Trying to empathize with the Wall Street demonstrators
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 saying.
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 student loan.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.