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Some thoughts on the Occupy movement

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December 4, 2011 by falcon7204

I’m having a hard time connecting with the people who make up and support the “Occupy” movement. Why? Mainly because I worked for what I have and I don’t want anyone suggesting that I shouldn’t have it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means “rich.” At least, not financially. But I have what many would consider a comfortable standard of living. My income is above the inflation-adjusted median, I own two cars, my home is comfortable and not in need of major repairs, and I have the leisure time to write posts like this.

But I would like to have more. It’s a human trait to want more than you have, and it’s also a human trait to want what others have. It’s called “covetousness,” or envy, and that seems to be the fuel that powers the Occupy movement across the country.

Members of this movement began on September 17 (not so coincidentally, the day the U. S. Constitution was ratified) by pitching tents and setting themselves down on Wall Street for what they termed a “day of rage.” Rage against what was not immediately clear, but it soon became obvious that the members of this movement were angry at the fact that a certain few people in this nation were rich, and they weren’t, and they wanted some of what the “rich” people have. In fact, they wanted all of it.

It reminds me of a young child at Christmas when, confronted with the reality that not everything on their list to Santa was delivered, threatens to hold his or her breath and turn blue until those items are supplied. Extortion by self-destruction.

The Occupy movement and its handlers (ironically, among them the AFL-CIO) began chanting about “income inequality” and calling themselves the “99%” (in reference to the fact that the top 1% of the population makes the most money, as seen in this chart – 2007 is the latest data available). And then they began chanting about “income inequality” and threatening to become Robin Hoods – taking from the rich and giving to the poor. (Never mind that Robin Hood took back money illegally levied as “taxes” by Prince John, who held the English crown while King Richard took part in the Crusades, and gave it back to those from whom Prince John took it. Get it? The government – Prince John – was overtaxing the citizens, not “the rich”) They claimed through their handlers that the “rich” (as embodied by Wall Street) “stole” the money they have from those who don’t have it anymore.

How, exactly, does that work? Are we being forced to purchase goods and services from companies represented on Wall Street? Is that part of that nebulous “good and necessary” clause of the Constitution I never read about? (Let’s not get into an argument about Obamacare right now.) Did those nasty Wall Street “banksters” actually steal some of my hard-earned money? Is going to Wal-Mart or Target considered “theft?”

Wow, if I don’t want Wall Street to steal my money I should just stop buying stuff, right?

The Occupy movement grew from there, with people in places like Pittsburgh, Oakland, Portland, Fort Worth, and even smaller communities like Denton, Texas setting up camp in public locations like parks, sidewalks, and even college campuses. And the irony of this is that the “people” (as the Occupy movement saw themselves) were “occupying” locations that were owned by … wait for it … the government. Which means that the locations they occupied were purchased with tax dollars that, in some cases, they did not contribute.

So who was stealing from whom, again?

At any rate, the Occupy movement appeared to devolve into the 21st Century equivalent of a hippie sit-in. After a time, cities became impatient with the Occupiers and began removing them, mostly peacefully, but sometimes with limited force. Some in the movement took that as an opportunity to add “police brutality” to their list of grievances, even though by disobeying a lawful order to disperse they were breaking the law.

And as the Occupiers dispersed, they set up camp in new places. And their chant began to include something about “income inequality,” which is simply their way of saying, “You have something I want, and I’m going to take it from you.”

Envy. Covetousness.

University instructors, Leftist organizations (like the aforementioned AFL-CIO and “Mother Jones” magazine) began taking up the chant. President Obama came out in support of the movement (even though some of his top contributors in 2008 were Wall Street denizens). The media made them superstars – at least, the national media. On a local level, there were reports of drug use (here, here, here, and here, among others – do a Google search and doubtless you’ll find more), overdoses, crime (to date, nearly 400 incidents, which include shootings and fatalities – you can find a list of reports here).

But here’s my main contention about all of this “income inequality” claptrap – it’s not unequal if you didn’t earn it or don’t deserve it!

The story of the first Thanksgiving is a reminder that “income equality” doesn’t really work. (Here’s a link to the last Washington Times story; you thought I was going to link to Rush Limbaugh, didn’t you?) In essence, “from each according to his gifts; to each according to his needs” would have killed the first English settlers in very short order. In fact, in a letter from Robert Cushman to John Carver and those who wrote the Plymouth Compact, he wrote this:

All men are not of one condition. A. If by condition you mean wealth, you are mistaken; if you mean by condition, qualities, then I say he that is not contente his neighbour shall have as good a house, fare, means, etc. as him selfe, is not of a good qualitie.

See what he did there? This one section is an indictment of envy and covetousness. Yet, the Pilgrims traveled to the New World anyway and tried to live under the Plymouth Compact. But as people began dying and industriousness gave way to sloth, Bradford decided to shake things up – and free market capitalism in America was born. (You can find the writings of Bradford here, lest you think the right wing just made all this up.)

But this is the section that stands out for me, and if you can navigate through the old English spellings, you can see why the Occupy movement is doomed to failure:

The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other.ancients, applauded by some of aater times; –that the taking away of propertie, and bringing in communitie into a comone wealth, would make them happy and $orishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For the yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and servise did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompence. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in devission of victails and cloaths, then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter the other could; this was thought injuestice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalised in labours, and victails, cloaths, etc., with the meaner and yonger sorte, thought it some indignite and disrespect unto them. And for mens wives to be commanded to doe servise for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, etc., they deemd it a kind of slaverie, neither could many husbands well brooke it. Upon the poynte all being to have alike, and all to doe alike, they thought them selves in the like condition, and ove as good as another; and so, if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongest men, yet it did at least much diminish and take of the mutuall respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have bene worse if they had been men of another condition. Let pone objecte this is mens corruption, and nothing to the course it selfe. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them.

Bottom line: Socialism didn’t work then, it doesn’t work now, and the Occupy movement will fade into the dustbin of history – because people don’t like to do for others what those others won’t do for themselves.

And crybabies don’t always get what they want. Hold your breath and turn blue, but you’re not getting what you want.

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