OWS: Time to Grow Up


Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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176 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    Everything seems to favor Occupy’s call for solidarity among the 99%, and yet the movement seems intent on alienating support where ever it arises.

    “This is the freedom of the void, which is raised to the status of an actual shape and passion.  If it remains purely theoretical, it becomes in the religious realm the Hindu fanaticism of pure contemplation, but if it turns to actuality, it becomes in the realm of both politics and religion the fanaticism of destruction, demolishing the whole existing social order, eliminating all individuals regarded as suspect by a given order, and annihilating any organization which attempts to rise up anew” — Hegel, The Philosophy of Right.Report

  2. Avatar Pyre says:

    This is the problem with moving what is essentially Anonymous into a real world setting.Report

  3. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I read something elsewhere that quoted the ever-angry Matt Tabbi saying the protests are people saying, “We want something different: a different life, with different values, or at least a chance at different values.” That’s what I mean about a cultural movement instead of a political one. I’m skeptical that my generation is capable of maintaining any sort of cultural movement in the first place that lasts more than a few months, but if they want to change the mindset of Americans about money, wealth, and debt (something that most of us can agree needs to happen if we’re going to get the economy back on track anyway), it’s not really appropriate to rely on protests (the theatrical form of politics in the same way war is the theatrical form of valor), when they’re going to have to change the culture. Doing that is much more steady, slow, patient, and persuasive; and it really requires you to have a mindset and a vision of a good life, instead of just being angry that you haven’t been given a better one to begin with.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Well put Rufus.  I think that’s a central divide.  Occupy seems intent on cultural change, but is relying on political methods (protest/occupation).  Where as cultural change would as you say require a much more positive approach, an affirmation of an idea, rather than just condemnation, critique, and “resistance.” 

      That’s the central problem for a movement whose language is of occupations, resistnace, and demands. 

      What I’m perhaps most confused by is the seeming disconnect between those protesters who seem to be critiquing corporations and commercial consumerism at large, and those who are simply demanding that the benefits of that consumerist model trickel down more readily. 

      I get the impression that many of the protesters would jump at the chance to be given an X amount business loan to launch their own entrepenurial project.  Perhaps if the movement more openly embraced “small buisness commerce,” they’d be making a better impression, and be more in line with things that are right at home in decentralized markets like local produce, hand-crafted, etc.

      But at the same time their appears a cohort of communist/anarchist elements withint the movement that would be antithetically opposed to such principles of property and exchange.Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to Ethan Gach says:

        I don’t have any specific beef with anything you or Rufus wrote, nonetheless I’m reminded of Bill Maher’s critique of George W Bush:

        “Thinking outside the box is for smart people.”Report

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

      Rufus, the eternal conservative bleat about the destruction of values is exactly what Tiabbi is seeing here.  “What’s the Matter with Kansas” Kansas doesn’t have this empty materialistic life that he describes here for the urban young—which is who OWS is.

      “What’s the Matter with Kansas” Kansas has its abstract, non-materialist values, works Red jobs, raises families, and does not bowl alone.

      This puzzles the Thomas Franks and the Matt Tiabbis, and is an object of derision by #OWS and a healthy chunk of the LOOG.  But there you have it.

      “We want something different: a different life, with different values, or at least a chance at different values.”

      Heh, you’ve already got it, #OWS.  You just don’t like it much, and frankly, I don’t blame you.


      • Avatar b-psycho in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        …why does this sound like some variant of “don’t you worry your pretty little heads over such egghead stuff” to me?

        Seriously.  Are you really claiming there’s a psychological pain caused by what you see as rejection of tradition?Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        TVD, most of the examples Franks’ uses are of crony politicians giving away massive corporate subsidies while using cultural wedge issues as cover. Kelo v. New London– type stuff except this time Susette is convinced not to sue because she should be self-reliant and God will provide. The idea that such people volunteered their taxes (or, more precisely, massive budget deficits they were hung with after the politician skipped town) because of their “abstract, non-materialist values” is pretty rich.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to trizzlor says:

          Kansas cannot go to the Dem Party to defend their non-material values, Trizz. That’s the underlying truth.  The rest is Frank’s sophistry [as if the Dems aren’t crony capitalists as well] to create a contradiction where none exists.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            nonmaterial values…. like the grange?

            or like not believing in evolution?

            There may be some values it is possible to live without.Report

          • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            It’s not about party loyalty, Tom, it’s about keeping your eye on both his hands when a politician is using cultural tokens to distract from crony capitalism. Frank has his liberal theories on how things should be fixed, but his historical analysis – which makes up the bulk of the book – could just easily support a call for smaller government. In this discussion I don’t care which way the vote gets tallied, but your implication that Kansan’s getting screwed by their politicians was some kind of a spartan life-style choice is absurd. Re-read the book, but pretend it was written by Mark Steyn; I’m sure you’ll find much to agree with.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to trizzlor says:

              Trizz, I hear you, but Thomas Franks’ first premise is per a materialistic [left] worldview.  My reply is that both parties—and most importantly, politics itself— unavoidably includes cronyism, tribalism if you will. That’s a constant in the human equation, be it yachts for the 1% or insider trading or dachas for the apparatchiks.

              There will always be a 1%.

              Kansas accepts that reality, so then there’s the rest of the human equation as they see it.

              The tu quoque thing is tricky: none of us are above using it.  I try to use it only to illustrate the constants of human nature, our venality, our corruptions, our feet of clay.  These are universals: right is no more or less virtuous than the left on the human level, the visceral.

              I have no illusions about man, only hope sometimes.  Some big talker might run away but a pacifist might break someone’s head to save my ass in a dark alley.

              Talk, or philosophizing, is what you do when you’re not in a dark alley, eh?Report

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

        Hmmm… I wasn’t thinking of Voegelin, although I should expect him to pop up at any moment around here.

        Here’s what I was thinking of- the reason I understand the mechanics of the crash was because my father-in-law had a front row seat for it and knows a hell of a lot about finance. Back in the bad days, we used to sit around and talk about what was going on and he explained a lot to me. One night we had a long discussion of the housing crisis, collateralized debt obligations, and a bunch of other issues. When I said to him, “You know that people are soon going to be asking ‘who do we blame?'”, his response was, “We can blame a whole lot of people, and hey, we can start by looking in the mirror!” There were years of a fish of a lot of people doing a fish of a lot of things that finally did not add up.

        So, a lot of people are going to have to start rethinking their lives and values. It happens. We can’t go back to 1994. Who’d want to?

        So the right bleats about the destruction of cultural values and the left bleats about the values associated with consumer capitalism? Well guess what- they’re talking about the same thing.

        Is this slowly spreading cultural hangover a ‘conservative’ thing? Sure, in a lot of ways it is. Conservative, but not necessarily right wing. In fact, a lot of the liberal people I know who rejected the stultifying binge and purge culture years ago did so for eco-conscious reasons and anti-materialist reasons, but definitely have developed a lot of beliefs and values that would make traditionalist conservatives smile. For the last three or four years, I’ve been saying that there will eventually be a meeting of the minds between the traditionalist, porcher paleoconservatives and the eco-conscious, grossed out by materialism left. At some point, someone needs to drop the chip from their shoulder.Report

          • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            I was about to note the same Tom.  That book became my parent’s political manifesto some years ago.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to E.C. Gach says:

              I know a lot of people on the left who are crunchy cons without quite realizing it yet.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Texas is full of them. A guy I know, a long-haired 60-something ex-hippie often jokes that the difference between a New York liberal and a Texas liberal is that a Texas liberal owns guns. In my experience, they tend to be relatively socially conservative in their own life, but more libertarian when it comes to social issues politically.

                I myself am an anti-materialist, but I find traditionalism to be, for the most part, ethically abhorent. The source of many traditional values lies, largely, in the same sort of oppression that I find reprehensible in materialism. It maybe the case (though it’s not always clear that it is) that some of those values have become divorced from their sources, and are now values in and for themselves, but that’s not saying much for those values. In short, materialism can suck it (and both the right and the left, in this country and in Europe, are deeply materialistic), but so can Voegelin.Report

  4. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Everything seems to favor Occupy’s call for solidarity among the 99%

    Except for the fact that it’s impossible to create solidarity among 99% of the public on just about any conceivable issue at all.Report

  5. Avatar pete.mack says:

    The occupy movement’s greatest strength is it’s daily reminder that there is no constitutional right not to be inconvenienced. They are all about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. They really don’t need more message than that.Report

  6. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Activist infrastructure is a contradiction in terms. No sooner does a movement establish a hierarchy than it begins to lose momentum and ossify. The Civil Rights movement is the proof case: with the death of MLK Jr. the movement collapsed into a bitter tussle over his legacy which continues to this day.

    Forgotten in the clamor and mourning over Dr. King’s murder was his opposition to the Vietnam War, his clever policy of non-alignment with the political parties, his quixotic advocacy for compensation of the legates of slavery and other government oppression. Though we remember his March on Washington in 1963, we don’t remember his march on Washington in 1968 on behalf of poor people. MLK Jr. was defined by what he wasn’t, not what he actually was. His personal politics he kept in his back pocket and he never ran for elected office. We who survived him have made a demigod of him precisely because he was so direct yet so utterly indefinite.

    The OWS folks have made the right enemies, as Dr. King made the right enemies. Who cares what Fox News has to say about anyone? They’re the signature Confederacy of Dunces which rises up to oppose and validate every genius that enters the world. Fox News and the Right Wing Ranters are a perfect foil to OWS. Ten years from now, nobody’s going to fess up to being such patsies, as the Right Wing Ranters of the 1960s have developed selective amnesia over the years. Of course OWS is a social movement and not a political one: that’s why they’ve made so many enemies of exactly the right sort, for their enemies are no less social and no less vague in their aims and fundamental nature.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

      The SCLC-style Civil Rights Movement collapsed while MLK was alive, 1965-66 Chicago. He went into run-of-the-mill left/community organizing, but was made redundant by the rise of radical chic.

      Taylor Branch explains:


      “One of the questions that still lingers around King, in African-American Studies departments and the more wistful districts of the letters page of The Nation, is whether the history of race relations in the country might have turned out differently if King had survived. Would the radical takeover of the race movement have been forestalled, the left’s moral momentum preserved? Branch doesn’t take on the question directly, but it’s hard to read his comprehensive history and not come to the conclusion that King’s survival probably wouldn’t have greatly changed the course of the country’s racial and political history.

      The chronicle Branch gives of the last two years of King’s life is one of a succession of thrashing failures. King couldn’t gin up any popular momentum for the Northern anti-poverty crusade. His tiptoeing, then thundering entry into international relations–in his condemnation of the Vietnam War and support for Israel in the Six-Day War–made him look naïve and foolish. His championing of the trash collectors’ strike in Memphis made him look like just another liberal, and a loser, too. And his attempts to manage the emerging radical core of Huey Newton and H. Rap Brown just made him look out-of-touch and ineffective, a kindly but irrelevant grandpa.

      None of this, in Branch’s elegant telling, impeaches the nobility of King’s basic imagination, or his undertaking. But it does suggest that there is something tenuous and circumstantial about revolutions.”Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        A really good comment.   I should have made the point you did:  that while the focus knob was pulled in ever-tighter on Dr. King, the civil rights movement stagnated and lost focus.

        The enemies of OWS want to see some leadership so they can attack those leaders.

        Osama bin Ladin made the same point, as his mentor Mullah Omar had made.   There was a man named Sayyid Qutb, the greatest martyr of the Jihadist/Islamist movement.   He wrote the seminal texts for Islamic terrorism.   To keep a movement in motion, it must be kept amorphous in nature, lest its enemies find some nexus of control and seize it.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Until King went up against Daley in ’66, one could reasonably say that he and his branch of the civil rights movement were undefeated. But you don’t go up against Daley in Chicago in the 60s and win.

        Of course, the Civil Rights movement had a great deal of infrastructure. That’s what made it so successful: they learned, in the mid-50s, how to organize at various levels, and how to quickly utilize that organization in any spot in the south where it might be needed. Using the Civil Rights movement as an example of how activist infrastructure is a contradiction is kind of like using the Homestead Strike to show that violent clashes with management always helps labors cause. But Daley had organization, too, and it was deeply entrenched. No one was going to beat it, no matter how organized.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris says:

          Well, that’s as may be.   Point taken about organizing at a grass-roots level.   Even better point taken about the Homestead Strike.   There must be some level of organization, but there’s less need for such leadership in a world where a few Twitter hashtags can summon up a host of people.   Yeah, the civil rights movement used the churches to do their organizing but that’s no longer the most effective mode of communication.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP says:

            I really do think the next step for OWS is to develop some sort of infrastructure, possibly coordinated online. To this point, it seems to have been distinctly anti-infrastructure, at least beyond the actual campsites. But In order to organize people beyond a camp site, and coordinate their activities, you have to have some sort of infrastructure. This is what the anti-war and women’s rights movements learned from the Civil Rights movement, and it’s what activists have been doing since the 60s, even if activism has become more and more specialized, and therefore less and less noticable.

            I don’t think organization has to be hierarchical (it is, in most activist circles, but there is always the anti-globalization set to provide a counterexample), but it does have to be organized. You don’t take on banks, Wall Street, or crony capitalism with GA’s and signs. You take it on with political and economic actions that require serious coordination, and therefore organization.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

              This is what the anti-war and women’s rights movements learned from the Civil Rights movement,

              Who in turn got it from the Prohibiitionists and the Sufferagettes.  There are quite a few models to choose from.  (and these older models were arguably more sucessful in getting all that they asked for than the latter day ones).Report

            • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

              Already got that, don’t we? Bank Transfer Day took down Bank of America.

              OWS provides a base, a simmering seething puddle — out of which splashes can be flung. Brief, hard positions — that slide away from whence they came.Report

  7. Avatar Roger says:


    Young people in this economy have been given an especially raw deal. 

    Compared to their parents, yes. Compared to 99.99% of historic humanity they have it unimaginably easy. Indeed, I think having it too easy may have contributed to the crap that they are living in and to the advice and upbringing that we gave them.

    Where did we get a generation of kids that actually thought it would be a productive use of their time to study interesting topics? We (parents and teachers) actually encouraged them to borrow money to find themselves and make a difference. Now where are they? They’ve found themselves in a tent in the park and a degree that nobody else values enough to pay them for. Oops. Bad advice!

    …they now encounter a marketplace that just isn’t capable of absorbing them all.

    Of course “marketplaces absorbing” is just a euphemism. They aren’t amoebas. In reality the market works by people adding value to others in exchange for something else of value. It is based upon the cumulative growth of positive sum voluntary interactions. But we raised a generation without the work ethic and educational skills to be of sufficient value. These kids have expectations of their worth that exceeds what consumers (the rest of us) would agree with. Corporations are just the intermediaries in this evaluation.

    I’m no corporation, but I wouldn’t hire most of these kids either. Would you? If so, go for it (assuming you could overcome all the regulatory hurdles). Oh that is right, we were the ones that pushed for all these regulatory barriers and mandatory benefits too. Oops! sorry kids!

    Maybe we should raise corporate taxes — at the very least we should keep them higher than other countries. Oops! Sorry kids, those nasty corporations found they could make EVEN MORE money elsewhere. Now they pay NO TAXES. Oops! Now we need to raise the taxes of those lucky ones that did get jobs. Talk about wage stagnation.

    Pogo was right.


    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

      The fact remains, those kids have been given a raw deal.   If we are to compare those kids to the khat-addled boys of al-Shabaab in Somalia, perhaps by the same measure by which you measure our children in the US by their standards, our kids might feel equally entitled to hijack oil tankers in the Port of New York and hold them for ransom.   Be very careful when you make such comparisons, they seldom work well in the real world.

      I notice with dark amusement you’ve failed to point out where those kids might actually get jobs.   Perhaps we can send them all to Alabama to pick crops in the field.   Oh, that’s right, those farmers won’t pay a living wage or allow farm workers’ unions to set up shop in the state.   There’s a value add proposition for you:  allowing workers to add value and extract some of that value from the market for themselves.

      I am a corporation, or rather, my name’s on the Delaware paperwork.   I find in the course of my career that corporate taxes are the least of my worries.   They’re part of the cost of doing business.   The aggravating part of my job is dealing with income taxes.    For this, I engage the services of a specialist, actually two, an accountant and a tax attorney.   They’re part of the cost of business.    I enjoy driving on the roads of this nation:  over the last seven years I’ve put in about 100 thousand miles.   The bridges, well, I would like to see them properly maintained and they are not.

      People who don’t run their own corporation have no clear idea of how such things are done.   Corporations don’t go overseas because they pay more taxes here.   They come here and set up shop because the market is here.    Insofar as you are well-content to compare our children to those of Somalia and the banana republics, with their lack of regulations, I’ve done business in some grim corners of the planet:  Nigeria, where bribes are also part of the cost of doing business (I don’t pay them on principle) or Guatemala, where there are no regulations at all and trade unions are outlawed and nobody gets a helping hand.   There, I was obliged to hire bodyguards for my children and send them to firearms training.   Even a 12 year old girl can get five shots out of a .32 pistol in as many seconds, with a nice tight grouping at 20 meters.   Again, it’s just a cost of doing business:  think of it as an insurance policy.   Kidnappings are expensive and traumatic.   I also had three meter walls around my house, with electrified barbed wire and a parapet on top of the house, with nice clear fields of fire for the machine gun.

      Hiring people isn’t the point.   Needing to hire people is the point.   There’s no good reason why we can’t create demand in the USA.   All we’d have to do is let the trade union back into the mix, so people would actually earn some money.   Our parents lived in a world where the UAW and the trade unions improved our quality of life with such socialist notions as workplace safety and the 40 hour week.   If you really want to compare our children to the teenagers of al-Shabaab, my advice is to built a nice high wall.   You’ll need it in the Third World you seem to advocate for the US of A.Report

      • @BlaiseP,

        “Oh, that’s right, those farmers won’t pay a living wage…”

        Define living wage.Report

      • Avatar b-psycho in reply to BlaiseP says:

        I’ve done business in some grim corners of the planet: Nigeria, where bribes are also part of the cost of doing business (I don’t pay them on principle) or Guatemala, where there are no regulations at all and trade unions are outlawed *snip*

        Wow, how pervasive are the falsehoods actually-existing capitalism stands on when even a liberal doesn’t see banning unions as a regulation?Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:

        I was not comparing these kids to khat addicts. I was comparing their situation to 99.99% of humanity. (Do you notice the subtle distinction?) You know, the historic condition of the human race in most every society for the past 10,000 years or so. Yes, compared to the 99.99% of humanity they have it easy.

        The reason for my comparison, though wasn’t to make light of the situation (as I agree it is harder than my generation had it) it was to establish that we had a special world of opportunity and we have begun to squander it.

        Yes, MY GENERATION is to blame  ( I am 52).

        We used to have a saying back in the day. If one employee has a problem it is probably the employee’s problem. If many employees have a problem it is probably the manager’s problem. Like any saying it can go too far, but the point is the kids today do have a problem and we (the parents and teachers and role models) are the cause.

        No, I did not “fail to point out where those kids might actually get jobs.”    I pretty clearly said nobody in their right mind would pay these kids as much as we misled them to believe they are worth. We encouraged them to go in debt to get economically worthless degrees, then we wonder why nobody will hire them?

        I’m great with them going into business for themselves. But how much do you want to pay Mr puppeteer? As for jobs that create value, well our generation was also the one that built barriers and licensing requirements for self employment. It is now against the law for them to drive their car as a taxi, rent surfboards at the beach, do friends hair for money, or sell lemonade on the side of the road.

        If you think mandating higher wages, higher corporate taxes or closed shop unions will solve these kids problems (it creates demand!), then we can probably write off the next generation too. Sad.

        The point was that my generation was the problem. We raised a generation filled with nonsense such as you have espoused here and even more so in the recent Democracy thread.


        • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Roger says:

          “I was not comparing these kids to khat addicts.”

          He knows that, but he needed a platform to pontificate regarding his oh so interesting business exploits and to describe his parapet with nice clear fields of fire for the machine gun. Just be impressed and don’t worry about the pertinence.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

          You were in point of fact comparing our kids to the Ackshul 99.99% of the world’s kids. I pointed out the world’s kids include those khat addicts. Unless of course, you want to find another bunch of kids. Maybe on another planet or something.

          Nobody gets paid what they think they’re worth. Others have noted a degree isn’t worth much in any profession. I went to a coder conference last weekend and watched a few such students trying to get internships or some sort of position with some of the presenting firms. Those firms only want senior people. Two of the older guys and myself had an ad-hoc conference in the dining area, talking to a bunch of them about how consulting actually works, how to manage expectations, how to get their feet in the door.

          Funny you should mention puppets, since a great many of the most profitable jobs in software are in games construction, where a working knowledge of the human armature and stagecraft would come in pretty useful. There’s no barrier to self-employment. It’s easier now than ever. Armed with a cheap Linux box and a working Internet connection, a beginning coder can install more development software for free and begin to write powerful applications, straight out of the gate.
          Nobody’s mandating higher wages. It would be nice if there weren’t mandates against trade unions.

          As for nonsense, as I’ve said, it’s a matter of making the right enemies. Fresh out of argument from any reasonable standpoint, feel free to attack me for all the good it will do you. Y’all are a trip, you really are, it’s a question of mind over matter. I don’t mind and you don’t matter.Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:


            No Blaise, I was not comparing our kids to khat addicts. I was comparing them to historical standards of wellbeing. You specifically shifted it to a conversation specifically comparing them to khat addicts.

            Blaise, I am not sure if you are aware of this, but we can actually scroll up on the website and read your prior comments.

            Nobody gets paid what they think they’re worth.

            Exactly! That is what I am saying is part of the problem We raised a group of kids and failed to educate them that their livelihood depends not upon their image of self worth, but based upon what others perceive their value to be (and are thus willing to pay).

            The tag line to this opinion piece is “Time To Grow Up.” Obviously I am taking that metaphor in a different direction, but I think it gets to the heart of the issue. We allowed — no, we caused — a generation to never grow up.

            I agree with you that there are still some fields — especially those areas on the frontier of innovation — that are still open to self employment. And kids that have gone into these fields — with or without degrees — have better opportunities. It is the 99% of kids that are not going into engineering, software and gaming, or that are not capable of going into these cognitively demanding fields that I worry about.

            I would never condone mandates against open shop unions. Does Alabama actually do this? If so, I share your indignation.



    • Avatar James K in reply to Roger says:

      And this is the problem if a group wants to move from problem identification to solution creation.  To fix something you need to understand how it works.

      Also there’s an issue of confusing the permanent and the temporary.  A lot of the problem the Occupiers are having is due to to the recession.  The economy will start to grow again and when it does the jobs will return.Report

      • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to James K says:

        James, my thoughts exactly.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer in reply to James K says:

        It might be more complicated than the recession ending. We might be a point where many jobs filled before are no longer needed, and I heard to day that many jobs now available are open because of lack of qualified applicants.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to MFarmer says:

          We might be a point where many jobs filled before are no longer needed

          Or more accurately, no longer needed at the pay scale deemed sufficient by those willing to take the job.

          Who needs to hire an accountant for $55K/yr here in California when you can hire an outsourcing company to handle your books for $8k/year?

          And ain’t nobody with an accounting degree going to take a job for $7.5k/year here in CA.Report

          • Assuming a normal bell curve distribution where maybe 1 out of 6 people are “quite smart”, my back of the envelope calculations show me that China/India have more “quite smart” people than America has people.

            If these quite smart people want to get jobs that used to be considered white collar desk jobs and fast internet will allow them to do these jobs pretty much indistinguishably from someone working from home…Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

              Yes, this.

              There is, of course, still value to be had at having IT people who can sit with the non-IT crew and figure out what it is that the people in China or India ought to be doing for the people in house.

              But most IT people don’t train for that.Report

            • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Jaybird says:

              Skating awfully close to the lump of labor fallacy here, those quite smart people will add to Chinese/Indian domestic demand as well.Report

          • Yes, there is that, too. The global economy makes this possible, and there are no easy solutions. Perhaps, if we maintain an edge in innovation, we can stay ahead of other countries and generate high paying jobs which aren’t available elsewhere, but this requires a free and dynamic market., and it goes back to unqualified applicants. Our education system isn’t preparing enough young people for the complex jobs of today and tomorrow. I also believe that our education system is weakening the imaginative/visionary abilities of many of our young people. Also, the over-regulation of business protects the dinosaur enterprises while making it difficult for creative start-ups.Report

          • Patrick, When prices fall it becomes a volume business.Report

        • Avatar Roger in reply to MFarmer says:

          And it might be that we failed to prepare a generation to add value to others.Report

  8. I made the point to Elias a week or two ago that OWS is going to HAVE to vote for Obama and when they swing behind him they will lose their ‘outsider’ credibility.

    This morning Howard Dean made a very similar point about OWS. If you scroll to the 17:51 minute mark you can catch it.

    The Tea Party worked because they came in immediately after Obama’s election and had time to field congressional candidates that were more ideologically pure. With OWS the timing is terrible.




  9. Avatar wardsmith says:

    Is it just me or is Zuccotti Park the ugliest park ever?Report

  10. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Wonderful thread! For me, OWS as a political statement symbolizes what may be the penutimate act in an effort to recover, politically, from Barry’s failed policies. That this effort failed is telling and leaves only street violence remaining if the Left expects to retain political power. I don’t think they’ve captured the hearts, let alone the minds, of the unwashed. We might quite accurately  observe that OWS is a stinking failure. 


  11. Avatar Loviatar says:

    LOL, a bunch of Libertarians telling someone else to grow up.


    Thanks for the belly laugh of the week.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Loviatar says:

      Hey, congratulations, Ethan!  It appears you have been promoted to “libertarian!”Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Loviatar says:

      Loviatar, Gach is one of the liberals who doesn’t know whether the First Amendment means that the government can’t ban books.

      For the record.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        ah ha…but the first amendment doesn’t stop us from banning transfats…. (insert evil laugh…delicately strokes a cat)Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jaybird says:

        The Incoherence of the Incoherence.  That’s why the left needs signalling devices:  “Of course the Republicans are worse, but…”  Mr. Gach could have avoided this silliness if he’d only followed the formula, done the dance.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          good thing we’ve never had right wing trolls at all.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to greginak says:

            Greg, you’re really fronting today.  Since Tim Kowal’s the only front page conservative, you’d have to show where he got trolled by a rightie.

            Because that’s what’s really amusing here, the cannibalism.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Tom, every third post of yours contains a section where you decry the bias and slant of the site of a given group (the League especially, see post #8) and then you say that the left needs signalling devices? You’re trying to be ironic I’m guessing?Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to North says:

            Then pls feel free to engage my point @ #8, Mr. North, if you’re able.  And no, I don’t need to signal that the “Democrats are worse, but…”

            That I’m quite in the minority here as a gentleperson of the right is obvious, esp since Kowal’s the only one given the keys to the main page, and he seldom posts.

            Therefore, it’s true that I’m more often dissenting than high-fiving a post. But I spend most of my time objecting to bum facts and unfair arguments, and do so regardless of which side of the aisle.

            That the righties are in the minority here means I spend less time on rightie disinfo than left, that’s true.  But I’m a clarity-is-more-important-than agreement guy, and I think you’ll find my efforts are more often directed there.

            I don’t enjoy having to defend my existence like this, Jeremie, but I hope this helps people know where I’m coming from.  I let a lot of the stupider comments and commenters pass.  I’m sure some people could do without the compliment of me disagreeing with them, but supposedly that’s the value and beauty of this place.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Are you and Tim really the only people right of center here?  I would have pegged Mark, Jason, James, JL and Murali as right of center.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                If you say so, Tod, but I think that rather illustrates my point instead, about where the center of gravity lies.  At best, they self-describe as libertarian [and few or none of the Reason stripe, which is likely the “mainstream”] and Tim is the only conservative on the front page, and seldom posts here.

                So I’m explaining why it appears that I’m crabbing exclusively from the right, because chances are I am, due to numbers alone.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                “If you say so, Tod”

                Oh, I wasn’t challenging.  I was wondering if you might be right.

                Also, I would challenge the notion that you crab “exclusively from the right.”  That’s where your point of view comes from, of course, but I have always respected your ability to see value and blemishes on both sides of the isle.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Why, thx, Tod.  I even said something nice about Jimmy Carter once, sort of.  But Jeremie was correct in his way, esp if my POV is compared to the gentlemen you mention above as “right of center.”

                Which makes me a bit of a sore thumb around here, I reckon. Mostly, I try to serve more as epistemological balance than rhetorical, to spend as much time linking as speechifying, so at least the discussions stay clean on the facts.  I like to see where principled discussions can go rather than expect anyone to change their mind about anything.

                And yes, I admit to a schadenfreude when I see the Left savaging the Left, a welcome-to-my-world sort of thing.



              • Avatar Roger in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


                You and Jaybird make this site a pleasure. Quick, delicious little snack sized comments that help move it along.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Feel free to stick with North, Tom. My Father was “Mr. Finck” and my Grandfather was Jeremie.Report

              • I would self-describe myself as being left of center, and increasingly so, actually.  My explicit goal is indeed to move libertarianism left.Report

              • You’re going to need a bigger boat.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                You go in the cage.  Cage goes in the water.  You go in the water.  Shark’s in the water.

                Our shark.

                Farewell and to do, to you fair Spanish ladies…Report

              • No doubt.  There’s a reason this is more “hobby” to me than it is “life’s mission.” I write because I enjoy it, not because I expect anything to come out of it.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I know you self-describe as a left-libertarian, Mark, but I’m still at loss why. In particular, what do you think is good about the Left in general so as to make left-libertarianism a good thing?

                And, whatever your answer is, is it still credible given what we’ve learned from Sep 2008 going forward?Report

              • My explicit goal is indeed to move libertarianism left.

                Meanwhile, I hope to move liberalism…um, whatever direction libertarianism is.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley says:

                Do you not hope to move *conservatism* in whatever direction libertarianism is?  Do you not hope to move people in general in that direction?  Does any of this distinguish you in any way from any other libertarians, other than ones who do not hope or try to persuade anyone else move in the direction of libertarianism?Report

              • MichaelD, #OWS is noway nohow libertarian.  Tea Party has a strong libertarian streak.  These are the currents pulling against the middle.

                Migod, must everything be abstracted to meaninglessness?  Can’t we just admit that this is this and that is that and go from there?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:


                I’m addressing James’ self-description here, which is abstract.  I’m not claiming it’s connected with anything else, TP, OWS, or otherwise.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                FWIW, TVD, for the most part I share your fatigue with discussions of human affairs had on abstract terms.  It’s part of the reason I’ve had less to say here of late.  People can sort out their concepts on their own; I don’t feel any obligation to assist them usually.  But occasionally a comment concerning abstract ideas, or in this case simply terms and group labels (which actually are less abstract: “liberalism” was meant by James not as Platonic, unchanging set of ideas, but rather as the union of an actual group of people in the world, and the ideas that actually happen to animate them, else he’d have no hope of influencing it in any way), will interest me because of some logical turn or locution or implication that I find worth pointing up.  So occasionally I’ll take a moment to do that.  I’ll thank you in advance for your patience and forbearance for my future such episodes.Report

      • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’ll second J, except for the whole part where it should be “is of the opinion that,” rather than “doesn’t know.”Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Ethan Gach says:

          When you said “Now whether, strictly speaking, book banning is unconstituional is another question.  I’m not convinced it is.”, I guess I just assumed.

          Mea Culpa.Report

          • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Jaybird says:

            When you have to extrapolate from “Shall make no law…abridging freedom…of the press,” to will not confiscate any book for any reason, you have to make leaps that leave plenty of room for ambiguity.

            Again, I’m against banning books on the grounds that people should be allowed to do with their property, and trade/exchange it, as they like.

            How else do you think certain obscene texts are banned?

            I’m not agreeing with this in the normative sense, I think a constitutional amendment should be made to clarify and make this prohibition explicit.  But we can’t just paper over the Constitution’s ambiguity.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Loviatar says:

      Do you have a point, Loviator?  Because I see no attempt to make a substantive point in just about any of your comments.  That you’re going after Mr. Gach in this case, of all people, demonstrates that you also have no actual interest in substantive engagement with this site.  Consider this your warning.  A ban will shortly follow.Report

      • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        You don’t enjoy watching people make fools of themselves?Report

      • Avatar Loviatar in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        My point is those in glass houses shouldn’t thow stones.


        The group with the most infantile political point of view shouldn’t be telling anyone to grow up. Ethan’s, post with a different title and less condensation would be a great debate starter, but in its current form its only worthy of mocking.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Loviatar says:

           You’d do yourself, the subject, the conversation and your (our) cause an enormous amount of good, Loviatar, if you had held your breath for a moment, counted to ten and then wrote a thoughtful useful reply as if you hadn’t perceived any condescension or title problems in Ethan’s post. Instead by rolling around on the level you’ve decided to wallow at, you’ve accomplished nothing.Report

          • Avatar Loviatar in reply to North says:

            Nope, as I wrote some things are worthy of response in a thoughtful nuanced way, others not so much. This piece falls in the not so much category.


            Why? I’ve gotten tired in the past 30+ of trying to respond to Republicans and their Libertarian enablers with nuance and thoughtfulness and get in return death panels and cries of socialism. John Rogers says it best in his I Miss Republicans post, when we get those type of Republicans back then we can have the conversation.

            I saw this posted at Unqualified Offerings a couple of months ago and it sums up my opinion of most Libertarians (along with it being an infantile political point of view).

            “You may formally renounce your libertarianism. You may insist on keeping the label while justifying what amounts to joining the conservative coalition on the grounds that “Economics is primary, and the Republican Party is the lesser of two evils economically,” or explaining away operational liberalism because, “while liberals tend to overreach in regulating the free market, at least they want to keep the Hand of the State away from your nether parts.”



            • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Loviatar says:

              Loviator – if you want to be taken seriously, then by all means point to the part of the post where Ethan makes a libertarian argument. Quote him. Because I don’t think you read past the title.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                Loviatar said last week that my post on Herman Cain proved that I was a Republican/FOX shill.  I suspect he doesn’t actually read the posts, just looks at the title and goes with what he assumes a right-wing libertarian would write about with that said title.Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Loviatar says:

          And….Ethan is to be deemed a libertarian because he writes on a site that has some libertarian front pagers?  Is Mr. Isquith also a libertarian?  What about Mr. Gude?  Ryan Bonneville? Dr. Saunders?  Rufus?

          It would seem that your point is that anyone who is at all associated with a libertarian, indeed, anyone who substantively engages with a libertarian, is to be defined as a libertarian and dismissed as unserious.

          Well, great.  If all you’ve got is dismissiveness of anyone who writes here, then why the fish are you here?Report

          • Avatar Loviatar in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            You clipped and responded to only a portion my comment (a typical tactic of the dishonest).

            My comment in full:

            The facts are, he is writing on a Libertarian blog while espousing Libertarian points of view.

            The facts are most of the responders are Libertarians or hold Libertarian points of view.


            So yes in this circumstances he is to be lumped with Libertarians for purposes of mocking.


            Well, great.  If all you’ve got is dismissiveness of anyone who writes here, then why the fish are you here?

            Sometimes you just have to point out that the emperor has no clothes.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Loviatar says:

              As awesome as public nudity awareness week has been so far, I’d like to point out that the reason he seems pink is not because of his skin tone but because he is, in fact, wearing off-peach slacks and a similar shirt.Report

            • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Loviatar says:

              1.  I “clipped” nothing.

              2.  The passage to which I was responding was the passage that you think so wonderfully exonerates you.

              3.  This isn’t a libertarian blog.  That you may think otherwise doesn’t make it so.

              Nor is it as if you have a history of making substantive comments.Report

          • Avatar Loviatar in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Thank you I will take that into consideration.

            And you should try a HTML primer.Report

      • Avatar Loviatar in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        condensation = of a condescending toneReport

  12. Avatar Ethan Gach says:


    I’m not a libertarian, though I do have anti-establishment/anti-centralization tendencies that arise every once in a while.

    Either way, you shouldn’t take the title condescendingly.  Replace “Time to Grow Up,” with “A Chance to Grow Up,” if you like.  I thought I made it clear throughout my post that I agree with the sentiment motivating Occupy.  My only critique was that if they are protesting for political change, than it’s time to embrace more successful and sophisticated ways of achieving it.

    If OWS is content to simply act out and “resist” the police, then they’re time is over.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Ethan Gach says:

      He didn’t read your post.

      Which, by the way, was really solid.Report

    • Avatar Loviatar in reply to Ethan Gach says:


      I did read your post and I admit I was immediately turned off by the title – “Time to Grow Up”, which set a very condescending tone particularly when posted to a Libertarian blog. The content while some of it was worthy of discussion the majority seemed to be a scolding of the OWS on what they did wrong. While it provided some suggestions to OWS, it also contained a great amount of sneering at their lack of social media outreach. Why is this so important, I don’t know, but it seemed to be the basis of your critique.

      I’ll also admit that if your post was titled differently and posted to a location not known for hosting an infantile political point of view it would have gotten a more constructive response from me, but it wasn’t, so it got the response it deserved.


      Finally, as I said earlier I’ve run out of patience with today’s Republicans (never had any for Libertarians) so my responses to their arguments has devolved to pointing and mocking. In other words I don’t take them seriously. This is not good on my part because while I know I shouldn’t sink to that level, I am human.Report

  13. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Now, that thread deserves to be in the ‘greatest’ hits thread!Report

  14. Avatar Scott says:

    No, OWS should continue to act like petulant children and break as many laws as they can while they protest others folks until everyone has to recognize their true nature.  I’m enjoying every report of mayhem in the OWS camps.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Scott says:

      Scott, I enjoy the #OWS crapology too. But it’s claiming a righteousness exemption from the rules of civilization by those on the “moral” side of things that’s the alarming thing.

      This is not civil disobedience, which accepts the legal consequences of its illegal actions.

      Jeez, some people don’t think they’re obliged to keep a civil tongue in their head because they’re “right.”

      [I don’t feel like looking it up, but it stands to reason that “civil” and “civilization” share a common etymology.  Even if not so, therein would lie my point, close enough for rock’n’roll.]Report

      • Avatar b-psycho in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        This is not civil disobedience, which accepts the legal consequences of its illegal actions.

        Have they been fighting off the cops in any significant number when they come to disperse/arrest?Report

        • Avatar Freud & Jung in reply to b-psycho says:

          Hey, b-psycho, what do you think this is, Reds?   “Fighting off cops”?    A contingent of Cub Scouts would be more than sufficient to disperse this motley group of fruitloops, ne’er do wells and aimless layabouts.  I understand their latest gripe and concern is the ever-increasing speed in which the universe is expanding and demand mathematical proof–MIT math heads and the ghost of Norbert Weiner are rushing to the scene.   They also want NASA to admit we never landed on the moon and the whole bogus Apollo 11 episode was all filmed at the White Sands National Monument.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to b-psycho says:

          No. Which makes the strangely smug tone of people who would ordinarily be rather against the excessively heavy hand of the law all the more annoying.

          Apparently, it’s not police brutality if it’s hippies. Or something. And of course they’re hippies, because they’re not conservative.

          It’s not so bad here, but reading comments at Volokh is a bit startling. On the one hand they’re hyper-vigilant about the tiniest overreach of government — to the point where they feel the government has pratically become a tyranny since the New Deal.

          On the other hand, they’re applauding brutal tactics to break up camps full of peaceful kids.Report

  15. Avatar Joecitizen says:

    Why not guns and death? Of the failed states we have seen come and go, those that bleed the most tend to get real about freedom. Enable the oppressors the least.

    I would rather live in a nation where the poor continue to be free than in debtors prison. Yet the debt engines continue to spew credit cards to the troubled masses. The government forcing them to buy this or that for thier own good.

    Who would have ever predicted the Amish would be bootlegging $6 a gallon milk?—Got Regulation?—

    For me the Amish are the canaries in the coalmine, when they start crying BS, my ears perk up. Ask Bankers who handle amish loans about what leverage is. No credit history, no drivers license, no problem! Any speculations on the cost of Amish healthcare?

    Beyond the youth in OWS there are lucid adults. One unquantified factor in all of this is emotion. Decades of not seeing light at the end of the tunnel (no matter what living wage you pin on that donkey). A built up extreme prejudice against the 1%. Prejudice that doesn’t have to have any rationality. There is an anger that goes beyond logic or reason. Beyond any Bill that can be passed via executive order. Hell I don’t think you could even negative tax people until the anger ceases.

    These first few ripples have been relatively peaceful. If my guess is correct there wont be satisfaction without the buckets shed.

    Damn, don’t know why I’m so cheery today.Report

  16. Avatar Joecitizen says:

    The point is to make Stalin bleed.Report