Not Cease from Exploration

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The 1%?

I confess to following some of the Occupy Wall Street protest stories.  Some I find very amusing, such as the "coverage" by right-wing talk radio, who would have you believe that the protesters are defecating over everything.  Others I just shrug off as part of the now all-too-typical polarization of American society.  Mostly though, I do find it interesting.

By my own reckoning the 99% probably represent about 3% actually, about the same percentage that last voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 (citation HERE). That's not a knock...it's more like reality check.  In fact, while I hate to admit it, the Tea Baggers probably represent a larger percentage of the American public.  The Wall Street protesters should take some solace in the knowledge that fighting for what you think is right is a very good thing, very much in keeping with the best of American history.  I'd say the same for the Tea Baggers, but some of the not-so-subtle racism expressed during many Tea Bagger rallies really turned me off to their "cause"...many of the tenants of which I actually do agree with by the way.  Want to immediately turn me off to a cause?  Then be a racist swine.

Now when I was thinking about writing this note I had contemplated talking about some of the protester's demands, but I've decided against that for one simple reason:  I've not seen any single cohesive set of demands.  Yes, there has been whispers of "eliminating college debt" (for example), which is actually just too silly for much in the way of serious commentary.  I do agree that a college education costs far too much, but it does have value...and that is worth paying for no matter what you think (outside of love, the best things in life aren't always free).  There are also some elements of union frustration in the protests, for which I have only a limited amount of patience at any given moment (but that is another topic for another time).

So where does this leave us?  Well by my optics I think we have the Wall Street protesters on the hard left, the Tea Baggers on the hard right, and the vast majority of us in the middle.  I'll confess that my sympathies probably lean ever so slightly on the side of the protesters, but not by much.  In fact I enjoy my capitalist existence.  I am proud of the fact that I've been able to move from very modest beginnings in my youth to professional position now that affords me the ability to do stuff I enjoy, like writing this spew. That kind of success doesn't happen in a vacuum...it happens because we have a society that has the ability to encourage it.  To the extent that we may need to re-orient our society so that this can happen for more folks...well...that's something I can support.

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