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Occupy and the seemliness of capitalism

Occupy and the seemliness of capitalism

Last Thursday I was a panelist for the Heritage Foundation’s Occupy Wall Street: A Post-Mortem event. During the Q&A session, Alex Cortes of Let Freedom Ring asked a question  about the “unseemliness” of today’s capitalist winners. It was part of a larger discussion of what drives Occupy protesters–and if images portrayed in the media and elsewhere of golden parachutes, golf getaways, and sky-high bonus checks might, in part, add fuel to the Occupy fire.

(video added) My segment starts at 12:30:

Research I conducted at The Frontier Lab answers just these questions. In sum, the rank-and-file Occupy protesters (who are quite different from the professional operatives) choose their movement because it fulfills three values: purpose, a sense of meaning, and community. It is only by replacing Occupy as their means for achieving these values that freedom-marketers can hope to promote other American ideals.

Understanding these crucial points shows that debating the unseemliness of capitalism back and forth with an Occupier will be a futile exercise in the near-term.

But outside the Occupy setting, the unseemliness of capitalism remains a question in everyday Americans’ minds. Even at Cornell’s Johnson School the question routinely came up in Business Ethics and other courses preparing us for the incredibly “PC” business world we would be entering.

My answer has always been that the market resolves these questions without government intervention. That when the public decries astronomical displays of wealth, it is not in the shareholders’ best interest to pursue them. Conversely, the market is also the largest reason why businesses invest so heavily in sustainability processes and employee 5K runs for various diseases. As soon as the public tires of these fads–and they will–so too should the business need.

A more interesting question is why observing the grandest successes of our uniquely American system appears to be met with more hostility than in prior generations.

For some, observing the highest levels of economic success impels them to work harder, to produce more, and to provide themselves or future generations with the basis from which to achieve the same, if they wish. In order for that belief to take hold, we must believe that we live in a meritocracy.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters ultimately cannot entertain arguments about the value of the free market because they seek out and embrace a culture of dependency, where advocating for more benefits for themselves and others fulfills their deepest values.

If we are to solve the problem of the Occupiers–and help them in the process–it requires a long-term rejuvenation of the pillar institutions that have provided meaning, purpose, and community to so many throughout history.



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The Occupy Wall Street protesters ultimately cannot entertain arguments.


Most of these people are beyond redemption, barring a complete revolution in their “thinking”.

“If we are to solve the problem of the Occupiers–and help them in the process”

who says we want to help them?
the more of them that die of scurvy and starvation from their inherent laziness the better we are.
harsh truth, people need to top talking polite and coddling the seditionists.

I suspect that are a lot of nominal OWS supporters who can be won over by first asking them for specific examples of what they object to about capitalism, and listening.

Chances are, they will describe something that you don’t like, either. Or, they will describe something that you think is unobjectionable, with a twist in the facts. Accept the twist. At most, say, “I don’t think it happened that way, but I am going to assume you’re right.”

And you will win them, if you can get them to see the difference between capitalism and “crony capitalism” — which, in my view, is not capitalism at all, but corruption.

OWS sympathisers vote, you know. That’s why the Democrats astroturfed them.

Damn, Anne is a FOX…!!!

Who knew!

Like a Mummy during the “Cycle of the Full Moon”, the Tea Party Now Arises during each Election Cycle!Specific examples of Tea Party activism mixed in with some great Universal horror movie clips.

“A more interesting question is why observing the grandest successes of our uniquely American system appears to be met with more hostility than in prior generations.”

Is it really that interesting? Or puzzling? Can’t it be explained by the changes in the educational system over the past 50 years reaching critical mass, i.e., the “collectivist-social justice” narrative of America’s original and immutable defects and how to treat them? This model has assumed the place of the traditional civics model. It is both a degradation and a transformation: you will find as many students as ignorant of the civic-political origins, history and Constitutional workings of America as contemptuous of America on the basis of its supposed structural racism, patriarchy, hegemony, etc.

I recently attended a graduation at a well-known all-women liberal arts college in California. About 300 female graduates (including my niece). I read the list of senior theses (published in the ceremony pamphlet) while awaiting the ceremony. It was, without ONE exception, a litany of “post-structural,” Marxist critiques of America, the inequities within the marketplace or the social inquities within the political system. The valedictory speech was larded with anti-American PC cliches as passionate as they were pitifully uninformed. The entire ceremony was a kind of well-mannered primer on OWS – subdued but total hostility toward America and the idea of capitalism even the marketplace (every student I talked with was excited about her prospects in the “non-profit” or government sector). I tried to imagine these poor girls’ professors over the past four years.

There was no religious or patriotic invocation before the event. There was not even an American flag anywhere in sight on the campus. No one –student, administrator, parent — seemed aware of how their beautiful and richly endowed campus got that way or stayed that way. No one acknowledged the values much less the basic empirical benefits of capitalism or the free market.

OWS is about as inevitable and uninteresting a social phenomenon as I can imagine.

We must clarify the difference between crony capitalism, nepotism, corporate raiding and corruption — from capitalism.

    WMCB in reply to janitor. | April 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm


    In order for that belief to take hold, we must believe that we live in a meritocracy.

    One of the mistakes that Republicans have made, and one that needs to be corrected, is lumping in the idea that “profit by any means is an unadulterated good” with capitalism and free markets. HONEST profit is good. COMPETITIVE profit is good. Profit via partnership with a govt that helps you loot the system then pay them back in kind is not.

    Crony capitalism is not a free market, nor is it a meritocracy. Having regulations written that favor larger, well-connected corporations in crushing their smaller competitors is not capitalism. There are a LOT of OWS-sympathizing voters out there who no longer believe that we live in a meritocracy – and for good reason.

    The GOP needs to make the case that they are on the side of genuine free markets, genuine meritocracy, not cronyism and gaming the system. Stop using the loaded phrase “de-regulate”, and start talking about “getting govt OUT OF BED with the corporations” (which is the function that so many supposed “regulations” actually serve) and watch the response.

    Case in point: The Frank Dodd bill. Dems sell it as reigning in those nasty big banks that screwed us all. It DOES NOT DO THAT. It puts impossible pressure and requirements on smaller community banks, driving them out of business so the Big Boys have a clear field.

This is simply the latest chapter in the old, old war between utopian and realist views of the world. From Plato to Hobbs to Marx to the progressive movement, there has been a school of thought that says that humankind can be perfected, that paradise on earth can be attained, and that while the average person isn’t smart enough to know how to achieve paradise, he/she can be educated to listen to their wiser, better citizens who will rule on their behalf. Just turn over all your own personal liberty, power and wealth and paradise will be at hand. Sign here.

The OWS should be seen in that way, Yes, it’s also a protest of the apparatchiks, the children of the 1% who thought that a degree in critical theory or gender studies or romance literature would get them a six figure job educating the little people, a coop in Midtown and a white Toyota Land Cruiser. Yes, it’s also a protest that involves the OWS ninnies buying into the community of true believers and in doing so giving themselves meaning in their lives.

But in the end, they are utopians: they believe that there is a perfect world to be built and that they should be among the builders. They’re the smart ones: they read Rousseau and Marx, Zinn and Hersh, Chomsky and Alinsky. It just cannot be that people as smart as them have to sleep on a steam grate in a city park.

That’s why they’re angry. It’s not their fault. It’s ours. We don’t listen to them, we go on with our lives, and capitalism makes that possible. If for no other reason, that’s why capitalism has to go.

Midwest Rhino | April 24, 2012 at 11:59 am

Students need to invest in themselves, instead of demanding a free ride for “four more years” of what often amounts to high school away from home, with more drugs and booze. If the parents don’t help with college, students too often become government dependents, effectively wards of the state, to one degree or another. (or good little Marxists as planned, some may say)

The “meritocracy” kids learn from their high school teachers, is a union enforced, seniority and continuing ed regimented program of guaranteed advancement. Merit based on actual accomplishment is “unfair”. The right to OCCUPY private property seems fair to them though … in the Marxist state, Orwellian world.

Kids that pay their way with a clear goal will work harder and achieve more. Obama’s “investment in America’s future” is more about selling out our freedom, by redistributing the wealth of success to the coffers of the union mobs. The occupiers madly bang their drums, while those in the buildings are trying to work. Get a job, occupiers.

Professor, that was you at 12:30? Your picture up in the corner doesn’t even look like you!
You’re a handsome bugger.

The movement also provides a source of perpetual outrage for those who apparently need it. Kneecap the 1% and HEY, look, another 1% falls into place. No need to ever stand down. No need to ever reassess the purpose or goals of the movement. Not until we’re down to 99 people will we run out of whole numbers of 1 percenters.

It is an aggitators dream come true.

[…] Robin Hood and the Level Playing Field Posted on April 24, 2012 3:30 pm by Bill Quick » Occupy and the seemliness of capitalism – Le·gal In·sur·rec&middo… A more interesting question is why observing the grandest successes of our uniquely American system […]