Trying to empathize with the Wall
By Mencken’s Ghost
Oct. 15, 2011
Yesterday, I woke up determined to try to see the
world through the eyes of the Wall Street demonstrators.
I began by reflecting on how bankers have been
vilified throughout history, sometimes fairly, including the Biblical injunction
against money changers in the temple. That made it easier to see that President Obama’s biggest political
mistake was not to imprison the CEOs of the big banks, along with former Federal
Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke,
and former New York Fed President Timothy Geithner, who, of course, is the
current Treasury Secretary.
There may not have been a legal basis for imprisoning
them, but the masses on both the left and right would have had their bloodlust
satisfied. If our cliché-spewing
president had done this instead of spewing clichés, crowds would have swooned,
cheered and saluted, just as sophisticated and cultured Germans had adored the
guy with the funny mustache and brown uniform. No court would have had the courage to decide against the administration.
Then I thought about all of the lies that the
demonstrators have been told all of their lives, especially by government K-12
schools, which, naturally, don’t teach the truth about the government or about
teacher unions. Nor are students taught
the truth that the mission of government schools is to transform inquisitive and
individualistic children into interchangeable and obedient drones suitable for
careers in the hierarchical bureaucracies of big government and big business.
The lies continued with grade inflation, which made
students think they were smart. The
deceived students were then misled by guidance counselors, who wouldn’t be
working as high school counselors if they knew how to be successful in the
competitive world. They advised students
that it was a good investment to take out a student loan and go to college to
major in women’s studies or some other bull crap.
The colleges, awash in government money that caused
tuition to rise twice as fast as inflation, piled on more lies, not only about
government, but also about multiculturalism, diversity, social justice,
fairness, and other bull crap. In other
words, they were taught the same clichés that Obama was taught and that he
repeats, thus revealing his lack of original thinking.
Students also were misled to believe that the New
Deal and Great Society, and all of the illegitimate welfare and entitlement
programs that followed, were about social justice, fairness, and the elimination
of poverty. Now they’ve found out that
they will be paying for all of this generosity the rest of their lives. It particularly galls them to see those who
ran up the bills park their Cadillac Escalades in handicap spaces, and, with no
discernible disability, walk into the clubhouse and pay for a round of golf with
money from their Social Security checks.
The lies continued after the demonstrators had
graduated and entered the world of work. The biggest lie was that housing was a great investment that never lost
value--a lie that was started by the government and spread by the media, the
real estate industry, and Wall Street.
By this point, I was feeling very empathetic towards
the Wall Street demonstrators. “Yeah,
overthrow the system,” I mumbled to myself.
But then I saw a TV interview with one of the
demonstrators, who made similar comments to what other demonstrators have been
At first, I nodded my head in agreement with the
demonstrator, particularly when he castigated his high school counselor for
telling him that taking out a student loan was a good idea. Then, on further thought, I wondered how
someone from a supposedly Internet-savvy generation--a generation that is
connected 24/7 to an almost infinite number of sources--would rely on a high
school counselor for such an important decision. Anyone with a brain larger than a gerbil’s
could find out in an hour or two of Internet research what majors are in demand,
what the starting salaries are for graduates with those majors, and, with the
aid of readily available financial calculators, what the return on investment would be on a
It went downhill from there. The demonstrator then said that all student
loans should be forgiven, meaning that society should eat the cost, meaning that
people who had nothing to do with his decision to take out a student loan and
major in bull crap should be punished for his gullibility and lack of
inquisitiveness. Not only was he
endorsing theft, but he also was endorsing a bailout for himself while
demonstrating against the Wall Street bailouts. Because of grade inflation, he also didn’t have the intellect to see how
this would create a moral hazard and terrible socioeconomic consequences. The more that people don’t have to pay for
their mistakes, the more mistakes they will make, including the mistake of
majoring in bull crap.
As you can sense, my attempt to empathize with the
demonstrators wasn’t successful. I just
can’t empathize with gerbils that spout bull crap.
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be
reached at email@example.com.