Kristin Wald: I (Probably) Will Not Visit Zuccotti Park

I don’t love everything about the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. I am a person who likes definite guidelines, expectations, and order.  I like to know what people expect from me, and I really hate crowds.  So when my friends Forrest and Emily told me they were taking their two children (ages 4 and 11 months) to demonstrate at Occupy Wall Street on a beautiful Saturday, I thought they were nuts.  This was just about the time the pepper spray video was going around, and the Brooklyn Bridge march had recently happened.  I couldn’t imagine feeling in control enough to be comfortable with my two pre-schoolers in the midst of all that activity.

But they went.  They went, and they said it was amazing.  They went, and their children loved it.  They went, and they felt a part of something alive and important and good.

I support many of the reasons for the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. I am angry that the Bush tax cuts were extended.  I am angry that banks that (not who, that) received taxpayer assistance have the audacity to bestow huge bonuses and pay raises to their employees – mainly the already highest paid employees.  I am ashamed that the judicial branch of my country believes that corporations have a say via pocketbook in who gets elected to represent me.  I hate that the disparity between the Haves and the Have-Nots is ever-widening. And I am frustrated that some of us who are not in desperate straits pretend we did it completely on our own when we know that both hard work and luck played a part. Others, in much more cozy situations than I, also support the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations – and not just Warren Buffett’s son. 

I recently wrote about the Family Sleep Over held by the Parents for Occupy Wall Street group.  You can read it here, on Baristakids.  What struck me while doing the research for that posting, was that every person who had been involved, no matter how temporarily, felt exhilarated by the demonstrations. Thom Kennon, a Montclair dad, wrote a fantastic piece about bringing his children to deliver pizzas to the Occupied Kitchen.  Here is an excerpt:

“My three kids and I stopped there in the center of Zuccotti in the middle of it all, and listened and nodded softly, quietly, probably all thinking we’re lucky. We live well, but maybe, just maybe we’re also totally rare in the grand scheme of things — when you think about the rest of the upside-down planet and all the people who lost their jobs, their homes, their heat, their food, their cars and their minds over the past generation of diminishing returns.  All those people forced out of living, into the brute fate of existence alone. ”

When I asked Forrest what he wanted to accomplish by going to march with Occupy Wall Street, he answered that he “hoped to add mass and morale to a movement which deserves to be recognized and discussed. I hoped to show others not yet involved that OWS is indeed about the 99%–working families like ours, not just a fringe of ‘unemployed hippies’.”  You can read more of my Q&A with him at That Unique Weblog.

photo by nrbelex’s flickr

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47 COMMENTS

  1. Your grievances can be summed up easily: “Obama is not the President I hoped for…” Some fighter for the people he turned out to be.

    Because behind most of your issues, are Obama policies– like those Bush tax cuts, extended by Obama. There HIS cuts now. And those evil corporations now given “personhood” don’t compare to Obama’s going against his campaign promise about lobbyist as today’s NY Times illustrates- a much easier way to influence politicians.

    Still, OWS has simply turned into a “suggestion box” of grievances with no real focus. As the weather cools (colds?), and something else grabs our attention, we’ll look back on pictures of OWS in a 2011 remembrance and smile and say, “oh yea! Remember that!?!”

  2. You should be angry that the Clinton Tax cut of Capital gains has been extended all this time. You can raise the federal income, top marginal rate all you want it only hurts W-2 style earners, not K-1 and cap gains earners like Warren Buffet.

    If you raise the highest marginal rate to 90% it still won’t change Warren’s (rich peoples) effective tax rate. He’ll still pay 17% and his employees (working stiffs) will now pay even more. Bush tax cut is meaningless and just something to distract you.

    And really, a link to the daily Kos? come on people. The Atlantic article, did you even look at how they are defining the factor they use for income disparity? It is a joke. To paraphrase, ‘the CIA uses it so you know it’s good’… what?

    And did you see the picture of the guy who wanted to stop us from thinking it was “just a fringe of ‘unemployed hippies’” Seriously, I am sure they are nice, but that picture does not help that effort out… at all. I looked at it and thought, “looks like a job for Bell Environmental… where’s Roscoe.”

    Want to make a difference? Go occupy K-Street. That is where the exchange is for buying and selling politicians.

  3. If you raise the highest marginal rate to 90% it still won’t change Warren’s (rich peoples) effective tax rate. He’ll still pay 17% and his employees (working stiffs) will now pay even more. Bush tax cut is meaningless and just something to distract you.

    Actually, capital gains taxed at a lower rate makes sense, especially when you realize that gains don’t come every year, they are the product of investment in the economy, and they are gained at some risk to the investor. Five minutes on Google will show what ending the Bush tax cuts will do the deficit, which is substantial.

    And really, a link to the daily Kos? come on people. The Atlantic article, did you even look at how they are defining the factor they use for income disparity? It is a joke. To paraphrase, ‘the CIA uses it so you know it’s good’… what?

    So the CIA is not in the business of intelligence, which essentially is about getting facts right? I’m not sure what their motivation to lie would be, especially since this makes the US look bad. Plus, no one doubts the numbers I’ve seen, but you’re usually short on facts so there you go.

    Want to make a difference? Go occupy K-Street. That is where the exchange is for buying and selling politicians.

    They started the conversation on these topics, haven’t they? That may be enough.

  4. Hey “Prof”Williams – it’s THEIR tax cuts not THERE tax cuts.

    Don’t bother prof. He was so busy working hard in college (not like those slackers who can’t afford to live in Montclair now), he was probably too busy for a grammar class.

  5. You’re something of a one-trick pony, prof. Yes, Obama screwed the pooch. He is not the president “we” thought we elected, in many ways, and especially this one. But to say that Kristen’s objections are all objections to Obama policies is ridiculous. The blame for the huge and growing disparity in income and wealth goes back several administrations, to the core of political corruption in this country.

    I’m sure all will be right as rain, though, when Romney takes office, eh?

  6. Mike…. the GINI coefficient is useless because it cannot adjust for distributional differences nor can it explain why there is disparity. Silicon Valley is an example of an opportunistic, wealth generation engine that the GINI coefficient cannot even comprehend. I find it funny that the Atlantic article does not talk about the limitations of the stat and uses the CIA as a stamp of approval. I find it especially ironic that a Lib like Kristin would link to that given how they typically feel about the CIA with respect to WMD intelligence and it’s position on waterboarding.

    Also, her post says she is angry about the Bush tax cuts being extended and that there is such inequality in the US. I don’t personally want to raise the cap gains tax, but the only way to take from the rich to give to the poor, as Kristin would like, is to adjust the cap gains and partnership taxation (K1) rules. That is a fact. Raising the highest marginal rate for the federal income tax will not impact the likes of Warren Buffett, at all. That is also, a fact.

    Also, when Kristin says she would let the Bush tax cuts expire, I assumed she meant only the ones for the “rich” like Obama suggested. Over ten years, the deficit is expected by the CBO to be about $13 trillion dollars. Repealing the Bush tax cuts on the “rich” as President Obama proposes would raise $0.7 trillion assuming no negative drag on GDP from the increased tax. As with all things from the CBO, that assumes a lot of things. However, $0.7 of $13 trillion over 10 years is pretty close to meaningless. And remember she didn’t mention the deficit, she cares about the inequality.

    Finally, to suggest that these people at OWS started a conversation means you have not been paying attention for at least the last 40 years. Liberals railing about the rich, and wanting to increase taxes, that is not new. The response from the other side, also is nothing new. I guess if it brought you to the mix, than welcome to the conversation that serious people have been having… for a long, long time. If you want to jump to the conclusion, K Street has to go.

  7. nerd, I’ll leave aside your “analysis” of tax policy and debt reduction since it is clear from this post, as well as your others, that you remain married to a view that is, shall we say, “questionable” at best.

    However, I DO find it odd that you think that the CIA is an organization that “libs typically” dislike. You are basing this on what, exactly? The CIA’s analysis section has a great many “liberal” thinkers — they’ve written extensively over the years and have in large part argued against some of the more rash policy decisions made by various presidents. Your implication that they are a band of conservative, reactionary water-boarders is absurd.

    The operators who did the water-boarding acted on orders from higher-ups. The policy originated with Bush/Cheney, and the CIA carried it out. “Lib” anger (I love that we now have another “thinker” who loves to throw that lib word around on this site!)was directed towards the authors of the policy.

    But you are right about K Street, I’ll give you that.

  8. (Nice to come back after a lovely Friday to find— prof made a mistake. Hide ya kids, hide ya wife!!! And Nick, like most profs, I don’t work on Fridays- I was “doing research.”)

    As for being a one-trick, Mr. Roo. Being consistent in my feeling about Obama, may seem like one-trick. Sorry, pal. But so are you– and the other Obama lovers– who are way too quick to find any criticism of THE ONE objectionable, wrong and misplaced.

    Oh, well. I’m on my way to give the good folks at OWS some blankets, warm soup and socks.

  9. croiagusanam, I think the UNDP reports are a much more comprehensive study than a simple dispersion metric. It isn’t a pretty picture either, but it is way more robust.

    Well at least we agree on K street.

  10. “Has anyone else noticed that this is the basic plot premise of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged? Yet that is the story line they are unintentionally acting out. Call it Occupy Wall Street Shrugged.”

    In keeping with this weekend’s festivities Rand’s spirit is haunting Occupy venues chanting “I told you so”.

  11. ah yes, ROC—the old “unnamed police sources”.

    these wouldn’t be the same NYPD types who showed up en masse to protest the arrest of corrupt fellow cops under the rubric that corruption has gone on for years?

    but since this news confirmed what you already suspect ROC—given your first hand experiences here—please ignore the possibility that the info is not accurate.

    carry on…

  12. No doubt, some folks would judge the OWL protesters more favorably if they were wearing something other than scuzzy clothes.

    Two sartorial choices come to mind:

    A. 3-corner hat with teabags hanging off the edges, for that heartland populist look.

    B. Khaki dockers and shiny shoes for that 1-percenter Mitt Romney look.

  13. Wow!
    Fights broke out among some of the people at OWS!

    Well, that certainly proves that they’re all a bunch of layabouts and Commies.

    Because that sort of thing could NEVER happen in any other sort of gathering.

  14. the GINI coefficient is useless because it cannot adjust for distributional differences nor can it explain why there is disparity.

    Are you denying, nerd, that there is a growing disparity? Because if you are, that would be extraordinary, and it would require extraordinary proof.

    My guess, however, is that you’re just calling attention to the ant to distract us from the elephant. That rhetorical technique may be effective sometimes, but it’s disingenuous and tiresome.

  15. and the other Obama lovers

    Just to be clear, prof, I am deeply disappointed with Obama and, at the moment, entertaining fantasies of seeing him defeated at the polls.

    Okay, you can go back to counting with your hooves now.

  16. Science has also proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that knee-jerk blockheadedeness is a terminal condition.

  17. “Right of Center | OCTOBER 29, 2011 @ 1:02 PM
    Science has conclusively proven that someone else’s money should belong to me.”

    …was that a quote from Bernie Madoff or Bank of America?

  18. According to the GINI coefficient, India is much more equal than the US. Show of hands for those that want to live in India? Awww c’mon, the average income is $500 per year!

    “But here’s a thought experiment: Imagine that in some post-apocalyptic, global-warming-induced future the United States breaks up into a bunch of independent minifiefdoms.

    One of these fiefdoms will be the Republic of Missoula, where 10,000 people live. Of these, 8,000 are getting by on $20,000 a year, or its equivalent in lentils and steel rods. Two thousand people, however, are doing much better. They’ve maintained a very comfortably upper-middle-class standard of living, with an income of $120,000 a year each.

    Not far from the Republic of Missoula is the Principality of Sun Valley, where some part of the remaining über-class has built a series of fortified enclaves. A full 6,000 of Sun Valley’s 10,000 residents are rich. Let’s say they have the post-apocalypse equivalent of $300,000. The other 4,000, however, have nothing except for the alms they manage to beg at the side of the computer-controlled ski lift. Their income is essentially zero.
    Now, which of these two states, the Republic of Missoula or the Principality of Sun Valley, would you say is more equal? My inclination, and I suspect most people’s, will be to say that Missoula is the more equal of the two; you might feel differently. But either way, the Gini index will not help us, because in both of these cases, the Gini index is exactly the same. (For the mathematically inclined, both will have a Gini index of 40—less equal than India’s 36.8 but more equal than the United States’ 45.) The problem here is that Gini index alone does not yield enough information to indicate what proportion of a country’s people are poor—even if we know the country’s total income. A measure omitting that crucial concept doesn’t get to what people really mean when they talk about inequality. Take it out, and most of the rhetoric about inequality loses its soul.”

    https://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/hey_wait_a_minute/2008/05/is_india_more_equal_than_the_united_states.2.html

  19. I feel like a fool because I paid back my student loans. Perhaps the Banks/Government can make it up to me by giving me a “retirement” loan. I’ll pay it back, I promise!

  20. Montclair politics is so broken it’s depressing. Even the council itself has no collective spirit, they all hate each other.

    That said, on a national level, there are things that private enterprise just does not do that we have done well as a nation in the not too distant past. Like roads, bridges, dams, energy grids, and the military to name a few. And it’s impossible to have a robust economy without strong middle class and working class. I think the OWS movement is finally taking some of the national dialogue back from the pundits and kooks (yes, I think Bachman, Palin, Glen Beck et al are kooks) and shining a spotlight on a glaring problem. Our political leaders have been bought by entities that do not care a whit about what’s in the best interests of most citizens.

  21. “Like roads, bridges, dams, energy grids, and the military to name a few”

    What utter nonsense. All of those things were built by efficient and competitive private contractors. Properly paid for by tax dollars and built efficiently by private enterprise.

    And we have a strong and vibrant middle class.

    What were seeing the “rise” of is the “gimme gimme gimme” class.

  22. “It’s either mine or yours.”

    In terms of private property? Yes. That’s how it works.

    It does indeed. However, we wouldn’t have our nice cushy lifestyles if it weren’t for the publicly shared infrastructure we have. In addition to roads, electricity, and transportation systems that serve as the means for getting people and goods to and from places of commerce we also have information systems and innovators and to a great extent a collective spirit that gives all a sense of belonging here even if we don’t agree on some of the details.

  23. Watch your heads everyone. The snow is the wet heavy type and with the leaves still on the trees it’s going to get heavy up there.

  24. JG..for your pundits and kooks you left out Chris Matthews, Cornell West, Al Sharpton, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

    Your welcome, just trying to keep it real.

  25. Ice, you cannot seriously compare people like Chris Matthews, Nancy Pelosi etc. to the others. And I’ve got to go – i have a tree down and wires down.

  26. Iceman, you might be the first person I’ve known who can, with a straight face, describe Harry Reid as a pundit and a kook.

  27. Thanks I can’t get through to PSEG or the Fire Department. I have a pole down and a wire down with a branch on it. I think live wires on the ground covered with wet snow is not good.

  28. Let’s say they have the post-apocalypse equivalent of $300,000.

    Once the Four Horsemen ride, ROC, you may as well burn that $300k to keep warm. Money is worthless if there’s nothing to buy with it. Currency has meaning only because we all collectively believe in it. Which means that capitalism is really a form of socialism…. Oh no, now I’m really confused!

  29. I walked on my privately owned driveway until it terminated at the collectively owned street. This is how capitalism slides into socialism. It’s a slippery slope, especially today.

  30. Our economic system is rightfully described as a “mixed economy” with maybe one foot a bit deeper in the collective spirit side and while the other independent foot struggles to step out of the well intentioned muck!

  31. I know that its not January, but it IS Samhain, the Celtic New Year (you know, one of those made up recently holidays according to cathar). I am therefore making a resolution to be nicer to ROC, so that he will let me know where he gets his drugs.

    “Republic of Sun Valley”! I LOVE IT!

  32. Really, croiagusanam, it’s enough you being a tiresome, tendentious bore when you comment on things actually said. But you’re positively unbearable when you make things up.

    I noted on another thread that claims that witchcraft and/or WICCA is/are the “ancient religion” are simply crap. This is true. (Whatever your dear old gran in her thatched cottage may have told you while you alternately carved and nibbled on raw turnips.) I never, however, dismissed Halloween as a “made-up holiday.” But neither of us (well, not me, I’m not sure you’ve lived quite a long time on the pure spite towards others you offer up here) was around during any sort of Celtic heyday, now were we? And please don’t tell me you knew Yeats or Synge before they “made it.”

    And even if Halloween were a made-up sort of feast, Hallmark and Mars have so much invested in it that it’ll surely never pass away. Even as I fear you do remain the sort of crank, croiagusanam, whose gifts of Halloween candy should always be submitted to extensive chemical analysis before any kids actually eat the stuff.

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