Occupy Berkeley

October 7th, 2011 at 8:30 am | 30 Comments |

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The Internet-driven protest that has brought legions of the oppressed and their iPhones to the streets of New York’s financial district is beginning to make waves.  Many of these people suffered terribly when the financial crisis modestly dented their trust funds.  Now they insist that some sort of thing of an as-yet-undetermined nature must perhaps be done about it.  Or not.  They haven’t worked out all the details yet.

The complaints coming from the streets of Lower Manhattan about Wall Street fat cats, no rx Republicans, and the financial bailout sound familiar enough to inspire some confusion, or even envy.  To clarify, the Occupy Wall Street protest has no connection to the Tea Party Movement even though the slogans are pretty much the same.  Both say they want to ‘take our country back’ and neither of them make much sense.  Both groups hate everything about Global Capitalism, though the Tea Partiers don’t seem to know it.  There are, however, some clues that can help you tell them apart.

Tea Party rallies use country music.  Occupy Wall Street uses the same music but they call it ‘folk.’ Tea Partiers pray while OWS’ers meditate.  Both will spin outlandish stories about secret conspiracies that undermine democracy.  They both complain endlessly about bankers, politicians, the financial bailout, and rapacious ‘fat cats’ of all varieties.  But, OWS’ers seldom dress up as Ben Franklin and are much more tolerant of nudity.  Tea Partiers on the other hand are 94.3% more likely than OWS’ers to protest runaway government debt from the swivel-seat of a Medicare-funded scooter.

Missing from the streets is a forceful, rational movement that represents the interests of ordinary Americans.  The Tea Party is too close to the left in its tactics, tone, paranoia, and lack of broad public support to act as an effective counterweight.  All things converge at the extremes.  Maybe we need to show the world what an authentically conservative protest would look like.

It’s time to Occupy Berkeley.

We would begin by setting up cubicles wired with phone and Internet service.  Unlike other protestors we have to continue get our jobs done.  A phony doctor’s note won’t get us off the hook.  We’d collect our own garbage to keep the workspace tidy and decorate our cubicles with adorable knick-knacks and photos.

The revolutionary symbolism of our ‘work-in’ would halt all bicycle traffic on Telegraph Avenue, creating a spoke-twisting snarl that would force the establishment to acknowledge our oppression.  But there would be free donuts and casual dress on Fridays.  Our work-in would express the goal we hold so dear (and too many still live without) – a meaningful job.
What would we demand from our oppressors?  If you still think protests need demands then you obviously don’t get it.

Having a narrative is so ‘90’s.  We would engage in a conversation to raise our collective consciousness on a time frame of our choosing.  It wouldn’t have to end, at least not until it’s time to go visit the in-laws for the holidays.

Our movement would organize a mass resume jam, awarding prizes for the most artistic recasting of the phrase “great people skills.”  In the evenings we’d grill delicious farm animals over charcoal and share our tofu-free bounty with all who pass by. We’ll play games that have actual winners and losers.  For artistic enlightenment we might compose haikus celebrating the miracle of compound interest.

We would set up big screen TV’s and watch college football.  We could stage a mass, revolutionary ‘bathe-in’ where we shave off the metaphorical shackles of our scragglyness and clean ourselves so that we don’t smell like the animals we eat.  And then we would go to bed at a reasonable time so as to be ready for productive work the next day.

It would be like Burning Man, but solely with prescription drugs.

Obviously, the kind of people who hold these values lack the free time required for mass political theater.  Real conservative ‘political expression’ happens every day, away from the cameras, as we struggle support our families and our communities.

And our influence matters.  No Wall Street tycoon, no matter how greedy, rich, or devious, gets more than one vote.  That’s why the great American middle continues to hold so much power.  The media-hungry characters on both extremes who take to the streets for attention most often do it because they lack the political appeal to match their noise.

Despite how frustrated we feel, it’s the shape of our day-to-day choices that decides what becomes of this country.  We can be counted on to keep America functioning while the neo-hippies sleep outside and paint each other’s faces.

We work or look for work, not just for the buying power we earn, but for the vital sense of satisfaction and accomplishment it brings.  We start businesses and hire people.  We weigh issues and vote.  We volunteer at our schools, our churches, our community centers, and our food banks.  We struggle every day to make a better life for ourselves and for those around us, regardless what happens in our politics.

That’s the shape of our protest.  The streets belong to someone else.  They’re welcome to it so as long as can still get past them on our way to work.

Recent Posts by Chris Ladd

30 Comments so far ↓

  • TerryF98

    If you cant tell the difference between Country music and Folk music then you are brain dead.

    • PracticalGirl

      I thought about that, too, but I must confess. It’s the 21st century, not the 60s. Peter Paul and Mary? “Puff the Magic Dragon”?? If they really want to gather and needle, why don’t they get Rage Against the Machine to throw a free concert. Nothing would blow corporate tops more than watching this protest movement led by yet another Harvard-educated, half Kenyan liberal. Ok, Obama’s Kenyan he’s…Screw it. The conservative narrative fits my point well here. I’m going with it.

  • Oldskool

    If you have an actual job, there’s no need to start a new protest because you’re likely to share the outrage of the wall st occupiers because you may be underemployed or part time with no health coverage. And if you’re fulltime, your pension is probably in the toilet. Either way, you’re being screwed by banksters directly or indirectly.

    The tea party was unorganized until it was quickly co-opted by the likes of Dick Armey and the carnival barkers on Fox News. The wall st protests will eventually morph into something more coherent or it may fade away.

  • Watusie

    How odd…I’m certain that I read on FF earlier this week, twice, that the protests were failing. So why are we still talking about them?

  • nwahs

    I’ll tell you the problem. The weather’s been too darn nice.

    • PracticalGirl

      :) That, and perhaps we have too many educated, unemployed youth out there.

      If corporate America wants to stop this in its tracks, they’ll get off the “uncertainty” train and hire some of these folks. Even without increased demand, the profits will still be protected.

    • taysic

      If that is a problem to you, then you must prefer to live in misery. Sad.

  • Bobby McGee

    Ah, pure raw contempt for a fictitious other. You craft a parody of them in your mind, and shower in in all your sneering hate, while congratulating yourself on how much better you are than those people that don’t even exist. Slap the label of “satire” on it just like how Ayn Rand put “fiction” on hers and you can play it off when you get called on it, but it remains the same.

    It’s 100% the attitude that this place is supposed to be rejecting. It is what has been eating the Republican Party from the inside, and is why you don’t have even the barest hint of a solution for the problems America faces.

    I’ll put money down that Mr “I’m So Superior” here hasn’t even bothered to check out the protest Chicago. It’s a lot harder to tell yourself you are better then someone else once you have seen that you aren’t.

  • ottovbvs

    ‘Many of these people suffered terribly when the financial crisis modestly dented their trust funds.”

    Is Ladd seriously suggesting that the majority or even a significant minority of these protesters have trust funds? No he’s simply lying. These protests are undoubtedly inchoate but they’re not entirely without foundation. The Financial industry by its reckless conduct brought about the most serious financial and economic recession since the 30′s. They were bailed out by the US taxpayer as of course they had to be. But now the crisis is over they are busy pouring money into the campaigns of those who want roll back any attempt to regulate them to prevent a reprise of the disaster they brought about. What I suspect is really worrying Ladd is that these protests appear to be gaining some traction after being dismissed by people like him as unimportant.

  • CautiousProgressive

    This amusing narrative of an actual working class protest draws my sympathy. And it is correct in observing that Obviously, the kind of people who hold these values lack the free time required for mass political theater.

    However, it is quite off base in calling this an “authentically conservative protest”. What you are actually describing is the life the American moderate. And your hypothetical protest is surprisingly similar to what Jon Stewart’s “March to Restore Sanity” actually was.

    • goplifer

      ***And your hypothetical protest is surprisingly similar to what Jon Stewart’s “March to Restore Sanity” actually was.***

      Absolutely agree. And both that event and this piece lean heavily on satire.

    • rbottoms

      Ah, a conservative elitist sneering at elitism. It is derision based on the idea that these kids think they’re smart.

      Is a graduate student at Berkeley better educated than Joe the Plumber?

      God, I certainly hope so.

      • Diomedes

        “Is a graduate student at Berkeley better educated than Joe the Plumber?

        God, I certainly hope so.”

        Heck, a graduate student from the University of Phoenix is better educated than Joe the Plumber.

        Did Joe ever actually get his plumber’s license by the way?

  • Graychin

    No mention of organized labor joining in the fun? How come?

    Because it’s easier to portray the demonstrators as “trust fund” babies. In reality, the trust fund babies are on the other side – the 1%.

    Mr. Ladd, I recommend that you look up “argumentum ad hominem.” It will make you a wiser commentator, if not a better one.

  • Nanotek

    “Many of these people suffered terribly when the financial crisis modestly dented their trust funds.”

    enjoy Versailles

  • Pablo

    Excellent piece!

  • rbottoms

    Yea, SEIU is just full of trust fund babies.

    Working people are already joining the protests and they may have to come out on weekends or after 5pm but you are about to see to go off the hook.

    Couldn’t have happened at a better time in the election cycle.
    Must be doing something right because that lizard Eric Cantor has started to call them mobs instead of the peacefully protesting citizens they are.

    • Steve D

      Revolution! Egypt. People died fighting the regime. Libya. People died fighting the regime. Syria. People are dying fighting the regime. USA. Can’t afford to take time off from work.

      The 1960′s campus revolutionaries were horrified when four of their number were killed at Kent State in 1970. That’s a soccer riot in many countries. America has perfected Revolution Lite: More satisfying gestures, less killing. The less killing part is great, but revolutionaries who expect to be paid time and a half for overtime won’t accomplish much.

  • lilmanny

    All true:
    These are not trust fund babies. That’s stupid and dishonest. It makes you sound dumb.
    The protesters have unrealistic and unfocused goals that, by definition, are unattainable
    The protesters kill much of the support they would otherwise get by engaging in ridiculous theatrics and treating it as a party
    They are going to weird out the local labor guys and kill any sort of furtive alliance they might have had
    Any “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! (blank) has got to go!” tells me the protesters are more or less just going through the motions
    Puppets are stupid

    With all that said I haven’t see one other group of people stand up to investment banks and remind them who saved their asses. Their free market bullshit really grates those paying attention who recall what they cried to the government after the free market dug its claws into them. There is really nothing to “take back”, but f every swarmy college age prick that put together 90 page spreadsheets that showed ever increasing real estate values which were bet on by banks that trade publicly, hosing not only their share holders but the tax payers as well, then whined about possible regulation and mild verbal rebukes from the President while raking cash off of the market like never before. More power to the weirdos.

    And Chris, these people are ridiculous looking and easy to make fun of, but quit being a cowardly ****. Maybe you should post this on Red State or Newsmax, where you would get 300+ agreements, but you sound like a David-Spade-in-PCU-level douche bag here. This is total tripe. Country music shows we’re better? Dude, if you want to be a writer you better fear the shit out of the free market.

  • Rabiner

    This writer is either trying to use satire (in a poor fashion) or is extremely insulting towards the protesters for no good reason. Trust funds? really?

    • baw1064

      I think it’s a satire piece that didn’t quite hit the mark.

      I agree that the OSW crowd doesn’t have much in the way of solutions–or they represent such a wide range of proposed solutions as to be completely incoherent. But they do have a point. The financial industry has managed to achieve that rarest of situations: privatized gains and socialized losses.

      • Steve D

        You “think” it’s satire? You actually can’t recognize satire when you see it?

  • adamcarralejo

    “And our influence matters. No Wall Street tycoon, no matter how greedy, rich, or devious, gets more than one vote. That’s why the great American middle continues to hold so much power.”

    I enjoyed the article until this line. I think it is a little naive to think the average middle-class voter has the same political sway as “wall street tycoons” because we all have one vote. I’m still waiting for my bailout; but I can’t afford a lobbyist, contribute to a campaign, or fund a PAC.

    Money matters. Neither the Tea Party nor the Occupy Wall Street movement can or will change that.

    A good article idea – what is the middle class, how dos the middle class influence politics, and how has it changed?

  • rbottoms

    Chris Ladd himself substantiates why the trust fund babies he sneers at are taking to the streets.

    Governor Rick Perry, the enemy of “job-killing regulation,” decided entirely on his own, not inspired at all by the millions in contributions to himself and nearly everyone in the Lege from Bob Perry and the builders, to take the remarkable step of implementing an entire new state agency to regulate housing construction.

    The law creating the agency was drafted by Bob Perry’s attorney, who Governor Perry then appointed as the first head of the commission. The new agency’s rules would pre-empt any new local regulations and block new local professional competence requirements. Along the way it would severely limit the ability of a home-buyer to sue their construction company. The “regulations” it implemented were an obscene joke that shielded builders from common-law liabilities. The law allowed the industry to literally appoint its own “regulators” and arbitrators.

    This was one of the most unapologetically corrupt political arrangements I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime and I’ve spent seven grueling years in Chicago. It happened entirely out in the open for everyone to see.

    Again, the millions of dollars handed to Gov. Perry had absolutely nothing to do with his decision to let home-builders write their own legislation. Likewise the money used by Bob Perry and the industry PAC’s to grease the legislature (almost every legislator in both parties – let’s be clear) had no influence at all.

    There’s never been any wrongdoing substantiated.

    Governor Perry and the Legislature just happened to recognize, entirely on their own, that the people of Texas needed a new fake regulatory body completely controlled by the construction industry to “protect” said citizens from poor quality home-building.

    Texas, you’re welcome.


    The party he champions has produced a front runner who is a criminal by most anyone’s definition, but far be it for him to cheer the frustration with such ripoffs and crime as a good thing.

    GOP, you’re welcome.

  • Steve D

    Disappointing. Not ONE of you has risen to the challenge of writing a haiku praising compound interest. For SHAME!

    Greed is very good
    Hail the Rule of Seventy
    My IRA grows

    It’s really easy
    You should have been born wealthy
    Poverty just sucks