mybaycity.com October 23, 2011
Government Article 6342

What is This Occupy Wall Street Movement? Do We Cheer, or Fret About It?

When Ideology and Emotion Trump Reason, the World Goes Mad

October 23, 2011
By: Dave Rogers


Occupy Wall Street is for real!

But in the minds of many Americans it is a mysterious and frustrating movement akin to the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s.

The status quo is the most powerful aspect of a stable society; any departure seems to threaten our way of life. And the uprising of the so-called 99ers is beyond alarming.

What the Wall Street demonstrators are saying loudly is what the rest of the nation has known for years, but has been too timid to express -- something is wrong.

News reports today are that the unrest has spread to 82 countries, causing fear that the world's fragile economic status will be further affected.

The election of Barack Obama as President in 2008 on a "hope and change" promise appears to have been like Sancho Panza, literary hero of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, who tilted at windmills and "dreamed the impossible dream."

Obama now appears as the modern version of Man of La Mancha with his Republican counterpart Herman Cain, both dreaming impossible dreams of changing the course of the nation.

"The world is on fire," wealthy Americans on Mackinac Island expressed in 2008 at an event I attended. Extreme disappointment with the George W. Bush administration was reflected in election of an incompletely prepared politician who nevertheless connected with voters' hunger for national redirection.

That no one could have accomplished the task of shifting the course of an economy steaming like a battleship on an erratic course is now apparent. The causes? Globalization, the hyper-monetization of politics, technology gone wild, the 24-hour/24 minute news cycle, the outrageous financial rewards of speculation fueled by deregulation, misguided government funding, etc., etc.

Obama and his supporters also did not count on an obdurate Republican opposition who not only stated their main goal was to make him a one-term President but acted on that despite the threat to the national and world economies.

Like during the French Revolution, ideology trumped all reason. This has not abated and now the pushback has gone mad -- like the firebrands in the streets of Paris in the "off with their heads" upheavals of the 1700s.

Some clarity about the OWS movement has been reported: Marcia, of Eagan, Minnesota, was quoted as saying: "As a senior--I'm 73--I am a grateful recipient of the benefits of having belonged to a union during my working years, of growing up during the dominance of Democratic government--or even of Republicans who would be called right-wing Democrats today, e.g. Eisenhower and Nixon, and grieve for the young of today whose hopes for a fair deal for the working class are eroding fast. My husband and I plan to be at the rally in Minneapolis to carry the message of fairness into the Midwest and I hope beyond. We seniors owe that effort to the next generations."

Writes Paul Friedman, Nobel Prize winner, in The New York Times: "This particular round of protests may build or may not, but what will not go away is the broad coalition of those to whom the system lied and who have now woken up. It's not just the environmentalists, or the poor, or the unemployed. It's most people, including the highly educated middle class, who are feeling the results of a system that saw all the growth of the last three decades go to the top 1 percent."

No politician or economic sage has a solution. We can only hope the fates treat us kindly as the world turns.

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