Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sometimes you don't learn what you think you're going to learn.....

For the last couple of weeks I've had a great, great time with the Occupy Wall Street people. 

Radley Balko recently provided a helpful link to a piece in Forbes, where a typist named Kyle Smith hopes that the OWS movement never ends. 
Because, after all the rapes, thefts, tent gropings, assaults, Anti-Semitism, old woman toppling, public urination and the like, the cute little buggers might actually be learning something about human nature and how the world works. 

Here's Mr. Smith:

Years from now, a major political candidate will come to the fore and say, “I got my political education as a member of a protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street. And it’s the reason I stand before you as a private enterprise-loving capitalist today.”

Some editorial writers have called for evicting the OWS squatters from downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park (a better solution: Lock them in! Wouldn’t society be much better off without these malodorous whiners?), but the longer the occupation lasts, the more valuable the lessons being learned by these youngsters. Their college educations obviously didn’t include even rudimentary tutelage about how a marketplace — and by extension (since most things are connected to trade) society — works. But now they’re learning, for instance, that:

1) Rule of law comes first. It doesn’t matter whether your business is widget marketing or universal social justice: You can’t work until you have secured basic order, which requires a non-corrupt constabulary authorized in the judicious use of force. The Manhattan OWS site, which is largely covered with tents that lend shelter to peaceful protesters and privacy to opportunistic felons, is being linked to more and more reports of theft, sexual assault, random groping and even rape.

The occupiers, who operate on a foolhardy belief that they are a self-policing as well as self-governing organization, have reacted to crimes by forming “shame circles” in which, as if reenacting a scene from a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel, they surround malefactors and cry, “Shame, shame, shame!” (What, without trial?) Desperadoes, unfazed by such non-punishment, have declined to flee. A society that fails adequately to punish lawbreakers will disintegrate into chaos.

2) Welfare breeds freeloading. The idealistic, studenty, ultra-left-wing quality of the Zuccotti proceedings has attracted nutritious, restaurant-caliber meals, large donations of clothing and other goods and large cash balances. All of this private charity is very much in the tradition of free enterprise, but the political types have been unnerved by the increasing presence of ordinary apolitical homeless people who don’t know much about satiric anti-capitalist puppetry, but would very much enjoy a sandwich.

OWS has been shocked to discover these folk aren’t “contributing” anything (nothing important, anyway, like slogans or resolutions), and derided them as “professional homeless people” (to distinguish them from the amateur kind). Food preparers instigated what one protester called “blacklisting” of such individuals to keep them from sharing the bounty the “productive” members of the movement have secured.

This is a crucial battle between inactivists and activists. Consider this comment on the official OWS forum:

“The money was sent for the protesters, not panhandlers. The protesters want jobs, but can’t find any. Panhandlers (In my experience, flame away) don’t want jobs. There is a difference for all the fogies spewing about hypocrisy. We should not allow people’s good intentions to be taken advantage of by miscreants and other parasites.
But exactly! Having granted the principle that you must be willing to work if you want to eat, OWS has done all the heavy lifting for those who would question whether the policies of social-democratic welfare states are even moral, much less practical. (OWS hasn’t yet run out of donated pizzas, but Europe proves you will eventually run out of other people’s money).

3) Private, profit-seeking businesses provide a social good.  Before OWS began, among the corporations you would have expected to be the least likely to receive its blessing would have been McDonald’s, which has been wolfsbane to the collegiate left since at least the 1980s. Previously known mainly as rainforest-despoiling animal-butchering obesity-inducing corporate goons, Mickey D is now A-OK with OWS. A downtown franchise half a block from Zuccotti Park allows protesters to use its bathrooms without purchase and fuels discussion of the revolution with its generous, barely profitable Dollar Menu.

There are no facilities in the plaza, suggesting the movement would have had to keep its collective legs crossed for the past few weeks were it not for the burger profits that keep the restrooms working. McDonald’s is an especially salient reminder of why dreamy idealists are able to function: Because someone, somewhere who gets up and goes to work making things people actually want to buy is subsidizing them. Just ask Karl Marx, who was sent money by his buddy Friedrich Engels to support him while he was writing “Das Kapital” — money that came directly from Engels’ father’s worker-exploiting apparatus, also known as a “factory.”

And speaking of Karl Marx, here's one of Samizdata's quotes of the day:

"I wish Karl would accumulate some capital, instead of just writing about it." - Karl Marx's Mama

1 comment:

Cedric Katesby said...

Because, after all the rapes, thefts...

So I clicked the link.
(Because, gosh darn it, that's what I do!)
It took me to something called the "Science and Public Policy Institute."

The problem is that the "Institute" doesn't exist.
What I mean is that when you pop the hood and check the tyres...well...there is no actual Institute per se.
What they call an Institute is really just

Now I can understand that. After all, a website sound's much less illustrious than an Institute.
Nobody would really care that much if it was called the "Science and Public Policy website."

And you'll never guess who helps run the website!
Your friend and mine-Monckton.
Ah, happy days.