The Wittenberg Trail

Some Thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Some Thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street Movement

by Gilbert Keith Chesterton

 

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, "Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good--" At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the  monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

 

G. K. Chesterton, "Heretics", 1908

 

Now, I happent to be of the opinion that the "Organize Wall Street" movement is being orchestrated and encouraged by some rather nasty people toward some nefarious end.  I may be wrong in substance but, as Chesterton points out, it matters little.  Human nature being what it is (sin-filled and depraved) even the most benign interpretation of the OWS movement reveals an undercurrent of lawless anarchy which can only end badly for those on the street and our society as a whole. 

 

One need only recall the French Revolution is a more accurate template for OWS than the American Revolution and then look to the consequenses of that period in history. The French Revolution was led by libertarian idealists resisting an irresponsible and oppressive regime.  It was not organized by nasty people for nefarious purposes.  It had far more legal and moral justification than the OWS movement.  But when the mob acted the world crumbled.  It turned upon itself with unprecidented savagery and destroyed everything in its path. The mad thrill of pure destruction.

 

When the madness reached its apogee and he horror (the Terror led by Mm Guillotine and the Mob) was universally appalled by the rank and file citizens, in stepped the "Strong Man", Napoleon, with his cannon and a "whiff of grapeshot", stepped to the forefront and seized power.  His ambition and hubris led him to attempt the conquest of Europe with all its consequent death and destruction. 

 

And that is the fruit of the misguided idealists.  The "nasty people of nefarious ends" have viewed and calculated this fruit as a necessary and desirable price for the attainment of their goals.  So, even if I am paranoid and wrong about the nasty people orchestrating the OWS movement that should not be cause for relief.

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Comment by James Robertson on February 28, 2012 at 3:25am

Double hypocrisy - a socialist politician.

Comment by Dave Gosse on February 28, 2012 at 7:18am

George Osborne: UK has run out of money
The Government 'has run out of money' and cannot afford debt-fuelled tax cuts or extra spending, George Osborne has admitted.

 

In a stark warning ahead of next month’s Budget, the Chancellor said there was little the Coalition could do to stimulate the economy.

Mr Osborne made it clear that due to the parlous state of the public finances the best hope for economic growth was to encourage businesses to flourish and hire more workers.

“The British Government has run out of money because all the money was spent in the good years,” the Chancellor said. “The money and the investment and the jobs need to come from the private sector.”

Mr Osborne’s bleak assessment echoes that of Liam Byrne, the former chief secretary to the Treasury, who bluntly joked that Labour had left Britain broke when he exited the Government in 2010.

He left David Laws, his successor, a one-line note saying: “Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left”.

Mr Osborne is under severe pressure to boost growth, amid signs the economy is slipping back into a recession.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has urged him to consider emergency tax cuts in the Budget to reduce the risk of a prolonged economic slump.

But the Chancellor yesterday said he would stand firm on his effort to balance the books by refusing to borrow money. “Any tax cut would have to be paid for,” Mr Osborne told Sky News. “In other words there would have to be a tax rise somewhere else or a spending reduction.

“In other words what we are not going to do in this Budget is borrow more money to either increase spending or cut taxes.”

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Comment by Dave Gosse on February 28, 2012 at 11:47am

Georgetown co-ed: Please pay for us to have sex … We’re going broke...
posted at 1:55 pm on February 28, 2012 by Tina Korbe

 

At a hearing of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee yesterday, a single witness — Georgetown law student and “reproductive rights activist” Sandra Fluke — told sympathetic policy-makers that the administration’s so-called contraception mandate should stand … because her peers are going broke buying birth control.

“Forty percent of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggled financially as a result of this policy (Georgetown student insurance not covering contraception),” Fluke reported.

It costs a female student $3,000 to have protected sex over the course of her three-year stint in law school, according to her calculations.

“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school,” Fluke told the hearing.

Craig Bannister at CNSNews.com did the math — and discovered that these co-eds, assuming they’re using the cheapest possible contraception, must be having unprotected sex about three times a day every day to incur that kind of expense. What Fluke is arguing, then, is that her fellow law students have a right to consequence-free sex whenever, wherever. Why, exactly, especially if it costs other people something? When I can’t pay for something, I do without it. Fortunately, in the case of contraception, women can make lifestyle choices that render it unnecessary.

At one point, Fluke mentions a friend who felt “embarrassed and powerless” when she learned her insurance didn’t cover contraception. Can you imagine how proud and empowered that same friend would be if she learned she has the ability to resist her own sexual urges? We can only assume she doesn’t know that because Fluke and she both labor under the illusion that contraception is a medical necessity.

Some little part of Fluke must recognize that it’s not … because she sought to bolster her argument with an example of an illness in which contraception might be a medically necessary treatment. Another friend of hers, she said, has polycystic ovarian syndrome, for which contraception is a common treatment. Some insurance programs that don’t cover contraception normally would nevertheless cover it as a treatment for PCOS — but other insurance programs wouldn’t. Fluke makes it sound like contraception is the only treatment for PCOS. In fact, it isn’t — and contraception is prescribed as a treatment only when the woman also wants to contracept. Fluke says her friend is a lesbian — and so wouldn’t need contraception. Why didn’t she opt for any of the other treatments, then?

At the end of her testimony, Fluke spoke in strong language of her resentment of university administrators and others who suggest she should have chosen to attend a different university that would have offered student insurance that does cover contraception — even if that other university wasn’t quite as prestigious as Georgetown.

“We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health and we resent that, in the 21st Century, anyone thinks it’s acceptable to ask us to make that choice simply because we are women,” Fluke said.

Ms. Fluke, I resent that you think women are incapable of controlling themselves, of sacrificing temporary pleasure for the sake of long-term success. You make us sou

Comment by James Robertson on February 28, 2012 at 12:32pm

Comment by Dave Gosse on February 28, 2012 at 11:09pm

Bailout for OWS?

Posted by Jacob Laksin

 

Bankruptcy makes for strange bedfellows. During its brief spell on the national stage, the Occupy Wall Street movement raged against rich corporations – “corporate fascists” in OWS parlance. But as the national spotlight has faded – and as cash from progressive donors has dried up – the movement’s soak-the-rich agitators are set to welcome a financing boost from the same “1 percent” they once denounced.

OWS’s corporate benefactor is the so-called Movement Resource Group, a funding venture backed by the left-wing founders of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream as well as the former manager of grunge group Nirvana, among others. The group has raised some $300,000 so far, and plans to raise around $1.8 million to revive the moribund movement.

Ben and Jerry’s involvement in the cause is entirely in keeping with the company’s activist giving. Driven by its founders’ Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield’s radical politics, the ice cream giant has long funded extreme left-wing causes through its Ben and Jerry’s Foundation. Dispensing funds to a broad spectrum of left-wing groups, from ACORN to the Tides Foundation, the ice cream makers have never seen a contradiction between their commercial success and their intense loathing of free-market capitalism. In recent years, for instance, their foundation has endorsed the “Earth Charter,” a document that blames capitalism on the world’s environmental, social and economic ills. The charter declares that “the dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species” and blames capitalism for causing the “gap between rich and poor.”

[...]

To be sure, that opposition to corporate money in politics doesn’t seem to apply to Ben and Jerry’s, which is now trying to spend millions to influence the political process through OWS. Nor, seemingly, does it apply to Unilever, the global conglomerate that owns Ben and Jerry’s and which spent a million dollars on political lobbying in 2010.

[...]

Still, the fact remains that without that bailout, OWS looks likely to disappear from the political scene altogether. The movement that drew media in flocks has become a distant memory. And nothing better underscores OWS’s irrelevance than the fact that the self-styled anti-corporate, anti-capitalist movement may soon be dependent on corporate cash to keep it alive.

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Comment by Dave Gosse on February 29, 2012 at 6:44pm

The Work Ethic of Booker T. Washington

Joseph Sunde on Society

 

I’ve been reading Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, Up from Slavery, which is about as inspiring a work as one will read. But of the many lessons one might draw from Washington’s attitudes and accomplishments, I wanted to take a moment to focus on his philosophy as it relates to work and the proper path to dignity and prosperity.

Upon gaining his freedom as a young boy, Washington took a variety of jobs, including stints at the salt furnace and coal mine—jobs that today’s average American teenager would surely label “exploitation.”

The goal: save enough money to attend the Hampton Institute:

From the time that I can remember having any thoughts about anything, I recall that I had an intense longing to learn to read. I determined, when quite a small child [as a slave], if I accomplished nothing else in life, I would in some way get enough education to enable me to read common books and newspapers.

And accomplish that he did. After plenty of blood, sweat and toil, Washington packed up his bags for Hampton without any guarantee of admission, stopping to work several additional odd jobs along the way to pay for food and travel.

After arriving in dirty rags, Washington was given an unusual entry exam:

After some hours had passed, the head teacher said to me: "The adjoining recitation-room needs sweeping. Take the broom and sweep it."

It occurred to me at once that here was my chance. Never did I receive an order with more delight. I knew that I could sweep, for Mrs. Ruffner had thoroughly taught me how to do that when I lived with her.

I swept the recitation-room three times. Then I got a dusting-cloth and I dusted it four times. All the woodwork around the walls, every bench, table, and desk, I went over four times with my dusting-cloth. Besides, every piece of furniture had been moved and every closet and corner in the room had been thoroughly cleaned. I had the feeling that in a large measure my future depended upon the impression I made upon the teacher in the cleaning of that room. When I was through, I reported to the head teacher. She was a "Yankee" woman who knew just where to look for dirt. She went into the room and inspected the floor and closets; then she took her handkerchief and rubbed it on the woodwork about the walls, and over the table and benches. When she was unable to find one bit of dirt on the floor, or a particle of dust on any of the furniture, she quietly remarked, "I guess you will do to enter this institution."

I was one of the happiest souls on earth. The sweeping of that room was my college examination, and never did any youth pass an examination for entrance into Harvard or Yale that gave him more genuine satisfaction. I have passed several examinations since then, but I have always felt that this was the best one I ever passed. (emphasis added, here and throughout this article)

This struck me, particularly because one would be hard-pressed to find any 21st-century youngster so eager and happy to sweep a room, let alone do it well. Indeed, such a search would likely be no more fruitful even (or especially?) if one were to focus solely on today’s crop of pampered, debt-laden university students.

[...]

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Comment by Dave Gosse on March 1, 2012 at 9:31am

Labor shortages already hampering China’s growth

Posted on | February 29, 2012 by Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.

 

The high cost of China’s 30-year one child-per family policy is rising higher. The world’s most populous country is grappling with a shortage of labor.

Even in the provinces that traditionally export labor to other areas, such as Henan province, the biggest source of labor in China, the labor supply can barely meet the demand. One local newspaper in Henan reported on Feb 8 that even after raising wages by 10 percent, companies still faced a shortage of workers. There was a similar situation in Anhui, Sichuan and Hunan provinces, which all used to provide labor to the east coast.

The one child policy and thin social safety net are also leaving workers with the heavy burden of caring for parents and grandparents without the help of siblings or cousins:

“Workers may have to set aside as much as 25 percent of their wages to support their old age”, according to the research by Heiner Flassbeck, the director of the division on globalization and development strategies at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Comment by Dave Gosse on March 1, 2012 at 9:51am

I am certain Robert thinks my obsession with the OWS movement is politically motivated.  While I won't deny that politics enters the equation, I consider it primarily a spiritual problem.  There are such a things as a Christian work ethic and a Christian social ethic. The OWS could not, in my wildest imaginings, fit into either of these ethical standards. At its best the OWS is a corruption of Christian virtues in thee same sense that Marxism, with its apocalyptic theology of redemption for the proletariat is a corruption of the Gospel.  This open letter to the indebted nations of Europe from China Daily illustrates just how far the West has wandered from its biblical roots.  There is a moral dimension to life.

 

To the indebted nations of Europe
Updated: 2012-02-23 08:07
By Huang Xiangyang (China Daily)

 

Dear Sirs / Madams:

I know you are in trouble and want China to help. I have heard your repeated calls in the media for our leaders to bail you out by buying the debt of European governments. I want to assure you your entreaties have not been in vain.

Last week our premier pledged that China will "get more deeply involved" in resolving your debt crisis. Our central bank governor tried to buoy up market confidence in the euro by vowing to continue holding your sovereign debts. Such comments came even as the international rating agencies - Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings - cut their ratings for your nations because of the weakening prospects for an overhaul in Europe.

We want you to know that we are your friend in your time of need
[...]

But that does not mean you should take China's help lightly.

Yes, China has the money. Its stockpile of foreign currency, valued at nearly $3.2 trillion, is the world's largest. Yet this has been amassed over three decades of trade and built up from razor-thin profits. We are at the low end of the global value chain and we have to sweat and toil for every penny we earn. China has to export more than 800 million shirts to buy one Airbus A380.

To be frank, some of us don't understand why the rich are holding out their hands to the poor and asking for money. For common Chinese people, the wealth of your nations is unimaginable. The average monthly income of your citizens - at around $4,000 in countries such as Germany and Belgium - is 12 times that of the average Chinese citizen. The Chinese workers in the factories in coastal cities have to work 12 hours or longer each day with basically no days off, while workers in France enjoy two months of paid vacation, national holidays and regional festivals each year. If we can save 50 percent of our earnings, surely it should be possible for you to save just 1 percent of yours.

The cause of the crisis is simple: You have spent more than you earned. If we are injecting our hard-earned money into Greek, Irish, Portuguese or Italian government bonds, you should show the political resolve to clean up your own backyard. You have to stop bickering and dragging your feet over the urgently needed austerity measures. It is time to roll up your sleeves and get the job done.
[...]
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Comment by Dave Gosse on March 2, 2012 at 2:36pm

From "Why You Think The Way You Do" by Glenn S. Sunshine;

Along with more obviously spiritual activities such as prayer and study, monks were also required to engage in productive labor.  The Roman world may have demeaned work and pushed it off on slaves, but the monasteries did not. Although it may in part have been intended to promote humility, the idea that monks should work was based primarily on the idea that God works, so we who are made in His image should work as well.  In Genesis, Adam was given a job in the garden before he sinned, and thus work is not a consequence of sin but part of what we were made to do. Over time, this would lead to a strikingly different outlook on the purpose of life.  As we will see later, this particular element of the shift in worldview laid the foundation for Western economic success and vitality.  pps. 53-54

Comment by Dave Gosse on March 2, 2012 at 7:37pm

Issa Challenges Dems to ‘Restore Civility’ in Contraception Debate

 

Sandra Fluke, a third-year Georgetown Law student, appeared before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Feb. 16 after Democrats complained that no women testified at an Oversight hearing on the mandate (Issa reminded the panel’s minority members that they walked out before Dr. Laura Champion and Dr. Allison Garrett testified).

Radio-show host Rush Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” over Fluke’s support of copayment-free birth control. Oversight Committee Democrats, led by Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), wrote Issa on Thursday asking that the chairman “strongly condemn” Limbaugh’s statements.

“As the Chairman of the Committee that first attempted to silence Ms. Fluke and prevent her from testifying, you are in a unique position to speak out now on her behalf and to join us in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, this very public and very malicious attack on all women who share her views,” the Democrats wrote.

Issa fired back with a two-page letter today noting that Democrats have appeared “outright giddy in attempting to distort the testimony offered and the purpose of the hearing.”

But the main purpose of his response was to issue a challenge to the panel’s Democrats.

“While your letter raises important concerns about these inappropriate comments and the tone of the current debate over religious freedom and Obamacare, I am struck by your clear failure to recognize your own contributions to the denigration of this discussion and attacks on people of religious faith,” Issa wrote. “To help restore the civility of this discussion, I propose that you join me in a broader condemnation of the attacks on people of faith, the false and incendiary claims made about this Committee’s efforts to examine the threat to religious freedom, and the regrettable personal attacks that have come from individuals on both sides of the issue.”

Issa also noted that witnesses from his hearing and his staff — “particularly female staff” — have been subjected to “intense and disgusting accusations and insults — ‘hag,’ ‘traitor,’ and numerous references to anatomy” by phone callers.

“While I have no control over outside voices, I and other Republican Members of the Committee have not engaged in the personal smears against Ms. Fluke,” Issa said.

He reminded Democrats that they had the standard opportunity to offer witnesses at the hearing, requested two, and the customary single witness for the minority was invited. At the last minute, Issa said, they withdrew the chosen witness and wanted the other one — Fluke — to appear instead. “This last-minute request to add a non-clergy member to the panel could not be accommodated, and the minority instead chose to politicize the situation and use it to raise campaign cash,” the chairman wrote.

“While I do not agree with many comments that have been made during the effort to examine the constitutionality of Obamacare’s mandates on individual freedom, including the ones by Mr. Limbaugh, I find your narrow focus on this particular comment to be self-serving and dismissive of other inappropriate comments and attacks on Americans of faith,” Issa wrote.

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