Blog author: jcouretas
by on Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Occupy Wall Street?

On the Sojourners blog, Shane Claiborne marks the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi by absurdly wondering if “he’d be on Wall Street protesting today.” This follows the practice of shrinking Jesus Christ and various saints of the church down to pocket size (What Would Jesus Cut?) in order to fit them into whatever pet political project is at hand, in this case the Occupy Wall Street antics. Not the whole saint in the context of history, mind you, which could be inconvenient, but a happy little Smurf-Saint you can use to practice ventriloquism.

This causes all sorts of problems (most of them apparently unrecognized) for Claiborne as he attempts to cast St Francis as a fellow activist standing against Christian “extremists” who, among other sins, “bless bombs” and “baptize Wall Street.” This is anachronistic in the extreme but nevertheless it needs to be pointed out that the saint’s embrace of poverty and his care for the poor was not based on, as Claiborne claims, his status as “one of the first critics of capitalism.” St Francis lived and worked and prayed as he did out of a total commitment to the greatest commandment — to love God and love the neighbor.

Claiborne gets me to wondering: What would the Wall Street rabble demanding an end to the market economy make of St Francis and his deep devotion to orthodox Christian belief (he was one of those dogmatic Roman Catholics, don’t you know?), and all that involves? How many of the anarchists stretched out on the sidewalks of lower Manhattan with their smart phones and iPods could tell you what a feast day is and how it’s celebrated? An entry in the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia notes that St Francis drew his strength from “his intimate union with Jesus in the Holy Communion” not mobilizing Ivy League undergrads protesting their mounting student loan debts. Later in life, the saint was known for “an ungrudging submission to what constituted ecclesiastical authority.” Quite the revolutionary.

Claiborne recounts the journey St Francis made in 1219 to Egypt where crusaders were battling “Saracens.” Yes, he was sickened by the carnage and brutality he witnessed there and worked as a peacemaker to both sides. But the saint made his journey to convert Muslims to Christianity. Is that Claiborne’s model of ecumenical outreach?

Read the absurdly fantastic demands of the Occupy Wall Street crowd including free college education, multi-trillion dollar government spending programs, living wages for all, and the like. You wonder: Who is really worshiping Mammon here? Their program is devoid of any spiritual value. It is a political manifesto, imbued with grievance and aimed at plunder.

Love for the neighbor? Not if you’re one of those neighbors working on Wall Street — or Main Street for that matter. The protesters should listen to the saint’s words:

And all the brothers should beware that they do not slander or engage in disputes; rather, they should strive to keep silence whenever God gives them [such] grace. Nor should they quarrel among themselves or with others, but they should strive to respond humbly, saying: I am a useless servant. And they should not become angry, since everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; and he who has said to his brother ‘Raqa’ shall be liable to the Council; whoever has said ‘fool’ shall be liable to the fires of hell (Mt. 5:22). And they should love one another, as the Lord says: This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you (Jn. 15:12). And let them express the love which they have for one another by their deeds, as the Apostle says: Let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth (1 Jn. 3:18). And they should slander no one. Let them not murmur nor detract from others, for it is written: Gossips and detractors are detestable to God (Rom. 1:29-30). And let them be modest, by showing meekness toward everyone (cf. Tit. 3:2). Let them not judge or condemn. And as the Lord says, they should not take notice of the little defects of others. Rather they should reflect much more on their own in the bitterness of their soul. And let them strive to enter through the narrow gate, for the Lord says: Narrow is the gate and hard the road that leads to life; and there are few who find it (Mt. 7:14).”


  • http://twitter.com/KissingtheLeper Kissing the Leper

    Brilliant – on the feast of St. Francis

  • Roger McKinney

    It’s blasphemous to turn the Son of God into a socialist policy wonk.

    • Claudia

      It’s blasphemous to act as though socialism is not an attribute of a true Christian. Acts 2: 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

      • Roger McKinney

        I’m sorry but you’re confuses. Selling your own property and giving it to the poor is charity. Socialism is when you have the state take your neighbor’s property and give it to the poor so you can feel self-righteous about it.

    • Kevin

      If so, then it’s equally blasphemous to turn the Son of God into a free-market-worshipping far-right conservative policy wonk.

      • Roger McKinney

        I agree. But the Son of God revealed his preferences for government in his writing of the laws of the nation of Israel. Check them out in the Torah. He provided for no legislature and now executive branches of government. All he provided was judges to apply the law he gave the nation. That was a huge departure from the the governments of Egypt and Sumeria at the time.

        He established the sanctity of private property and free markets. He allowed the government to enforce the civil and criminal laws, but not the moral and poor laws. In fact, Jesus as the second person of the Trinity, wrote in Leviticus 19:15 “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”

  • http://palamas.info/ Fr Gregory Jensen

    Injustice on Wall Street doesn’t surprise me anymore than it surprises me anywhere else. We live after all in a fallen world. What would surprise me on Wall Street (or anywhere else for that matter) would be perfect justice and again because we live in a fallen world.

    Why this matters is because while it is relatively easy to find injustice, is the correcting of injustice that is difficult. Having followed the story the last several weeks, I am not confident that the protesters bring much to the table besides outrage. Given this I suspect that any corrections they might offer would be more likely to make matters worse not only morally but economically.

    For example that the protesters have identified free education as a human right. I’m all in favor of education but if this demand is any indication the protesters have confused entitlements and human rights. Doing so is part of why the economy is in the state it’s in.

    More worrying, the confusion of human rights and entitlements is also a recipe for social unrest and violence. At least in theory, we are on solid ground when we use force to defend human rights. But it is never morally acceptable to do so for an entitlement.

    It is in this light that I wonder WWSFD? While the saint from Assisi might reject the market economy (though I’m not sure history supports this), he would do so in precisely the opposite way that the protesters have. St Francis embraced poverty for himself and his followers. He renounced not only a life of privilege but marriage and family life. And he also accept abuse and mistreatment at the hands the powerful and the weak alike.

    And all this he did to preach Christ and Him crucified.

    Comparing the protesters to St Francis is worse than wrong. It’s flattery.

    • Roger McKinney

      Good points! If someone has a right to something and that
      can’t provide it because they don’t have the money, then someone else has to
      provide it for them. If you don’t provide it and can then you are a criminal
      and should be punished. The one with the right that you’re not providing then
      has the right to take from you the wealth necessary to provide the right.

       Rights should apply only to action, not to stuff. When you
      apply rights to stuff then you guarantee conflict between the rich and poor.
      And you destroy charity. Forced charity is not charity and has no virtue.

       Giving people what already belongs to them (because they
      have a right to it) is justice, not charity. So it destroys property, too.  

       Making education and healthcare rights destroys property and
      charity and guarantees violence.

      • http://palamas.info/ Fr Gregory Jensen

        Roger,

        Thanks for the kind words.  Overall I agree with your analysis. I’m not sure that describing education and heath care rights guarantees violence. We do have natural rights to both. My point was narrower–specifically the conflation of an entitlement e.g., a free education (“for me”) paid for by the state (that is, “you”) with a human right.

        Again, we have a right to education and health care. Like all rights, these rights carry with them a certain obligations that are both personal and social. 

        My right to an education and medical care, however, does not obligate the State in justice to pay for either. To be sure, we can vote as a community to build schools to educate they young and to provide health care for the indigent. But this isn’t the argument that the Wall Street protesters are making.

        As I see it, the protesters are saying that they have a RIGHT not to an education or health care but to a FREE education and FREE health care. But again, I do agree with you that we don’t  have a right to get stuff for free.

        Finally, and again worryingly, the protesters seem keen on rights and rather shy about obligations–at least for themselves.

        +FrG 

        • Roger McKinney

          People have a right to pursue an education and health care. They do not have a right to it if they can’t provide it for themselves. Clearly, the OWS intend the latter. They want someone else to pay for their education and their healthcare.

  • Pingback: St Francis and the Wall Street Protest? | Koinonia

  • phiclub

    The “absurdly fantastic demands” you list are a fact of life in many civilized countries, and their citizens are better off because of them.  It’s about time we caught up.

    • Roger McKinney

      You mean we need to catch of to countries like Greece?

    • http://www.acton.org/ John Couretas

      OK, how about “absurdly long list of grievances” with no concrete solutions posed to these grievances other than the amorphous, high-school-senate strategy to “create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.” What?

      http://www.nationofchange.org/declaration-occupation-new-york-city-1317784408

  • Kevin

    Frankly, sir, the scathing contempt and disdain you show for the protesters shows that what you say has just as little spiritual value as you say that their demands do. It is sad that you make Jesus Himself the cankered little Pharisee-saint you can use to practice ventriloquism, rather than taking His whole message in context.

    • http://www.acton.org/ John Couretas

      Can you point to one line in the post where I pretend to know the mind of God on economic issues? No, you can’t. btw, I’m not the author of “What Would Jesus Cut?”

      • Kevin

        Allow me to put it more clearly: I find that your contemptuous, scornful tone for the frustrated, down-and-out people really clashes with the compassionate spirit of both Saint Francis, as well as the God who animated St. Francis’ life and ministry. Sure, you can disagree with their tactics, with the way they express themselves and so on. That’s fair. But if you’re going to spit upon the “rabble” as you call them, yet claim to understand the “true” spirit of Saint Francis, even as you’re violating it…well, all I can say is “And I know all mysteries and all knowledge, but do not have love, I am nothing.” You sound like the spiritually blind rulers in Jerusalem in John chapter 9 who spoke disparagingly to the man born blind who was healed by Jesus: “‘You were born entirely in sins, and you are teaching us?’ So they put him out.” 

        By the way, I think your comments totally don’t address the whole point of the OWS protests: that a tiny minority of the super-wealthy have hijacked our economy and our political system for their own selfish advantage, and have brought suffering and hardship to millions in the last four years of this awful recession, and have made it more difficult for normal, non-super-wealthy people to make a living, own homes, get educations, raise families, etc.

        Or maybe all this doesn’t bother you?

        • Roger McKinney

          Show me where the down and out are in the Wall Street protestors. They appear to be the unemployed kids of rich guys who graduated from ivy league schools with degrees in history and can’t get a job.

          • Roger McKinney

            I doubt that St Francis would characterize the poor as more virtuous than anyone else. Being poor doesn’t take away your sinful nature. If the poor have make stupid demands, they should be criticized.

          • Kevin

            My last word:

            It’d be worthwhile for all of us to examine ourselves and see if we see ourselves in the following, for better or for worse.

            “Seeing the people, Jesus felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’” Matthew 9:36-38

            “Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?’ But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:10-13

            “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood
            and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like
            other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax
            collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

            “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
            Nor stand in the path of sinners,
            Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” Psalm 1:1

          • Kevin

            Down and out as in unemployed. Not all of those guys are kids of rich people, trust me.

        • http://www.acton.org/ John Couretas

          To suggest that the “down and out” protesters engaged in OWS represent anything like a mainstream of American sentiment is a stretch that defies credulity. From the Examiner: ” … there is something about a crowd of angry twenty-somethings waving signs that include slogans such as “eat the rich” and “Jesus was a Marxist” that doesn’t inspire a sense of electoral backlash. For one thing, as The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein noted, there are no families involved in the protest. Unlike the Tea Party rallies, these demonstrations convey no sense that the bedrock of American society is actually invested in this demonstration.”

          Read the article for other fund stuff on anti-semitism, etc.: campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/occupy-wall-street-beware-journalist-and-jew

          I’ll pass over your analysis of my spiritual condition, thank you.

          As for a tiny minority of “super-wealthy” hijacking the economy and political system, that’s just ridiculous. Is there a problem with the crony capitalists in Washington and their friends at the Wall Street banks? You bet, and that’s a nonpartisan problem and has been for a long time. But our political system and our economy is still bigger than they are — for now.

          • Kevin

            If you read news sources other than the Examiner (which is frankly too partisan to be trusted), you will find that there is actually quite a lot of tentative sympathy for the overarching beef of OWS. I have read news stories about armed forces veterans, grandparents, guys in suits (including some people who actually work in Wall Street firms) coming to these protests. Of course, this sort of thing will attract anarchists and communists, etc., but if you think that’s all there is to this, then you really don’t get it. And really, it’s early. It will take time for the large numbers to really start coming out.

          • Roger McKinney

            So we should only read accounts that you approve of?

          • Kevin

            You really do like twisting people’s words, don’t you?

            I meant it would be better to get information from sources that a decent plurality of people consider reliable. The Examiner is not one of these.

          • http://www.vilepickle.com David

            Can you provide some examples?

          • Roger McKinney

            A decent plurality of people consider the Examiner to be reliable. You simply dismiss those who don’t agree with you.

        • http://palamas.info/ Fr Gregory Jensen

          Kevin,

          I appreciate your frustration and anger. What I object to is your lashing out as you have here by suggesting that those who disagree with you lack love, are spiritual blind, or dismissive of the presence and the work of divine grace in human affairs. To do so crosses a line no Christian can cross.

          Disagreements are fine and can even be beneficial, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prv 27:17). What is not acceptable is the personal vilification of those with whom we disagree.

          If I may, what do you understand to be a faithful Franciscan response to our current economic problems? I’m Eastern Orthodox not Catholic, so I don’t want to claim an authority for myself that I don’t have.  But from what I understand of his life, St Francis was a man of deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ who lived a life of continual prayer and rigorous ascetical self-denial. He did so not only for his own salvation but so that he could preach the Gospel and call all of creation to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

          Whatever might be the justice of their cause, I’m not seeing any of St Francis’ virtues in the protesters.  I don’t see them offering the example of their own lives as a challenge people to renounce material possessions and live lives of consecrated celibacy and virginity, to devote themselves to ascetical purification and continual prayer, and to preach the Gospel in season and out.

          (Nor, by the way, do I see the protesters calling people to marry and to raise children. The other great sign of Christian faith.)

          All these things and more St Francis did and he did them as Roman Catholic. He challenged his listeners to commitment themselves fully and without reservation to Christ and the Church. He didn’t, and please correct me if I’m wrong here (it’s been decades since I’ve read anything in Franciscan spirituality or history), make the kind of demands that we are seeing from the OWS protesters.

          Let me go further.

          Maybe I’m wrong, and I hope I am, but I think that if the protesters were told that the solution to the economic woes they see were found in Christ and the Gospel (and specifically the Catholic Church) they would respond with incredulity at best and possibly violent words or even deeds.

          Everything you say about greed and the willingness of the few to exploit the many is true. I’ll go further, it is anthropological constant because we are sinners. There is nothing in the OWS protest which suggests they understand this.  More worrisome, there is nothing to suggest that THEY understand that given the opportunity they would also oppress others. Granted they might do so in ways other than crony capitalism but do it they would.

          Appeal by all means to St Francis. 

          But such an appeal is ALWAYS and ONLY an appeal to Christ and our reconciliation to Him and each other in and through the sacraments (as Orthodox priest, the saint from Assisi and I are in agreement on this point even if we might argue over the particulars).

          So WWSFD? He would tell the Wall Street big wigs and the OWS protesters, “Repent and be baptized.” He would call them all to the sacrament of confession and a life of ascetical self-denial and evangelical witness rooted in the Eucharist.

          This is not just the spirit, but the living witness of St Francis of Assisi.

          Do you think this is what the OWS protesters (or the Wall Street mucky mucks) really want?

          In Christ,

          +FrG

          • Kevin

            Hey +FrG.

            My problem with the writer is not that he disagrees with me, but that in expressing his view, he voices contempt for those he writes and about, dismisses their valid frustrations (which a LOT of people share, even if they don’t necessarily agree with the offered solutions), and thereby dismisses their worth as persons. You mentioned lines that Christians shouldn’t cross. Yes, there definitely are some, although it is often very hard to see where the line is. One easy line in the sand that I see: referring to people you don’t like or agree with as a “rabble.” That is the language that rulers and captains of industry have used to at best ignore the just demands of the people in the street, and at worst, justify utilizing violence against those who have dared to stand up for their human rights.

            I’m not really working from the framework of what would be the Franciscan response, but more what would be the Christian response. The demands placed by St. Francis on his followers (vows of chastity, poverty, obedience) are not immediately translatable to the common person’s experience, although there is much in St. Francis’ way worthy of emulation.

            I’m honestly not sure exactly what the “Christian” approach should be. I will say that I feel confident I can say what it should NOT be. I see utter complete silent indifference from Christians. I wonder to myself: this country is faced with huge, momentous issues, and Christians are just yawning their way through it, ignoring it like it doesn’t exist; when Christians have even bothered to comment, it is pretty much the kind of scornful, dismissive tone we see here. Once again, like in the early years of the civil rights movement, the church is missing in action. That is a scandal. When we point fingers at people like the OWS people and criticize them for not being more like us, well, we have only ourselves to blame, because we were not out there in the street with them, influencing the movement in what we might see as more productive directions. Christians in this country either don’t seem to care about the perversion of our democracy and our economy, or, as I think is often the case, they are enablers of this trend, also a scandal.

            Honestly, if we waited until we saw the virtues of St. Francis in the OWS movement, we will continue sitting on the sidelines forever. For me, their cause is just, even if the offered solutions don’t always sit well with me, which some of them don’t. I do agree that ULTIMATELY, the answers are in Christ, yes. The real problem is the wicked hearts of men. But the deeds of the wicked will not be restrained when the laws of the nation and the people who make the laws have given themselves over to wickedness too, as is clearly the case. Protesting peacefully in the streets is the only option left when the system doesn’t work as designed. Just sitting and shouting at the TV during the evening news isn’t going to make it better. The arrogant, the powerful, the wicked, they don’t yield power without resistance. Luckily, in this country, it is still possible to resist peacefully, and the OSW people have mostly been peaceful. At worst, they have been a major annoyance to people who live and work in the Wall Street area. The police have actually initiated physical assaults (with nightsticks and pepper spray), by contrast.

            Yes, these people need to repent and be baptized, like we all do. But honestly, I don’t know how Christians could steer things that direction, especially since it would seem a distraction from the main issue, important as it is, and again, nobody in the street is going to listen to us unless we are out there along with them, proving that we are for them, not against them.

            By the way, give this a read, just for the fun of it: http://global.christianpost.com/news/occupy-wall-street-joined-by-christian-protest-group-57261/.

            Something to think about further. This is a news story about one Christian organization that is out on the street with the protesters.

            Sorry for being so long-winded, but anyway, I think we all have, or should have, a lot to think about.

            Kevin 

          • Roger McKinney

            “But
            the deeds of the wicked will not be restrained when the laws of the nation and
            the people who make the laws have given themselves over to wickedness too, as
            is clearly the case.”

            So only
            the protestors deserve respect? You can be as vicious as you want with people
            you disagree with?

            “I
            wonder to myself: this country is faced with huge, momentous issues, and
            Christians are just yawning their way through it, ignoring it like it doesn’t
            exist;” 

            And
            viciousness towards other Christians doesn’t seem to be out of bounds either.
            Seems to me you are guilty of what you charge others with.

            “Christians
            in this country either don’t seem to care about the perversion of our democracy
            and our economy,” 

            So now
            you have the power of God to see the thoughts and motives of our hearts. That’s
            pretty close to blasphemy. Maybe we see protests as useless wastes of time and
            prefer working through the channels established by the Constitution.

            First,
            determine what is truly wrong. Neither you nor the OWS have done that. What’s
            wrong is the very socialism that the OWS promotes.

            “The
            arrogant, the powerful, the wicked, they don’t yield power without resistance.”

            What’s
            wrong with voting? How will unfocused, incoherent protests remove corrupt
            politicians from office or end corporate corruption of those same politicians? 

            From
            the article you linked to: 

            “Egerstrom,
            a Harvard PHD student studying American Religious History said, “So much of the
            impoverishment and war that has been propagated by Wall Street has been done
            under the cover of religion.” 

            Wow! The hatred of Wall Street is palpable. That’s very St
            Franciscan, NOT! And a flat out lie! 

            “”As Americans, we are forced to be complacent in a war
            that has killed untold thousands of civilians, and in a tax structure that
            steals from the poor and the hard-working and gives to the banks,” Egerstrom
            said. “This is wrong, we want no part in these things. We cannot be silent
            while tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy are cast as ‘Christian capitalism,’” she
            added.”

            So in spite of the fact that the OWS has no agenda other
            than protesting greed (who doesn’t?) Egerstrom is convinced the agenda is to
            promote socialism. An she has a very poor grasp of history. The wars she
            disapproves of were legal and voted for by Congress. If the American people
            didn’t like them, then vote for different representatives.

            40% of American workers don’t pay any federal income tax at
            all. The wealthiest 20% pay 80% of the taxes. So where does Egerstrom get the
            stupid idea that out tax system steal from the poor? What an idiot!

            Progressive taxation used to be considered immoral by all
            Christians until WWI. It was immoral because it allowed the state to treat
            citizens unequally. Adopting progressive taxation doesn’t make it moral.

            Deficit spending by the state used to be considered immoral
            as well because it forced our children to pay for our spending. It’s still
            immoral no matter what idiots like Egerstrom think.

          • Kevin

            Hmmm…you’re really twisting my words all over the place! If you can’t take the plain meaning of my words, then that tells me that you don’t want to understand what I’m trying to say.

            As for the actions of Christians on the American street: well, no, I can’t see into their hearts, but actions speak louder than words, or in this case, lack of actions speak even louder. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, get your butt off your computer chair and get out there on the streets so that you can influence the minds of the people the way YOU like, and THEN you will have earned the right to cast stones!

            And if the usual ways designated by the Constitution to mediate disagreement and conflict are being subverted, such
            that when people play by the rules, they lose unfairly to those who
            have a bigger bullhorn than them, then what? Are they supposed to lie
            down like sheep and let themselves get walked all over? Would YOU do
            that, if you felt as cheated as the OWS people do?

            I think the OWS folks have generally pegged what’s wrong with the system quiet well: those with the most money to throw at lobbying or bribery win. The people who behaved recklessly crashed the economy, and then, instead of getting rendered accountable got bailed out, but the rest of us had to pay for their recklessness with a crashed economy. This is WRONG. Pretty simple, unless of course, you refuse to see the obvious.

            You talk of what’s considered immoral: well, gambling used to be considered immoral, until derivatives traders figured out they could make a killing off of it, and…oops, it crashed the economy in the process, throwing millions out of work, but oh, well: that’s capitalism, right? That’s just life in the big city, right?

            I realize you’re going to just shoot down everything I say, and heap abuse on me in the process, just to prove how morally superior you are. Oh well, so be it. It is this kind of attitude that pisses me off, not the mere fact that you disagree. But of course, you’re going to use my last two sentences to flagellate me with my “hatred” of everyone that disagrees with me, etc., etc.

            Go ahead, if it will make you feel better.

          • Roger McKinney

            I didn’t twist your words. All I did was apply the standards by which you harshly judge others to yourself.

            “get your butt off your computer chair and get out there on the streets”

            So stupid protests that accomplish nothing are your only standard?

            “if the usual ways designated by the Constitution to mediate disagreement and conflict are being subverted”

            That’s your assumption. You haven’t shown that to be the case and I don’t think it is. There is no conspiracy. Politicians are doing what the people who voted for them want. Politics is nothing but a mirror image of the voters. Voters demanded that the government fix the problem of the depression. Politicians turned to the experts, mainstream economists, for advice. TARP was the result.

            For decades the voters have demanded that Congress control every aspect of the economy. The natural consequence of that demand is that politicians respond to people who give them money.

            “I think the OWS folks have generally pegged what’s wrong with the system quiet well:”

            No, they haven’t. They’re as ignorant as a box of rocks.

            “The people who behaved recklessly crashed the economy, and then, instead of getting rendered accountable got bailed out..”

            Yes, they got bailed out because the American people demand that no large business be allowed to fail. They bailed out the auto companies too, remember? What role did they play in causing the crisis?

            “gambling used to be considered immoral, until derivatives traders figured out they could make a killing off of it…”

            Derivatives trading has nothing whatsoever in common with gambling. Farming involves great risk; is it gambling, too?

  • Erwin

    Free college education/ Free healthcare?
    Now we’re seeing what the protests are all about. It’s called “sticker shock”….and what it’s really good for. In both cases our own govt’s benevolence has cause the young people to now know fear – fear as in
    is the huge debt that’s been abuilt up for their own education really worth it? look behind the numbers and you’ll find the benevolence of state and federal govt. causing the spiral of healthcare And education to go to the moon.
    Consider…colleges hae to compete with one another to attract students and prvate schools have mortaged themselves out ona limb to compete against the state shools which get their funding from the states. The same thing goe for k-12 education. Remember the constant refrain of “new schools”? From the standpointof these young people, when jobs were plentyful did they complain about the greed of wall St? If there’s any greed it’s shared not just by Wall St, but by Big govt, big Education, Healthcare (UPMC). these are ducks sitting in a row and yet the myopia of the yong only sees the obvious – Wall St. how about the 300 million paid to penn State and 150 million paid to Pitt (neither are part OF pa.’s ed system and are private) and which give none of this in the form of assistance to students of Pa.? The same is true for most other state systems. How about the greed which keeps kids(the poor) in public non-performing schools and won’t allow vouchers? How about a healthcare system like UPMC which has swallowed Pgh and now is about to spread out into the suburbs? Oh, UPMC is owned by Pitt. Now there’s greed.

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