Hypocrites


(HT: Carpe Diem)

Chris Berg further exposes the hypocrisy of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The Wall Street protesters don’t like executive salaries, industrial agriculture, drug patents and personal debt. They’re annoyed with corporate influence on politics and society.

The protest was conceived by counterculture magazine Adbusters. It shares the mag’s unfocused anti-capitalist ennui. And its belief corporations play the US government like a cheap violin. Occupy Wall Street is mostly occupying the wrong place. The bank bailouts were obscene. Yet it seems the protesters think government should spare no expense keeping the economy afloat. It’s hard to work out what their critique is – apart from saying bankers are rich.
If the protesters are truly incensed about the taxpayers’ money given to bankers, they’d be better off blockading the White House. ”We Want The Sacks Of Gold Goldman Sachs Stole From Us” stated one placard. Stole? Those sacks were handed over willingly by the political ”representatives of the people”.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Hypocrites

  1. It is somewhat ironic that only rich people wish to protest about there prosperity by accusing others of being more greedy than them. Only people in rich countries have these sort of protests.

  2. daddy dave

    It’s a socialist movement.

    Or rather, it’s the progeny of socialism and environmentalism. One thing that old-time socialists and unionists got right, that these protestors don’t understand, was that they weren’t actually against industrialisation as such. They merely (heh) wanted the workers to control it and reap more of the benefits.

    The modern left combines old socialist ideals such as ‘living wage’ and guaranteed union power with the more modern impulse of the green movement, to wind back industrial society itself.

    What worries me about Occupy Wall Street is that some of them are literally hoping for a revolution. There’s no doubt it’s been bankrolled by the Democrats and their affiliates such as the unions, to counter the Tea Party. But they should be wary of feeding the beast. Extremist revolutionary movements don’t make good playmates, and as pets they’re hard to tame.

  3. Adrien

    And its belief corporations play the US government like a cheap violin.

    It’s a very expensive violin. 🙂

    How do they know that guy shaves with a Gillette razor btw? Or that the dye is Clairol? And exactly how many opportunities are there to buy such products that aren’t from Proctor and Gamble?

    And if you buy something than you aren’t in anyway allowed to criticize any aspect of the system by which that thing is produced and retain your moral integrity?

  4. THR

    This seems an own goal, Sinclair. It’s no more hypocrisy for these protesters to use consumer goods than it is for right-wing liberals (who oppose taxes) to use publically-funded services. Moreover, the issue here isn’t the manufacture of goods, but anger at bail-outs, class warfare, mass recession and poverty in the US, etc.

  5. JC

    The bank bailouts were obscene.

    Everyone seems to talk about the bank bailouts. But they weren’t bailouts in the true sense of the word as the shareholders in most cases received a severe dose of a red hot poker up the rear end.

    It was the bond holders that got off.

    What i find most interesting about this is that it was the banks that paid back all the TARP and the government walked away with a decent profit of around $20 billion. However it lost around $30 billion in bailing out the union pension funds in GM and Chrysler. The protestors ought to be demonstrating in Detroit, as that’s where the TARP sinkhole ended up.

  6. Sinclair Davidson

    If people are opposed to those things let them protest outside the White House and Congress.

  7. JC

    And outside GM and Chrysler.

    The sheer freaking nerve and temerity of the unions to get involved in this stuff when the UAW pension funds were basically bailed causing a taxpayer loss makes me speechless.

    Freaking arse holes.

  8. JC

    THR

    Question. Who should the targets be?

    The banks, which not only paid back the money and allowed the government a decent profit of around $20 billion, or the UAW who had their pension funds bailed by the government?

    Yet the unions are sending people to the loitering to protest against the banks.

    Is this truly fucked up or what?

  9. THR

    If people are opposed to those things let them protest outside the White House and Congress

    Why? The ‘captains of industry’ are generally in close alliance with the pollies, and often wield more power than them in any case.

  10. Skuter

    It seems that these Chardonnay socialists don’t understand technological progress and, to the extent that it benefits consumers, how innovation (as opposed to invention) is intrinsically tied to the capitalist system. Sure the soviets came up with the best avionics and military aircraft, but their motor vehicles were rubbish. That to me illustrates how communist/socialist/fascist systems serve the needs of the government wonderfully, but does not serve the broader population (beyond satisfying basic needs to the extent necessary to prevent counter-revolution…). It is government involvement in the economy that leads to exploitation of the population…

  11. daddy dave

    Why? The ‘captains of industry’ are generally in close alliance with the pollies, and often wield more power than them in any case

    Because the ‘captains of industry’ haven’t done anything wrong. That’s why. Railing against corporate greed is an act of jealousy cloaked in puritanism.

    Anyway, corporations have far less control over the polital process than is currently thought in the fevered paranoia of left-wing conspiracies. In fact, the organisational bodies with the most control over policy are unions. They exert direct control over political parties, across the Western world. And they are monstrous organisations, really big business, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

  12. daddy dave

    by the way, that’s an excellent article by Chris Berg on the OccupyWallStreet movement, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see it in The Age.

  13. THR

    Because the ‘captains of industry’ haven’t done anything wrong. That’s why. Railing against corporate greed is an act of jealousy cloaked in puritanism.

    The only ‘puritanism’ here is on the part of market fetishists. Since the 1980s, when Reagan took on the unions on behalf of industry, the latter has been in cahoots with government in terms of waging class war against US workers. This is reflected clearly in their pathetic conditions, low to non-existent real wage growth, appalling healthcare, etc. Despite some here who believe that Obama is a Muslim communist, his government has not altered anything fundamental.
    There might be a clear-cut distinction between ‘good’ corporations and evil gubmints in the fevered imaginations of some liberals, but no such distinction exists in reality, as these protesters have correctly observed. (A good illustration of this in practice is the need for Wall St types to rely on police thuggery to brutalise the demonstrators).

  14. JC

    And they are monstrous organisations, really big business, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Run by truly evil bastards. How the fuck can the unions protest against the banks and Wall Street when the UAW pension fund was 100% bailed is truly one of the most sickening things I’ve seen for a while.

    Lets get this exactly right. The US government lost money on the UAW transfer. There was never even a remote chance the taxpayer would ever see a single cent back.

  15. johno

    There’s no doubt it’s been bankrolled by the Democrats and their affiliates such as the unions, to counter the Tea Party.

    I have no idea who is bankrolling these nutters, but you can guarantee that they will get more sympathetic treatment in the Left’s media than the Tea Parties. It will be rich pickings for the non-mainstream media pointing out the hypocrisy of the MSM reporting of these demonstrations.

  16. daddy dave

    A good illustration of this in practice is the need for Wall St types to rely on police thuggery to brutalise the demonstrators

    That’s called Rule of Law, THR.
    The whole point of ‘civil disobedience’ is to break the law, hence the name. It only works where the law is unenforceable either practically or politically.

    This is reflected clearly in their pathetic conditions, low to non-existent real wage growth, appalling healthcare, etc.

    Well see, I could provide China and other Asian nations as a counter-example. because they have seen high wage growth, yet as far as I know, the Chinese government isn’t doing much about setting a minimum wage. Bizarre, huh?

  17. johno

    an excellent article by Chris Berg on the OccupyWallStreet movement, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see it in The Age

    He will not last at The Age as he is too good at saying the ‘wrong’ thing for The Age’s edictors to keep him on. They will sack him the next time they have a little hissy fit.

  18. JC

    It will be rich pickings for the non-mainstream media pointing out the hypocrisy of the MSM reporting of these demonstrations.

    It don’t matter anymore . Hypocrisy to the left is passe.

  19. C.L.

    What I find really incredible is that Obama and top Democrats like Pelosi actually want to be associated with the ‘protesters.’ Is Obama really that dumb?

  20. JC

    Is Obama really that dumb?

    Squared then doubled.

  21. daddy dave

    CL, there are two reasons Obama and Pelosi might be publicly sympathetic to Occupy.
    1) they don’t want to alienate their left flank
    2) if Occupy picks up steam it will create momentum for more left-wing policies

  22. JamesK

    they don’t want to alienate their left flank

    I’m convinced this is all a game to pretend that they have a left flank.

    That’s b0ll0x.

    Stalin maybe.

  23. conrad

    “the Chinese government isn’t doing much about setting a minimum wage. Bizarre, huh?”

    Yes, very bizarre, because they are. Trying looking up “Minimum wage Shanghai” (or insert your favourite Chinese city). I’m not entirely sure of how the setting works (or indeed which cities are covered are from the rich ones), but it’s basically different for different cities (not a bad idea given the massive cost differences), and I think the cities themselves set it with approval from the Central government (although this belief thought could be entirely wrong).

    As for the rest — I agree with THR. Simply because you happen to use an iphone, doesn’t mean you agree that people should make them in slave like conditions (especially when the companies themselves are making huge profits), and there’s a big difference between protesting to change behaviour vs. protesting to wipe something from the map.

    Alternatively, I don’t agree with JC, Catallaxy’s favourite big-government welfare for banks broker. But that’s another story.

  24. Jc

    Conrad

    The loons protesting against wall street seem to think the gov never got its money back.

    If that’s their complaint they really need to go and protest in Detroit.

    As for bank bailouts… I haven’t expressed an opinion on this thread.

    You’re a nice guy, so stop pretending you’re a jerk as it doesn’t work well for you. You’re much better at the nice guy routine.

  25. daddy dave

    As for the rest — I agree with THR. Simply because you happen to use an iphone, doesn’t mean you agree that people should make them in slave like conditions

    Well, sure, I agree with THR on that point too. But he seemed to be arguing with something that nobody said, either here or in Berg’s piece, so I let it through to the keeper.

    But to repeat: just because their grievances are legit – and you can argue the toss on that one – doesn’t mean that they have correctly identified the problem or that their solutions are any good. In fact, they haven’t got the nature of the problem right, and their solutions suck. The GFC was 2008. It’s come and gone. The world’s moved on and today’s problem is debt… specifically, government debt.

    And as Berg says in the article, comparing themselves to the Arab spring is fatuous, self-aggrandising nonsense.

  26. THR

    But he seemed to be arguing with something that nobody said, either here or in Berg’s piece

    Sinclair titled the piece ‘hypocrites’, with a captioned pic linking protesters to various consumer items. The implication was clear – if you consume anything produced by a corporation, you’re a hypocrite to oppose corporate influence.

  27. daddy dave

    Fair enough. You’re right, THR, they’re not hypocrites. They simply don’t understand how capitalism works.

    I guess Sinclair could have titled it more accurately, “idiots who fail to see what’s in front of their noses”.

  28. sdfc

    THR

    If the major US banks had been allowed to fail US unemployment would likely be a higher than it is now.

    DD

    The GFC has not “come and gone” it is well and truly still with us.

  29. daddy dave

    Yes, very bizarre, because they are. Trying looking up “Minimum wage Shanghai” (or insert your favourite Chinese city). I’m not entirely sure of how the setting works (or indeed which cities are covered are from the rich ones)

    very interesting, thanks.
    I guess labor laws do cause increases in GDP. The US should learn from China’s example.

  30. Sinclair Davidson

    Actually I’m happy to label the protectors ‘hypocrites’.

  31. kae

    Sinc
    I agree, they are hypocrites*.
    The protesters would be up the creek without income or goods etc if capitalism was demolished – which seems to be what they want.

    *perhaps hypocritters as they seem to be feral.

  32. Abu Chowdah

    Sinc, can we vote on a title change? I bags “hypocritical arseholes”.

  33. I think the annotated picture says it all.

    Is it true they’re also using the toilets at McDonald’s, to avoid the plebeian discomfort of having to squat out in the open?

  34. Skuter

    Kae, you’ve nailed it. This was what I was trying to get at in my post above. Technological progress doesn’t just drop out of the sky. It is an endogenous feature of capitalism. Once the basic conditions for markets to work are put in place by governments (i.e. enforcement of contracts and private property rights, maintenance of law and order, prevention of theft and fraud, etc.), markets work in spite of further government intervention not because of it. It is the existence of markets and the price signals they generate that allow entrepreneurs to find profitable ways to satisfy consumers…

  35. Peter Patton

    sdfc

    The GFC has not “come and gone” it is well and truly still with us

    Completely wrong. By definition, there could not still be a “crisis.” In fact, the “GFC” was a very short-term event, which was but a symptom of more significant social trends. Unless of course you’ve come over all Marxist like, intending to bang on about “the current crisis” until the day you die.

  36. THR

    SDFC was quite correct. The crisis was born of privatised Keynesianism (private debt, asset bubbles), and now its moved into public Keynsianism (public debt crisis). The one is clearly related to the other.

    Kae, you’ve nailed it. This was what I was trying to get at in my post above. Technological progress doesn’t just drop out of the sky. It is an endogenous feature of capitalism.

    Kae doesn’t know what she’s talking about. If you can’t get basic logic and history right, you’ll be bound to stuff up the economics too, and that what one sees repeatedly on this thread. Capitalism is a young economic system, and its existence is entirely contingent. There is nothing whatsoever to suggest that its constitutes some kind of apotheosis of human development. There is not even anything to suggest that the developed world won’t abandon it in a few years or few decades time.

    Secondly, there is no capitalism except with the state. The links between various capitals and the state are many and complex, and not always harmonious, but capitalism is strictly inconceivable without the state. Do not mistake a reduction in company tax (for instance) for some kind of anarchism.

    Thirdly, the capitalist class is itself divided on many questions that Catallaxians seem to be sure of. Whilst virtually all capitalists welcome union-busting, IR deregulation, etc (anything to drive down wages, and thereby increase profits), many of them reject other elements of the so-called laissez-faire project. Many capitalists, here and in the US, are in strong favour of bailouts, stimulus, military Keynesianism, minimal safety nets to keep the workforce healthy and educated, etc.

  37. kae

    These people who seem to decry everything that modern industry, capitalism, corporations, manufacturing etc. give them really do need to look at where all their “stuff” comes from, their food, their goods, their toys and their nick-nacks which make life in the 21st century easier.

    Their welfare payments.

    It comes from capitalism and corporations, the people who make the jobs, who generate income and pay taxes which are used for the benefit of the state and communities, and these fools seem to be too well off to realise that without this structure they’re stuffed, and so is their lifestyle.

  38. Peter Patton

    Privatised Keynesianism, eh? Oh, hun, you just get better and better. Don’t breathe another word until I get back with popcorn.

  39. daddy dave

    Many capitalists, here and in the US, are in strong favour of bailouts, stimulus, military Keynesianism, minimal safety nets to keep the workforce healthy and educated, etc.

    I think many are in favour of at least minimal safety nets.

    As for the rest, the only people who are advocating or defending that stuff these days are left of centre. Don’t think that there’s some dispute and division on the right about whether Keynes, debt, and big spending are the way to go. That question splits cleanly own partisan lines at the moment.

  40. THR

    Privatised Keynesianism, eh? Oh, hun, you just get better and better. Don’t breathe another word until I get back with popcorn.

    Plenty of contrarian (non-leftist) economists would agree with me, from Roubini to Steve Keen.

    It comes from capitalism and corporations

    Bullshit. At the most elementary level, you’re simply dribbling out meaningless slogans. Where did ‘stuff’ come from before capitalism? Or are you suggesting that food was invented only in the Industrial Revolution?

    In reality, much of the ‘stuff’ in question is made not by ‘capitalism’ but by Chinese kids.

  41. kae

    I also suggest you look up what “capitalism” is because it seems you don’t have a clue.

    If the government controlled all industry we’d probably still be living in caves and if we’re lucky we’d have some fire but no wheels*.

    *they’d fall off.

  42. THR

    As for the rest, the only people who are advocating or defending that stuff these days are left of centre.

    Who cares about division on the Right? The more interesting question concerns divisions within actual capitalists, not merely theoretical ones (i.e. rightist blowhards). I was reading some schmuck from BHP a few weeks ago in the Fin arguing that the Australian Govt should be run more like a business – which is to say, it should ignore calls for ‘austerity’ and a balanced budget within arbitrary timelines. As far as I can tell, BHP aren’t very closely identified with ‘the left’.
    Note also that every time the US or Eurozone unleash more monetary or fiscal stimulus, markets respond favourably. Again, this shows that the actual capitalists are not necessarily in step with their self-appointed representatives.

  43. THR

    I also suggest you look up what “capitalism” is because it seems you don’t have a clue.

    I suggest you take your own advice, as you still haven’t moved beyond idiotic slogans. Industry does not need government to micro-manage it in order for capitalism to be inconceivable without the state.

  44. Peter Patton

    In reality, much of the ‘stuff’ in question is made not by ‘capitalism’ but by Chinese kids.

    Since when are Chinese kids not part of ‘capitalism’?

  45. THR

    Since when are Chinese kids not part of ‘capitalism’?

    We’re moving from abstractions to the particular, poodle. Do keep up.

  46. daddy dave

    There is nothing whatsoever to suggest that its constitutes some kind of apotheosis of human development.
    Well, there is one thing.

  47. daddy dave

    forgot blockquotes around THR’s line.

    There is not even anything to suggest that the developed world won’t abandon it in a few years or few decades time.

  48. Skuter

    THR, you say:

    Secondly, there is no capitalism except with the state.

    No shit, genius. You obviously did not read this:

    Once the basic conditions for markets to work are put in place by governments (i.e. enforcement of contracts and private property rights, maintenance of law and order, prevention of theft and fraud, etc.), markets work in spite of further government intervention not because of it.

    That shows an acknowledgement that I, as a libertarian, still believe in at least some role for the state. However, a point is reached when the state becomes a hinderance to improving living standards if not outright harmful. When the state goes beyond setting and enforcing ‘the rules of the game’ and becomes an active player, it distorts or destroys incentives to innovate, save, work and invest.

    I am well aware for the potential for rent-seeking behaviour, but what enables this? Government intervention. Rent seeking is merely businesses and individuals seeking preferential treatment from governments. That is why governments need firm limits on what they can do.

    Too much government intervention is detrimental to living standards. Surely you can’t deny that?

    You seem to forget that the state, like a corporation, is merely a collection of flawed individuals. It is not some singular, benevolent entity. The individuals that comprise ‘the state’ have their own interests and these frequently conflict with the population at large.

  49. sdfc

    Peter

    Of course the effects of the crisis are still with us. The Fed has the cash rate at near zero. The 10-year Treasury yield is 2.07% despite the squeals about how yields were going to jump with the end of QE2. Distress sales are around 30% of existing home sales. US household debt is still ~90% of GDP. US credit conditions remain tight despite bank balance sheets being chock full of excess reserves. Foreclosure filings are continue to run in excess of 200k a month.

    That’s without even mentioning the European crisis.

    So no, the GFC has not been and gone.

  50. THR

    You seem to forget that the state, like a corporation, is merely a collection of flawed individuals.

    You misunderstand me, Skuter. I’m not praising the state. As far as I can tell, neither are these protesters – they seem to be highly critical of Obama. The intervention of the state for capitalism is construed by you to be some bizarre kind of domino effect, in which the state starts things off, and then is supposed to slink back off into the shadows. It doesn’t work that way in practice, and never has. In the US, for instance, the state since WWII has invested massively in what might be termed military Keynesianism. This is neither incidental to the workings of American capitalism, nor necessarily harmful to it. Laissez-faire capitalism is a fairy tale, pure and simple. It never existed, and it’s not likely to exist any time soon.

  51. Gab

    There is not even anything to suggest that the developed world won’t abandon it in a few years or few decades time.

    These anti-capitalists should show us the way, truth and the light. Join the Amish community and shun all the fruits of capitalism and be the example. Walk the talk.

  52. JC

    So no, the GFC has not been and gone.

    It has. The US economy is growing despite headwinds from the administration. The US economy is suffering from two maladies at the moment.

    1. Fed is still too tight and needs to raise Nominal GDP above 5% as suggested by Scott Sumner.

    2. Supply side shock from the Administration pushing out around 600 new regulations.

    Odumbo has frozen everyone up.

  53. Peter Patton

    sdfc

    By definition, a “crisis” cannot be ‘normal state of affairs’. The situation in the US is pretty stable now, and has been for a while. The “crisis” was that short period when the capital markets froze. The ‘crisis’ was dealt with very quickly.

  54. Skuter

    The intervention of the state for capitalism is construed by you to be some bizarre kind of domino effect, in which the state starts things off, and then is supposed to slink back off into the shadows. It doesn’t work that way in practice, and never has.

    That is not what I’m arguing. I don’t think complete laissez faire is feasible. The state has an ongoing role to play in putting conditions in place for markets to function, but virtually all governments go beyond that.
    My argument is that a vast amount of problems that are commonly attributed to market failure are actually the result of government intervention. Thus, these protesters should be angry at politicians, past and present, for utilising the coercive instruments of the state to grant privileged treatment to wall street. Also, let us not forget the role of the central bank and its (state granted) monopoly on currency issue. That is a core issue. I think we might just be able to agree that the banking system (globally) needs significant reform. For me, the state needs to be far less involved in the banking system and be limited to setting the rules of the game.

  55. Peter Patton

    I gotta say, having followed every possible link on these protestors, and their sausage sizzles in the park, I have got no idea what it is they’re pissed at, let alone what they want!

  56. sdfc

    JC

    Fed is still too tight and needs to raise Nominal GDP above 5% as suggested by Scott Sumner

    The fed funds is near zero. 10-year Treasuries are just over 2%. Sumner can’t handle the fact that monetary policy is not omnipotent and becomes less effective when the transmission mechanism is impaired.

    In case you missed it QE2 was a failure in terms of the real economy.

    Raising NGDP growth above 5% requires increased activity and or inflation. It is a meaningless statement.

    Blaming government might satisfy your world view but it is just mindless rhetoric.

    It’s funny how you weigh in on the discussion saying that the GFC has passed yet you argue this by saying the fed funds rate at near zero is too tight. Do you understand the contradiction?

  57. sdfc

    No Peter when capital markets “froze” that was a state of near collapse. We continue to feel the effects of the GFC because the conditions that led to the crisis are still bubbling away in the background.

    You seem to be wasting my time with semantics.

  58. JC

    SDFC

    The Fed is not out of ammo. They can buy and continue to buy securities without limit until NGDP is over 5%. In fact they really don’t have to do this at all. All they need to do is announce the new policy intention and new target.

    QE2 didn’t fail as asset prices rose and the payrolls numbers showed they were seeing 200+ monthly growth in hiring until people began to see the end of QE.

    It is not a meaningless statement at all because the Fed can raise NGDP and can do any time it wants.

    Of course I blame the administration for the supply shocks. 25 of the 600 regulations will cost $100 million to industry. The EPA has fucked American industry.

    They have absolutely fucked the banking system too with new rules and regulations too.

    And yes, the Fed is too tight with ZIRP. There is no contradiction there at all as you are confusing money and credit.

  59. Capitalist Piggy

    “If the major US banks had been allowed to fail US unemployment would likely be a higher than it is now.”

    No, unemployment would have been higher initially, but by now would be lower. The two most distorted sectors: finance and housing, would have been cleared. From my understanding, these markets have yet to clear and so the US economy will continue to underperform.

  60. As I post this, your image is defective. Link fails.

  61. Sinclair Davidson

    Links work for me.

  62. JC

    Cap

    What’s distorted in the banking system at present other than the onerous new regulations that have basically tried to remove 40% of bank fee income from the consumer sector?

  63. Sleetmute

    Great article, Chris.

    BTW, I agree with JC 100% re monetary policy. The US would have gone (back) into recession last year had it not been for QE2. They will now go into recession later this year because of a lack of QE3. Sumner’s blog makes for compelling reading – I feel that finally macroeconomics makes some sort of sense.

Comments are closed.