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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party

Very strange to hear Republican/Fox News commentators giving their "take" on the Occupy Wall Street movement.  They seem to feel a need to characterize it, and to characterize it as "loony"  (I think I heard Bill O'Reilly say they were a bunch of loons).  Or they need to compare the movement with hippies, communists, etc.  I heard one of them -- maybe it was Hannity -- talking about how dignified the Tea Party was, as opposed to this crowd.  And of course they quote whatever extreme "planks" of the OWS platform they can get hold of, e.g. "immediately cause all debt to be forgiven."

But it seems to me that Occupy Wall Street is more like than unlike the Tea Party.  Both movements appeal to people who think that the government isn't working.  And on that, both are right.  The Tea Party seems to think that the solution is to reduce the size of government, and that that will solve all our problems.  The Occupy Wall Street movement seems agnostic on the size of government; they just want to remove corporate influence. 

So how do I pick?  Well, I just don't know what the result will be if the Tea Party realizes its goal.  Obviously, a smaller government should result in less government waste, which is a good thing.  But it doesn't solve the problem of corporate influence on government.  And if you're talking about reducing the resources of the parts of government that regulate the "bad" things corporations want to do -- like pollution and financial shenanigans -- then reducing the size of govenment may well do more harm than good.  In fact, the smaller it is, the easier it will be for the corporations to control.  Some of what the Tea Party wants -- e.g. abolition of the EPA -- is straight out of the corporate influence playbook.  And that's almost certainly not going to be good for the common people.  Remember, corporations would love to pollute our water and air again; it has only been regulation that has kept that in check.

So it seems to me that the OWS movement has the better focus.  Let's focus on where corporations are screwing things up.  I'll hasten to add that there are a lot of places where corporations are just what America needs -- we need the jobs, we need the research, we need the technology, etc.  So it's fine to have a corporation-friendly, capitalistic society.  But that's very different from having a society that is governed by the corporations themselves, which is where some people think we are heading -- or where we may already be. 

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