OWS WANTS TO STOP THE INSANITY

Today’s Pittsburgh Post Gazette carries the weekly column of Reg Henry, a journalist and editor and a liberal and a realist who I much admire. He also has a blog to which I am a regular contributor in the comments section.

His column this fine Wednesday cites both the Tea Party and the current OWS protesters for promoting fables to knock their “enemies” at the expense of truth. At the end he implores:

Tell me that this movement intends to get out of the parks and into the polling booths where the system can be revived. Tell me that fabulous news and I’m behind it foursquare.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11306/1186787-154-0.stm#ixzz1cZsZcdIp

In his follow-up blog post he notes that the hate engendered by both these movements often is baseless in fact and uses the lyrics to The Beatles’ Revolution as instructive. I demur to his perspective but add my own.

At the end of today’s column Reg, in my perception, suggested the ballot box rather than public streets and parks were the proper venue to really effectuate change. In theory that is correct but part of the problem, as the protesters point out, is that both parties are beholden to the moneyed interests and it is difficult for candidates without that backing to get elected.Several threads back I posted a link to a story about how in the Denver suburbs, among other places, a school board race suddenly attracted large donations from outside sources.If that is a trend, or becomes one, be assured that races for dogcatcher will soon involve claims that the candidates are right wing ideologues or Nancy Pelosi clones.

Aside from that, and the characterization of the OWS crowds as either latte swilling elitists or dumpster diving rapists, the most common criticism of the protesters is that their demands are extreme, or inconsistent, or totally unrealistic.

Well I look at it this way. They are trying to get attention so that the fact there are enormous problems in our capitalistic system is acknowledged. Only then can answers be formulated.

The evidence is indisputable there is tremendous and growing wealth disparity in the U.S. The evidence is indisputable that the tax “burden” of the rich is at its lowest level in decades. The evidence is indisputable that the greed of Wall Street and market manipulation and other assorted corporate ills were, and continue to be, at least a huge factor in the recession and our ongoing economic malaise (a word I believe is not, and never has been, in Jimmy Carter’s vocabulary).

Yet this indisputable evidence is disputed, illogically and irrationally—mostly by lies—or simply discarded.

Regrettably it is not only the rich who refuse to own up to the problem but such denial permeates the core of our country, the core that most benefitted from unions, and higher taxes on the rich, and wise government programs that promoted economic opportunity but never promised total economic equality, the middle class.

The denial prevalent in this core is inexplicable since, as a class, in some ways they have been squeezed more than any other. They have lost income growth, experienced a higher tax burden, and been witness to many of their members falling by the wayside to join the lower classes either by operating on the fringe or being plummeted into poverty.

The last group, the truly impoverished, will always be with us. Forget the pipe dream of the noble goals of the War on Poverty. It was and continues to be doomed to fail just as the War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism. The important thing about poverty is what this nation does about minimizing it, and providing a hand up while keeping a safety net available.

My friends, none of the solutions screamed or whispered by OWS or OPitt, or ODesMoines participants is realistic or achievable unless and until the middle class ostriches pull their heads from the sand and admit there are problems to be resolved.

So, OWS, keep the energy. Keep the focus. Make sure you are heard. Your complaints are real, even if your phrasing of them is inarticulate or extreme.

The classic definition of insanity, though trite, is continuing to do the same things you know are sure to fail.

STOP THE INSANITY!

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