Commentary By Ron Beasley
The folks over at Outside The Beltway have been talking a lot about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Randian Doug Matconis has been dismissive and hostile. James Joyner has been more sympathetic but also dismissive for the most part. Today Steven Taylor has a well reasoned post.
However, while it is impossible to know for sure if this movement (which has spawned, it should not be forgotten, spin-offs nationally and globally) matters or not, we can reasonably consider some possible ways that they might and I think that Tarrow�s classification of this as a �we are here� movement is where such discussion should focus.
If these movements, coupled with the general economic difficulties we are having, spurs a national conversation about things like wage stagnation, the lack of growth of the middle class, and the growing gap between the extremely wealthy and the rest of the society, then this could be a movement of significance. The prevailing attitude in the United States remains that everyone has a high degree of social mobility if they simply work really hard. However, the numbers don�t actually bear out that reality. If the attitudes of the general population come in line with the actual numbers, then a serious shift in politics could take place. I am not, by the way, talking about radical shifts, but rather a revival of a truly left-liberal politics.
Unlike Doug and James Stephen Taylor seems to understand the driving force.
Consider a simple fact: in the midst of ongoing economic difficulty, the main argument of the GOP has been that we need to cut taxes and cut spending. Such tax cuts would help those who are already doing quite well (and would certainly benefit the aforementioned financial industry). Further, spending cuts equals less services and a less complete safety net to the less economically fortunate in the society.
In short: those who helped cause the economic crisis are seen as benefiting from the current structure of politics, while those who are the most effected by it (and who feel like they played by the rules) feel alienated by the current structure of politics (and to be sure, the exact concerns of any particular participant in OWS may be quite varied).
I don't really think that anyone fully appreciates what is happening in the world including Occupy Wall Street itself. The world financial and economic system is in transition and the society itself will follow. While it's true that Wall Street is a casino where the house always wins and that the big banks and bankers are at best immoral if not criminal - organized crime. But what is really going on? Our economy and society was built on cheap oil. While there is plenty of oil left we are at peak cheap oil. As a result there will be radical shifts in transportation will will radically shift the economy. It will become more and more decentralized. Out of necessity more goods will be produced and manufactured locally. This is ultimately bad news for the multinational corporations as the world once again will become a very big place. This is good news for the average citizen but transition is rarely painless.