The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators call themselves the “99 percenters,” pitting those whom they characterize as the rich, greedy 1 percent capitalists against the 99 percent of the people whom the 1 percent are supposedly exploiting. A more accurate description of the demonstrators is that they are 99 percent narcissists engaging in a form of self-glorified street theater. And that’s giving them the benefit of the doubt that 1 percent of them may be misguided but authentic idealists.
The narcissists think they are the American incarnation of the Arab Spring. But whatever one believes about the motivations and effectiveness of the Arab Spring movements, the protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and other countries in the Middle East-North African region were protesting against real oppression. They have been gunned down and tortured for demonstrating against some of the world’s most repressive regimes. By contrast, the 99 percenters are complaining that they were briefly detained after disobeying police warnings not to block traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge or further uptown. Some of the drivers who were blocked by the protesters were themselves part of the 99 percent trying to get to work and back.
Occupy Wall Street does not have a clear focus. Its “causes” are all over the map, but with a common anti-establishment theme. They crave media attention for themselves and their various complaints du jour. A proposed list of demands posted by one user on the website OccupyWallSt.org, which its administrators describe as a “collective,” were disowned by the site’s administrators.
But at least one of these demands – “free college education” – seems to be resonating with many of the mostly young crowd. They want their student loan debts forgiven.
The demonstrators are clueless about the fact that since July 1, 2010, under a bill signed by “hope and change, yes we can” Barack Obama, it is the U.S. Department of Education that has taken over making student loans from the banks and other private-sector or quasi-private sector lenders such as Sallie Mae who had received a federal subsidy for making government-guaranteed college loans. The anti-Wall Street demonstrators clamoring for free college education and student debt forgiveness are wasting their time in New York’s financial district. They should be joining their comrades protesting in Washington, D.C. at the White House, Department of Education and Capitol Hill. They should also be protesting at the colleges themselves, which have been raising their tuitions at a far greater pace than the general rate of inflation.
More fundamentally, there is a selfish assumption at the core of the demand. These self-proclaimed 99 percenters are themselves mostly in the top one percent world-wide in terms of wealth and economic opportunities. The protesting youthful global 1 percenters feel entitled to suck other peoples’ money into paying for their college education rather than reaching out to help meet the far more critical humanitarian needs of the global 99 percenters, such as working towards alleviation of hunger and disease in the poorest regions of the world. That is narcissism in action.
How about we see more entrepreneurs like the late icon of the technology world, Steve Jobs, who dropped out of college because he said it was consuming all of his parents’ savings. He didn’t whine or ask for hand-outs. Instead, he exemplified the best of America’s self-reliant, entrepreneurial spirit and went on to do great things.
Another of the more popular demands of the Occupy Wall Street crowd appears to be something along the lines of a guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment. What exactly does this mean? Who defines what a living wage is? Who is paying for the guarantee? Are the self-proclaimed 99 percenters saying that 99 percent of the American people are not making a living wage? More likely, they are simply demanding yet another government entitlement that is intended to punish success and reward slackers.
Then there are some of the more prominent supporters who are supposed to provide legitimacy to the movement. These include the requisite Hollywood celebrities such as Russell Simmons, Roseanne Barr, Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon, whose millions place them in the top tier of the 1 percent.
There are also some labor unions, mostly representing government workers whose fat pensions far exceed virtually anything available in the private sector and are bleeding taxpayers dry who are living in the 99 percent category. Meanwhile, the leaders of these unions are mostly 1 percenters.
Finally, there are the professional year-around protesters like Jodie Evans, the co-founder of the far-left Code Pink. In January 2010, Evans and Code Pink asked the Muslim Brotherhood to “join us in cleansing our country!” In December 2009, Evans and Code Pink led more than 1,000 leftists, among whom were Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, to Cairo in order to deliver “humanitarian aid” to the terrorist Hamas-led government of Gaza.
While there may be some well-meaning idealists amongst the Occupy Wall Street protesters, they are dwarfed by the 99 percent narcissists and the manipulating union and radical leaders who are exploiting the youthful protest for their own ulterior motives.