The Free Agent finds some tracts of common ground with the ragtag group of protesters who have camped out in and around Liberty Plaza Park in New York since September 17. While tippy-toeing through a cardboard quilt of hand-written signs, she nodded approvingly at one saying, “Hold Barney Frank Accountable,” for instance. Like the group now known as Occupy Wall Street, she rails the federal government has no authority to take out a loan in future taxpayers’ name and hand the proceeds to its friends and supporters, on Wall Street, in Detroit, or anywhere else. (Alas, power steps out on authority so often it forgets they’re supposed to be married.) Where she shakes her head in bafflement, however, is in Occupy Wall Street’s demand that government assume even more power. Stalin will never dismantle Stalinism.
Through her network of media contacts, The Free Agent has obtained the house organ of the movement, The Occupied Wall Street Journal. Likening OWS to the Arab Spring protests, the article “Learning from the World,” equates protesters’ goals in Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia, (why not Libya?), Greece, Britain, and Spain. The FA is careful to differentiate those who try to overthrow a corrupt government with those who just wish to stencil new names on the office doors. For example, the article, “The Revolution Begins at Home”, proposes “nationalize the banks”. From The Free Agent’s point of view, putting banks and government even closer together would serve nothing but to save Mister Geithner Acela fare when the next rescue occurs.
On the other hand, take government out of the partnership and banks and the other corporations OWS justifiably vilifies are rendered toothless. As The Free Agent has said before, no power on earth can force you to buy a Big Mac. Citibank, evil as it wannabe, could not have lifted a penny from our wallets without our elected representatives’ (and their completely unaccountable appointees’) say-so. To expect Wall Street, Solyndra, or The Free Agent’s retired mater to leave un-cashed a check from the US Treasury calls for a level of self-restraint few among us could muster.
But The Free Agent found herself cheering again as she read from the “Declaration of the Occupation”: “…we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice”. She hopes the various candidates who would re-stencil their name on the Oval Office door take that sentiment just as seriously.
The Free Agent calls anyone who seems to be rowing the ship in the same general direction her friend, so in the spirit of friendship, she offers the following wisdom to the various committees, councils, and working groups of OWS:
- Citibank isn’t going to give the money back. Our efforts are better spent preventing future bailouts.
- You can fiddle with the tax code all you want, but no one has figured out how to get much more than 19% of GNP in federal revenue. (Tax attorneys will thank you, however.)
- Justice is worth pursuing, equal outcomes isn’t.
- Every new labor law makes it less attractive to hire an employee here.
- The antidote to bad governance is self-governance.
- Assume the best of politicians. This may sound un-Free Agent-like, but she means it—politicians have tried their best to fix the recession, they can’t do it, and all their rearranging of deck chairs just makes things worse. It’s time to get out of the way.
- “Love” is not helpful as public policy, but would a popular uprising be complete without at least one sign saying it?
On the back page of The Occupied Wall Street Journal is a list of things we can do to support the movement. Among the donations sought are “sweatshirts, sweatpants, socks” and food, “Vegan and Gluten Free so anyone can eat it”. While she applauds the popular uprising and wonders that it took this long, for the time being, The Free Agent will sit on her case of steaks and weissbier.