The Occupy Wall Street movement’s fifth anniversary was this past September, and AP reporters Deepti Hajela and Michael Balsamo wrote an article looking at the impact of the global demonstrations. Considering the self-important and self-righteous nature of the protesters, the movement’s lasting impact has been nearly non-existent. While books have been written and graduate degrees obtained out of the protests, there wasn’t much there to start with, and less so today.
The Occupy movement started as a protest against perceived income inequality between the wealthiest 1% and the remainder of the population, aka ‘the 99%’, and the initial occupation of NYC’s Zuccotti Park quickly spread around the world. To most outside observers, the movement looked like a lot of unemployed trustafarians occupying public spaces, disrupting traffic with demonstrations, and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Demographic surveys of the protesters would seem to bear this out. Despite AP reports that the New York protesters displayed “diversity of age, gender and race”, enumeration showed that the protesters were over 80% White. That’s about the same percentage of pallor people you’ll find in Portland, a city often derided by the Left for its lack of racial diversity. A large number of respondents reported that they were “unconstrained by highly demanding family or work commitments”, while over a third reported annual incomes over $100,000. The numbers bear out the perception that the movement was largely the province of White, relatively well-to-do or unemployed people with nothing better to do.
While the motives of the protest were fairly clear, what was less so was how the protesters thought camping out in public spaces would accomplish their goals. Was the feeling that wealthy people would see a bunch of loud, annoying people rendering city cores unlivable and say, ‘Hey, a lot of people are unhappy with the fact I have money. I must immediately give it away.”
Occupy takes credit for bringing ‘income-inequality’ to the national conversation and introducing the $15/ hour minimum wage. It was perhaps lost on the 76% of protesters with college degrees that setting the wage floor at a figure previously reserved for skilled labor is going to marginalize those looking to enter the job market, creating further income inequality. One protester noted that the “. . . movement was also inspired by the idea that a small handful of elites were using their power to accumulate wealth at the expense of the many, . . ” Entirely true, and the elites referred to are almost entirely Democrats. The Clinton’s are exhibit ‘A’. The ‘elites’ were using the protesters right to their face, and they were, and are, too stupid to realize it.
If you want change, you have to work for it. As in, actual work. You have to get whatever education is required, find a societal contribution you can do and for which someone will pay you, and go to work. If you think business should be run differently, then you or your like-minded friends can start a business and run it however you see fit. (I can’t think of a single business run according to Progressive principles that’s still in business.) If you think other people have too much money, get some of your own. Real, lasting change comes from the bottom up. Throwing a temper tantrum doesn’t accomplish anything except expose your basic inability to deal with reality.
One of Occupy’s efforts is to buy defaulted student loans from banks, then forgive them. If someone wants to use their money to pay for someone else’s education, that’s fine. Occupy is using private money to fund an effort they believe in. Nothing wrong with that, and they deserve credit for taking action that has real results.
The Emptiness of Progressivism
Seen recently on a bookstore door:
This is pretty much Progressivism: Stating the obvious, or things that decent people take as a matter of course, then claiming that because you don’t overtly manifest your position, you’re automatically ‘against’ the things Progressives claim. It’s 100% horse-shit, and I refuse to allow these people to define the conversation.