‘Occupy’ stands up for middle class

October 26, 2011


I don’t eat tofu.

In college, I didn’t major in improvisational dance. I dislike the outdoors, and dislike outdoorsiness even more. I think science is the best means we have for understanding the world, and that capitalism is the greatest force for good in it.

Why am I telling you all this? So you’ll understand how strange it is that I’m about to praise the Occupy Wall Street protesters and their ragtag brethren in other cities. I want you to see that I’m practically the last person on Earth who’d normally approve of such a thing.

Well, maybe not the very last person. Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, might be the last person. But I’m high on the list. I defend Wal-Mart at dinner parties. I oppose the corporate income tax, since it falls haphazardly on the wrong people while encouraging wasteful contortions by business.

Yet here I am, defending the protesters. The reason is that I fear the political system has been largely hijacked by interests hostile to middle-class Americans, who’ve suffered for years while the top 1 percent of earners has enjoyed enormous gains.

That doesn’t mean the richest Americans are bad people. It just happens that the world has changed in ways that heap ever more rewards on the best educated workers, as well as those in certain select sectors, such as finance. Technology and globalization have been big drivers of this trend.

But not all these changes are the result of forces beyond anyone’s control. When Congress decided to tax earned income more harshly than capital gains, that was a political decision. The near-death of private-sector unions is partially suicide, but federal labor policies haven’t helped.

Middle-class Americans, meanwhile, have seen much of their home equity wiped out. Their retirement savings have been pounded in the stock market. Many lack jobs. The young are burdened by nearly $1 trillion in student debt.

These hard-pressed Americans have noticed that when banks were teetering, taxpayer funds rescued them. It was the right decision, and most of the money has been repaid. But after the bailout, the banks went right back to handing out huge bonuses and opposing regulations that might make a future meltdown less likely.

What does the government do? President Barack Obama proposes feeble jobs programs, and congressional Republicans block them. The real answer, they say, is lower taxes, cutting government and fewer regulations. Meanwhile, Jane and Joe Sixpack, tough luck.

While 50 million Americans lack health care, and medical expenses cause (according to one study) 60 percent of bankruptcies, Republican candidates outdo one another in their opposition to the president’s health care reforms. Florida has even turned down federal money that would have helped move elderly and disabled folks from nursing homes to their own homes.

Herman Cain, in his presidential bid, has proposed a massive shift of the tax burden to those who can least afford it.

People know what’s going on. But only some quixotic protesters in lower Manhattan seem willing to voice their outrage. And as long as they don’t block the roads or break the law, God bless them.

Did I mention that I have a special loathing for public disorder?

That I hate piercings, and sneer at Birkenstocks? That I’m a conscientious objector in the war on gluten? That nothing short of foreclosure could make me sleep on the ground?

Sadly, it may yet come to that, for many of us who think of ourselves as middle class. Meanwhile it’s nice to know Occupy Wall Street is sleeping on the ground for me.

— Daniel Akst, a columnist for Newsday, is the author of “We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess” from Penguin Press.


FalseHopeNoChange 6 years, 7 months ago

"Herman Cain, in his presidential bid, has proposed a massive shift of the tax burden to those who can least afford it."

I can least 'afford' people like you Akst. I can no longer afford to give people in the government my money to pay for your luxury services.

If people cannot 'afford' to live in this country then move to Haiti. Or Mexico. Or Canada. Or China. Move someplace you can 'afford'

Like Obama said on Leno. "I'm going to wait for them to be voted off the Island"

Getaroom 6 years, 7 months ago

But you can afford to support Corporate America in ruining a society that was once built on the principles of a fair Democracy? The Occupy groups, now numbering in the tens of thousands in just 5 weeks, makes you uncomfortable why? They are giving voice to a global wide issue of inequality. You think they are all dead beats? Akst's article is a weak form of support of the Occupy movement and I have little or no respect for his viewpoints.

esteshawk 6 years, 7 months ago

They do - they're called taxes. And theres a little thing known as the First Amendment that protects their right to petition the government for redress of grievences, to peacible assemble, and the right to free speach. Only a Conservative would think otherwise.

roadwarrior 6 years, 7 months ago

excuse me. the govt didn't do that, we did. Regardless of 'who paid what' it is still owned by 'we the people'.

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

Calvin Coolidge said . After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world." Due to the corruption in government and business, however, "prospering" is no longer an option for 99% of the world's people. Corporations did not build America. The laborers did. The only wealth redistribution that has occurred over the last 30 years is from the working class to the uber-rich. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/124xx/doc12485/10-25-HouseholdIncome.pdf

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

Any evidence that this columnist is having his "luxury services" paid for by tax dollars?

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

Expat Haitians support OWS http://www.iacenter.org/haiti/wallstreet-haiti101411// In the first few days of the movement, China was gloating...until they realized it could happen there and imposed censorship. Canada has numerous Occupy sites and there is also support in Mexico. It is a global movement. Here in the U.S.according to a CBS poll released yesterday, 43% of Americans agree with the Occupiers and 30% were unsure.

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

Nope. I already have an imaginary job. I raise unicorns in the marshmallow mountains.I also have a real job; I'm self-employed.

kernal 6 years, 7 months ago

Gee FHNC, thanks for suggesting Canada. I would love to live in British Columbia! Just one little problem - Canada's cost of living has been higher than ours for decades!

Grundoon Luna 6 years, 7 months ago

What you are saying about the Occupy movement is completely wrong, utterly ridiculous, and a dramatic over simplification of what it's all about and what is actually happening in reality. While the actual occupiers may not be working, they are supported by thousands of people, like myself, who do work. We are sick of sacrificing and failing further behind each year while merit increases don't keep up with inflation, largely due to increasing health care costs, while the fat cats who buy politicians to slant things in their favor are enriched as never been before.

While demonstrating on Mass street Saturday several people either stated or shout at us, "Get a job!" You might as well say, "Let them each cake!" because each sentiment demonstrates the same level of understanding of what the Occupy movement about for the occupiers and their supporters and demonstrates how so out of touch with reality the speaker is.

My sign, "The Invisible Hand of the Free Market Touched Me in a Bad Place," is an expression of my feelings about how my 401(k) was violated due to the malfeasance of the Wall Street crowd and a sentiment appreciated by the many retirees also demonstrating. Who has 401(k)s? Workers do!! And retirees do as well, and we have these schmucks out there screaming at us to get a job.

And one more thing, those people you want so much to get a job, my bet is if they don't already have one they would really, really like to.

Revolt is in progress. Get ready.

Grundoon Luna 6 years, 7 months ago

"...eat cake . . " Damn typos! Have at you!!

voevoda 6 years, 7 months ago

Last I checked, just about everybody in this country was getting "free stuff," from the wealthiest corporate executive to the poorest homeless person. Or you can think about it another way: all of us pay taxes, and so all of us are paying for the "free stuff." Yes, all of us--some of us pay lots of different kinds of taxes, and some of us pay only sales or excise taxes, but all of us pay. Some a higher percentage of their income, and some a lower percentage, although not related directly to the total income. The "blame the poor" movement does a disservice to Christian values. And to American values.

fancy80 6 years, 7 months ago

The "blame the poor" movement does a disservice to Christian values.
So does being jealous of the rich and the "things" they have. I am not insinuating that you, personally are blaming the rich or are jealous, but just stating that for every one person that blames the poor, there is a person blaming the rich. I just don't think rich people are the problem.

There has been a concentrated effort on the part of this administration and main stream media to start a class war.

Grundoon Luna 6 years, 7 months ago

Isn't that a bit adolescent to chalk it all up to a you're-just-jealous attitude? The scales have been seriously tilted in favor of the wealthy to the detriment of the public good. And to say it's all about the poor is a big mistake. It's about the middle class just as much if not more. Take me for example. I am the 99%, yes, but I am the 53%, too.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

All power to the soviets! (from a source)

voevoda 6 years, 7 months ago

Did your source include the following: "Bread--Peace--Land"? It should have; it's a lot more pertinent to the Occupy movement.

kernal 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm sure the Oakland police going in there at 4:30 to 5:00am, under orders of a mayor who is facing a possible recall, and shooting tear gas with no warning at people sleeping in tents, with their children, had nothing to do with anything.

kernal 6 years, 7 months ago

BAA, San Francisco Chronicle. Where did you read yours?

pepper_bar 6 years, 7 months ago

The Oakland protesters - including the idiots who brought their children to a protest - were warned repeatedly that they were about to be tear gassed.

voevoda 6 years, 7 months ago

its_just_math, Perhaps you don't realize that a lot of the Occupy movement people do have jobs, and come to support the movement after work or on their lunchhour. You didn't assume that the Tea Party people were demostrating because they didn't have jobs, even though they complained about their economic straits, too. So why assume this about the Occupy people? You didn't assume that all the Tea Party people just liked to hang out, sing hymns, and drink beer, so why do you assume that the Occupy people just hang out, beat drums, and smoke marijuana? You make assumptions based on whether you approve of the thrust of the movement, not based on the objective evidence concerning the people involved.

fancy80 6 years, 7 months ago

Because everyone was too busy assuming all tea party people were racists...

Fossick 6 years, 7 months ago

"These hard-pressed Americans have noticed that when banks were teetering, taxpayer funds rescued them. It was the right decision..."

It was the wrong decision. The banks were teetering because they acted stupidly, and if you reward stupidity, you get more of it. There are no 'regulations' that make can make a meltdown less likely when the government is at the same time rewarding short-sightedness.

Of course, it's precisely the same stupidity that results in people with $50k in student loan debt sleeping on the ground for Daniel Akst. Government guarantees to not lend themselves to good long-term decision making. Not for banks, not for students, not for mortgages.

Robert Schehrer 6 years, 7 months ago

There is an article in todays's USA Today how the middle class is shrinking. The article shows the decline by city. For Lawrence the decline since 2006 was 1.8 %. This has been going for sometime. Much longer than 2006. It could have been avoided with different governmnent policies. The longer we put it off the more difficult it will be to ifix.

imastinker 6 years, 7 months ago

Did you read the article? They interview a bunch of people who failed to plan for retirement and have absolutely no savings at all.

There's a 53 y/o lady who hasn't even lost her job and is struggling on 80k/yr. She's paying for her daughters college when she doesn't have to, and struggling because of her own decisions.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 7 months ago

The runaway inflation that will result from Obama, Bernanke, and Geithner's having simply printed more money to create "stimulus" spending is what will ultimately hurt the middle class the most.

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

So...the Occupy movement is protesting against Obama and his continuation of Bush's policies because they support him? Meanwhile, from the land of actual facts, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/124xx/doc12485/10-25-HouseholdIncome.pdf From 1979-2007,"After tax income increased by 275% for the wealthiest 1% of Americans but by just 18% for the poorest 20%, the report said. In addition, the report revealed that in 2005-2007, the years immediately preceding the financial crisis, the top 20% of the population earned more after-tax income than the entire bottom 80%." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15469096

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

The Occupy movement may have their first martyr. Marine Scott Olsen, who served two yours in Iraq, was hit in the head by a police projectile and is now in critical condition. And regarding the alleged OWS-ACORN relationship, unnamed sources are not convincing. Even if true, are you arguing that there are only 100 people participating? Acorn has operatives globally?

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

So you think it's okay for a war veteran to be shot by police while on a public street. Got it. Got a name for that "source" yet, or should we just assume they just made it up?

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

"Sources told FOXNews.com that the former director of New York ACORN, Jon Kest, and his top aides are now busy working at protest events for New York Communities for Change (NYCC)...Sources said NYCC has hired about 100 former ACORN-affiliated staff members from other cities -- paying some of them $100 a day -- to attend and support "Occupy Wall Street." Dozens of New York homeless people recruited from shelters are also being paid to support the protests, at the rate of $10 an hour, the sources said.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/ex_acorn_operatives_playing_role_s3zSPpX4NnFRoMpEGIxUBK#ixzz1c347Mwj3

Name names.

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

Donations from supporters. That's why they have accounts set up. That's why they, like the Wisconsin demonstrators earlier in the year, are getting donated pizzas paid for by people all over the world. http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2011/09/19/pizza-orders-from-around-the-world-a-sign-occupywallstreet-could-last-awhile/ OWS is not the Tea Party, with clearly documented ties to the Koch brothers' AFP and other front groups. By the way, do we have the names of those "sources" yet, or should we just go ahead and assume Fox made it up as usual?

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

"Koch fronts are busing in Tea Party protesters to support Walker and his union-busting campaign. Last night, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz reported on the involvement of Club for Growth and the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity in the pro-Walker protest scheduled tomorrow." http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/18/946953/-The-Walker-Koch-AFP-Tea-Party-Connection http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/opinion/29rich.html?pagewanted=all http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/koch-industries-denies-funding-freedomworks Well, they just go on and on. Please retract your false accusation that I am lying.

kernal 6 years, 7 months ago

Fox News? Oh, puhleese. Until I see it from a reputable news entity, the story is suspect. About the only person at Fox who still has a brain and can think on his own is Bill Reilly.

pace 6 years, 7 months ago

lol attack the people don't argue the facts. go fox go.

Grundoon Luna 6 years, 7 months ago

Some people have no ability to comprehend what their reading and that app;lies to the majority of the posters here. Mr. Akst is obviously a capitalist, he says that pretty much, and I'd bet money he votes republican. He is stating he understands why the occupiers are doing what they do and believes they are correct. He's on the money. I find it refreshing that someone who is my polar opposite in many respects gets it. There is common ground to be had. It's too bad there are so many for which common ground and compromise is a foreign concept.

kernal 6 years, 7 months ago

Maybe it's not necessarily their inability to comprehend a concept, it's that they've developed such a rigid mindset they are scared to death to think they may need to reconsider their way of looking at a situation.

Liberty275 6 years, 7 months ago

"I don’t eat tofu."

You probably do, but just don't know it.

As for anyone standing up for me, they shouldn't presume to have that authority. If I need their help, I'll ask.

Liberty275 6 years, 7 months ago

I figured out why don't like agnostics; they lack faith, which in turn prevents them from embracing nihilism. I knew there was something.

If I lately asked anything of the "99%" group, I don't recall it. If I had, the answer was probably "yes we do have McRibs".

Pete Kennamore 6 years, 7 months ago

I suggest they pack up thier camps and occupy a job

beatrice 6 years, 7 months ago

Because, you know, jobs are just so easy to find these days thanks to the tax cuts for the wealthy we have in place. After all, everyone knows how well trickle-down economics works.

Pete Kennamore 6 years, 7 months ago

The problem isn't lack of jobs, it's lack of qualified candidates. Where I work we have numerous high paying job openings and have had for months and months. However a communications or art history major just won't substitute for an engineer. Find out what the market needs, get those skills and presto, a job!

pace 6 years, 7 months ago

Are you claiming you believe the Bush tax cuts have created jobs?

Katara 6 years, 7 months ago

Yes, because the education needed to become an engineer is just so affordable right now.

Katara 6 years, 7 months ago

So you are going to insult people who work at McDonald's now?

It is funny how when people are unemployed, then answer is to get a job - any job including McDonald's - because work is better than welfare but when people are actually working there, it is okay to mock them for working at a fast food restaurant.

Katara 6 years, 7 months ago

I worked at McDonald's to help put myself through college. I also worked in the dish tank at one of the dorm's cafeterias.

Are you going to tell me that I should have taken out the limit in student loans and max out the credit cards instead to accomplish earning my degree?

This is why it is difficult to take seriously people such as yourself and Mike_Gerhardt.

You have no ability to be consistent. People should not be on welfare but when they do take on honest and hard working jobs, you fell they deserve to be mocked because you don't feel those jobs are worthy of respect.

It is funny that so many "conservatives" accuse liberals of elitism because that is exactly what you exhibit in these situations.

Katara 6 years, 7 months ago

No, you didn't "only ask" if I worked at McD's.

There was an intention to insult just as Mike_Gerhardt's post was intended to insult.

And the faux indignation that your "innocent" question was something other than that doesn't suit you very well.

esteshawk 6 years, 7 months ago

If conservatives had their way, we would still be part of England. Why do we think that "the patriots" are the only group allowed to create their own government? Why is it that so many wingnuts do not want to acknowledge the world is changing, and the people of the country have a right to create the government they want for the times they live in (not some mythical past that cons want us to "return to?" If this means mandating health coverage for all, why not? Obama ran on that platform, and was elected in a landslide.

This is the only remotely "socialist agenda" Obama has - if not wingnuts, please let me know others that you always rant about without providing any examples).

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

  1. If we stop paying attention to our founding principles, then we are at risk of violating them, depending on whomever is in power at the time, and the whim of the majority.

  2. Obama was not in fact elected in a landslide, any more than Brownback was elected by a majority of Kansans - there was about a 60% turnout, and he got a little more than 1/2 of that. So he was elected by a little more than 30% of eligible voters.

And, I'm anything but a "right wingnut", so please don't call me that.

Armored_One 6 years, 7 months ago

So what would be so horrible with every citizen over the age of 17 paying the government 20 bucks per grand they make in a given month?

For a business, 10% and leave it at that.

I hear all this outcry over the "working class" and "middle class", but honestly, something like 47% of this nation pays nothing in taxes. Nothing.

Assuming, and I know this number is a bit low, that there are 300 million people in this country, 20 bucks a month would be 1.5 billion, and after 12 months, 18 billion. Lump in at least 10 times that from businesses, and before other sources of income for the government, the citizens have provided close to 200 billion dollars.

Yes, I know not everyone makes a grand a month. I also know that there are people that make 3 or 4 grand a month. It's fair because it's the same amount for everyone, which is supposed to be the goal, isn't?

Hell, if someone could go through and do the legwork to find out a rough headcount on how many people fall into each grand breakdown, I'd guarantee that number would probably be a lot closer to a trillion than not.

I mean, think about it. Some businesses are recording billions in profits. That isn't chump change, and using a flat number will make all businesses equal in the eyes of the law as well.

Only problem is simple answers are usually beyond the mental capacity of the simple minded people we end up voting into office.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

47% pay no federal income taxes - they almost certainly pay a number of other taxes, including property, sales, etc.

Your figure works out to about a 2% income tax rate, if I'm calculating it correctly - would you eliminate all deductions, etc. as well?

And, businesses would cry bloody murder at having to pay 5x the rate individuals pay, I would bet.

Flat tax rates have the plus side of being the same for everybody, but since a flat rate is more of a bite for those on the low end of the income scale, they're not really "fair" in that sense.

Armored_One 6 years, 7 months ago

Jafs, your comment about flat taxes not being fair is a bit misleading.

A percentage or a flat tax, either way, those with less income will notice it a bit more.

There isn't a way to make it fair either direction, so a flat, set amount every month is at least more predictable than a percentage that would need to be calculated to figure out your paycheck in advance.

As for businesses, some allowances could be made for deductions, like diesel fuel for semi trucks and what not like that. Contributions to actual, established charities, like United Way or Salvation Army.

But, since I am not a politician, any idea pinging around in my head won't go much of anywhere.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

That's why we have a graduated (progressive) income tax, so that those at the bottom pay a lower percentage of their income.

"It's fair because it's the same amount for everyone"

You said it was fair - I simply disagreed with that. I agree that it's very difficult to create a "fair" tax system, and that none of the proposals are completely convincing.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

Better than I imagine McCain/Palin would have been.

fancy80 6 years, 7 months ago

Where did they conduct their poll? In what city? Or did they ask viewers of MSNBC to vote? These things are important to know when considering some poll results.

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

Why don't you access the poll and find out how the itl was done? The link is posted.

Corey Williams 6 years, 7 months ago

Other than hijacking town hall meetings by shouting down the speakers? Or carrying signs at rallies that said "we came unarmed this time"? Yeah, I remember all of that. It's funny that so many who supported the tea party protests are all up in arms about this.
And if the protests are not doing anything, why are any of you talking about it?

Corey Williams 6 years, 7 months ago

Yes, yes. Of course everything you say is truth. Why didn't I see it before? Oh dear lord, why didn't I see it before?

Sorry. I tried it, just to see things from your point of view. But I can't do it. It's really uncomfortable and kind of hard to breathe. How do you do it? How do you live with your head that far up your own rectum?

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 7 months ago

I agree with the writer of this column.

However, there are a few differences between myself and most liberals. Therefore, I cannot trust liberals or conservatives, the right or the left. Both are not that interested in protecting the rights of the middle class or care about our future.

Gun Control: I am suspicious of gun control and whenever I have seen gun control advocates unleashed, they pass laws which are way over the top. Gun control advocates without their disguises are gun haters. I believe law abiding citizens should be allowed to carry concealed hand guns.

Religion: Oftentimes I hear liberals denouncing religion and in particular Christianity. They mock religion as a belief in "Sky Gods". I don't know where this comes from but this makes me mistrustful of liberals who disregard the role of Christianity in American and World history and emphasize the negatives.

Economics: It is scary to hear an economist promote ideas that call for huge increases in Government spending as the cure for an ailing economy. Many liberal economists have promoted the idea of spending and increased government control as a way to cure our economic problems. In most cases. they do not understand the role of private industry in creating jobs.

What we have today is a polarization of extremes and politicians who are poor leaders and even worse managers are trying to force the American people to take sides. They spend billions of dollars campaigning and paying consultants to write their speeches, issue statements and pay off journalists to write daily propaganda pieces. They rely on these experts to tell them what the American people are thinking.

I can tell you what the American people are thinking and I won't charge a dime.

Throw the bums out.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

Yes, trouble in the Democratic People's Republic of OWS. "The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday -- because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters. For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad. They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day..." Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/zuccotti_hell_kitchen_i5biNyYYhpa8MSYIL9xSDL#ixzz1bzYAChsx

pepper_bar 6 years, 7 months ago

Occupy Oakland is calling for a general strike on Wed. Nov. 2. Occupy Lawrence's facebook page suggests the local group is on board.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

Some freelance redistribution of wealth going on. "Organizers of Occupy Portland say they fear as much as $20,000 donated to the group through a PayPal account has disappeared. They also say the group's finance committee has hijacked the demonstration's Internet domain name and filed for incorporation against the wishes of the group's decision-making body. The demonstrator who filed the papers with the state said she did so to protect the protest, and she has received death threats as a result..." http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/10/occupy_portland_as_much_as_200.html

tbaker 6 years, 7 months ago

So what does Mr. Akst propose? More government? Every time we deviate from Constitution’s republican framework of limited government, we lose. Every time we proceed on the assumption that that free men and women are not capable of governing themselves and running their own lives, we fail as a country. The liberal progressive idea that we need to put our faith in the rule of unelected benevolent experts and trust them to "care" for us with more regulations governing every aspect of our lives is tyranny. These occupy children need to grow up and care for themselves. If they want the government to "care" for them so that they don't have to navigate the impenetrable mysteries of daily life, then they can move to Cuba. Socialism doesn’t work. How many more examples of that fact do we need? Name one society on the planet that doesn’t run on the so-called “greed” these indolent FleaBaggers are whimpering about. Human beings - this entire world - runs on individual human beings pursuing their own separate self-interests. It’s human nature. Every one of us is a unique individual. All the great achievements of civilization did not come from some government bureaucrat. They came from individuals pursuing their dreams/self-interests. The ONLY cases in recorded history in which human beings have escaped the horrors of grinding, generational poverty and hopelessness have come from where they had capitalism and largely free markets. If Mr. Akst wants to know where the masses of common people are the worst off, it is exactly in the kinds of societies he proposes. History is crystal clear on this point: there is no recorded way to improve the lot of ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activates that are unleashed by a free enterprise system. If there is something wrong with Wall Street, it’s that the government won’t let the failures fail like they are supposed to. If the Fleabaggers want something to complain about, they should start with all the government bail outs.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

  1. He didn't advocate for socialism.

  2. There's a definite and distinct difference between self-interest, enlightened self-interest, and greed.

  3. If human beings only pursued their separate and distinct self-interest, many things would never get done at all - in order to accomplish almost anything, people need to join together and work together.

  4. According to a study I saw, the happiest people in the world live in Denmark.

  5. The Occupy movement is complaining about the bailouts - I'm not sure how you missed that point.

deec 6 years, 7 months ago

Apparently "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out" is too subtle.

tbaker 6 years, 7 months ago

  1. Government manipulation of free enterprise is a socialistic.
  2. Define greed. People pursuing their own self-interest is not greed.
  3. Groups form because they SHARE similar self-interests. No self-interest = no group.
  4. I was not explaining how to produce happy societies.
  5. If bailouts / government intrusion in the free enterprise system was their central issue, the protests would be huge because many Tea Party people would join them. As it is, occupy Fleabaggers are losing their protest permits because of public masturbation.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

  1. Socialism is defined as an economic system in which there is no private property.

  2. That's what I said - greed is not synonymous with self-interest. Greed is defined as excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness.

  3. Sometimes - my point is that the worship of the individual misses something.

  4. Ah - I see. You're not interested in societies that produce happy people. I guess your criteria are a bit different than mine.

  5. "If the...want something to complain about, they should start with all the government bail outs" - they are doing just that.

tbaker 6 years, 7 months ago

  1. Socialistic: something that share traits with socialism.
  2. No argument.
  3. Something larger than self. Got it. Thats way up the pyramid after a lot of self-interests are achieved first. They can't share equal rank. Humans don't think larger than self until self is satisfied.
  4. Straw man. Don't see that from you too often.
  5. Agreed, it is just way down near the bottom of their list and hard to notice over all the "pay my bills" "give me things I haven't earned" nonsense.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

If you broaden the definition of words, and use them in that way, you can use them to fit almost anything, whether it makes sense or not.

For example, with your use, taxes and government spending to benefit the "general welfare" could be described as "socialistic", even though the authority to do that is found in the constitution - Article 1, Section 8.

Not really, although that's an interesting one too - I mean that the right seems to worship individual activity, and miss the point that many things require collective activity, and that individual activity doesn't occur in a vacuum, but is surrounded by, and supported by other people and things (infrastructure, education, regulation, etc.)

"I was not explaining how to produce happy societies" - perhaps that's part of the problem with a system that's overly focused on individual achievement. Even if it works to allow a few individuals to achieve a great deal, it may not work well for the majority of those who never get that high.

Actually, it's a major theme in the things that have been posted on here explaining the group's view and approach - I haven't seen any of the stuff you mention there at all.

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