Nuggets of Wisdom

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why Occupy Wall Street Sucks

After months of protesting the wrong people, the Occupy Wall Street movement finally got a clue and went to Washington D.C. on January 16 to stage Occupy Congress.

And boy was it a real bust!

Despite the liberal media praising it, the protest only managed to garner a few hundred protesters instead of the over ten thousand it claimed it was going to have. Add the fact that donations have been dwindling and protests across the country have been getting evicted, and the Occupy movement could very well be going through its death throes.

People keep asking me why I don’t support the Occupy movement. After all, my hero Dr. Ron Paul supports it, many protesters are libertarians like myself, and the protests are against things I oppose like the bank bailouts, drug war, and Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Sadly, those are the only issues I agree with them on. Everything else (when they can manage to articulate them) is nothing more than Marxist utopian wet dreams which sound good on paper, but would do more harm than good if implemented in real life.

The following list of demands was posted on Occupy Wall Street’s website a few months ago. The website claims that the list was an unofficial one posted by a single user and thus did not represent the views of the entire movement. That may be so, but I think it still perfectly articulates why I think the movement is so wrongheaded.

So without further ado, here is the list of demands, followed by my common-sense rebuttals:

Repeal the Taft-Hartley Act. Unionize ALL workers immediately.

But what if I don’t want to join a union? What if I don’t want my job performance limited by needless union restrictions? If employees want to voluntarily band together to negotiate with their employers for better wages and working conditions, they should be free to do so, but only if others are free not to join if they don’t want to. That’s called freedom of association.

“But unions represent the will of the working middle class,” I hear you say.

Then why do big labor unions support SOPA and PIPA? They claim the bills would help save jobs lost through online piracy—which is obviously false, as both bills would wind up costing jobs.

And what about teacher unions? Do they help the middle class when they lobby against offering students life-saving medicine, or transforming failing public schools into more efficient charter schools, or implementing education reform in general? Since when did job security take precedence over our children’s education?

Can we please end this false dichotomy of “Unions good/Corporations evil”?

Raise the minimum wage immediately to $18/hr. Create a maximum wage of $90/hr to eliminate inequality.

Ah yes, the $20/hr. minimum wage fantasy. Tempting idea, but how will companies compensate for it? A multinational corporation making record profits could easily pay their errand boys $20/hr. (perhaps even more), but what about a local mom-and-pop restaurant forced to obtain a second mortgage on their home just to start their own business? Would they be able to pay their busboy $20/hr. to bus tables and wash dishes? I highly doubt it.

And that’s the problem with minimum wage: it kills entry-level jobs, thus hurting small businesses and poor people—in other words, the 99%!

And then there’s “maximum” wage. Hey, here’s an idea: if you really care about inequality, why not just have an equal set wage across the board? That way, everyone gets paid exactly the same? That’s the Marxist mantra: “All work is equal!” Because the work of a janitor mopping the bathroom floors is equivalent to that of a CEO who manages the very existence of the company, right? Right?!

As with minimum wage, maximum wage sound good—on paper—until market forces hit companies with a heavy dose of reality. Case in point, both Ben & Jerry’s and Herman Miller had significant caps on their top employee’s salaries, but when faced with economic hardships, forcing them to seek new management, they were forced to drop these caps.

Maximum wage makes it difficult to hire for top-level positions just as minimum wage makes it difficult to hire for entry-level positions. Businesses get hurt. Workers get hurt. The 99% get hurt.

Institute a 6 hour workday, and 6 weeks of paid vacation.

Let’s see here: 6 hours a day x 6 days a week x 50 weeks in a year – 6 weeks of paid vacation = WHO THE HELL IS DOING ALL THE WORK IN THIS COUNTRY?! In other words, you want workers to be paid more for working fewer hours? And you expect businesses to compensate for this how?

Institute a moratorium on all foreclosures and layoffs immediately.

No real opinion on this, other than economic martial law probably isn’t the best term of action. Martial law period rarely is.

Repeal racist and xenophobic English-only laws.

So expecting people to learn English in an English-speaking country is racist and xenophobic? I always thought it was common sense. Go figure!

Open the borders to all immigrants, legal or illegal. Offer immediate, unconditional amnesty, to all undocumented residents of the US.

So anyone should be allowed to wander into this country and set up residence? Even if they’re convicted criminals? Even if they have a contagious disease that may spread and cause a pandemic? (Swine Flu, anyone?)

Look, I get it: America is the “Great Melting Pot” built upon immigration. And I do want people to come into this country and make a better life for themselves. But is it too hard (or xenophobic) to ask that immigrants come into this country legally and with proper documentation, that they apply for citizenship, pay taxes, and learn our language and customs so they can better integrate into our society? Or is that racist of me?

And concerning amnesty for illegal immigrants: how well has that worked out in the past? Nixon granted amnesty. Carter granted it. Reagan granted it. Clinton granted it. Both Bushes granted it. Anyone else seeing a pattern here? Immigrants illegally enter country. We grant them amnesty. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I’m sorry, but what’s the point of amnesty again? Because it’s obviously not curbing illegal immigration.

Create a single-payer, universal health care system.

“You don’t want universal healthcare?!” I hear you cry. “Do you want people to die without healthcare, you immoral social Darwinist?!”

As a matter of fact, no, I don’t want people to die without healthcare. And no, I don’t want universal healthcare.

You know what else I don’t want? Hospitals that turn over bed sheets in order to save on laundry bills. Cancer patients being denied life-prolonging medicine because they cost too much. Pregnant women being forced to give birth in a hospital hallway because other hospitals are too full. Hospitals where patients are more likely to starve than prisoners. Clinics where hip operations are 20 percent more likely to go wrong. Tens of thousands of hospitals being shut down due to budget cuts. (Need I continue?)

So yeah, color me unimpressed when socialists brag about Britain’s universal healthcare system, because gleaning through British newspaper headlines gives me a different perspective. Even the British Health Secretary says the system is royally screwed beyond reason. You may want a healthcare system where hospital wards have worse conditions than most third world countries. I don’t!

Yes, our healthcare system has problems. No, universal healthcare is not the solution. There are plenty of smaller, less radical solutions we can implement to improve the system we already have—and we don’t even have to spend a dime!

Pass stricter campaign finance reform laws. Ban all private donations. All campaigns will receive equal funding, provided by the taxpayers.

I don’t like special interests hijacking our elections either, but I highly doubt repealing corporate personhood is the solution, and if you feel that corporations should be sued and taxed, then neither should you, as corporate personhood makes that possible. Even the ACLU supported Citizens United. Hard to argue with them.

Institute a negative income tax, and tax the very rich at rates up to 90%.

Progressive liberals keep insisting that everyone pay their fair share in taxes, yet insist that the rich pay more in taxes (even though statistics show, time and again, that the rich already carry the lion’s share of the national tax burden). Wouldn’t it make more sense to institute a flat tax across the board, allowing everyone to pay at the same rate? The rich would still pay more than the poor, but at least it would be at an even rate.

But no: taxing everyone equally is unfair and taxing some more than others is fair. Up is down. Left is right. Slavery is freedom. War is peace. Ignorance is strength. That’s liberal logic!

Pass far stricter environmental protection and animal rights laws.

As with overall regulation, environmental regulations have been exponentially increasing, not decreasing. The EPA alone has increased their federal regulations from over 7 thousand rules in 1976 to over 169 thousand in 2009. Hard to argue for far stricter regulations when we tax cow farts and regulate farm dust.

“But we need stricter regulation to prevent another BP oil spill,” I hear you rebut.

You mean the same BP oil spill that occurred on federal property, was caused by an industry regulated by an inept federal bureaucracy, and whose economic liability was capped by the federal government (allowing for such risky behavior in the first place)?

And screw animal rights. Animals are not human beings. They don’t have the mental cognition to recognize the concept of rights. This isn’t to say that we should abuse them, just that we shouldn’t give them the same legal standing as humans.

Allow workers to elect their supervisors.

No real opinion on this.

Lower the retirement age to 55. Increase Social Security benefits.

Social Security comprises 20 percent of our federal budget and is quickly going bankrupt. And you want to put more people onto the system?

“It’s not going bankrupt!” I hear you say. “It’s solvent until 2036!” (Which is just a positive way of saying that it’s going broke by 2036.)

Progressive liberals keep telling us that public policy needs to change with the times. And since life expectancy has been increasing since Social Security was first passed (back when most seniors probably weren’t expected to live past 65, and thus be on the dole for that long), shouldn’t the collection age for Social Security be raised? Or is that akin to shoving Grandma off a cliff? (You know, as opposed to allowing Social Security to dry out completely!)

Create a 5% annual wealth tax for the very rich.

Please refer to my response to “Institute a negative income tax, and tax the very rich at rates up to 90.”

Ban the private ownership of land.

“Oh you right-wing conservatives and your obsession with property rights! Those are the only rights you care about, aren’t they?”

Actually, no. I do care about other rights. But I also care about property rights (something most progressive liberals don’t care about). You want to know why? I need but give one example: Kelo v. City of New London.

This controversial Supreme Court decision involved Susette Kelo whose house (the very first she had ever owned), along with those of other home owners in New London, Connecticut, was threatened to be seized through eminent domain and sold to a local corporation. The Court ruled 5-4 against her and the other homeowners, claiming that such economic development fell under the definition of “public use” under the Fifth Amendment. Their land was seized, and was supposed to go to an economic redevelopment plan that promised over three thousand jobs and over 1 million in tax revenue. Instead, this “public land” remains today a barren lot, the site of a city dump.

Don’t believe in private property rights? Believe the government should hold all property in common? Then you support this court decision! You may not agree with it personally, but you support the decision behind it. You support the government seizing another person’s land and doing with it as they please, even if it means reducing it to a useless city dump.

I, on the other hand, believe everyone has the right to the fruit of their labor, and that includes property. If man is not entitled to his own property, then how can he be entitled to his own body?

Make homeschooling illegal. Religious fanatics use it to feed their children propaganda.

In other words, ban the only form of schooling that’s actually educating our children. Ignore the hundreds of studies that show that home-schooled children outperform their public-schooled peers on standardized tests. Ban homeschooling and private schools. Make education a government monopoly. Because monopolies make everything better, right? It worked for the phone company!

To show just how draconian and backwards this would be, only a handful of countries have banned homeschooling. One of them is Brazil—which isn’t exactly known for its excellent educational system!

Reduce the age of majority to 16.

I don’t even trust 16-year-olds with driving, let alone voting. Some of them may be intelligent, but most of them are complete idiots. But if they want to vote, they should also be expected to pay taxes and join the military. You can’t have the privileges without the responsibility.

Abolish the death penalty and life in prison. We call for the immediate release of all death row inmates from death row and transferred to regular prisons.

So you’re all for building more prisons? Where else are we going to put all these inmates?

I don’t support capital punishment anymore (as it doesn’t deter violent crime), but I still support life imprisonment, at least for the most violent of offenders. Not everyone can be rehabilitated!

Release all political prisoners immediately.

Only item I agree with.

Immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Make that two items I agree with.

Abolish the debt limit.

So America should be allowed to infinitely pile up debt? Anyone else see a serious problem with this?

Here’s a saner solution: why not pay off the debt we already have? Instead of worrying about how much we can max out on our national credit card, let’s do something to eliminate the debt we already incurred. And yes, that means cutting spending. There are no other options. We spend too much. We need to cut back. And we should start with the three items we spend the most on: military and entitlement programs. Combined, that’s 60% of our federal budget. There’s no excuse for that. Slash military spending. End all wars. Withdraw overseas military bases. Reform entitlement programs. It won’t be much, but it would be a good start.

Ban private gun ownership.

Ignoring the fact that gun control does nothing to deter gun violence, as cities with the strictest gun laws also have the highest violent crime rates. Under gun control, only three people own guns: the police, the military, and criminals. But forget criminals! At this point, with the militarization of our police—something that OWS protesters know all too well—the police pose a larger threat than criminals! And you seriously want to give them more power over law-abiding citizens? More power to the police state then!

Strengthen the separation of church and state.

There’s no official state religion, and there’s no state church. Separation of church and state seems to being doing a good enough job.

Let’s not forget that separation goes both ways: not only is it separation of church from state, but also state from church. If the church can’t interfere with the state, then the state can’t interfere with the church. Sounds fair, right? So why do progressive liberals support taxing churches and dictating employment standards for religious organizations?

What we really need is a more lenient interpretation of church/state separation. Does it really make sense to cut the microphone of a valedictorian for mentioning Jesus in their speech, or to prohibit a school-age student from hanging his “Happy Birthday Jesus” ornament on a state capitol Christmas tree, or to suspend a student from drawing a cross during a school assignment, or prevent Mother Teresa from being commemorated on a postage stamp, or prevent a pair of crossbeams from being featured in a 9/11 memorial museum? I respect separation of church and state, but good grief do some people take it way too far!

Immediate debt forgiveness for all.

Isn’t it ironic to protest bailing out big banks but to demand the forgiveness of all debt?

“That’s totally different!” I hear you cry in protest. “Those bailouts went to corporate fatcats! The bailouts we want will go to struggling Americans, especially students burdened by student loan debt.”

Fine. College students shouldn’t have to graduate with a crushing amount of debt—most of which was caused by the student loan bubble created by the federal government subsidizing student loans! But how, pray tell, do you suggest relieving them of this debt? With taxpayer money? So you want to raise taxes during an economic crisis when most are scrapping the bottom of the barrel as it is? How will that help the 99%?

Oh, I see: you just want to raise taxes on the rich. They clearly don’t pay their “fair share” in taxes. The top one percent only pays 40 percent of the nation’s income tax and 27 percent of the nation’s tax burden. Lazy freeloaders! They should pay 400 percent! That will solve everything (even though merely confiscating all wealth from every billionaire in the country would barely make a dent in our deficit).

End the 'War on Drugs'.

That makes three things I agree with.

Unfortunately, that’s all I can agree with. Everything else, as I clearly demonstrated, is dangerously na├»ve! Don’t get me wrong: I would love to live in a world where I had a $20 minimum wage and six weeks of paid vacation, where all student loan debt was forgiven, and where the government gave everything from healthcare to education for free (and by “free,” I mean at the expense of Bill Gates and other rich people). I would also love to live in a world with lollipop trees and Mountain Dew oceans. That’s not happening anytime soon, and neither are any of those utopian demands.

And this is why I fear Occupy Wall Street. If these moronic protesters actually managed to get any of these insane demands fulfilled, the result would not be a progressive socialist Keynesian utopia. It would be a dystopian wasteland brought about by an eventual economic collapse. And I wouldn’t want to live in said world, not without a good shotgun. (Oh wait, I forgot, firearms would be banned! Ah crap!)