Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupy wall street

My dad posted this commentary by famed economist Dave Ramsey about Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

I have to say, I think he (Dave Ramsey) completely misses the point. I thought the essay was snarky, disingenuous, and sometimes just downright mean.

It is a very easy target, and not at all unique for Dave Ramsey to say that OWS has no specified goals. I am unimpressed. He starts this way so he can be open to choose individual signs here and there that he can point to and ridicule. But he fails to acknowledge that there is something very real pulling so many thousands of people together across the US, and after some real journalism, I was very impressed with recent NPR reports about what that is:

Participatory Economics

Or heck, just direct participatory government.

Even though there are a hundred different viewpoints, the reason they haven't just dispersed is that they've found common ground in the shared desire to come together and make decisions based on consensus.

Is this the best way to govern (versus the representative government that we have now)? I don't know. On one hand, who has time to participate, and make informed decisions about everything? On the other, how many representatives and senators actually make informed decisions? I have to think about this more, and am sure I could find some research that's been done on direct participatory government that would have more to back-up their claims that I have now.

The point here is that OWS is not about wall street, or the New York Stock Exchange, as Ramsey snidely distinguishes (Of course no one thinks the actual street is evil - Ramsey is especially dishonest in misrepresenting his opponents' view here). OWS is, I think, resulting from a desire to be involved directly in government and economics - likely as a result of the internet, social media and all of our options for instant-input (text messages, phones, video chat, facebook, twitter, flicker, and on and on).

To support his own movement, Ramsey ends his rant by claiming OWS is actually for something, that they are "protesting rich people who actually earned their money". This is patently not true, and yet another case of Ramsey building up a straw man, just so he can cut it down. Here he suggests that no OWS people are "rich", and further implies that none of them "actually earned their money". Furthermore, he makes other incorrect assumptions to make his own arguments seem stronger, such that most OWS protestors do not have jobs, and continually refers to the protestors as stupid. In direct contrast to this, survey results of respondents show that nearly 70% of respondents had full (50%) or part-time (20%) jobs, over 92% have some level of college education. In addition, nearly 30% of OWS protestors earn over 50,000 a year. But even that is unfair because who is to say the 70% that make less than 50,000 do not

Ramsey is a wonderful writer, however, so I'll end by paraphrasing Ramsey. Regarding his own writing:

I'm not very impressed at the moment. I'm not impressed by your temper fit. I'm not impressed at your disingenuous representations and lack of genuine inquiry into the controversy. I'm not impressed by the fact that the only thing I see about your opinion article is ignorance and immaturity. Grow up.

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