the problem. It’s like blaming the gardener, instead of the weather, when the flowers die.

Times are hard and our first impulse is to indict what is right in front of us, namely, banks, corporations, the people who have made money by merely observing and accurately interpreting the idiocy around them — people who have taken advantage of the economic distortions to make money.

Banks, corporations, and wealthy people happily obeyed the Community Reinvestment Act, passed by Congress, and used the cheap money created by the Fed to make obscene profits in the five years or so before 2007. Since that time, they have made even more profits by borrowing short-term money at almost zero interest rates, forced into the economy by the Fed, and investing in long-term Treasuries at 3%, the so-called carry trade. If there is a trough, there will be pigs.

The government is the ultimate source of the misallocations that have and probably will continue to impoverish “the 99%.” “Occupy” and its supporters who “believe,” in their government-school-induced darkness, that the government can “save” them from evil “capitalists” seem to be screwing their heads into a socket that produces very little light.

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Bill Merritt

Gardeners kill flowers, too. In fact, if weather were the only thing people who own gardens needed to worry about, nobody would ever hire a gardener.

Rachel NZ

Rodney I can only guess at what you consider proper thinking, but Occupy does seem to be aiming for political awareness and public discussion. That's much better than apathy, or the anti-politics of some conservatives ("shut up and get a job").

you may have heard of the Argumentative Theory of Reasoning. It basically suggests that human rationality did not evolve so that we could make good decisions alone, but rather so that we could argue with others and critically assess their responses. this would explain why we are relatively bad at reasoning alone, and tend to show a strong bias towards information that reinforces our beliefs.

This leads us to deliberative democracy, the idea of a public arena where issues are actively debated. All voices should be heard - not just politicians but also, crucially, a large variety of experts and proponents of various interests. All would have to thoroughly justify their positions, and hopefully, rationality would prevail. This sounds much better than a political system that simply polls an ill-informed and disinterested public.

In the USA there are barriers to debate. The media is increasingly conglomerated, which reduces the scope; there are many media sources that are either conservative or liberal, but few that try to critically assess anything. There is also a sizable minority of Americans who seem to renounce reason altogether. But don't lose faith in democracy, we need more public debate, not less.

Rachel NZ

Most occupy protesters are highly critical of government, not simply 'capitalists'. However you can't just blame the government for creating conditions for perfectly blameless corporations and banks to go wild. The step you seem to be missing in your analysis is why the democratic process doesn't seem to be advancing the interests of the majority of Americans.

The major reason for this is that corporations and other sources of wealth find the political system a good investment. Campaign donations, lobbyists, the revolving door policy, and control of the media are some of the ways in which the political system is manipulated and diverted away from the public interest in an undemocratic and inefficient way.

Some of the laws that wealthy special interests have sought over the years libertarians are presumably in favour of, ie lower taxes. However a great deal of them are anti-competitive and bad for the country as a whole, ie numerous subsidies and barriers to market entry.

No one should not be able to spend money to manipulate political discourse. Democracy is supposed to prevent the powerful from oppressing the majority, but the legal corruption of private dollars impedes this. Government is not inherently bad, it's what me make of it.

Rodney Choate

Reading Rachel's posting, my suspicion was awakened. Then, upon re-reading Erwin's "reflection", my hunch was confirmed. The exchange between these two is the classical liberal-conservative argument, which has produced no positive results.

The typical liberal theory is to blame economic power as the evil which drives societies ills, while the conservative side often makes the mistake of blaming "government", AS SUCH. The final form of the conservatives' position is the anarchist. Though the conservatives are somewhat closer to the truth, both sides often fail to adequately point to the actual problem- the thinking of the voters themselves. This position is embodied in my little post of Sunday, 2011-11-06, (below), though I wasn't explicitly thinking that when I wrote it. Each side deeply believes that a free system could be devised that would, somehow, not require human reason to keep it going. Until significant numbers of voters are thinking properly, we are doomed.

After the Convention, Franklin is said to have replied, "you've got a republic, madam, if you can keep it". It is this to which Franklin was referring.

Rodney Choate

Fools complain that they are/were not allowed to keep their money. But is not our society little more than a ship of fools? Even pure freedom could not save them, but only reduce their numbers to the lowest possible.

I'm afraid the few people like me will soon be walking the plank.

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