Tea Time for the Occupation


For example, Wall Street's reaction to the Dodd Frank Act that among other things limited bank fees—passed when Congress was still doing something other than obstructing the President to assure he'd be a one-term threat to the one percent. I would characterize that reaction, whether warranted or not, as supremely disorganized and the results were disastrous. Within the space of a few weeks just prior to the date the fee-limiting sections of the law went into effect, many banks jacked up various fees, invented new ones, and announced them bluntly as by fiat.

Although some of those fees could be justified by any sensible or dispassionate economic analysis, the chaotic way that the banks reacted universally angered consumers. They felt battered, exploited, and worst of all dissed—particularly in light of the fact that the mega-banks (deemed by Washington as too big to fail) had very recently been bailed out by taxpayer money. Bear in mind that although the crisis that precipitated that bailout could be ascribed to many things, one of which was certainly the disorganization of the securitization markets created by those same banks.

And thus the Occupy Wall Street movement sprang up, not necessarily in reaction to the above situation but to what it typified. The most recent poll that I've seen indicated that 54% of Americans sympathize with Occupy, with only 23% against it. Given the state of the economy, the deadlock in Congress, the palpable and growing income inequality in America, and the disorganization of private sector initiatives, one might assume that Occupy will grow to 1960s dimensions and either bust the dam or sufficiently lift the river to flow over it. So now you have our attention. Tell us what you REALLY want!!

Even to those I know who've spent time in Zuccotti, it is difficult to know what the movement hopes to accomplish beyond a general "change" that middle class America can bank on. It's hard to figure out who's running what, what the goals of the movement are, or who actually speaks for it. That's because Occupy is being governed by committee, sorta.

If Occupy is to become truly effective, it needs to buck the growing American trend of disorganization. It needs to focus on what issues are really important, and put aside all of the other things that might legitimately be complained about in 21st-century America. Whatever Occupy wants to change about America, it should adopt some tried-and-true American methods of getting it done—good organization, effective communication, and—dare I say it—significant fundraising.

Controversial as it may sound, (Lord, forgive me for saying this) Occupy might learn more by looking to the right rather than to the left or the center. The Tea Party, literally within months of its creation, was capable of defining very precise goals, organizing brilliantly around many state and federal races in 2010, raising a hell of a lot of money, and taking Congress away from the Democrats. Their first and simplest goal was to stop Obama, and for the most part they have. They have thus already had a profound effect on American society.

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