13 Sep 2012

Where occupy and the tea party failed

I've been thinking about this topic for some time, but I was not alone:
Burn Wall Street is a very political piece that stems from a neutral point of view. We see the Tea Party and the Occupy movements as very similar. They are both well-intentioned groups of Americans that know that things must change.[1]

Unfortunately, one group has been hijacked by Right-wing extremists and the other by Left-wing extremists, and both groups have been used as pawns through the use of political wedges to keep each other from the actual goal of reforming Wall Street and saving our economy.[2]
On these words, I have two comments:*
  1. Both groups were mad that the government expanded to bail out Wall Street. The original Tea Party was upset that this bail-out meant higher debt and taxes. The original Occupy movement was upset that the bail out took money from average citizens and gave it to rich bankers.
  2. Both groups failed to reverse those bail outs because they lost sight of the main point (let Wall Street fail) and ran after a much too ambitious agenda (taking over government for their own purposes).
In my mind, both sides could have cooperated to limit the damage of Wall Street's excesses on Main Street. Instead, both groups indirectly supported the growth and expansion of government when they fought to expand and take over a government that they wanted to use to target different goals.

Although neither movement took over the government, both sides ended up contributing to an expansion controlled by "leaders" who were not only friends of bankers, but also abusers of greater powers that they used to pursue their pet projects -- everything from drone strikes to subsidizing boondoggles to bailing out farmers.

I would have preferred to see a smaller government concerned with the provision of public goods (everything from pollution controls to migration rules), leaving citizens to tackle local and individual issues in their own ways.

My preference is nothing new. I have the same reaction to the failure to "solve" water issues at global meetings that are convened at the wrong scale. Water problems need local, not global, solutions -- but you won't hear that from delegates flitting from one subsidized reception to another!

Bottom Line: Government exists to help the average citizen overcome collection action problems, not to transfer private resources from the majority to special interests. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street lost their chance to help average citizens when they sought to pursue their own prejudices instead of the public good.
* Wanna see the burn? Here you go!

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