Wall Street’s Disgruntled Utopians

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


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The Occupy Wall Street protesters are looking more and more like the shock troops of the Democratic Party’s electoral tactic of class warfare. Responding to a question about the protesters, the President gave an oblique endorsement when he said, “The American people understand that not everybody has been following the rules; that Wall Street is an example of that.” That would be the same rule-bending Wall Street from which his 2008 campaign received more money than any other politician in history. Forgetting that largess as he demonizes the rich, the President now wants a 5.6% surtax on millionaires, which would include not just Wall Street fat cats, but small businesses on Main Street. Certainly organized labor also thinks they can use the protesters, which is why some labor groups––particularly public employee unions hooked up to diminishing taxpayer-funded life support––are marching alongside them, in the hopes that they can exploit this movement to protect their Cadillac benefits.

The protesters themselves comprise the usual suspects: badly educated young people (“Students loans=indentured servitude,” read one sign), aging hippies, leftover leftists (“Marx Was Right,” read another), and the purveyors of various wacky conspiracy theories, like the guy whose sign links the Federal Reserve to the pyramid on the dollar bill. This mélange explains the profound ignorance of economic reality that lies behind the protesters’ complaints about the “greed and corruption of the 1%.” In this melodrama, “Wall Street” and “corporations” have rigged the system so that they enrich themselves at the expense of everybody else. “Growing income inequality” is the proof of this nefarious behavior, as the left-wing magazine Mother Jones reports: “A huge share of the nation’s economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.” Q.E.D.

What Mother Jones leaves out, of course, is some facts I’ve brought up before about the same period. In 1981, the top 1% paid 17.58% of all federal income taxes; in 2005, this same cohort paid 39.38%. In 1981 the top 1% paid $94.84 billion (in 2005 dollars); in 2005 they paid $368.13, an increase of 288%. In the most progressive tax system among OECD economies, today the top 10% of American taxpayers pay 70% of all revenues, while the bottom 47% pay nothing. In other words, this increasing “income inequality” has led to the rich footing most of the tax bill for all the goodies the federal government dispenses. Contrary to the current class-warfare rhetoric, “If you want to get more tax revenues from the rich,” economist Arthur Laffer points out, “you’ve got to make the rich richer, and to make the rich richer, you’ve got to lower tax rates.” If the “anarchists for Big Government,” as Mark Steyn calls them, really want more federal money for their demands like “free college education,” “a $20 minimum wage,” and a trillion dollars for “ecological restoration,” they should be endorsing supply-side economics.

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  • Larry

    This lot are so dumb they don't even pretend to work. Of course the social security system that pays them is also dumb in that it doesn't even require them to pretend to work.

    • Slivs

      Atlas is Shrugging

    • bander9

      the jews killed Jesus

    • Shabba 58

      Now we know why Hitler wanted to exterminate the Jews.

  • mrbean
  • MoneyIsImaginary

    Utopia is possible when the Grand Old Plutocracy (GOP) gets out of our way so that we can build it.

    • Larry

      A sure sign of a failed brain is being a utopian. At least religious people believe utopia comes after life.

      • Scum

        Like the Utopian Tea Partiers, who think roads can be built, and schools run, without a tax base. Ha Ha

      • "gunner"

        utopia is the perfect society, if you are unhappy in utopia you are a criminal since no one can be unhappy in a perfect state, so you must be re-educated for your own good, whether you want it or not.

  • crackerjack

    Why isn't the Tea party confronting Wall Street? They confront the democratically elected goverment. But when it comes to confronting the finance lobby's undomocratic grip on goverment , they suddenly back down and become supporters of the system.

    If this "Occupy WS" extravananza has taught us anything, it is that the Tea Party has long sold out to big business.

    • proxywar

      If that is what you are protesting then why didn't you call it Occupy K-street? Please, shut the hell up. No one is buying into the BS you're peddling. You're not against crony-captialism you're against captialism or any system that would exist in America. You're against the very existence of America as a nation. That's the truth but no one on the right has the guts to say to you.

    • Rifleman

      I guess the tea partiers are smart enough to know the problem is in DC, and wouldn’t want to be associated with a bunch of lazy, spoiled deadbeats anyway. Tea partiers want to end the corruption in the system, and return to a freer market, the socialist deadbeats want to end the free market system.

      • crackerjack

        Nonsense. The proplem is that Wall street has bought DC. Regardless of whom the electorate votes in Congress, Wall Street uses its financial power and lobbys to get its interests put before that of the electorate.

        The Tea Party obviously accepts and supports Wall Streets control over congress. The Tea Party is a cornerstone of crooney capitalism and puppet on the strings of cooporate America. But anyone who checked Tea party funding, knew this from the beginning on.

        • Rifleman

          Great, tell the commie protesters their signs are nonsense. If DC hadn't assumed power it wasn't supposed to have, there'd be nothing to buy, and lobbyists would be worthless.

          Tea Partiers can tell the disease from the symptom, you and these goofballs can't or won't.

    • Asher

      The Teaparties work through legislation, elected officials, and support the Constitution, and the Free Market Capitalist system….They are not a riotus bunch of Clueless people that riot just to be rioting! They want less government and a system that is not Corrupt!

      • Scum

        Sort of the like the Strict Destructionist Rick Perry, who has detailed in depth how he plans to gut the Constitution. And exactly what WERE they hunting over there in the Ni**erhead camp?

      • crackerjack

        Strange. I recall the Tea Party marching on the Capitol, harassing and spitting on senators and occupying the senate as GOP senators cheered them on. I also recall the Tea party running around in stupid militaria garb and dressing up with tails and wigs.

  • Chezwick_mac

    My elderly father – God bless him – is a good, conservative man. But he's actually under the impression that these protesters are representative of the common folk and are just "fed up" with the poor economy. I tried to explain that these people are ideologically driven…that there are very few in these crowds who are apolitical, common folk just looking for work….that the overwhelming majority are hard-core leftists, union-members and Obama sympathizers trying to save his presidency.

    My Dad gets most of his news from the MSM. Never under-estimate its reach, folks. Even educated conservatives can fall victim to its patently false narratives.

    • taxpayer

      The Tea party Movement is not confronting Wall Street because the problem is liberal/progressive democrats who want to deny the Constitution.

    • tagalog

      The Tea Party is not opposing Wall Street because it's Washington and the government, not the corporations and the capitalists who are the problem.

    • http://www.nightmist.us/study/ Axe

      Have a similar issue. She thinks the Tea Party is trying to force people to costume-up and live in a kind of 1776 museum. Her source? 30 minutes a night with Diane Sawyer.

    • mlcblog

      I am observing the same phenom among our supposedly intelligent, otherwise well educated young adults at our church, some of whom have even served in the military. Beats me!!

  • oldtimer

    the only thing I would like to see is the end of the outrageous salaries and bonuses given to the CEO's and the rest of the executives. Even when they fail. Because they have a contract? You fail, your contract is null and void…I also don't believe in tenure for teachers. No other business has such a benefit. You don't do your, you are let go….But that's as far as I go.

  • Rifleman

    I have one small quibble with the article. "Capitalism" is a socialist term, I prefer "free market." That aside, it covers my observations of these leftist deadbeats with clarity and brevity.

    • mlcblog

      I am glad you pointed this out.

    • tagalog

      "Capitalism" is, specifically, a Marxist-Engelsist term in the sense of meaning an economic system involving owners of disposable wealth. David Ricardo used it often in his economic works before Marx, though. But it's Marx and Engels who popularized the term and gave it a dialectical meaning.

      That would be the same Engels, by the way, whose money came from inherited wealth from his father's factory (Ermen and Engels, cotton manufacturers), and who subsidized Marx for much of his life (while he wrote Das Kapital) with that inheritance, so that neither had to work, and paid their bills with money taken from the labors of the working class.

      • Rifleman

        Good point, I've never heard of Ricardo. I'll be reading something old, but new to me 'til the day I die. What a wonderful time for a readaholic to live.
        It's notable that like jihadis, a lot of marxists never needed for anything material and inherited substantial wealth.

  • Steve Chavez

    PROTEST should be called "DUPES, DOOBS, and BOOBS."

    "Organic Tofu Hot Dogs on gluten-free buns HERE!"

    "Rolling papers made from recycled toilet paper HERE!"

    "Filtered bottled water from the Hudson HERE!"

    "Scrapings from water filters and bongs HERE!"

    "Obama Zombie and Che T-shirts HERE!"

    "Text your CAPITALIST PIG PARENTS for rent, food, and pot money HERE!"

    I call this protest "THE SAME MOVIE, DIFFERENT ACTORS! Producers and Directors the same! From Vietnam to Today!"

    They are paid professionals too taught by their HIPPIE PARENTS, turned professors, who are brainwashing our youth in the ways of Peace and Justice and Social Justice taught to them by the Communist Party USA and their fronts whose job was to tow the Soviet KGB line during Vietnam in the 60's to the takeover of Central America during the 80's and who continue to SPIT ON OUR SOLDIERS, AND COUNTRY, TODAY!

    When the Soviet Union fell, OUR Communists were bitter and depressed that the country they loved more than their own, collapsed. Then came the Gulf War and the cockroaches that they are, crawled out again since WARS MAKE THEM FEEL IMPORTANT AGAIN! Without wars, they are nobody's, unemployed, and bums! Their protests are covered by newspapers and they frame their quotes and letters like their actions are as just and as equal to Gandhi or MLK. They feel important again so they drop whatever their degree is to major in Peace Studies and then support HAMAS and CPUSA directed Flotillas!

    DIDN'T THESE SAME PEOPLE protest BUSH for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, GITMO, NSA eavesdropping, and General Betray Us??? WHAT GOOD DID ALL THAT DO since we're still in those wars and now add to that, Yemen, Pakistan, and Libya! GITMO IS STILL OPEN, NSA eavesdropping continues due to DEMOCRATS voting to continue them but screamed at Bush for, and General Betray Us, who Obama and Hillary SPIT ON, is now head of OBAMA'S CIA! AGAIN, WHAT GOOD DID THEIR PROTESTING DO except to show how psychotic they are? Many of them would want Saddam back in power and they even claimed "at least they had electricity" even though he was responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of his own people who are still being found in mass graves!

    • effemall

      Thank you for taking words right out of my mouth and doing it eloquently thus saving me the bother of writing. There is much to be fixed on Wall Street but these losers could never figure out what needs to be fixed. They have been angry and protesting since infancy in rebellion to their folks who insisted they tidy up their rooms.

  • Steve Chavez

    That's why I call them A CULT! They are too brainwashed to realize they are in a CULT and it is also IMPOSSIBLE TO REASON with them! I guess that's why they're called "OBAMA ZOMBIES" and the "CULT OF OBAMA!" CULT! CULT! CULT!

    ***I wonder have many "JOBS" STEVE created and saved? The ISOCIALISM and ISTINK protesters, like Michael "IHYPOCRITE" Moore, are writing how much they hate Capitalists, Wall Street, and Banks on their IPADS while listening to ITUNES on their IPODS and calling IMOM AND IDAD, on their IPHONES, to deposit more evil corporate money into their evil BANK accounts to pay for their rent, which is "too damn high," a $2 organic "Apple," and a $400 ounce of medical IPOT, using rolling papers from recycled toilet paper or bongs filled with water from the Hudson, that they're sharing with all their other psychotic friends, and all this taking place in the Big "APPLE!"

    • Amused

      YOU are a cult Chavez , the cult of the misinformed hatefull ignoramus' . LOL….Democracy stinks , don't it Chavez ? Wall Street and Banks are not Capitalists , their thieves in white collars , who fools like you bow down to .

  • Steve Chavez

    OBAMA WAS A SOVIET KGB DUPE WHILE AT COLUMBIA and he supports this movement since their goals are one in the same: The DOWNFALL of the United States!

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE GOOGLE "Obama Sundial 1983" which is a RARE article Obama wrote, and during a period of his untold number of UNKNOWNS, on CPUSA AND SOVIET KGB FRONTS who supported the takeover of Central America as did the Democrat Party who screamed "NO CONTRA AID" with those protesters but who supported the Communist Sandinistas!

    During the 80's, LIBERATION THEOLOGY was the Mother of all Deceptions and Rev. Wright, a supporter of the Communist takeover of all the America's, taught BLACK LIBERATION THEOLOGY which is as RACIST as it gets and the Obama's sat there listening to hate and blame America, and Whites, for twenty years but hey, let's talk about Mormons.

    Obama, born of Marxists, surrounded himself with Marxist friends and mentors, Marxist Professors, radical Marxist students, bought and paid for by the CPUSA, who received funds from the Soviet KGB! He continues surrounding himself with like minded Marxists and Communists with most still in the CLOSET!

    They want the DOWNFALL OF THE UNITED STATES AS REVENGE FOR THE DOWNFALL OF THEIR BELOVED SOVIET UNION!!! KGB PUTIN, who is being glorified in our media, now wants a "EURASIA" with the old Soviet republics. He'll surely meddle in those countries elections to put in former allies who will force their country to join him! Protesters will be shot and jailed for "crimes against the State!"

    • Amused

      Hey Steve , the druggies of the 60's aint got nothin' on you pal . LOL….they did drugs to get high , you do yours to get deluded , hatefilled and paranoid . One sympton is your uncontrollable babbling accompanied by frothing at the mouth . Be carefull you dont scare all the little kids in your neighborhood .

  • Brujo Blanco

    I lived in a socialist country where the government controlled everything. Government set all the wages. Also, if you needed to replace a muffler there was only one approved muffler brand inmate country. All food prices had to be government controlled. Gun battles between political parties was not unheard of. If our constitution is disregarded and the left gets their way we will be in for the same. Review the socialists, Marxists, and communists Obama has placedmin positions of power.

  • Steve

    To Steve Chavez, After reading the article "Wall Street's Disgruntled Utopians", I felt depressed that America has within its borders citizens who are so hateful and destructive. But after reading your comment Steve, I feel energized and uplifted. Thank you for your passion.

    I believe in the theory of reincarnation and that many of these protesters and their radical guides were probably very busy during the French Revolution torturing, maiming and guillotining the aristocrats, clergy and anyone else who didn't accept their revolutionary ideology.

  • aharris

    This is what Communism looks like.

    • http://www.nightmist.us/study/ Axe

      It's what the agitation at the beginning looks like. After this, though, it just looks sort of flat and gray.

      Except on national holidays, of course.

  • sedoanman

    I had a middle-class income before the world ever heard of Bill Gates. After Bill Gates became a billionaire, I still had a middle class income. How did the gap between us hurt me?

  • BS77

    "A job is a right" Um hummm….these are the same morons that tell us grades don't matter, that self esteem is more important than objective tests…..that anyone should be able to have whatever they want….a college education, a home, free this and free that….just because!!!! This is cartoon communism.

  • tagalog

    Every demand the Occupy Wall Street protestors have managed to articulate (and I recognize that they reserve the right to add demands to their list) involves government action, not corporate action.

    So if they're so disgruntled about free college educations, ending corporate welfare, stopping corporate bailouts, forgiveness of their state-issued student loans, and so on, why aren't they protesting against government policies?

    Are they stupid or something?

    If the government hadn't bailed out the bankers and the automobile companies, they would have gone into bankruptcy, continued operating their businesses, and our nation would have been out of the recession by now (and long since at that). At minimum, taxpayer money wouldn't have been used to bail them out.

  • Asher

    This crowd is made up of a riotus movement who are organized into protesting. They have no idea who Obama really is, or that he is destroying Americas foundation and Society built from laws, and the capitalist system which benefitted everyone. They are alot like the bunch in Wisconsin organized by the Unions, who stunk up the Wis. Capital building with food, garbage and cigarretts….because they couldn't force the taxpayers into paying for early retirement pension funds.

  • Martel64

    And these protesting puppets are actually GETTING PAID to protest by GEORGE SOROS!!!!!

  • mrbean

    ABC's Today Show dragged out the aging hag Anita Hill today to once again bad mouth Clarence Thomas and CBS yesterday attacked Herman Cain because when he was in high school he worked after school and didn't march in the parades with the rest of the race baiting poverty pimps and marxist community organizers that represent the tribalisr balck leadership today – including the racist prince of fools in the oval office.

    • tagalog

      Furthermore, some female politico on the national level (I didn't get her name) used Cain's failure to join in anti-discrimination protests as proof that he was and is an Uncle Tom, a living lawn statue pandering to the Evil White Man.

  • Larry

    Gas is at $3.40 a gallon when it should be at $1.80 a gallon
    The only good jobs with high pensions, great health plans and plenty of vacations is with government. At the expense of the American worker Wall Street sees to it that the members of their Club make millions. Enough is enough already. It seems the lunatics are running the insane asylum.

  • Robert A. Hall

    Since Occupy Wall Street wants to forgive all debts, we should borrow money from them and stiff from them. If it looks like they will get that, I’m going to max out the credit card. On ammo. I think this is the start of the entitlement riots I’ve been predicting for some time, because government cannot possible redeem its trillions of dollars in pledges. OWS is the failure of American Education made manifest. Their basis demand is, “More free milk from the Nanny State teat.” I will link to this from my Old Jarhead blog.

    Robert A. Hall
    Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
    (All royalties go to a charity to help wounded veterans)
    For a free PDF of the book, write tartanmarine(at)gmail.com__

  • allen

    The goal is not to have the top 1% pay more taxes. The goal is to have the top 1% take less of the pie. We should lower the percent of taxes the rich pay by raising their rates. We should hope that the bottom 47% make enough to pay their fair share as well. You have it completely backward. It is time for the fat cats to push away from the table and leave something for everyone else. In the long run it is better for everyone if we have a strong middle class that can afford to buy enough to keep the economy going. We have lost that.

    In the build up to the 2008 economic collapse, the economy ran with borrowed money with the rich loaning money to people who could not afford to pay it back. Once people figured out they were not going to be paid back, the economy stopped. The solution is to get back to a more traditional income distribution like what we had for most of the post WWII period.

  • Pathena

    The "Occupy Wall Street" selfish, greedy, and vain idiots, should learn from the example of Steve Jobs.

  • dodi

    They're a disgrace to anyone who's ever protested on the streets with a 'sane' cause.

    • Amused

      yea like the Teaparty , busting up town hall meetings , packing heat , carrying racist signs and dressing up like clowns . Issuing their vague threats of violence .

  • http://www.themadjewess.wordpress.com MAD JEWESS

    Maybe it is asking too much, but any sane News station should have, and I mean a BIG BETTER HAVE or get Horowitz on their programs.
    What do we do?
    This is turning into Bolshevik Russia. And people are CLUELESS, Mr Horowitz.

  • Jim_C

    Please don't tell me I'm the only one here noting the irony that what liberals said about the TEA party, conservatives are now saying about Occupy Wall Street. SS, DD, as they say.

    The TEA party and this movement are two sides of the same coin, each one missing a key ingredient.

    Any part of this movement who is "anti-Capitalism" is a fool, plain and simple.

    Any TEA partier who doesn't get that Big Government IS Big Business is a fool, plain and simple.

    Each party has it's moronic scapegoats, whether its "blame the teachers" or "blame the stockbrokers."

    Each party also has a few people who DO get it, though. If those people were to pool together, Washington would tremble.

  • Jim_C

    Income inequality is very real, and you won't be able to paper over it with such flimsy paper–WHATEVER you choose as a cause, whomever you choose to blame–it's real. (And I beg Herman Cain to continue his "Blame yourself for not being rich" line of thinking.

    "In 1981, the top 1% paid 17.58% of all federal income taxes; in 2005, this same cohort paid 39.38%." The top 1% were taxed at a much higher rate, then, and the income gap wasn't nearly as stark a chasm.

    This is not about "blame the rich." This is about the quantifiable failure of trickle-down economics, about buying influence in government and control of the media. The Herman Cains of the world seem to want to blame everyone for not having the foresight to game the markets or for becoming successful CEOs. Well, people who want to be rich can be rich, God bless them for it, but I don't think most people want to be rich; I think people want to be able to make a decent living and afford health care and college educations for their kids. That stuff is moving farther out of reach and I've yet to hear a Republican address it on those terms.

  • guest

    Are they hippies, are they nascent red shirts? Come on guys, make up your minds. I mean, you could do some actual analysis to find out what constitutes the movement but that requires, like, real work and thinking. But if you are going to create caricatures, at least try and be consistent. So which is it? Patchouli drenched bongo players, violent anarchists, totalitarian storm troopers? Surely they can't be all those, how could they possibly get along? Hmm, maybe they're mostly regular people… Nah, they're not strapped with pistols and clinging to their bibles.

  • Scum

    Of course, what Thornton fails to point out is that the real beneficiary of 'federal largesse' is, with the exception of oil-rich Texas, the …. wait for it … Red States. Take away the safety net, and the Reds will collapse. This is why true anarchists were hoping Chris Christie would enter the race: he would remove the welfare for Red States, and refuse to save capitalism by bailing out the 'too-big-to-fails' that are all run by Republican CEOs. Of course, Christie did steal from EVERY AMERICAN TAXPAYER by refusing to return federal $$ targeted for the new train line to NYC that he vetoed. But true to form, the Tea-baggers have ignored this minor violation…

  • tanstaafl

    The reason these protestors are so inarticulate – the drugs were better in the sixties?

    Certainly the music was……..

    • Amused

      yea they need the drug you're on …STUPIDITY ……duh what a trip huh tanstaafl .

  • steven l

    Capitalism as it is practiced today, does not work.
    The 2 poles of corruption are W S and the govt.
    Whether the republicans. or democrats are in power, they are both in cahoot with W S.
    They both claim to defend the middle class.
    A farce. We do not need the occupiers of WS to know that WS is as much rotten as is the govt.
    The solution is half way between Capitalism and social democracy. For that we need geniuses. Where are they?

  • Amused

    Wooooo, and the "modern day MORIARITY ", that evil genius .commie ,scoundrel -SOROS ! Merely pushes his majic "button " ….and the zombies come out of thje woodwork , by their thousands in cities across the USA . I guess all you tools haven't figured it out yet Eh ? People are pissed , their on to the game ,and you think the teabaggers are the only Americans allowed to be pissed ? call'em all the names you like , attach whatever hairbrained conspiracy theories you wish .These people are gonna vote in 2012 , and they dont buy the bullsheet of the Democrats , Republican , Conservative or Teabags .Time for the arseholes to take note .What you're seeing is the Centrists of this country , and if they're pissed off enough to demonstrate , look out wall street Sycophants and Lackeys .No their gripe is not yet clearly defined , because there's so much to be pissed off at , but they wiull focus , and they're not going aweay , no matter what you blind fools call them .

  • Amused

    Now lets see all those 'disapproves " ….TOOLS !

  • Amused

    LOL….aint FREEDOM A BEAUTIFUL THING ! And it's a TWO-WAY STREET . That's your lesson for the day .

  • Ellman

    The mind enslaved to Marxist ideology is captive to an ideology whose manifestations in reality have produced death, hunger, deprivatiion, disease, suffering and human degradation. The realities of this ideology are completely hidden from the utopian idealists who are camping out on Wall Street. This is the same rabble that produced the Jacobins of the French Revolution and its Reign of Terror, the Bolsherik Revolution and over 40 million deaths. They believe that "to make an omelette you have to break a lot of eggs". I have no desire to become one of the ingredients of an omelette!

  • howdydoody

    bahabahaba habahaha those commies! bahabahabahabah capitalism is great! bahbahabaha the liberal media! bahabahabah brainwashed! bahabahabah I'm out of work, poorly educated and watch Fox News and vote Repubican because I hate gays and abortion, no I don't care if they couldn't care less about me, my family and my entire demographic, as long as I can spout and repeat ignorant BS on websites like this one that defend the interests of the wealthy and corporate america. Bahbahabaha!

  • xavier

    If iam working DILIGENTLY on a backbreaking job and THROUGH THAT, was able to amass my surplus and enjoy the luxury that I deserve due to my hardwork, I dont understand it why these parasites forcibly wants to take it away from me and redistribute it for free? Isnt it pseudo-thievery?

    These delusional people dont understand that the very system that they are pushing for wont allow them to have private property per se.