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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

David Brooks, "The Milquetoast Radicals": The Inanity of Occupy Wall Street

Yesterday, in his New York Times op-ed entitled "Panic of the Plutocrats," Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman spoke of the "actual goals" of Occupy Wall Street and opined, "It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America’s direction"(see: "Actual goals"? Name them.

Unlike Krugman, Eugene Robinson, in his October 10 Washington Post column entitled "The Occupy protests: A timely call for justice" (, recognized the clueless intellectual underpinnings of Occupy Wall Street, but could not refrain from expressing his admiration for the movement:

"Occupy Wall Street and its kindred protests around the country are inept, incoherent and hopelessly quixotic. God, I love ’em."

Not surprisingly, desperate "any port in a storm" Democrats now seem ready to embrace Occupy Wall Street. As observed in an article in today's New York Times entitled "Protests Offer Help, and Risk, for Democrats" (, Eric Lichtblau writes:

"Leading Democratic figures, including party fund-raisers and a top ally of President Obama, are embracing the spread of the anti-Wall Street protests in a clear sign that members of the Democratic establishment see the movement as a way to align disenchanted Americans with their party.

. . . .

Mr. Obama has spoken sympathetically of the Wall Street protests, saying they reflect 'the frustration' that many struggling Americans are feeling. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, have sounded similar themes."

Needless to say, Krugman, Robinson, Obama, Biden and Pelosi don't trouble themselves to observe that 34% of the Occupy Wall Street protesters polled by New York Magazine believe that the US is no better than al-Qaeda, 37% believe that capitalism is inherently immoral and cannot be saved, and 55% didn't vote in the 2010 midterm elections (see: Robinson "loves" these people? Excuse me while I lose my breakfast.

In his New York Times op-ed of today's date entitled "The Milquetoast Radicals" (, David Brooks injects a bit of balance into the assessment of these would-be "Occupiers":

"If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent.

This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite.

Unfortunately, almost no problem can be productively conceived in this way. A group that divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent will have nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform, wage stagnation or polarization. They will have nothing to say about the way Americans have overconsumed and overborrowed. These are problems that implicate a much broader swath of society than the top 1 percent.

They will have no realistic proposal to reduce the debt or sustain the welfare state. Even if you tax away 50 percent of the income of those making between $1 million and $10 million, you only reduce the national debt by 1 percent, according to the Tax Foundation. If you confiscate all the income of those making more than $10 million, you reduce the debt by 2 percent. You would still be nibbling only meekly around the edges."

But why should any of the facts cited by Brooks matter? When bad things happen to you, find someone else to blame.

Obama is ready to flirt with Occupy Wall Street in order to remain in the White House? Good luck to him. As observed by Alana Goodman of Commentary Magazine in a "Contentions" item entitled "So Much for Gratitude" (, 20% of Obama's 2008 campaign funds came from Wall Street, and Bank of America has contributed more to Obama than any other politician since 1991.

I would expand upon Goodman's piece and note Obama's ties with Goldman Sachs. As observed in the past by CNN (

"According to Federal Election Commission figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Goldman Sachs' political action committee and individual contributors who listed the company as their employer donated $994,795 during 2007 and 2008 to Obama's presidential campaign, the second-highest contribution from a company PAC and company employees."

What a pity this money from Bank of America and Goldman Sachs was not used for medical research or to feed the poor.

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