Philosophy Weekend: Why Occupy and the Tea Party Should Protest Together

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The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street -- two serious protest movements with urgent messages about the condition of the economy and the purpose of government -- do not currently communicate or collaborate with each other. What a wasted opportunity! Even worse, Tea Partiers and Occupiers often look at each other as opponents -- a ridiculous idea, since we are all protesting the same injustices and mistakes, and we all seek the same basic goals: an honest economy, a smaller government, greater freedom and greater opportunity.

It's time for the Tea Party and Occupy movements to begin working together. Throughout history, protest movements with common goals have benefited from collaboration even when they've disagreed on specific issues. The Tea Party and Occupy movements have a few major differences on principles, but we should not let this obscure the fact that our goals converge more often than they diverge. So why are we at each other's throats? Why isn't there a combined Occupy Wall Street/Tea Party gathering going on in every city in the United States of America right now?

I like to develop and improve my political ideas by talking to as many different people as I can, and I've already tested today's argument on a wide range of friends, co-workers and relatives. I discovered a surprising and encouraging thing: people who do not have much interest in either the Tea Party or Occupy movements are the ones most likely to dismiss the idea that they can work together, to declare that the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are opposites.

People who support or participate in either protest movement, though, are more sympathetic to the idea. Because they are serious about their goals, they are willing to accept that the other protest group is serious as well. They sometimes have derogatory things to say about the other protest group, but once the insults are out of the way they have little trouble seeing the common ground, and are open to working together. Here are three major points of agreement between the two protest groups, along with a brief reality-check regarding the barriers to cooperation on each of the three points:

Smaller Government

Neither the Tea Party nor the Occupy movement favors intrusive federal, state or local government. There is a strong libertarian streak in both protest groups.

Do both sides really agree? The call for smaller government has been considered a key plank of the Tea Party, but some may question whether or not the Occupy movement stands for smaller government as well. Many Occupy demands -- affordable education, universal health care, regulations against corporate abuse of the environment and the economy -- appear to favor a strong, active central government. However, many supporters of the Occupy movement (including myself) have no taste for large government, and we believe that these goals can be achieved without enabling an oppressive and bureaucratic federal government to play a bigger role in our lives.

This may seem contradictory -- but then, some policies that are popular among many Tea Partiers, such as support for strong military spending, or laws against abortion and gay marriage, also contradict a call for smaller government. This has been a complex issue for both protest groups, but it's important to realize that both the Tea Party and Occupy movements share a general anti-authoritarian sensibility, and that new initiatives to reduce the scope and role of government in our lives will be enthusiastically welcomed on both sides.

Honest Finance and Government

This is the most obvious point of agreement. Most Tea Party and Occupy protesters are furious about bank bailouts, critical of the over-active Federal Reserve Bank system, and sick to death of corporate payoffs to Congress, the Senate and the White House. We want honest capitalism, and we want our elected politicians to care more about us than about their corporate donors.

Do both sides really agree? Occupy protesters have spoken out more clearly and consistently on the need for honest finance and government than Tea Partiers have, partly due to the Tea Party's strange habit of blaming only the federal government, rather than the government and banks and corporations together, for the crash of 2007/2008. Indeed, the Tea Party's myopic sole emphasis on government misbehavior and disinterest in corporate misbehavior is, from the Occupy point of view, the Tea Party's biggest blind spot.

But it's a mistake to overemphasize this difference and fail to realize that the spirit of the Tea Party's protest against corruption in the US economy is fully consistent with Occupy's. There is a bridge to cross regarding who is to blame for corruption and dysfunction within the economy, and whether or not stronger federal regulations can help to fix these problems. But the Tea Party's vision of an honest economy is largely the same as Occupy's.

Balance the Damn Budget and Begin Paying Off the Deficit

Both Tea Party and Occupy protesters want to balance the budget and pay off the deficit. Both see the nation's dysfunctional spending as a critical problem to solve.

Do both sides really agree? Yes, though there is a big difference in how each movement wants to address the problem: the Tea Party tends to call for spending cuts, while Occupy tends to call for wealthy Americans to pay more taxes. This has been a deeply divisive and often hysterical debate since the crash of 2007/2008. Ironically, the hysterical tones of the public debate are irrelevant to any real-world solution, because it's perfectly obvious to anybody who believes in basic mathematics that both changes are required: the federal government has to cut spending and collect more taxes from the wealthy, and even then it will take years of shared sacrifice to balance the budget and pay off the deficit.

The noisy, often senseless debates over principles of taxation and revenue have obscured the larger point: this is our country, our economy, and it's been badly managed. Both Tea Party and Occupy protesters want the federal government to balance the damn budget and begin paying off the deficit.

Conclusion

Tea Party groups and Occupy groups have at least enough common ground to begin holding open events and gatherings together. We've got plenty of issues to debate -- but we can have better debates without the wall of mainstream media (which includes Fox News and MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh and Jon Stewart) between us. We are allowing the cynics, doomsday merchants and amateur humorists among us -- people who are not serious about practical, achievable goals, who never go near an actual protest event -- to define our positions, harden our stances, and keep us from working towards real change.

Let's meet and have our debates in person. We will all improve our own positions, and gain new levels of understanding to back up our arguments, if we can take the first step towards communication and cooperation. I'm pretty sure we'll be stunned to find how much common ground lays between us.

I hereby call for these Tea Party/Occupy gatherings to take place, though I have to admit that I'm not sure what I can do to encourage the idea other than to blog about it. (I am not a very good event organizer, and I do not have the kind of extroverted personality it would take to, for instance, jump up on a marble planter in a city park and yell "mic check" until I've got a movement going.)

But this blog is my platform, and I can at least offer the idea here. Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, I hope you'll consider what I'm proposing and, if you agree with it, help spread the word. And if anybody out there doesn't think a combined Tea Party/Occupy protest is a good idea, I hope you'll post a comment here to explain why.

This article is part of the series Philosophy Weekend. The next post in the series is Philosophy Weekend: Discouragement. The previous post in the series is Philosophy Weekend: How a Protest Survives.
31 Responses to "Philosophy Weekend: Why Occupy and the Tea Party Should Protest Together"

by Nardo on

"affordable education, universal health care, regulations against corporate abuse of the environment and the economy -- appear to favor a strong, active central government. However, many supporters of the Occupy movement (including myself) have no taste for large government, and we believe that these goals can be achieved without enabling an oppressive and bureaucratic federal government to play a bigger role in our lives."

Um...how?

by Christopher Gray on

It's interesting, but I think you're missing the massive cultural gap between the two groups. By and large, The TEA Party is made up of older, more succesfull christians. They are extremely socially conservative. By and large I don't believe they consider themselves a protest movement, but one that seeks to impact elections. They don't love the Republican Party, but they have been willing to ally themselves in order to win elections.

In contrast, the OWS movement is one that views religion and conservative values with, at best, extreme suspicion. The same seems to go with the electoral process, as a common complaint is that "the parties are the same."

I think the common libertarian overlaps would not be enough to bring the two groups to the table. But beyond cultural differences, the leaderless component of OWS is elusive, making it difficult to call OWS a libertarian, socialist, or democratic movement. It is all these things and none of these things, because each participants views are respected. The TEA Party is for more lockstep in it's message (perhaps due to the astroturfing money from the Republicans?)

There, said my piece.

by sean on

stirring proposal, sir. but i sense you're having a hard time articulating exactly what these two groups have in common. the closer you get to saying they should just get together, the further from their specific ideas you have to move.

is it really meaningful to say they both believe in an "honest economy"? can you find a political group that claims to believe in a dishonest economy?

the same goes for balancing the budget and paying off the deficit. either side can stake a claim to any political change and try to make a case that that change is necessary in order to balance the budget or pay off the deficit. but those arent REALLY the goals of either group.

nevertheless, debate is always good. maybe some philosophically consistent and morally sound views would start to surface from the teaparty if some of their ideas had to honestly and seriously engage the occupy movement. but one big problem, not to be a cynical douchebag or anything, is that because it's by its nature an exclusionary, reactionary movement, the teaparty isnt likely to accept views from those it considers different, much less "progressive." what the teaparty really wants is to stop change, and to slow the increasing diversity of our culture and government.

but i'm rooting for you.

by Jimmy Levendia on

This makes more sense than it first appears. It's counterintuitive simply because of "cultural differences". for lack of a better term. many of those in the "occupy" movement are there as a result of a sort of "package deal": the "Occupy' movement is what it is the in and trendy thing for left-progressive folk with liberal arts degrees to do right now. For many, it's a tribal identifier ritual...as the "Tea Party" is to its demographic. For these types in the "Occupy" movement, there's aversion and dislike for what they see as backward, Neanderthal conservatives..."not our crowd, man". For the self-identified "conservatives" in the Tea-Party movement, the feeling they have for the Occupiers was best spelled out by Orwell in "The Road to Wigan Pier":

"In addition to this there is the horrible—-the really disquieting—-prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England."

To bring these two groups together will take a miracle of organization, and that's putting it mildly.

by Levi Asher on

Thanks for responses -- some responses back from me:

Nardo, you ask how we can achieve affordable education and universal health care without enabling an oppressive and bureaucratic government to play a bigger role in our lives. Good question. Regarding education, well, back when I went to college, most state university systems were highly affordable, and I was able to go to college for a very reasonable price. Now, the same education at the same state university is much more expensive. The government was no less oppressive then than it is today. What's the difference? Why could we do it then if we can't do it now? These are the questions that I think both Tea Partiers and Occupiers want answered.

Universal healthcare is an explosive topic, of course, but in fact despite all the negative hype against Obamacare, the health care bill that was passed in 2010 was designed to achieve greater health coverage with the smallest possible impact on individual freedom. This didn't stop the anti-Obamacare forces from piling on criticism of the health care bill (and I know we could debate Obamacare to the end of time here), but I do feel strongly that this health care bill shows a lot of sensitivity to individual freedom.

Chris, I answered you on Facebook ...

Sean, you ask "can you find a political group that claims to believe in a dishonest economy?" No, but I don't judge a political group by what it says -- I judge it by what it does.

Jimmy, thanks for your support.

Levi,
The Tea Party issues from a false premise, which is that they are "100% grassroots, 100% of the time". (Taking this quote from teapartypatriots.org.) This is of course false, as they are hugely funded by the Kochs, Mellon Scaife, etc etc, all the usual suspects. They pay lip service to the evils of bailouts but their statement of Core Principles betrays their true goals: deregulated capitalism, privatization, cuts in social spending. The website states, "The Occupy Wall Street movement... is a direct result of union organization and community organization.... The movement is also very well funded." More lies.

As far as balancing the budget, I don't pretend to understand macro-economics, but as I interpret Paul Krugman, most of the budget debate is a tempest in a teapot. Pun intended. Keynesian economics calls for deficit spending, such as building/repairing infrastructure to juice the economy by creating jobs and, through the "multiplier effect", increasing consumption, which in turn leads to more hiring. Wherever anti-Keynesian pro-Friedman policies have been instituted (often at the point of a gun), greater inequalities of wealth and higher unemployment have prevailed. Naomi Klein documents this in her excellent book The Shock Doctrine.

It still may be worth reaching out to the rank-and-file members of the Tea Party, the same people who 100 years ago might have joined leftist/populist/socialist movements that sprung up in reaction to financial shenanigans of the Gilded Age Robber Barons. It's a tall order these days because of Fox News propaganda machinery that deludes and dupes so many. Perhaps if OWS keeps hammering away at the Corporate-Government connection, some closed minds can be re-opened. I don't believe that violence, shouting people down with mike checks, baiting cops and similar behaviors will benefit OWS; in fact it could play right into the hands of right wing media and alienate broad swaths of the silent majority. No doubt many are beyond reach. Failing to see the Corporate influence in government is like reading the Bible and missing the part about "Love Your Neighbor". Come to think of it, that's exactly what the Christian Right does.

My GF's parents are struggling dairy farmers and Tea Party Fox News types who tend to blame immigrants and welfare for a lot of our problems. But when I talk to them about Monsanto, Bank of America, lobbyists, etc, they generally agree with me. So maybe you're right, we're not so far apart; and maybe all that would be required to "convert" them would be a tweak or two of the language - the labels and buzzwords being thrown around. The Right has excelled at controlling the language, turning "socialism" and "liberal" into dirty words, and co-opting the term "Pro-Life". Perhaps OWS should call themselves "OWS Patriots" and fly a flag. You know... dumb it down. In any case I feel like OWS has one important advantage, and that is The Truth. If we can keep our level heads about it and hammer away at these basic truths, in a calm and patient but sustained manner, we just may be able to win over a critical mass.

by Jerry on

Levi,

From my perspective, you seem to be confusing folks who want "equality of opportunity", the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party with folks that want "equality of outcome", the Occupy crowd.

Somehow a strong defense, which is the primary role of the federal government - as stipulated in the Constitution, is seen by you as part of a requirement for a large centralized government. It's not, and hasn't been for the 235yrs of the Republic. Now, the argument that too much $$ is being spent there is valid, just look at the fact that it took 15yrs to kill the alternative engine on the F35 - not because DoD or Presidents wanted it funded, but because Congress sees military spending as one of many jobs programs.

Balancing the budget will take cuts - and not just cuts in growth, but real decreases in spending. If tomorrow, you could pass the Clinton rates on the wealthy (>$250K) AND eliminate the DoD portion of the budget, there would *still* be a $650B shortfall. Granted, this is better than the current $1.3T, but there has to be acknowledgement that spending has to be curtailed. Only in Wash DC, is a change from 8% increase to 3% increase considered a 5% cut. Entrenched bureaucracies and constituents fight decreases at each turn. The Wimpie (from Popeye) game of budget cutting "if you buy me a hamburger today, I will gladly repay you next Tuesday" has got to stop. No more raising taxes now, and promises of cuts over a 10yr period - the taxes are permanent, and the budget cuts never happen. The last two *major* agreements - Reagan (1986) - which was supposed to have 3:1 cuts vs new revenue actually resulted in significantly *increased* spending. The "read my lips, no new taxes" agreement that Bush 41 signed was supposed to be 2:1 - and wound up with 1.86 increase for each 1 in new tax revenue.

I won't even go down the road of the mandate on healthcare. If the supreme court upholds that - there is no chance of smaller government, because there will not be any limits on what the government can do.

by Levi Asher on

Hi Phil -- why bother worrying about whether or not the Tea Party is funded by the Koch brothers, whether they're "lying", whatever? Let's take them at their word that they are honest about their goals, and meet them on the high road. Let's also remember that every individual Tea Partier or Occupier is an independent person and is not responsible for the sins of others.

About Keynesian economics -- well, of course, this is a fascinating issue, which I wrote about in a previous Philosophy Weekend post. I agree that Keynesian economics is inevitable in most Western countries, but that doesn't mean that "we are all Keynsesians". Far from it. The Keynes model is growth-oriented and consumption-oriented, and I think the Wall Street/Federal Reserve/Federal government obsession with growth needs to be checked rather than encouraged. It was obsession with growth, after all, that crashed the economy in 2007/2008.

Anyway, I enjoy hearing about your girlfriend's family -- that's cool that you are finding some common ground with them! I wouldn't say "dumb down" myself -- there's dumbness in every population sector -- but I do get what you mean.

by Levi Asher on

Jerry, it's nice to meet you. I have a few responses to your comments ...

I don't agree that Occupiers want "equality of outcome", or that they in any way represent lazy or unmotivated people. That's a Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity manufactured meme, and it's completely off base. First of all, the actual Occupiers on the street are extremely hardworking and dedicated -- I've worked for a lot of companies (including Wall Street companies) and I rarely see any team work as hard as the Occupy Wall Street people at Zuccotti Park are working. It's just not true. As for the wider Occupy sensibility, there is no desire for a handout economy. There is a desire for a free economy. I wish somebody would call Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and explain this to them.

I see your point that a strong military policy doesn't necessarily imply a strong central government -- countries with great wealth like Saudi Arabia can pay for expensive weapons and armed forces without taxing the people. In the USA, military spending comes right out of the taxpayer's pockets. If you are pro-military, you are for big taxes. This is one of the principal messages of Ron Paul's campaign. I am not a supporter of Ron Paul (or any of the current Republican candidates) but I do think he's right on target when it comes to military spending. Fortunately, many Tea Partiers also feel this way, and I think this would be a great topic for TP and Occupy to address together.

Healthcare -- well, Jerry, I can tell we disagree on this topic! I think Obamacare is a step in the right direction, mainly because health care costs were really out of control, and the Republicans sure didn't have any better ideas. But maybe we can agree to disagree on this one, and spare our readers a big debate on that one today! Thanks for posting, and I hope you will again.

I had to read this first paragraph over a few times before I was convinced you weren't pulling our leg.

I think just about the only thing the two groups agree on is opposition to the bailout. Most tea partiers are against Health Care reform, against the stimulus, and are for a more Libertarian-style deregulated economy that ironically benefits the wealthy at the expense of the poor. Occupy wall street folks are against these things.

I think my socialist neighbors who went protested with the people on wall street would be very shocked to hear you equate them with Tea-Partiers and think they are in favor of a smaller government on general principle. I too self-identify as socialist and see my values as aligning with the occupy wall street people. Personally, I think instead of a bailout Obama should have nationalized the banks and fired all the upper brass. On the other hand, I don't think my values align with the Tea Partiers at all, and think the Libertarian principles they espouse are corrosive to society and lead inevitably to corporate control of just about everything. When you take government away from things its corporations that step in and take over, and without strong anti-Trust laws, those corporations will consolidate and become monopolies.

So yeah, not the same. Nuh uh.

by Jerry on

Levi,

Glad to be a counter point for you.

I think the Occupy folks have actually the wrong target. From where I sit, as a TEA Party member, the fingers of government are all over the financial mess. And by government, I don't mean one party or the other - because my perspective is that up until the TEA Party, there was no one interested in really reducing the size/scope of government. I firmly dislike (and disapprove) of a government that coerces its population through incentives or penalties via the tax code or grants to the states (raising the drinking age to 21 as a requirement to continue to receive federal highway funding comes to mind). Assuming that social engineering is what one wants accomplished, be up front about it and do it legislatively - don't hide it in the tax code, but I digress.

I firmly believe that the future liabilities of the Great Society + Social Security will bury us as a country in my son's lifetime. At the same time, there are some associated with Occupy that would flip JFK's inaugural address on it's ear.

http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/subprime.htm is an interesting read. Prior to this meltdown everyone continued to make promises that they *knew* could not be delivered. Kicking the can down the road - by the politicians that set us up for failure down the road was SOP. At least in the Savings & Loan debacle people went to jail. In the case of Enron and MCI, people went to jail. In this situation, people are upset (both TEA Party and Occupy) because no senior executives (or politicians) have been held accountable. The senior executives are protected by the politicians, and the politicians are desperate to avoid hearings / investigations because they don't want to be seen as culpable. Additionally, they would hate to have it shown that everything that led up to the crisis was both legal and sanctioned by the government. The politicians want to ride in on white horses and they want to be the "saviors".

TARP and what the Fed did behind the curtains (as reported in bloomberg - 10x TARP) may/may not have been necessary, but it was the end result of "too big to fail" - and nothing has changed since, only setting us up for worse. The more the government does to "help" the situation, the worse it makes it. Failure isn't an option, because it's never allowed to happen.

I'll have to take your word for the fact that Occupy folks in NYC are hard working folk. I only have what I read in the local paper, on the internet, and on the various news channels for my reference. I've also seen the demands of the local Occupy folks here in Raleigh, NC. When you talk about the team work you saw, does that include the folks that were arrested at the Brooklyn Bridge? What about the other 'occupy' locations like Oakland/SF that were intent on causing problems at the ports? Once you start supporting activities of questionable legality, you lose me and TEA Party supporters like me.

I believe in a strong military - it is one of the few areas that as a tax payer I support. But at the same time I don't believe that it needs to be in as many places around the world that we have bases. Playing the worlds policeman isn't a role that I accept.

by phil scalia on

Asher,
A tip of the hat to your positive energy, let's hope it will have a multiplier effect. And yes, I do agree that many if not most individual tea partiers are good people and sincere in their beliefs. I just happen to think that they are misinformed and misled. Still, as the proverb goes, "You can shear a sheep many times but you can only skin him once".

by jotajotajotajota on

really, who is going to pay my bills?

by Claudia on

Levi, I agree that it would be great if these two movements would band together, and they'd be much stronger and more effective if they did. Your article is pretty persuasive. Is there anywhere or anyone you can send it to, so that it could be a catalyst in uniting these two social protest movements? It can't hurt to try... As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Jerry, thank you for the link on the nature and origin of the subprime lending crisis. This is a very informative article. I had previously assumed the banks' risks were limited to the credit of individual buyers. It hadn't dawned on me that owing houses in certain "downward spiral" neighborhoods would also be a concern. Makes sense!

It was still a bogus situation, though.

by mnaz on

i'm a prophet (and i didn't listen to myself, sheesh!) . . . i said it was all a house of cards. it's going to get bad. i'm selling everything (is it too late?) and buying a bunch of weapons and moving out . . . somewhere . . .

the "tea party" is a registered trademark of koch-murdoch, and the "occupy" thing ... at least 25 years too late . . .

by Levi Asher on

Mnaz, I think "the Tea Party is a registered trademark of Koch-Murdoch" is a very weak dismissal. Am I the only liberal here who bothers to actually meet and talk to Tea Partiers? They tend to be independent thinkers, just like Occupiers. They tend not to believe everything they see on TV or hear on the news, just like Occupiers.

I have no respect for Koch Brothers-funded propaganda, and I know that Fox News is in the business of advocacy, not news. But I will not take the easy way out of dismissing those I disagree with because I suspect they might have fallen under the spell of propaganda. Instead, I credit them with enough intelligence to review and filter the information they receive, just as I credit liberals with the same intelligence. People who put a lot of thought into their political opinions deserve a better response from you than "you are a tool of the Koch Brothers".

by mnaz on

oops, was i panicking again? okay . . . if we leave aside the social/"moral"/religious issues (big points of conflict), i guess i do see the two sides somewhat fundamentally incompatible on the "less government" front . . . which is a little ironic. actually, i've NEVER trusted so much world power concentrated in our central government, and would have preferred that the u.s. had evolved to collect taxes much more regionally than centrally-- but that's not what we did, and . . . i digress.

anyway, "less government" sounds great, yet, in economic turmoil-- perhaps even a deepening crisis-- is it appropriate? corporatists tell us that government should essentially be "put out of business," but how realistic is this notion of complete "privatization?" especially with the social "safety net?" and even our wars? do we realize how many sketchy quasi-military "defense" contractors we have out there helping wage our various expansionist oil/resource skirmishes?

who checks the dangerous impulses of runaway capitalism? well, the public sector of course. government. regulations. safeguards . . . except those checks have failed us. miserably. because virtually the entire system is thoroughly corrupted, in many ways and through many mechanisms-- electoral, legislative, judicial and executive-- by large corporate money and domination. some of it is beyond shocking, really-- like the secret wall street bailout ("10X TARP," as jerry mentioned) that apparently even congress wasn't told about. the whole system is way out of whack, geared to excessive supply-side consumerism and the myth of limitless, expansionist growth, and the eco-degradation and permanent war (protecting our "interests," or "way of life") that accompanies it.

it may not even be "fixable" at this point, as some here have suggested . . . it might come down more to a matter of "shucking" the system somehow. but from my reading, the tea party-- at least its corporate-sponsored candidates-- co-opted much of the original grass roots intent of the movement, and emphasize only its corporatist-friendly tenets (reduce debt by decimating government, etc.), and i just can't go there at this point. i don't think we can afford it anymore.

by ETG on

Why would I, as a supporter of the Tea Party, want to protest and demonstrate alongside the American Khmer Rouge (a.k.a. Occupy Wall St. )?? In an absurd world, once the Occupy Wall St. crowd took control, they would arrest and send all who oppose their ideas too re-education camps, and those that would not change to the command-control economy mindset would "unfortunately" have to be liquidated...... at least that is what Bill Ayers and friends suggested back in the 70's.....

by Kevin Chamow on

I'm sorry, but what you attribute to a "strange habit" is the core difference between the two. Getting on the same page as far as accountability goes is far more difficult than you make it appear. I appreciate the attempt at cohesion; but there are fundamental differences between the two movements.

Kevin Chamow

by mnaz on

" ... the American Khmer Rouge (a.k.a. Occupy Wall St. )"

nice. so anyone opposed to corporate greed, over-reach and outright criminal fraud, or opposed to the "tea party" mindset (whatever that is) is a communist? nice comment.

yeah, talk about "weak dismissals" . . .

by Howard Park on

I'm not sure there is still much of a tea party out there. It's been absorbed by the GOP and a handful of Rebublican consultants. When was the last time anyone heard of a tea party rally or event? Of course, they did get a lot of Republicans elected in 2010 but as a grassroots force thier time has come...and gone.

by Shelley on

The Tea Party's intuition that "something out there is in control" was based in reality. They were just wrong about what the "something" is.

It's not the government; it's the corporations.

But what is the elephant in the room to OWS is to the Tea Partiers just a Harvey.

by Marion on

Maybe the members of the Occupy movement should also carry side arms and ridiculous signs! Then I might be a "little" more inclined to agree with your overall premises. No, I usually agree with much of what you say. Not this time. Oh! And that yellow flag, the one with the snake, the one that flies over multi-million dollar country homes in my neck of the woods. Nah!

by Ralph Moran on

I think it can be done, and I think it should be done. Both groups are asking for different things in specifics, but if they at least started discussions, it would bring massive fear to leading government officials, as well as rogue corporate leaders. The two groups have brought light to two massive issues in this country - government abuse , as well as corporate abuse.

In my understanding, both of the two main party's voters are middle class or poor. In my understanding they both manipulate this class for their wealthier constituents. It's my understanding that the urban versus rural contemplation was pushed to sideline reality. They've made it city versus country, when in reality it's been, for the past few decades, poor versus rich. There are a lot of poor people in the country, and in the city.

by Jerry on

mnaz - you cite my comment about 10x TARP, but you fail to mention that it was the government (the Fed to be exact) that passed the money out like it was hotcakes. If the public sector is supposed to watch over the private sector, who watches the public sector? Surely it's not the voters because they aren't given much honest information - if they were, they'd be appalled at what they'd learn.

The recent NHTSA fiasco on the Volt's battery is just the latest example. For six (6) months, both the NHTSA and GM have known about the problem. NHTSA (the government watchdog) opted not to issue a warning on GM (Government Motors) because it would impact sales of the Volt. What consideration did they give when the same government entity issued a mandatory recall against one of GM's top competitors (Toyota) - one that has yet to identify a *real* issue, and in fact has been multiply reported as a non engineering issue).

I'm still trying to understand why the OWS would want to shut down (illegally mind you) the ports on the west coast of the US. How does that advance their argument as it impacts the 99% that they claim to represent - both via making it impossible for workers to actually work and hold up needed commodities and finished products that people on the west coast need?

by mnaz on

--- "If the public sector is supposed to watch over the private sector, who watches the public sector?"

jerry, that's kind of my point. or one of my main points. yes, the public sector should watch over the private sector ... but the public sector is so corrupted and dominated by the private sector, that it has lost its ability to effectively do so.

however, i.m.o., this doesn't mean we simply write off the public sector and cut it back to nothing, especially in worsening economic times; instead, we should keep most of its basic safety net and regulatory functions intact, and cut waste within them (hire outside consultants?) and tax corporations to more reasonable levels.

but i agree-- none of the above can happen as effectively as it should, as long as big corporate money and influence call most of the shots in d.c.-- and i'm not sure where to begin on those issues.

by Levi Asher on

I think you hit the nail on the head there, Mnaz.

The fact that government regulations on corporations were weakened and subverted, leading to the crash of 2008, doesn't prove that we don't need government regulations. It proves that we *do* need them.

by Natalie on

A little late on the reading, but I just wanted to post a little 'bravo'.

Sitting in the UK it's often difficult to make comments on the TEA party, my insights are often very much slanted by my 'left' (and I guess that's the British left, oppose to the America - if there is any difference) views - but mostly I wanted to commend you as raising attention to the need to stop splitting hairs when looking for change.

Nearly all political or social movements I personally ascribe to (veganism and the need to end speciesism, the need to reclaim the word feminism from that boorish argument "All feminists want the end of men", etc.) fall at the first hurdle as those who want this change are too keen on fighting their battles with fellow revolutionaries than take that argument to the man*. It's often safer to pick on people with opposing views looking for change, as they are seen as just as volatile to the status quo as your own views, and thus it is easier to find social backing to your attack.

Here calls then end of splitting hairs until we all get a foot in the door, once OWS/TEA Party/any other politically weighted group looking for change, have some results then we can take the time to decide 'what to do next'.

It was the Bolsheviks not the Mensheviks that bested the revolution after all.

*Wiki says: "The Man" is a slang phrase that may refer to the government or to some other authority in a position of power.

See, no men hating here!

Theoretically, this is possible. The Tea Party is not, at a basic level, socially conservative. It is libertarian. So the cultural differences about issues like abortion, religion, etc. would be moot.

The Tea Party is against Big Government, and Occupy is against Big Business, and frankly in this "meritocracy on steroids" we live in, both are the problem. And both are in collusion. Look at the revolving doors in big agencies like the FDA, the DOD, and the DOE. Politicians leaving their jobs and going to work as lobbyists for big business contracting with these agencies.

In order to work together, both Tea Party and Occupy movements would have to grow up and be pragmatic about the goals they have in common and focus on those instead of their differences. Stranger alliances have been made, such as feminists and religious conservatives against pornography.

And their goals? Balancing the budget is a great idea. It would also be nice to start with the rich paying the same percentage in taxes as the middle class. Do away with the capital gains tax as it stands, and tax capital gains as income, pure and simple, just like income made by janitors, teachers, military folks and CEOs.

Then work on campaign finance reform. Citizens United was a boondoggle for corporations and has helped cement the oligarchy we now live in. If corporations want status as individuals, let them be taxed as individuals.

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