Some Occupied Thoughts

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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198 Responses

  1. E.C. Gach says:

    “I rarely link to my Cato colleagues because few things are so boring or predictable as my agreeing with them, but Jim Harper has the right idea: both the Tea Party and Occupy are protesting — in very different idioms — “the unity of government and corporate power against people’s freedom and prosperity.” On that, they’re both obviously correct. ”

    Hear, hear Jason.

    As for the middle ground between Occupiers and T Partiers, government can be rejected through democratic means, but how does one curb corporate excess without collective power (i.e. government)?

    I don’t see the Tea Party backing governmental means toward decentralizing capital, or at least the big banks, and yet I don’t see how removing government from the picture will do much to unravel the beast as it exists today.Report

    • Mike in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      Incorrect. The Tea Party is a collection of idiots who follow the lead of astroturfers in the pay of some pretty large business types (Koch brothers, They don’t know they are useful idiots, but the leadership of the Republican Party considers them such.

      Their ultimate goal is the removal of government such that actual government becomes a figurehead, and corporatocracy becomes even more the norm than it is now (and one need only look at stupid laws like the DMCA, written by corporate lawyers and handed over to their puppet pals in congress, to see how far gone it is already).

      The flipside is the OWS types, who believe also that corporate involvement in government is the problem, but that eliminating the ability of corporations to be politically powerful is the best solution.

      In other words: one side is a bunch of fascist motherfuckers (by the definition of the term fascism), and the other side isn’t.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Mike says:

        … and what will you do with the Brownshirts, if not the Tea Party?
        The world does wonder!Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike says:

        A movement that gets thousands of people into the streets all across the country is the very opposite of astroturf, whether or not it’s headed by wealthy or well-connected people.

        Other than that, I’d love to see you take the OWS/Tea Party Tumblr challenge. That’d be fun.Report

        • Mike in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          A movement that gets thousands of people into the streets all across the country is the very opposite of astroturf,

          Thousands of fucking morons go to Britney Spears concerts just like millions of fucking morons go to Tea Party rallies. The only difference is whether there’s a retarded bitch lip-syncinc songs someone else wrote on stage or a retarded bitch lip-syncing someone else’s pre-written political speech a la Howdy Doody.Report

          • Kimmi in reply to Mike says:

            1) calm down.
            2) realize who you’re talking to (a guy who works for Cato).
            3) yeahsure it’s all been done, before… TeaParty ain’t any different from the KKK, is it now? Weren’t they the people calling the republican congressmen “wetbacks” and telling them to “go the hell back to mexico”?

            The fun thing about liberal propaganda is who’s running it. The fun thing about richman’s propaganda is that people still listen.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Mike says:

            The irony of this post is that the whole thing got started because everyone thought Radiohead was gonna be there!Report

        • Kimmi in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          … I dare you to say that about Anonymous.Report

  2. Kimmi says:

    the middle ground between the Tea Party and OWS is the dancing bear who mauls the watching crowd.Report

  3. Mike says:

    The problem with finding a middle ground isn’t really that hard. At least 52% of Americans belong to both the 99% and the 53% by definition…Report

    • DarrenG in reply to Mike says:

      Except by and large the Tea Party was never “the 53%,” and the remnants of it certainly aren’t.

      The Tea Party isn’t, and wasn’t, pure astroturf, but it got co-opted in a hurry by Fox, Dick Armey, and the like, and now exists entirely within the Fox bubble so prospects for them forming an alliance with anyone against corporate interests, corrupt government, and crony capitalism are vanishingly small.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to DarrenG says:

        It started as pure astroturf (I’m sorry, but it is totally true.).

        Did you catch the cute reporter on CNBC trying to accurately report the OWS protest? (they had a quick summary in the calculated risk commentariat. gl finding it, they’re chatty)Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

          And the Iraq War Protests were organized by ANSWER.

          This does not make the real, live, normal, individuals who bothered to show up because they cared about the issue into anything else.

          No matter how much fun it is to say “ah, it’s just an ANSWER rally”.Report

          • Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

            … astroturf is getting hyped by the media from the getgo. grassroots generally get nothing until they get big enough to be interesting.Report

            • DarrenG in reply to Kimmi says:

              I don’t think “astroturf” means what you think it means…Report

              • Kimmi in reply to DarrenG says:

                ya. grassroots is when a bunch of people get together to do something.
                astroturf is when one man with a mighty big megaphone convinces people to do something.

                Got any funnel cakes?Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to DarrenG says:

                It doesn’t mean what you think it means, either, unless you’re saying that there really is nobody who actually believes in the Tea Party’s ideals or goals, that they’re all unemployed actors who are being paid to pretend to protest.Report

              • Murali in reply to DensityDuck says:

                all unemployed actors who are being paid to pretend to protest.

                Only in california.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Murali says:

                Let me get this straight Mike and Kimmi. With no proof whatsoever (snarky articles in liberal rags do not count as proof), the Koch brothers supposedly funded the Tea Party since its inception, even though the single and only datapoint quote from the New Yorker article clearly stated that she WISHED she had! That was the causation. I know your faith in all things liberal allows you to believe far more with far less evidence so I won’t pursue this line further.

                Instead we could look at ACTUAL facts on the ground, such as Craigslist ads hiring “protesters” clearly paid for by liberal groups.

                This sure looks like Astroturfing to me: The ad doesn’t specify what you’re supposed to do for $350 a week,” says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, but “the headline strongly suggests that the position entails getting paid to protest,” and “‘direct action’ usually means protesting.” The most obvious explanation, then, is that “WFP wants Astroturfers, presumably to join other Astroturfers,” on Wall Street. It would be interesting to know how many of the occupiers are already on WFP’s payroll.

                Let’s see you spin doctor this. Useful idiots indeed.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to wardsmith says:

                WS, this “actual fact” thing has to stop. It only confuses the issue and upsets those with degrees in librul arts. Besides you should be thanking those captialista entrepeneurs who are providing day wages to our basement wanker friends, the “Occupados”. They are helping our president ‘move the economy forward’!Report

              • Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:

                … wardsworth, you’re missing my position, entirely.
                My position is that someone I know, whom I trust, heard about the planning stages of this shindig.
                It’s kinda like you’re saying that Microsoft has never made a blatantly racist “hip-hop” mouse advertisement (nb: never seen outside Microsoft headquarters) — I’ve got sources that I trust to not make shit up (and to be significantly more knowledgeable than you about the subject).Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

                I long ago stopped bothering with Kimmi. Her propensity to make up facts means it’s just not worth my time. Once in a while I remind her that she needs to cite her sources rather than just say “some anonymous person whom I trust and who knows more than you” told her. That’s not a discussion, properly speaking. It’s a declaration that she doesn’t want to discuss — she only wants to feel superior.

                That last is true to an even greater extent for Mike (Not at the Big Stick). His every post declares that I’m not worthy to be taken seriously. So I honor his intentions and ignore him.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:


                Reality is far stranger than fiction.

                If you want some insight into how the world works, look at who went scrambling after Bin Laden died.

                See? something for you to research.Report

              • Mike in reply to wardsmith says:

                Then again, that’s about what I would expect form a fascist motherfucking asshole on the Koch payroll, Mr. Crap Ass Totalitaritarian Organization member.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:

                in all fairness, Jason’s on the above-board payroll. Therefore it’s not in his best interest to plan to dance on Koch’s grave.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:

                Also, Mike,
                It’s really against the spirit of good discussion to call someone fascist without laying down a good side of evidence beside it.
                Koch may be fascist. Disney and Ford were, after all.
                But expecting someone to be civil and engage with you after you call them a fascist is really implausible.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to wardsmith says:

                I hope it’s clear that this Mike is not me.Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

                I’d like to clear two things up.

                Mike Schilling: I am well aware that you and this other Mike are different people.

                My employment status: Yes, I work for the Cato Institute. The Koch brothers are donors, but they are far from the only donors, and if you’d done your research you’d know that in recent years their support for our organization has significantly declined, even as overall contributions to Cato have greatly increased. The idea that we are in their pay and thus in their thrall just is not tenable. You’ll have to find some other excuse to disagree with me, I’m afraid.

                This is all well-documented, too; Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism is a good starting point for learning about the Koch-Cato split, which occurred in the mid-90s. See pp 602-604 in particular.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:

                veerry interesting. always nice to get an insider’s perspective (well, at least I think so. You apparently disagree.)

                Propaganda is still propaganda, regardless of whether you’re working more or less for certain idiots or just their “buddies.”

                I’d more or less challenge you to stand up for your organization, and prove to me that it’s not just being used as a tool in the rich man’s hand.

                P.S. Has Cato ever been kicked out by Congress for being too partisan? I know the Republicans did that to RAND a few years ago (oh, you shoulda seen the reaction to that!)Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

                I should probably repeat my standard disclaimer before proceeding: As with everything I say here, I’m speaking as an individual, not as a Cato spokesperson. My views are my own.

                That said, I can’t possibly say that Cato is always anti-corporate. That simply isn’t its agenda. Sometimes, Cato will frankly favor the interests of large corporations. Sometimes, it will oppose them. Pro- or anti-corporate just isn’t the measuring stick Cato uses.

                I can easily provide some examples of anti-corporatism, however.

                –Cato authors’ opposition to eminent domain favors small businesses and homeowners against large, well-connected corporate interests.

                –Cato authors have called for cutting military spending by 50%. Lots of defense contractors would be made very unhappy by that.

                –Cato authors were overwhelmingly critical of the recent bank bailouts and the other corporate welfare of recent years.

                –Cato authors routinely oppose agricultural subsidies and trade barriers; both of these primarily help large corporations at the expense of consumers and small corporations.

                Again, I’m not saying we are the perfect enemies of large corporations. Often, we agree with policies perceived on the left as corporate-friendly. But the picture is a lot more complicated than that.Report

              • Mike in reply to wardsmith says:

                Oh for fuck’s sake.

                CATO supports social security “privatization”, aka “let’s put everyone’s retirement into the stock market so we can embezzle it.”

                CATO opposed the tobacco lawsuit settlement and opposes laws regarding the proper labeling and restriction from sale-to-minors of tobacco products. Numerous times, CATO representatives have quoted from the dishonest, wholly discredited fake “studies” funded by tobacco companies to claim that the “personal choice of smoking” is not harmful to society.

                CATO is almost uniformly in the “we’re a bunch of insane fucking nutjobs” camp opposing global climate change research and policies to mitigate the damage done by humans to the environment. When PBS did a Frontline report on the issue, three of their five representative “doubters” just-so-happened to be members of your organization.

                The only good thing I have EVER seen the CATO institute do was publish a paper arguing for the elimination of the DMCA – but then, since CATO was onboard with the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act a few years before, your record on the public domain is still a big pile of Mouse Shit.

                Sum total?

                You claim to be “libertarians”, but your positions of total laissez-faire policies and complete ignorance of the need for regulation and law to prevent abuses in corporate power structure, pricing, and behavior show you what you really are – a bunch of paid-off mouthpieces feeding off the teat of people who want to completely replace government with corporate aristocracy.Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

                As I said: His every post declares that I’m not worthy to be taken seriously. So I honor his intentions and ignore him.Report

              • North in reply to wardsmith says:

                As a fellow lefty and theoretically one of Mike’s compatriots I need to address this sorry performance on his part. I wish I had more skill in limmerick writing though.

                Quoth the poster named Mike “I decline”
                To debate or discuss anytime
                In a manner that can,
                Persuade my fellow man
                And my frothing posts don’t even rhyme.Report

              • Mike in reply to wardsmith says:

                You’re not worthy to be taken seriously because you are nothing but a toad, a common bought tool parroting dishonestly what you are paid to say.

                I don’t think you actually believe a word of it, because what you parrot flies in the face of logic and has no basis in fact.

                You are, in other words, “milking the bull.”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to wardsmith says:

                Mike finished typing and moved his hand from the keyboard to the mouse. He moved the pointer to the “submit” button and clicked.

                “There”, he said. “I know that no one will be convinced by what I’ve just said but that’s not the point.”

                One thousand miles away, deep under the ocean, Cthulhu felt Mike’s comment be posted to the internet and fell deeper into slumber… dreaming.Report

              • North in reply to wardsmith says:

                Humph Jaybird, that didn’t rhyme either. On the other hand as a libertarian I guess you’re not obligated to respond to Mike’s screechings as elaborately as I am as a lefty.

                “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

                I don’t think you actually believe a word of it…

                Thus sweeping aside another one of the essential preconditions of reasoned debate, the assumption that one’s interlocutors argue with sincerity. It’s a cheap trick, because anyone can do it to anyone else. (Does it work? I dunno. I started blogging on libertarian themes back as a liberal arts grad student, when doing so was clearly against my self-interest. But never mind.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to wardsmith says:

                Oh, you want rhymes do you???

                spittle-flecked rantings
                mask spells cast on old ones
                protecting us allReport

              • Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:

                It must be said that Mike is clearly a tool of the health insurance companies, whose undue influence in our government has propagated teh wholesale banning of tobacco products.

                Mike: if you’re unaware of this fact, do more research before stepping on your own point.

                Two more questions:
                1) Do you think that Cato’s rich donors are actively interested in teh whole libertarian thing, or are they merely interested in bringing back the ancien regime?
                2) Now that you’ve established that Cato does do some corporate and some anti-corporate stuff, which do you think gets more publicity? Why is that?Report

              • Koz in reply to wardsmith says:

                “You claim to be “libertarians”, but your …… complete ignorance of the need for regulation ……show you what you really are – a bunch of paid-off mouthpieces feeding off the teat of people who want….. corporate aristocracy…etc.”

                I’m not a big fan of Jason necessarily but this sttt really is banworthy, or at the very least subject to creative rewriting Rufus-style.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

                > 2) Now that you’ve established
                > that Cato does do some corporate
                > and some anti-corporate stuff,
                > which do you think gets more
                > publicity? Why is that?

                Confirmation/observer bias?

                I notice that the CATO stuff about civil liberties never gets the same play that the ACLU stuff about civil liberties gets, even though there is a lot of overlap in the agreement between these two organizations when it comes to a *lot* of civil liberties issues.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to wardsmith says:

                “Then again, that’s about what I would expect form a fascist motherfucking asshole on the Koch payroll, Mr. Crap Ass Totalitaritarian Organization member.”

                You’re giving Mike’s a bad name. I understand that emotion is powerful and at times can flood the brain with stupid, but you’re going to drown if you don’t get control of yourself.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to wardsmith says:

                mikes a bad name, not mike’sReport

        • DarrenG in reply to Kimmi says:

          Evidence for the astroturf origins? I’ll admit to not being an expert on Tea Party history, but I vaguely remember the early rallies being rag-tag affairs started by Rick Santelli’s moronic commentary, some Ron Paul supporters, and some Glenn Beck cultists. FreedomWorks et al came along later.

          No, I hardly touch cable TV news these days at all. I’m all in favor of cute reporters, though, and found Jason’s comparison of TP vs. OWS coverage as evidence of liberal bias to be funny as hell.Report

  4. A Teacher says:

    Step 1: Get corporate money out of the habit of buying votes in Washington, which in turn lead to larger breaks for the companies with the liquid assets to buy said votes.

    Step 2: Doesn’t matter. We solved most of the complaints of the Tea Party and the OWS in Step 1.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to A Teacher says:

      Step 2. Eliminate blackmail of our elected officials by said corps. That’ll fix most problems.Report

      • North in reply to Kimmi says:

        And libertarians would answer both of you with:
        Step 0: Remove from Washington the huge ability to muck about with corporate affairs that they currently have and thus corporations will have no way of getting a return for their vote buying. Anything short of this step will not work as corporate money will simply find new ways of flowing to Washington votes as long as those votes continue to have the power to make or break corporations.Report

        • DarrenG in reply to North says:

          I’m pretty sure neither OWS or the Tea Partiers would be thrilled with the social and economic conditions that pertained during the late 19th century when your step 0 was de facto policy in the U.S.Report

          • North in reply to DarrenG says:

            A: it’s certainly not mine since I’m not a libertarian myself, merely conversant in their thought processes.
            B: the very idea that the late 19th century was de facto policy in the US is so historically illiterate as to induce jaw dropping even on my non-libertarian face. Jim Crow, tarriffs, government involvement in businesses, regulation, cronyism etc were rampant. The only difference was there weren’t as many large welfare programs.Report

            • North in reply to North says:

              eh.. garbled B a bit, but the point stands.Report

            • DarrenG in reply to North says:

              How, exactly, was government involvement in business rampant in the late 19th century? Tarriffs count for those businesses engaged in international trade, I suppose, but hardly account for the overall social and economic conditions of the times.

              Political corruption was rampant in public works projects and public sector jobs, but I’m under the impression that there wasn’t much regulation of the bulk of heavy industry (manufacturing and materials extraction in particular). Feel free to enlighten me if this wasn’t the case.Report

              • Mike in reply to DarrenG says:

                Government involvement in businesses in the late 19th and early 20th century:

                – oppressive military action against trade unions (paid for by wealthy businessmen in campaign contributions and grift)
                – Interstate Commerce Commission
                – Federal Trade Commission

                The problem with the latter two, and the later formed Securities Exchange Commission, was largely the problem we have today – corporatocracy simply co-opts them via Regulatory Capture, creating the incestuous relationship we see today in the revolving door between the SEC and most Wall Street firms, where the SEC will do absolutely shit-all to actually enforce anything while simultaneously acting on behalf of the corporate masters to eliminate any regulation deemed “a burden” no matter if it is actually a protection for the workers/investors/economy or not.Report

              • DarrenG in reply to Mike says:

                Those examples pretty much fall under the “early 20th century” expansion of yours. The ICC was formed in the late 19th but only applied to railroads until the 20th century, and the entire railroad industry was so uniquely corrupt from both the public and private sector ends that it serves more as a Rorschach Test than a good example for what industry and government in general were like.

                Things got very weird once the union movement got rolling and government started to react to abuses by the various monopolies and oligopolies, but nearly all that was after the time period I’m talking about.Report

              • North in reply to DarrenG says:

                Well what specific time period are you talking about then? To be specific.Report

              • DarrenG in reply to North says:

                I was thinking 1875-1900 or so, although you could probably extend that to around 1910 before things really started to change with organized labor, trust-busting, and the sorts of regulatory bodies that Mike refers to.

                And yes, in my quick reply I did over-state things since government was certainly mucking about in certain businesses, but it’s hard to see where government interference made much of a difference with heavy industry, agriculture, materials extraction, meat packing, and similar. There certainly weren’t many of the sorts of regulations or taxes that libertarians most often decry.Report

              • DarrenG in reply to North says:

                Also for what it’s worth, I didn’t just pull this time period out of thin air; I was remembering this inter-libertarian dust-up from last year where several folks at Cato and Reason specifically defended this time period as a golden age of economic freedom (with the important caveat that this didn’t apply if you were non-white, non-male, non-Protestant, or non-property-owning, aka 90% or so of the population at the time).Report

              • wardsmith in reply to North says:

                Thought I recalled some of these points in this debate. The best post wasn’t even in the point/counterpoint but in the comments below it. Thomas Bowden can point to more than a century of steady progress that occurred in this country without any substantial form of government involvement in the economy. Furthermore, he could have gone on to show that it was the government’s interference, starting in 1913 with the Federal Reserve Act and continuing with a steady stream of increasing business regulations, that has demonstrably led to the cycle of depressions and recessions that have since plagued us. His solution to economic and job growth, which calls for getting the government out of the way so that businesses can once again function properly in a competitive capital marketplace, is backed up by considerable historical fact.

                In contrast, Harold Sirkin, without evidence, simply asserts, as though it were self-evidently true, that: “The federal government not only should but must help business stimulate the economy, especially in these difficult times.” The rest of his comments rest upon the acceptance of this single unsupported and unsupportable statement.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to North says:

                WSmith, your facts are annoying. Keep it up.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to North says:

                okay, sod off.
                I bloody well JUST got fucking done reading the counter argument in calculated risk’s comment section YESTERDAY.
                Seriously, Do you live in OZ? (This is an Economic Joke, folks. It’s Funny!)

                That’ll start you, and if you still want to bitch, so help me god, I will pull recessions back to tulips.Report

              • North in reply to North says:

                Darren, I can see how libertarians would say that it was a comparatively non-interventionist time relative to today. But libertarians run with conservatives closely and they often adopt the conservative habit of rose tinting the good things in the past and exaggerating the bad things in the present.
                Standard oil’s monopoly with direct government support was going strong in the time period you specified and most of the utilities at the time were cheek to jowl with the local governments. There were less general federal regulations but a lot more ham handed specific government/corporation collusions. Hell, the East India Company which was the English government’s de facto ruler of all of India handed over that entire territory directly to English rule in 1873.
                I guess my point would be that in this time period if you arranged for a nice bit of lobbying to grease the palm of a politician there was an enormously great deal that politician could do for you (or to your rivals).Report

              • James Vonder Haar in reply to DarrenG says:

                Go read the Slaughterhouse cases (, or Gibbons v. Ogden (

                A ton of early constitutional law was based around this kind of mucking in the economy. Hell, Gibbons v. Ogden was essentially fought over whether the feds or the states would get the rents from monopolists paying for the privilege of operating a monopoly. There’s no doubt that government, and especially federal, control over the economy has increased, but it is not true that our propensity to grant economic privilege through government policy is novel.Report

              • Chris in reply to DarrenG says:

                Tarriffs count for those businesses engaged in international trade, I suppose, but hardly account for the overall social and economic conditions of the times.

                Apparently you don’t know what tariffs do.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Chris says:

                They had tariffs but NO income taxes. The entire Federal Govt budget was supported by tariffs. Just how much of our current federal gov’t could we support with tariffs only? Should make one pause.

                As for business cycles and recessions, the Federal Reserve was SUPPOSED to protect us from same! That was their raison d’etre! Not only have they failed, but they’ve created exactly the system that the so-called 99% are railing against.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to wardsmith says:

                The reason we have an income tax now? Prohibition.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

                FWIW, I’m throwing a party on December 5 to celebrate my favorite Amendment to the Constitution. If you are right — [citation needed] — then I say income tax is a small price to have paid for the joys of booze.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to wardsmith says:

                Bravo, WS, you’ve seized the heights! Well done, old chap, well done!Report

  5. Plinko says:

    I agree totally, especially to linking to Jim Harper’s post, I think the most likely productive thing that could come out of the OWS movement would be if they could get some actual traction on that Venn diagram overlap with the Tea Partiers.
    The obvious predition is, it won’t happen, political elites are interested in one or the other of the non-intersecting parts of that diagram, so instead all we’ll get is culture war nonsense.Report

  6. I think the timing is really poor for the OWS folks. The Tea Party geared up immediately after Obama was sworn in and worked hard for two years to make some modest gains in 2010. OWS doesn’t have the time, organization or unity of message to put together a serious agenda that would effect the 2012 elections. Without that it seems they are pretty unlikely to get aken seriously at the top unless they perhaps transformed themselves into an anti-incumbent movement. There’s enough time to ask the American people to vote everyone out of office. I’d be willing to support that one.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      Time’s easy if the roots are already in place. Memes fly like the wind, if they’re funny enough.
      as for organization… #egypt anyone?Report

    • A Teacher in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      The problem with the “kick them all out” movement is that you get ~in~ people who think that sticking by your guns to the point of letting the economy collapse and the nation to default on debt is a “good thing”.

      I’m not a fan of carreer politicians who like to summer in Barbados because some corporate interest has a time share there that they like to send people to for “fact finding conferences”, but I also don’t trust a league of freshmen legislatures who are so committed to “being different” that they “Be different” our country into even bigger problems…Report

    • Plinko in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      I am not sure that’s really true.
      I mean, Assuming the OWS folks want to replace Obama from the left, yeah, it’s already too late.

      However, there’s the whole matter of the House and Senate that they would have a real viable chance at exerting some influence. I’m sure the Senate will be a lot harder than the House, for multiple reasons, but I’m sure no small part of the crowd thinks the current administration would give them what they want if only they could create a political calculus that favored their views.Report

  7. Tom Van Dyke says:

    The Venn Diagram and resulting thesis [linked] is misleading to the point of uselessness. The Tea Party is mostly about taxes and gov’t spending, with only a side dish of “corporations!,” and that’s mostly re the bailouts. #Occupy doesn’t care about spending and taxes because they don’t pay any.

    What they do or should have in common is that Obama stinks on ice.


    • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      #Occupy doesn’t care about spending and taxes because they don’t pay any.

      Can you back this up with “facts” (your definition of facts, strangely, looks a lot like the dictionary definition of “opinions”).Report

      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Chris says:

        It’s clearly hyperbole, my faithful ankle-biter. But spending and taxes are not on the #Occupy agenda, which is the point.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Again, this is my general issue with OWS. This really looks like a grassroots phenomenon with few overall leaders — which means that while we can discern some generalized complaints (corporations have too much power, they get too many favors from government, the little guy gets screwed) I continue to have a hard time discerning any demands. How are the big evil corporations to be put back in their place? What does “the 99%” expect from the government? Single-payer health care? Tuition loans dischargeable in bankruptcy? Tuition loan forgiveness? Guaranteed employment? Cram-downs on mortgages?

          I get that people are pissed off and they want things to change, but generalized pissed-offery isn’t helpful in terms of what that change is to be.Report

          • Kimmi in reply to Burt Likko says:

            neep. Bernie for President!
            ((isn’t it actually okay to say “we need these things fixed” and then let other people come up with suggestions? It’s easier to get a crowd to respond than devise, anywhichway.))Report

          • Kimmi in reply to Burt Likko says:

            … this is why it reminds me so much of #egypt (which Anon was taking credit for, mind), and why I think the two might be more related than we think.Report

        • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Tom, at this point, I’m not sure you’re not just a well-spoken troll.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Chris says:

            Get off my back, Chris. There was a substantive point there. The two movements do not have the common ground asserted by the linked post: anti-corporatism is not a main focus of the Tea Party.Report

  8. Joecitizen says:

    Lottery system?Report

  9. Burt Likko says:

    I’m pretty sure “find your common ground with the Tea Party” sounds like a deal with the devil. Which by some measures of course it is. Still, I might like the child a lot better than either of the parents, depending on which traits came through.

    I wouldn’t have figured you for a populist, Mr. Kuznicki. Populism is what the Tea Party and OWS have in common.Report

  10. Joecitizen says:

    I think the Realists Party may be moving in the right direction. The irony being to few realists involved to gain traction.Report

  11. Joecitizen says:

    How about a Realists Party that choses their incumbents by lottery?Report

  12. Rufus F. says:

    ” but Jim Harper has the right idea: both the Tea Party and Occupy are protesting — in very different idioms — “the unity of government and corporate power against people’s freedom and prosperity.” On that, they’re both obviously correct.

    So where do they end up? A widespread and entirely justified sense of outrage doesn’t always yield a workable remedy. Sometimes, it yields a popular but unworkable remedy, and then you’re even more screwed than before.”

    That pretty much sums up where I’m at on this one. I’d probably add a joke about getting nervous when Americans start talking about occupying places.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Rufus F. says:

      I disagree w/the premise: The Tea Party isn’t “eat the rich” or anti-corporate. No calls for raising taxes on either. They didn’t like the cronyism of the bailouts, esp Government Motors and now Solyandra and the green debacle, both of which are conspicuous in their absence from the #Occupy bill of outrages.

      The laundry lists of the two movements [if the latter even is one: only 53 protestors today in WashDC] are more mutually exclusive than overlapping. As Rufus points out elsewhere, #Occupy is quite Hobbsian; in bold contradistinction, Tea Party speaks far more of liberty than order.

      But if facile equivalencies make people happy, I don’t want to spoil the fun. Rock on.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        The OWS people are really okay with the bailouts? You don’t think the mutually exclusive lists thing isn’t more a result of that thing now where, if the Republicans say they prefer plastic bags, the Democrats have to say they prefer paper bags, and vice-versa?

        Besides, I think what Jason’s getting at, and me too is that they’re complaining about entirely different problems, but it’s not as if they’re entirely unrelated problems.Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Rufus F. says:

          Rufus: Is #OPS on record against the GM bailout? Solyandra? I could be wrong but I doubt it: those things are left-friendly, unions and greenery.

          Where is the #OPS outrage at the massive deficits? Where is the Tea Party call for eating the rich? Its anti-corporatism?

          Now there could be a common ground, but it’s completely unarticulated, that finance isn’t the same as capitalism, and Big Fi is the problem. Problem is that #Occupy hates capitalism too, and TP doesn’t draw the necessary distinction in its own defense of capitalism.

          I thought you had a live point on Hobbes and #Occupy’s call for order, but TP speaks of liberty instead. And these twain do not meet, rhetorically or conceptually. The non-overlap is more pronounced than the happy coincidences.Report

          • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Why should anybody sane be against the GM bailout? It saved the company and as a result, millions of jobs all around the country. Would we be a better country if GM and Chrysler was bankrupt and the unemployment rate in Michigan was at 25%?

            The green jobs and Solyndra is right-wing nonsense. As for hating capitalism, I don’t hate it. I don’t hate tigers either. But, I want both caged so they don’t destroy me and those I care about.

            As for liberty. Tea Partiers don’t seem to care about liberty much if you happen to be gay, an undocumented immigrant, or a pregnant woman who wants an abortion. Oh, but they do care about the liberty of letting hospitals not giving you care if you don’t have health insurance.Report

            • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              An arm’s-length discussion of the differences between the 2 camps, Jesse, not grist for the mill. C’mon man, unnecessary. Any of us could have written that predictable rant for you with perfect accuracy and you could have taken the rest of the day off. You didn’t touch on a single one of the salient points, Hobbesian vs. libertarian, capitalism vs. Big Fi.

              Hell, I wish somebody would clear up the facile use of “populism” here. If it means people assembling in public for a cause [or a rant], I guess they’re both populist movements, but that doesn’t tell us much.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                When Tea Partiers start supporting politicians who’d reinstate Glass-Steagall or something resembling that, I’ll think they actually care about the bailouts. As long as they continue to vote for people who’d only make the big banks more powerful, they’re useless.

                And again. I’m one of the most left-ish people on this site. I don’t want capitalism destroyed. I want the unregulated capitalism of the past 30 years reined in.Report

            • I would have rather given those workers training to get different jobs. GM is a sinking ship.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                No, it’s not. General Motors and Chrysler turned profits last year, despite that nasty recession.

                Also, even if we did let GM and Chrysler go down, you realize that’d take down literally dozens, if not hundreds of other businesses that supply all three of the Big Three, but can’t survive if there’s only a Big One.

                We need a manufacturing base in this country. The auto industry is a big part of that. Every other nation on the planet would’ve done the same thing. Only insane right-wingers who hate unions and neoliberals who want everything to be manufactured in Laos or Bangladesh would let an industry like the automobile industry fail when it can be saved. As we’ve seen the past year or so.Report

              • I’m not suggesting we let the whole industry fail. I’m just suggesting we not prop up the under-performers.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                okay, so we killed off most of the failing banks. Isn’t that what you’re talking about? GM got propped up because it does something other than being a bank.
                It may have been an underperformer as a bank (I doubt it, they were rather bubbilicious), but so was PNC in 2007. In 2008-9 they were getting Bank of the Year awards.Report

              • GM’s problems aren’t it’s lending division.

                “The Washington Post got it exactly right when it wrote that, “The mere fact of government ownership is a drag on GM’s profit potential.” Consumers don’t want to buy from “Government Motors,” and top-notch executives don’t want to work for it. In addition, the bailout has brought unstable leadership: from its founding in 1923 until the government takeover in 2009, GM had a total of ten CEO’s, an average tenure of 8.6 years each. None of the three CEO’s since then has lasted even a year.

                Worst of all, corporate leaders have been forced to base their decisions not on market considerations, but on the political/ideological prejudices of their government handlers. The Obama administration is ideologically committed to “green” development, and so GM has produced virtually unsalable hybrid Volts, which even at a non-competitive $41,000 lose money each and every one.”


              • Mike Schilling in reply to Kimmi says:

                Consumers don’t want to buy from “Government Motors,”

                That’s only true if they’re more interested in ideology than cars.Report

              • Perception is a huge part of the car business. I’m sure you know that Mike.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                Mike w Stick,
                Tell that to Bernanke, when he was protecting them from short sales.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                look at GM’s own prospectus. When the only thing you make money on is lending, you aren’t a maker of cars anymore.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Kimmi says:

                You’re assuming that everyone perceives GM as “Government Motors”. That’s true of the ideologues and dittoheads. If it were a general response, why did Chrysler do so well after their first bailout?Report

              • Perhaps that’s true. Not everyone perceives them as ‘Government Motors’. But there are many other problems at he core management level that will hurt that company.

                – top-notch executives don’t want to work for it.

                – unstable leadership

                -corporate leaders have been forced to base their decisions not on market considerations, but on the political/ideological prejudices of their government handlers.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                geez, you’d think soemoen would be in favor of having more engineers around. Doing something new for a chance.
                Sides, volt is all about prototyping new tech.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Jesse, come back to this thread in 15 years.

                I’ll bet you a dollar GM has come looking for another bailout. Again. It’s like clockwork.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                … you really think we’re going to let them continue to be a bank that long? And what are the odds that GE comes along for another bank bailout in the meantime?Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Why is something that’s happened once (for GM) like clockwork?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                It’s proven that it will wind down once.

                It doesn’t seem particularly likely that everybody involved has learned the lessons that would result in long-term sustainability.

                Personally, I’d have like to have seen what Ford (or other companies bidding, of course) could have done with the facilities.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                numbers or it didn’t happen.
                1) GMAC was kerfluffle at about that time…
                2) Obamacare will fix a lot of GM’s competitiveness problems. At least that’s what Big Auto itself thinks — who do you think was bankrolling Obamacare?Report

              • > Why is something that’s happened
                > once (for GM) like clockwork?

                Fair enough, Mike.

                The U.S. auto industry, embodied in the big three, routinely takes turns at one of ’em being the low man on the totem pole.

                Let me rephrase: one of the big three will need a bailout again, or will be facing failure, before 2030.

                Since the restructuring may have put a little more union skin in the game, it might take longer than fifteen.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                “numbers or it didn’t happen”

                Did it not already need a bailout? If it did already need a bailout, it had already demonstrated that it wouldn’t survive without a bailout.

                See it as “you’re a lot more likely to get a second heart attack if you’ve had a first heart attack”.

                There is a level upon which this is trivially true.

                There is a level upon which something meaningful is being said.

                Read my statement as if you’re reading it on the level of the latter.Report

              • Joecitizen in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                As a third generation GM owner/driver, I can honestly say the love is gone. Quality and early obsolescence has killed the brand. The engineering is just as awful. A fatal disconnect between engineering and the customer base, down to an honest to gawd nuts and bolts level.
                If the engineers would just spend some time in the field to understand how the vehicles are used and maintained. managements is asleep at the wheel as more trash engineering spirals to brand destruction.
                If this is the direction GM has chose, let it die.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Joecitizen says:

                GM is trying to revitalize itself. That’s what the Volt is about — hiring those engineers they fired back in the 70’s, to make some real achievements again. To have some pride in GM as a company, and to stop milking old technology.Report

              • Joecitizen in reply to Joecitizen says:

                The Volt is a boat anchor at 3,781 lbs. Another dead end piece of sh*t.
                The EV1 came in at 2,908 and was a much better design, much earlier.

                You would think the Edison2 would have at least made an impact.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Yawn. they needed a kickinthepants. The proposal they submitted to Washington was just what the WSJ had been suggesting for oh, a few years.
                We’ll see about sinking ship — I don’t see it, actually.

                But GM has got to stop being about being a bank, and get back into making money with cars.Report

            • Kimmi in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              … I’m thinking a good dose of zombies might cure the Tea Party of that last one (did you catch that post on dailykos? around halloween a few years ago.)Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Big Fi is a protected class of Big Gov and my understanding of #Occupy is that’s what they have a problem with.


            Logically, this should give them heartburn about Big Gov too, although maybe it doesn’t. The Tea Party has a problem with Big Gov bailing out Big Auto, but not subsidizing Big Fi, Big Farming, Big Defense Contractors, etc. etc. etc. Again, logically, they should have a problem there. After all, corporatism is great for growing government and great for being a crony, but bad if you’re everyone else.

            So, okay, I take your point that the Tea Party and the OWS are in different conceptual worlds, but to me this distinction is like saying I hate my neighbor for dumping trash in my yard but I like his wife, and my wife hates his wife for dumping trash in our yard but likes him, so clearly me and my wife have nothing in common here.

            I do agree that the OWS people talk about limitations and responsibilities, while the Tea Party people talk about freedoms and rights, and that does put a lot of space in between them. They will probably never see eye to eye. And maybe I’m never going to meet many people who agree with me that both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are, fundamentally, protesting real and legitimate problems. But that’s okay.Report

            • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Rufus F. says:

              Rufus, your Hobbes point is that #Occupy wants the gov’t to restore order; the TP wants gov’t out.

              But yes, we agree that the two could agree on Big Fi if only they made the distinction, but they don’t. The rest of the issues tend to be mutually exclusive, and I’ll restate again that the TP’s raison d’être is taxes and spending, which aren’t even on the #Occupy map except mebbe to raise them.Report

      • Robert Cheeks in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        TvD, I continue the way in which you try to reason with these people. Amazing!Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

          Mr. Cheeks, imagine the living I could make telling people what they want to hear instead of what they don’t, especially when it’s actually true regardless. I think about that sometimes.

          I have my weak FDR-ish moments, though. But that means the NYT, bingo, baby! ABC, next to George Fucking Will!Report

  13. jimmothy says:

    Jason I love the idea of a TP/OWS tumblr. I’m not as sure as you that the two would be so hard to differentiate though.
    The only person that I know who went to meetings (and regularly supports) the Tea Party is my Dad. I strongly support OWS and hope that it might lead to some worthwhile discussions and maybe even some systemic reforms. While my Dad empathizes with some of the stories from the 99% Tumblr he doesn’t really think their his problem to deal with (maybe they aren’t).
    I would love to see a sort of populist fusion of traditionalist conservatives and progressives to “fix everything that’s wrong with the economy.” One of the reasons I love this blog is how effortlessly you guys find that competing philosophical approaches dovetail to the same policy preference. But I can’t imagine the middle aged suburbinites that make up the Tea Party riding shotgun with the young urbane OWS protesters.
    Here in Oklahoma we are dominated by the Tea Party type politics. If you follow our Governor on Twitter (don’t – its not worth anything) you would see that she has tweeted more about attending church services and developing new “Faith based contacts” than about anything else. That may or may not be a good thing for the state but the point is: That is precisely the image she wants to convey. And its really weird because she is also currently trying to get a bill written that would eliminate the state Income Tax.
    I would guess that a Tumblr of Tea Partiers would say more about God, Guns and Gays (and maybe lightbulbs) than it would about financial greed, high debt loads, insufficient safety nets and a missing sense of community.Report

  14. I’ve gotta say, this post is what I was trying to get across in the exchange I had with Shay O’Reilly on the “Shawn Gude Arrested” post last week (Wait, yesterday? Its crazy how this blogtime thing works.) In fact, Jason, for a while leading up to your last couple of posts, I felt like we weren’t seeing eye to eye, but this is brilliant.

    “I feel likewise about “We Are the 53%.” Look, it’s fantastic that you are making your way in the world without any handouts, even when that world gives all kinds of favors to the already-rich. I’m proud of you, and that’s not just sarcasm. Remind me to hire you when the economy picks up and I’ve started my long anticipated small business.

    In the spirit of building bridges between liberals and libertarians, which is what I’m perceiving is the principle purpose of this blog nowadays: Yeah, this is really why I’m appalled by those who ridicule the “53-percenters”, especially if the ridiculers are busy making “creative” signs about why they should just like get stuff but like can’t really do anything about it so like give us stuff and we’ll take work seriously.

    Still, there have to be some people with money, with companies, who are looking for hard-working people. Why do we have to wait for the stock market to start going up for these people to start hiring? If it were me, right now, in this economy, with lots of money instead of being young and broke, I would hire bright, hard-working people enthusiastically, before anyone else scoops them up! Unfortunately, I’m young and broke.

    So, anyways, my question is, why doesn’t it all go to equilibrium now?Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      Perhaps if we had unrestricted prices in the labor market and the bright, hardworking people could be hired at $3.25/hr, then the market would clear…

      But seriously: demand. Specifically aggregate demand. And sticky prices. Firms have got nothing they really need more people to do yet. Hire them to do what? You don’t buy stuff you don’t need just cuz it’s cheap, especially stuff as annoying and hard to deal with as human beings. You buy stuff you need or at least want. Having people around whom you have nothing to give to do but sit there and be looked at isn’t a need or a want; it’s just annoying. Unless I suppose you’re hiring people for company. Price is not the issue, unless we’re talking about just ridiculous deals, like getting trained engineers for 3 bucks an hour (or even $7.75). But do we want that – do we want perfectly slippery prices? No one proposes to pay engineers $7.75/hr to be engineers; the only proposal is to pay them 8 or 10 bucks to be baristas (or whatever) Same with moderately skilled machine operators.

      It’s looking like it’s a gonna be a DIY/Make Your Own Job kinda world out there for the smart, hard-working set (at least to the extent that their particular brand of smarts is relevant to the equation – and btw I totally agree about the poor taste of snarking at people on the 53% tumblr who have made this exact transition ahead of the curve – they deserve serious congrats and respect, it’s just that the cases of inability to complete that transition successfully is in any realistic accounting going to vastly swamp the cases of it happening, whatever that says about us, and that’s just a reality, and real economic problem, that we have to face and deal with, which is what the 99% is all about) for a good while unless a bunch of people in high places discover their inner Keynesians, or everyone decides they’re down with being waiters, cooks, and house cleaners, and there’s a limit to how many of those we can even have.

      I guess I’m just trying to ask, who (what firms) should hire which smart, hard workers to do what, if those firms already don’t have the orders to keep the people they already have on board busy creating the product or service the firm thinks it knows how to make? And with what money? Are you saying forms should borrow money to bring on smart people to create new products that they hope will find markets, despite the overall lack of buying going on? That hardly seems prudent from a firm’s perspective. Something needs to happen to change the environment in which firms now have to attempt to make sales, or else we’re going nowhere fast – for along time, I fear.

      Not that I don’t have the same wishes that you do about this. i do wonder, though, if we really want trained, smart, hard-working young people starting out in their field at market-clearing salaries in this environment (not that you suggested that explicitly, but I don’t think you ruled it out). That would hugely impact lifetime earnings for a whole cadre of our most productive workers and backfire over the long run I suspect. But as a result, any and all “bridge” jobs that we can create or save in the interval are going to be crucial for both lives and the economy as a whole. A school district that had to cut back on one less substitute teaching position because of a bit more federal aid takes one smart, hard working applicant out of the pool of people who are in front of other people in line for a job at Starbucks. And so on. And it’s going to be that way for a while.Report

      • Sticky prices seems like a magical and insignificant explanation to me.Report

        • Michael Drew in reply to Christopher Carr says:

          That seems a little cavalier to me, Christopher. The magical part, in any case. It’s a big, big part of how, like, a whole half of the economics profession understands the world. There’s dispute about to be sure, but i don’t even those who differ from the idea view is magical thinking. It’s a good-faith empirical debate on both sides as far as i understand it…Report

          • Let me clarify. Saying prices are “sticky” is a non-explanation. How sticky are they? How long will they remain sticky? Are there any equations relating stickiness to other economic variables?

            No, there aren’t. Therefore, saying unemployment persists because prices are sticky is a useless cop-out non-explanation. Keynes insisted he was a liberal, but Keynes’s liberalism is directly proportional to his stickiness.

            THIS is my main problem with Keynesianism: it’s so squishy to be effectively meaningless. Now, the logic behind stimulus is sound, and I support an unbalanced budget amendment a la Alex Tabarrok. Except that no “Keynesian” official in history has run a deficit when times are good. The squishiness and magicalness of it all basically, in the real world, serves as a dressed-up excuse to spend money on pet projects in order to get reelected.Report

      • Oh, and I figured I should throw this in as well for good measure: after 90 some-odd resumes going out in every which direction, I’ve just accepted a part-time, work-at-home position with an INDIAN company translating medical and economic research from Japanese to English for twelve cents a word (which is about half the baseline rate for such work in wealthier countries). I’d do it for far less just to keep my skills honed for when the economy comes back. Unemployment is a problem that needs to be solved by any means necessary, including allowing wages to temporarily drop below what we might consider a reasonable standard. We have a fairly robust welfare state to help the working poor anyways. Why not let them work?Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      …Let me quickly say, please don;t misread my tone – I think this is a really good response, and you are focused on just the right problems. It’s just that they’re super thorny ones. (I have no doubt that my account is fully riddled with assumption errors and misunderstanding of what is actually going on out there).

      Let me also say that I heard an interview last night that suggested to me that I may have totally misapprehended what #OWS is really all about (though it may also have been a highly unrepresentative, even anomalous, voice plucked not at random but rather due precisely to its high volume, extraordinary articulateness, and high visibility – anyway, I think the movement is in a state of high flux at the moment). In any case, when I say above what I think the 99% movement is about, I am really saying what I think it should be about, at least in large part.Report

  15. John Howard Griffin says:

    I really like reading these comment threads (and, I suppose, the original posts, as well).

    They don’t really provide any clarity into what the Tea Party or OWS really are, whether they are worthwhile, etc. But, they provide a magnificent window into the biases, prejudices, beliefs, and complaints of the people writing them. Rather starkly.Report

  16. Christopher Carr says:

    Talking Les Miserables, let me also add that the 53%-ers seem to be Going Valjean, whereas the OWS movement is more akin to the Friends of the ABC.Report