OWS and the Tea Party: In the Ball Park But Haven’t Found Their Seats

As the 2012 elections approach, there is now a left wing protest movement to mirror the right wing Tea Party. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and its many offshoots claims to represent “the 99%” of Americans who are not among the richest 1%. Like the Tea Party, OWS sees economic catastrophe ahead if America’s economic system is not fundamentally changed. Unlike the Tea Party, which places the blame for America’s economic woes on the doorstep of politicians, OWS points the finger squarely at Wall Street – and anyone else who makes enough money to qualify for a “1%” membership card.

It is actually refreshing to see Americans from both sides of the political spectrum interested enough to actually object to something. Whether marching around and carrying signs actually accomplishes anything is debatable. However, the Tea Party has already shown that political careers can be made or ended when enough people get both fed up and organized. While OWS is not as politically organized as the Tea Party was at this point in 2009, it has already made it over the toughest hurdle – getting a critical mass of people off the couch and out into the streets. As labor unions and other left wing special interests get more involved, it is likely that a bona fide political movement will emerge from the present confusion. Like the Tea Party, OWS might even change a few seats on their side of the aisle. But what then?

If the results of the Tea Party Congress are any indication, the answer to that question is “nothing.” Yes, the new Congress made some symbolic statements, like requiring the members to read the Constitution aloud during the opening session. But when it came to actually advancing their supposed agenda in a substantive way – cutting the size of the federal government and reigning in deficits – not much happened. A proposal emerged to cut $100 billion out of the $1.6 trillion deficit, which would have been meaningless even if it passed. Beyond that, it’s been business as usual inside  the Capitol, with Congressmen from both sides of the aisle continuing to spend money the federal government doesn’t have and kicking the can a  little further down the road.

Left wing Americans should already know the electoral process is unlikely to produce substantive change. As the third year of Obama’s presidency draws to a close, there is almost nothing of substance either his supporters or his critics can point to that differentiates his presidency from that of George W. Bush. Both championed and got passed an expansion of government involvement in the health care system that costs taxpayers about $100 billion per year directly and likely causes distoritions in the health care market that are far more costly than that. Both started a few new wars in the Middle East. Both expanded the federal government’s power to spy on its own citizens. Both passed “sweeping regulatory reforms” that further crippled America’s already weak economy. Both expanded executive power unconstitutionally. Both set new precedents in attacking the Bill of Rights.

But the similarity between the two that should resonate most  with OWS supporters is this: both filled their cabinets with Wall Street and corporate insiders and never made a move those special interests didn’t like. Sure, Obama made some populist, anti-business statements early in his presidency, but when it came to “Change” in the healthcare system, his program turned out to be a half trillion pear year handout to the health insurance industry. That wasn’t exactly what the true believers had in mind, but it was business as usual for corporate-owned Washington.

In short, two hugely trumpeted “revolutions” in American politics – a leftwing  one in 2008 and a right-wing one in 2010 – have failed to move the needle one degree in Washinton, D.C. A lot of articles were written and a lot of television talk shows were provided with material about both, but absolutely nothing has changed. Sooner or later, one has to answer the question: Why not?

The answer is even the genuine grassroots members from both the left and the right don’t understand what is ailing America. They know something is wrong, but decades of government propaganda bolstered by shoddy education have left most Americans unequipped to figureout what it is. In fact, both the Tea Party and OWS share the same fundamental misconceptions about The Problem.

Both the Tea Party and OWS believe Republican presidents, especially Ronald Reagan, had somehow created a laissez faire capitalist economy during their presidencies. The Tea Partiers believe America must get back to Reaganomics, while OWS believes it was the root cause of today’s problems. Both of them are wrong. Neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush signed one bill that substantively made the American economy more laissez faire. In fact, Bush actually signed Sarbanes-Oxley, which he himself called “the most sweeping regulatory reform since the New Deal.” Even what the media called “deregulation” during the Reagan years was mostly regulatory tweaks that were passed under Carter. Tom Woods covers this in detail in Rollback, so I won’t attempt to reconstruct the whole argument here. In short, “deregulation” never happened. It was just one huge, Jedi mind trick, similar to “hope and change.”

That brings us to misconception number two: regulation itself. Both movements misunderstand the relationship between our present corporate economy and government regulation. The Tea Party believes getting rid of regulations as Reagan supposedly did would “get the government out of the way” of America’s corporations, resulting in huge gains in productivity and employment. OWS believes more regulations will reign in “corporate greed” and protect the little guy from those same rapacious corporations. Again, both of them are wrong.

A truly unregulated free market would not result in a few, large corporations controlling every economic sector. Nor would it result in most of society’s wealth being concentrated within a small percentage of the population. While no one alive has ever lived under such a system in terms of the entire economy, we have seen it in a particular sector within the last two decades. As Bill Bonner pointed out, the high tech industry existed for a time as an unregulated free market. Did this result in entrenched corporations getting bigger and concentrating even more wealth in the hands of a few? Absolutely not. As Bonner reminds us, “They created an entirely new industry…with new companies nobody had ever heard of. And then, they destroyed some of the biggest businesses in America.”

Government regulation creates barriers to entry for new firms and dampens innovation. In other words, it insulates entrenched corporations from competition, causing the very consolidation and concentration of wealth OWS objects to. That’s why established corporations never object to new regulations. Why should they? They end up writing the regulations themselves with one thing in mind – protect their position from the competition that would occur in a free market. That’s what makes left wing support for increased government regulation so tragically ironic. It’s like they are rushing to the scene of a fire with a sistern full of gasoline.

The Tea Party purports to favor less government regulation, but they have no idea what the results would be. They, too, do not understand the difference between our present corporatist system and a free market. Were the economy truly deregulated, most of the corporate giants they hold up as symbolic of the free market would be gone. Only those which could deliver better products at lower prices in the face of unrelenting competition would survive – and only for as long as they could continue to do so. Upward mobility would return. Large fortunes would again be made by “college drop-outs, computer nerds, products of teenage mothers and broken marriages” (Bonner again), just as the misnamed “robber barons” largely came from the ranks of the poor. Conservatives didn’t like that in the 19th century – and they might not like it now, either. But that’s what the free market does. It rewards innovation, productivity, and achievement, regardless of the social pedigree of the innovator.

Neither OWS nor the Tea Party recognizes how economically destructive the gargantuan U.S. military establishment is. There were some left wing protests against the Iraq War during the Bush years, but that is a non-issue for OWS. Now that there is a Democrat running the empire, the left seems to have made its peace with war. The left never objected to the continuation of the decades-long occupations of Europe, Japan, Korea, or the 130 or so other countries the U.S. government currently has troops in. In purely economic terms, those programs dwarf the active wars.

Of course, support for this trillion-dollar-a-year abomination is a key plank of the Tea Party movement, which is against taking money from one American and using it to buy healthcare for another American, but has no problem taking money from one American and using to (supposedly) buy “freedom” for people in other countries. Not only is this direct transfer of wealth draining America of scarce resources, but it has completely skewed what’s left of American manufacturing towards producing products that don’t increase wealth. Wealth is only increased when products are produced that people voluntarily buy. No one voluntarily buys weapons or the services of military personnel. And those resources in turn don’t produce anything at all.

Both the left and the right view imperialism as somehow part and parcel of laissez faire capitalism. Nothing could be further from the truth. The foundation of capitalism is voluntary exchange. There is nothing a military force can do under the guise of “protecting America’s vital interests” or “opening up markets for American companies” that has anything to do with capitalism or voluntary exchange. Even if an army really did influence people in other countries to trade with American companies, that would not be capitalism any more than Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac influencing people to take out loans was capitalism. When it’s not voluntary, it’s not a free market. Whatever its true purpose is (and there are a lot of theories), the U.S. government’s massive military establishment is just another large, bankrupt government program.

However, the most harmful misconception OWS and the Tea Party share is not really a misconception at all. It is the failure to recognize the most destructive element in the American economy – the Federal Reserve. The failure of either movement to make the Federal Reserve a priority or even acknowledge its existence explains many of the other misconceptions. Both the artificial booms each attribute to their presidents of choice – Clinton for liberals, Reagan for conservatives- and the inevitable busts each blame on  presidents of the other party- Carter and Obama for conservatives, Bush 1 and Bush 2 for liberals – can all be traced back to the predicable results of Federal Reserve monetary policy. Even if all of the other economic interventions were eliminated and this one intervention were left in place, most of the economic problem would still exist.

The Tea Party claims to oppose Obama’s “socialism,” but fails to see the Federal Reserve as a fundamentally socialist institution. Its stated purpose is to transfer wealth from one individual or group to another at the direction of central economic planners. It doesn’t get much more socialist than that. A few conservatives might object to the way a particular Fed chairman conducts the business of the Fed, but almost none object to the Fed itself. Yet compared to the transfer of wealth that occurs when the Fed inflates the currency, all of the U.S. government’s welfare programs combined pale in comparison. Since the Fed transfers wealth to Wall Street and corporate America, one might understand their reluctance to oppose that aspect of it. But what about a small group of government hacks attempting to direct the entire economy? If that’s not “socialism,” then what is?

OWS is similarly disinterested in the Federal Reserve, even though it exists to transfer wealth from the 99% to the 1%. For both groups, ignorance is probably the majority of the problem. The Fed has managed to stay out of the spotlight for most of the past century, taking the credit for supposed recoveries and avoiding all blame for the business cycle itself. Yet, even if it did what it purported to do, it should still be Public Enemy No. 1 to both OWS and the Tea Party. Until most Americans understand how destructive this institution is, no amount of “reform” is going to make our economic problems go away.

So, the next election will be influenced by two grassroots movements committed to solving America’s problems. One says the problem is government. They are right. The other says it is corporations and the financial elite. They are also right. As a friend of mine likes to say, both groups “are in the ball park, but they haven’t found their seat.” One can only hope for a moment of clarity on both sides. If they could only see things as they really are, they’d be marching side by side.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

14 thoughts on “OWS and the Tea Party: In the Ball Park But Haven’t Found Their Seats

    1. Mark Are

      Actually a lot of us want or are demanding liberty. The problem we run into are the psychopaths that are running the show that don’t want to dialogue with us. Look at the Bernard Von NotHaus case. Where the guy who started the Liberty Dollar is charged with “counterfeiting” convicted and faces 17.5 years for his “heinous” crime. Obviously he was gaining headway in becoming a problem to the Feds fake money system. The people on the jury were brain dead lemmings which unfortunately mirror the majority of the indoctrinated populace. I am afraid that until lead start flying in the direction of the controllers things will continue the way they have for as long as people aren’t willing to pledge their LIVES, liberty and property towards the cause of liberty, it will continue to go down the path it is going. I’m old enough and have lived a good life that I’m going to do whatever it takes if I am attacked by someone who claims to have authority to do so.

  1. Vae Victus

    I am going to link to this in all the forums where the “my protest movement is better than your protest movement” argument is raging.

    As always, another excellent piece. Your sharp wit and lucid style serves the cause of Liberty invaluably Mr. Mullen, thank you!

  2. William Schooler

    Maybe instead of OWS and The Tea Party we should be calling these people the broken wings of America’s ignorance of a foundation because no foundation equates to greater ignorance, seen any lately?

    But Tom I keep wondering why there is no real statement that the Federal Reserve is Corporate America and Corporate America is The Government?

    Funny thing I heard Cain screaming out its all lies today and saying the American people want me to run and I kept asking what American people is he talking about and finally POOF a light bulb came on. He is talking about his American elitists who control the world as they please claiming Capitalism. Come on we know these global corporations exist because these fed bankers can hide behind the facade of the individual of a company and it really becomes hard to take when smart people pretend like this is not the case.

    These Federal Reserve boys and all their unity with their corporate structure and their personal Government do pretty much what ever they want these days, maybe I am looking at the wrong results but NA! they are pretty visible.

    Since no one will admit it and since most are absolutely clueless to the Foundation of THIS REPUBLIC do we experience history first hand, yep it is repeating as it was before because we use the exact same ignorance as before. But hey don’t let me argue it, after all who am I? Just some producing American making my way through the sludge of crap constant. I am used to it because I am positive there is no easy way and only the effort way.

    It is so not funny to me that we all talk about how all others are failing us but we never admit we are failing our own ability because of our refusal to review our own acts or lack of, none of these folks have a great example to fallow, we do but they are so few it is hard to recognize as well. Their attention is filled with so much bad information they have no good information in which to operate with. And all because we wont be honest with each other and spill the beans because we might hurt that capitalist shine everyone wants to hold on to. Funny thing though I found it to be bogus too because it came from the same source Corporate and Government are both using. Bad me for being honest I know.

    The 2012 election will go as poor as the 2008 election, not because we did have someone to put in office, we did, we just did not stand up on principal and unite on principal. We still have no clue of such principals and the effects will be the same. What is popular takes the place when ignorance is prevalent. Something popular has to fill the void or the vacuum so people can feel good about themselves and their poor actions. Most know they are duped they just don’t know what to do about fixing it and as long as we keep denying to ourselves and to each other the ignorance grows leaps and bounds every single year.

    The Federal Reserve and its clan is our cause of bad ideology and we were warned about it but refused to heed such warnings and continue today without question. The corporate structure is modeled by criminals but so many are in acceptance rather than investigation of the source of the idea itself and then we have Government which is comprised of the crony slobs to nowhere pissing on our cereal and creating pathetic results. And if you notice the Federal reserve, the corporations and Government all share in bad results, this is what they have in common and we are in denial. Sure there are some good honest Corporations out there because they wont be bought but for all those that have look outside at what we have. Production in other countries selling us products while they refuse to buy. The economy tanks and specialist with theories pop out of the wood work and pretend they have the answers not even realizing where the doctrine originated.

    But here is the meet an potatoes, Thomas Jefferson put together a Document of truths and principals. He warned us about this very activity we are in. He gave us the most important principals you could ever review and use to apply in a direction of A Republic. He said they were rights but it turns out they are gifts that if understood and utilized would clean up this mess. Still today it is far from used and o so many will say but Thomas Jefferson did not do all that himself and the truth is he did, he took information from others he knew were absolutely being true and then put it in a form to slither past his opponents the best he could in high hopes we would not just read this document, but that we would study it, investigate it, know exactly what it means and then we would use it as our very basis to survive in a free world. But so few will even investigate they will say but it was so and so who said that. I really don’t care who said it, Thomas Jefferson Documented it and the opposers altered it didn’t they?

    But regardless what we needed is right here, it is still right here and look at all of us looking and blaming all others rather than doing our due diligence to know exactly what we are doing.

    The only reason our enemy has so much force against us is because they are clear on what they are doing. The people of this free nation are not clear at all, have no clue and lay there unable to fly because we all have broken wings and no will to look inside ourselves for the truths and the real answers . And as sure as I sit here so do they if investigated and located. Believe me I know the truth really hurts because I viewed me and it was not pretty, but I came out the other side and I am more alive than ever with more energy than I can remember at 10 and I am now 56. That has been blowing my mind yet so many wont even ask why?
    I probably scare them with this much energy, BO!!!

    William Schooler
    A Producing American

    1. Mark Are

      I make the effort to share this information because it gives me, at last, a plausible answer to a long-unanswered question: Why, no matter how much intelligent goodwill exists in the world, is there so much war, suffering and injustice? It doesn’t seem to matter what creative plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot. Since the dawn of civilization, this pattern repeats itself over and over again.

      The answer is that civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths. All civilizations, our own included, have been built on slavery and mass murder. Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie, kill, cheat, steal, torture, manipulate, and generally inflict great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse, in order to establish their own sense of security through domination. The inventor of civilization – the first tribal chieftain who successfully brainwashed an army of controlled mass murderers – was almost certainly a genetic psychopath. Since that momentous discovery, psychopaths have enjoyed a significant advantage over non-psychopaths in the struggle for power in civilizational hierarchies – especially military hierarchies.

      Behind the apparent insanity of contemporary history, is the actual insanity of psychopaths fighting to preserve their disproportionate power. And as their power grows ever-more-threatened, the psychopaths grow ever-more-desperate. We are witnessing the apotheosis of the overworld – the overlapping criminal syndicates that lurk above ordinary society and law just as the underworld lurks below it.

      Read the rest here: http://www.whale.to/b/callahan1.html

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  4. William Schooler

    WOW Mark,

    I read this same post on another site and I am not sure why you feel this way, are you saying you think of others as less than yourself? I don’t view most a psycho, not to say there is no psychos there is. But they are few and all they really have to do is play make believe.

    The truth of the matter is ideas, thats right ideas, thousands and thousands of ideas. Some work, some don’t work, some work great and some don’t work great at all. But there are a few ideas that have been around a very long time, have been used over and over and we see they very same effects over and over.

    What or who do you think keeps repeating these? You or others? Answer this; has the idea of Rule been in existence since symbols have been used? How about secrecy? How is it that all ideas are passed down anyway? Did you ever ask this question and then spend the time to research the answer? You should, it is very thought provoking. But here is a glimpse and only a glimpse because I don’t want to give too much away at one time, after all its secret. Pick up a dictionary or two and look in it and describe what it is you SEE, is this book filled with symbols? What do these symbols do? Pass around ideas? Does anybody add ideas to the ideas?

    Interesting questions are they not? In my own discoveries most through my own experiences and the evaluations of my acts and my choices I found out I generate ideas, Yep I know it is a MIRACLE, but better yet, I can DECIDE to bring them into existence. But what if the idea is a bad one or better yet a dumb one and I decide anyway what happens? Exactly what I decided is what happens. How do I measure a dumb choice or a bad choice up against a good or great choice? What defined these? Some other or do you?

    All these questions I know, believe me I have spent literally years answering these myself, have you?

    Really my point to all of this is everything you experience around you today is an idea that some individual or many individuals decided to manifest and bring them about, each and every one. In fact look around you where ever you are right now and identify every idea around you, thats pretty much everything isn’t it? Yet we cannot recognize what we are capable of because why? Because we do not evaluate our own acts we spend too much time evaluating others acts, why? Because we are scared of what we might do? Don’t know enough to do anything? We are in fear of us?

    And this is why I entirely disagree with you because I have recognized very strong capabilities that when understood and used properly make a compelling example. But this is something we learn by evaluating ourselves and not the acts of others, we cannot control their acts we can only control our own. Yet many will not even take this responsibility they wish to blame another when the biggest monster you face is you. All your miss deeds, all your mistakes, all the lies you thought you were telling others but where really only convincing yourself. So much can be found facing a mirror because it is the reflection of everything you do, everything you decide on and the one that can best work it out with you is you.

    Bad ideas exist and so do very good ideas and how do we tell the difference between each? WE need something solid to determine from, a bedrock or a foundation with principals that apply to you that are a part of you. So really what we have is our own ignorance of ourselves and our lack of skills to even look inside and ask the basic questions delivered to you.

    I am pretty sure you did not see this coming, but you should because we are all capable, we can be great if we truly know what that is but it has to be you that finds in deep within you.

    The last thing I am is Psycho and I stand upon a foundation that does not move from my presence. It is sound and delivers consistent results every single day. So I will tell you what, if you get up the guts and you want the ride of your life, visit my site and discover yourself, or stay in denial. But fare waning if you do there is a chance you will find yourself and find out many of us are not bad at all.

    Good luck to you.

    1. Mark Are

      Apparently you either didn’t read the rest of the article or else you are sadly miss interpreting what it is that I am trying to convey. Please read the rest of the article in the link to understand where I am coming from and the danger we all face due to those amongst us that have no conscience.

      1. William Schooler

        Actually Mark I have made 3 attempts to read the whole article except it expresses so many things I disagree with it is hard for me to handle.

        Do I know there are idiots ignorant of who they are making choices (which by the way causes everything) that go against their very own existence? You bet I do, based on what is said in this article absolutely not. Poor choice is everyones own development, to be ignorant of what we cause is stupid, doesn’t make it right, is not something that should be allowed but who is it that knows otherwise and is sharing a greater example to learn by? You?

        Exactly what are the great results of the industry that came up with the very word psychopaths? Wasn’t it psychopaths that created this science? Let’s see, back so many years ago the intent was to control minds and now its the help science? Hmmmmmm, does leave one to question the integrity of things passed around doesn’t it?

        I do recognize you see bad in our environment but strength comes from knowledge and certainty of myself, my foundation, my principals and how well I know and understand these without question. The application of these and the consistency of the results I can show to be truth, which does take out the questioning part. I am only as able or capable as the knowledge I have of myself and no more than this. So what is the study? Me, or others and their lack of knowledge of themselves?

        It does come down to homework doesn’t it?

  5. Knott Bjorn Yesstierdae

    @ William Schooler: And how does all this psycho babbling and your holier-than-thou rhetoric help Mark, or anyone here, for that matter? You’re condescending view of others as the source of our troubles, economic woes, is hilarious. You point out this supposed speck in Mark’s eye (view point), while I can clearly see a royal mote in yours. I’m sure the attention you seek, by “schooling” others, would fit in nicely at blogs such as, “Despots and Sociopaths, the world’s most understood heroes”! I’m positive you’d find a rapt audience with others of your feathers.

    And for the record, I do not know Mark personally, but I do recognize an over inflated windbag trying desperately to bring others down to their unimpressive level, while simultaneously pushing their web site full of charms and snake oil psychology, to lull everyone back to sleep.

  6. William Schooler

    @Knott Bjorn,

    Sure you recognize yourself, I presented you to you.
    It is ok I don’t take it personal at all, you work hard to put others down only to what, prop yourself up?

    Honesty is a funny thing, hardly the most popular but definitely funny.

    Since my basis is of my foundation and experiences I am totally ok with me and I work hard to respect others who respect themselves and for those unable to control themselves I use what is called mutual respect or the same lack of respect given. I know way too simple for your complex mind, I will forgive you for now.

    By the way I am hardly holy but I did study myself to the highest degree and why should I feel bad about that, because you do? Hardly. And thanks for sharing with us how well you recognize yourself, although there was no need to tell us, many of us see the real truth (the real you).

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  8. Sherry

    Quite frankly sir, when you say, “The Tea Party claims…” you are demonstrating yourself to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Since there is no “tea party membership” roster I can very easily consider myself part of the tea party movement because I identify with their claims. In my ignorance, I helped elect a tea party conservative by the name of Mike Lee. This same Mike Lee has proposed legislation to solve our housing market problems by selling our land to foreigners who now hold liens on our fiat money. Because Ron Paul supporters have been so inept at educating those of us who have spent our adult lives raising our families we truly have been ignorant of what Ron Paul has been saying for 30 years. I have never known a student who enjoyed being called names in between tiny snatches of information that could actually help them navigate the world if they were willing to put up with the abuse in between the tiny snippets of actual information they receive from their “instructors”.

    We may very well lose our lives to a tyrannical government. But as long as the attitude of those with the information we need to identify the evil doers continue to abuse those who are looking for answers, we will never learn to identify the evil doers. You might want to try coming alongside Jim DeMint and helping him to understand the basics (in depth reasoning is not really necessary for those who are searching for the truth). In depth reasoning is required for those who are resisting the truth. For those of us who love our families, our God and our country, we need to know the truth but we have no access to the information.

    We have been educated into ignorance, we have been entertained into delusion, and we have been deceived into our own destruction. Militant abuse of our ignorance doesn’t solve the problem. It just scares the sheep into the arms of those who look like they have the answers.


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