It’s not as if some of the 99% don’t have good reason to be upset. Having learned very little about critical thinking in K-12, they embraced the myth that all they had to do to realize the American Dream was plunk down the money for a college degree. Some got useless degrees, and some got degrees that might have been valuable even a short while ago. But once law schools began pumping out lawyers faster than bagels, as chronicled by Glenn Reynolds, not only are law degrees of questionable value, but in the inevitable trickle down flow of economics, so, too, are paralegal degrees. Those jobs are being gobbled up by credentialed lawyer-wanna-bees. I’m pretty sure you can get a paralegal degree in 2 years at a community college.
Exhibit 1 in the “The paralegal vs. the lawyers” case. Allegation: Lawyers who paid five times as much for their degrees as I did stole my job. That’s not fair!
Setting aside the whole issue of over-education, the ennui on Wall Street movement was inevitable. Beginning sometime in the 70’s, parents, in concert with the education system, began trying to shield children from life’s inevitable disappointments rather than preparing them to deflect them. Accordingly, kids received gifts not just on their birthdays, but on their siblings birthdays as well. so as not to suffer from the trauma of getting nothing when someone else was getting something.
And so it began. Soon all teams received trophies, everyone got a gold star for something and at the end of the school year every student was honored with an “award” for not much of anything. Self esteem was as important as actual accomplishment, and everyone was “special” for something. Unfortunately this enlightened approach to education failed to clarify for the kids that once they moved out of mommy and daddy’s house (sometime around age 35), life really wasn’t going to be fair, and no one else was likely to appreciate their “specialness.”
As coincidence would have it, at that same moment in time the education system began its now decades long commitment to replacing a moral value judgment system with the self-leveling floor of moral relativism. No longer were things evaluated on the basis of “right” and “wrong.” America’s moral compass was replaced with a politically correct, multi-cultural gyroscope that was perpetually seeking, but never quite finding, equilibrium. In this brave new world, all ideas and all people were deemed equally valid. With such a tenuous tether to reality can we really blame the Gen Xers, and their Millennial followers for expecting life to be fair?
Discovering the inherent unfairness of life for the very first time while simultaneously being kicked in the teeth by an economy set on “death spiral” can be quite overwhelming. So yes, I do understand some of the disillusionment these young and young-ish Occupy Wall Streeters are feeling. I’ve been accused of being mean and heartless for not empathizing with their lot, but frankly most of them have had altogether too much empathy in their lives and way too little reality. And if taken at face value there are a lot of truly sad stories being posted. But yes, I’m skeptical. This is the “look at me” generation who learned histrionics before they graduated out of the child safety seat. Many of them are natural performers by the time they reach middle school. So do I suspect a bit of embellishment? Yes. Yes I do.
And then there is the whole group of simply pathetic whiners: “I’m doing ok because mommy and daddy could afford to send me to a great school, but I feel so bad for those of you who are not in the 1% like I am.” That’s what passes as compassion in empathy camp down at the end of the road, and to the left. “I feel your pain, man!”
Then there’s a raft of “I’m doing fine now, but that could all change in a moment” stories. Yes, it could. For any of us, for ever and always. Where’s the news here? And here, verbatim, is one of my favorites: “Is it my fault I chose happiness over money?” You have got to be kidding. What kind of a question is that? I’ll assume rhetorical. And just a tad histrionic.
I get it that some people just can’t find their way out of the tunnel with a flashlight, and that occasionally there’s a train coming from the opposite direction. But to the rest of this angry mob that has relied on the MSM for what little knowledge they have about business and economics (and it is little) all I can say is you’ve been sent in to fight straw men. And the OWS organizers are relying on your continued ignorance to keep you flailing at them through the 2012 election. Nothing smells like a Democratic victory like a ginned up grievance.
Through their media “education” the 99% have come to believe that the housing collapse was exclusively the purview of “banks” who sold “credit default swaps”- a term they learned on NPR but I sincerely doubt many could explain. They rail at corporations and corporate corruption and corporate lobbying without reflecting for a moment on the fact that their friends and OWS benefactors, big labor, are part and parcel of the crony capitalism pact as well.
My biggest problem with this group is that they don’t realize they are just the useful idiots that the people who wish to control your lives always find to do their bidding. Willing pawns.
And so they protest: believing that it is the nameless, faceless “corporations” fault that they can’t get the job they want, banks’ greed that created the housing-bubble, and the government’s responsibility to educate them (for free) heal them (for free) and pay them when they are unemployed. Like they do in all those wonderful European socialist countries they want to move to. They aren’t aware of the fact that those countries are even closer to economic collapse than we are.
We didn’t arrive at this point by accident, anymore than the OWS crowd arrived in Zuccotti park “by accident.” The Marxists-by-any-other-name have been working feverishly for half a century. They own the Left wing of this country and by extension they own the MSM – the gateway to the heart of the culture. They also own the education cartel – the gateway to the mind. Kids get leftist propaganda pumped into their heads from kindergarten on: a constant, consistent socialist philosophy promulgating the new collectivism, “social justice,” in every curriculum from geography to math. As I wrote back in 2008:
The “social justice” platform doesn’t just lean left, it takes a hard left turn head-on into the wall of socialism. The philosophy of “social justice” has become firmly entrenched in the Education schools of most colleges and universities. This philosophy teaches the subjection of the individual will for the benefit of the masses. This patently communist theory is fueling the whole contemporary education platform. What exactly is social justice? For the liberal interpretation it is a radical philosophy that is opposed to such basic American traditions as individual justice and free market economy. Nothing critical mind you, just the basis of the political system upon which our republic was founded. It supports a major redistribution of wealth through exorbitant taxation, and isn’t fond of personal property rights either.
This radical doctrine holds that America is an oppressive society that is systemically racist, sexist and classist and therefore institutionally discriminates against women, non-whites, working Americans and the poor. One of the leaders of this educational philosophy is William Ayers …editor of the Columbia Teachers College 12 volume series “Teaching for Social Justice” which is used in numerous education programs across the country. An analysis of the curriculum reveals a radical philosophical belief that free-market capitalism … is the most oppressive practice amongst a sea of oppressive practices...
Combine 12+ years of programmed classroom anti-capitalist propaganda with kids who believe they’re special and that all of their wants, needs and desires will be met, and you have created a generation of people predisposed to entitlement. Add to that predisposition the idealism of a life-unlived, a mountain of student debt, an eroding economy and you have a group ripe for agitation. Bring in the organizing arms of the two largest professional agitators on the planet – organized labor and the Democratic party - and throw in the council of the left wing media and you’ve almost guaranteed yourself a revolution.
Mark Steyn predicts it will usher in geopolitical decline of the US, with none of the niceties that accompanied Europe’s decline:
As I said, these are more or less conventional symptoms of geopolitical decline: Great powers still go through the motions but increasingly ineffectually. But what the Council on Foreign Relations types often miss is that, for the man in the street, decline can be very pleasant. In Britain, France, Spain, and the Netherlands, the average citizen lives better than he ever did at the height of Empire. Today’s Europeans enjoy more comfortable lives, have better health, and take more vacations than their grandparents did. The state went into decline, but its subjects enjoyed immense upward mobility. Americans could be forgiven for concluding that, if this is “decline,” bring it on.
But it’s not going to be like that for the United States: Unlike Europe geopolitical decline and mass downward mobility will go hand in hand. Indeed, they’re already underway. Whenever the economy goes south, experts talk of the housing “bubble,” the tech “bubble,” the credit “bubble.” But the real bubble is the 1950 “American moment,” and our failure to understand that moments are not permanent. The United States emerged from the Second World War as the only industrial power with its factories intact and its cities not reduced to rubble, and assumed that that unprecedented preeminence would last forever: We would always be so far ahead and so flush with cash that we could do anything and spend anything and we would still be Number One. That was the thinking of Detroit’s automakers when they figured they could afford to buy off the unions. The industrial powerhouse of 1950 is now a crime-ridden wasteland with a functioning literacy rate equivalent to West African basket-cases. And yes, Detroit is an outlier, but look at the assumptions its rulers made, and then wonder whether it will seem quite such an outlier in the future.
Don’t say I haven’t been trying to warn you - about Detroit I mean.
Meanwhile the ingenious force behind OWS continues to gather to their fold the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to live free and dump their wretched refuse on the golden door of Wall Street’s banks and America’s corporations. The 99% crowd is easy to make fun of (and we have: here, here and here) because of their economic and social naivety and their narcissistic neediness but we can’t simply dismiss them as a bunch of malcontents because they have powerful interests at their back.
As the professional rabble-rousers take more control and the OWS continues to take council from all of their highly trained free advisors, we are beginning to notice something on the We are the 99% site: the posters are aging in front of our eyes. It looks like the professional drum beaters are succeeding in sucking the adults into their grievance game too. Instead of trying to help their kids get a grip on reality and dealing with it, they are jumping into the pity pit along with them.
We are living in dangerous times. The Left has tapped into a vein that can provide constant lifeblood for their class warfare. Organize yourselves for the next election. I don’t care if you’ve never done anything political in your entire life: do something this time around. The opposition may be ignorant, but they are far from stupid when it comes to knowing how to agitate to get their vote out. We have to organize ours.
Although, in closing, I’ll grant you that some of them might be stupid too: