How important are the Wall Street protests? (And some attendant thoughts.)

Don Quixote asked me at lunch today what I thought of the Wall Street Protests.  In one way, I think they’re utterly stupid.  After all, how seriously can you take people who storm Wall Street with this particular list of demands?

Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending “Freetrade” by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.

Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.

Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.

Demand four: Free college education.

Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.

Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.

Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America’s nuclear power plants.

Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.

Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.

Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.

Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the “Books.” World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the “Books.” And I don’t mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.

Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.

Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.

Like the small child who, when told Mommy and Daddy has no money, demands that they buy him things using a credit card, each of the above demands assumes an unlimited pot of money, despite the fact that no one is working to create goods or services.  It is a unicorn fantasy, totally unrelated to the real world.  Only stupid, delusional or drugged-out people would use those demands as the basis for a protest.  I posted the demands on my “real me” Facebook page in the hope that as many people as possible see what lies beneath the drama, excitement and anti-Americanism of those protests.

While the demands may be stupid, it doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous.  You may remember (as I do, in a vague, child’s way), the 1960s campus protests.  Same energy, same selfishness, same ignorance about the way the world works, same aversion to bathing — and they were so terribly damaging to our social fabric.  The protests seized the national narrative and corrupted our world view (and our view of ourselves, as Americans) at a very profound level, one from which we haven’t yet recovered.

DQ is worried, as he thinks that the Wall Street protests are the first shots in a class warfare battle that will see only losers.  (I take that back:  there will be a few winners, including Barack Obama and George Soros, both of whom have deliberately fomented this discord.)  I’m a little more optimistic than DQ, since I don’t believe that the schism in America is either that deep or that Greek (at least not yet).

The riots, though, do leave one with a question:  Assuming things don’t completely implode within the next year, is there currently a candidate on either side of the aisle who can speak to and work with America’s center?  (In answering this question, feel free to consider Obama, Clinton and Christie.)  Of course, that question presumes a political center.  Is there still one?

Because DQ and I always have the most interesting lunches, we explored the question of whether there is still a center in American politics.  We decided that it’s hard to find, because there might be one economic center, another national security center, and a third social issues center (covering gun rights, abortion, religion, etc.).  That conclusion saw me launch into my “we need to return as much government as possible to the local level” speech.  Let people set community norms and see which way their money is being spent.  If schools teach creationism along with evolution, see how well those students do in the marketplace of ideas.  If a town decides to spend more on firefighters and less on schools, let it.  These decisions should come from the grassroots, not D.C.

In my ideal world, the federal government would perform core government functions:  interstate roads, national security, pandemic and epidemic prevention, etc.  Local people should be able to control their local lives, provided that they do so within the parameters of the constitution, as passed down to the states through the 14th Amendment (no slavery, no cruel and unusual punishment, right to bear arms, etc.).

All of which leads to my final question:  Can we actually ever shrink the federal government, or are we irrevocably stuck with a centralized status quo?