Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Make the Pie Higher vs Poli Sci 101

I sympathize with those occupying Wall Street. But as with any movement, any push for social change, any organization at all, once and a while they’ve got to listen to themselves and get a reality check: Is what we are doing really working?

Take, for example, Robert Tracinski’s piece at Real Clear Markets on the #OWS movement. Though I don’t agree with everything he says in this piece – the bit on tents being unoccupied during the night at #Occupy London have been proved false, for example – he does bring up a fairly good point in considering whether, in their utopian dream, the #OWSers are actually emulating Ayn Rand more than anyone else:
[Y]ou have to sympathize with the cooks who have been besieged by moochers. Behind the hypocrisy, there are real lessons to be learned: lessons about the relationship between productive people and freeloaders. About the need for police to protect decent people from criminals. About how con-men and power-lusters always take over utopian schemes for their own benefit. About the taxing power and unaccountability of central authorities.

The spaghetti Bolognese incident sums it up. The workers who provide the goods everyone else lives off of are going on strike to protest against their exploitation by freeloaders. Has anyone noticed that this is the basic plot premise of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged? Yet that is the story line they are unintentionally acting out. Call it Occupy Wall Street Shrugged.
It’s a shame to see all this polarize around a Get Bootstrappy/Make the Pie Higher mentality versus the Hey Now People, Smile on Your Brother/Each According to His Need mentality – because both mentalities have good aspects about them. The sooner any political movement looks at itself to see what is working and what is not working, the better.

Same goes for the Tea Party. They may have gone the Poli Sci 101 route and gotten some of their people into positions of power. They may be a guiding force in GOP politics at the moment. But they, too, should listen to what they’re saying and really consider: Is this working? Poll after poll shows the more extreme views of the Tea Party are driving the all-important center away from the GOP.

But at least they got people vested in their interests into positions of power. That’s gonna beat street theater and drum circles any day.

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