Death By Fairy Tale: After Occupy, "The 99% Spring" Fizzle

Ralph Benko
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Posted: May 02, 2012 12:01 AM
Death By Fairy Tale: After Occupy, "The 99% Spring" Fizzle

May 1, International Workers Day, has been designated by the left for the “first General Strike in American History:” A Day Without the 99%. No Work—No School—No Housework–No Shopping. Take the streets on Tuesday! But … the call for the General Strike is not getting traction from us — the 99%. We whose interests it purports to represent and from whom it seeks to draw legitimacy, are decisively spurning the call.

The Occupy May Day — General Strike Facebook page shows, as of this writing, 22,998 going, out of 186,059 invitees. Even if ten times as many show up that’s a terrible fizzle. The uprising which the left is determinedly promoting is not catching on. By comparison, Lady Gaga has over 50 million Likes (including this columnist’s, himself a little monster, Hi Stefani! Edge of Glory!).

The problem the post-Occupiers are addressing is real. The left leadership of what it styles The 99% Spring is whip smart, disciplined, capable and elegant. So why is their attempted movement stillborn? The left, however noble its intentions, is flailing. Why? Because its proposed solution — central planning — is discredited. The leaders of the left are trapped inside a dead fairy tale.

International Workers Day is a toxic symbol in America … and worldwide. Remember the images of missiles and soldiers beamed from Red Square with the oppressive Soviet Gerontocracy on top of Lenin’s Tomb? The May Day celebration was the High Holy Day of Communism. How tone deaf of the left to have chosen it.

We, the workers of the world, remember International Workers Day as synonymous with economic impoverishment, political oppression, and the suppression of civil liberties, civil rights, and human dignity. Even the nominally communist Chinese leadership recently purged Bo Xilai for attempting to revive and exalt Maoism. Choosing May Day implies that those who are aspiring to lead the 99% are badly out of touch with us. The choice of date presents the left’s leadership as a would-be nomenklatura, or new ruling class, rather than as in sympathy and solidarity with the masses.

Embarrassingly enough, to the left, economic stagnation is unequivocally the fault of their chosen paladin, Barack Obama, and the left’s own preferred policies which he determinedly is deploying. No jobs are being created. So those to Obama’s left are left saying, “if some central planning is bad, more central planning is needed.”

We, the workers, cringe.

MoveOn calls out (repeatedly) to its 7 million members:

“We’re coming together from every corner of our movement to provide in-depth direct action training to 100,000 people from April 9 to 15. The goal is to pave the way for a 99% Spring filled with a huge wave of progressive direct action nationwide. …

“Our movement will be holding huge rallies in every major city on Tax Day to call out the 1% who refuse to pay their fair share. We’ll be gathering massive crowds to confront CEOs and top executives at annual shareholder meetings of Wall Street banks, dirty energy polluters, and corporations that refuse to treat workers fairly. And we’ll be doing everything we can to call out the corrupting influence of corporate money on our elections.”

Resulting in? No huge rallies in any, much less every, major city on Tax Day. No massive crowds confronting Wall Street CEOs. As for “the corrupting influence of corporate money,” Politico reports that publicly traded corporations make less than 0.5% of the contributions to the most active Super PACs. The once formidable MoveOn, allowing its imagination to be strangled by an expired meme, makes itself, however temporarily, impotent and irrelevant. Death by fairy tale.

One of the most perceptive, capable, and ruthless strategists on the left, Ilyse Hogue, formerly Director of Political Advocacy and Communications for MoveOn.org (and long time mortal frenemy of this writer), recently described the left’s strategy in The Nation headlined Occupy is Dead! Long Live Occupy!

“The rallying cry of the Occupy movement—’We are the 99 percent’—has also taken on a life of its own. With a spirit of inclusiveness that mimics the slogan, established institutions from MoveOn to National People’s Action to the United Auto Workers are investing collective resources into The 99% Spring, a massive training project that aims to train 100,000 people in nonviolent civil disobedience and economic literacy.”

Memo to our would-be leaders: we of the 99% are already economically literate (don’t patronize us!) and want nothing to do with the central planning you are promoting, however much lipstick you put on that pig. Obama has given us a whopping dose of central planning. Results?

Obama’s Commerce Department just announced that first quarter growth subsided to 2.2% — completely stagnant, barely keeping pace with population growth, with none of us, on average, better off. This news followed hard on the heels of the news that housing prices continue to fall in 16 out of 20 major U.S. cities for the sixth month straight, to the level of a decade ago, prices on average down over one third with nine cities hitting their lowest level since the bust.

Broad-based prosperity achieved through talent, effort, and luck seems alien to the (generally affluent) leaders of the left. While not hostile to the concept they are stuck on discredited ways of bringing about prosperity with equity. To promote a general strike on May Day is an exercise in nostalgia for a Workers Paradise Lost … that never existed. Wake up, MoveOn! You are letting an old, discredited, fairy tale drive you into ineffectuality and irrelevance!

Broad-based prosperity is the main battleground on which the 2012 election will be fought out. Team Romney offers credible formulae for opportunity and prosperity. Team Obama has provided, and is preaching, a demonstrated recipe for stagnation and unemployment. Obama clearly means well but has never worked in the business world. He completely lacks a feel for the policy parameters that will ensure a great job creation climate. Obama is reminiscent of Keynes’s assessment of Churchill for his mistake precipitating the 1926 recession (and, not coincidentally, General Strike): “he has no instinctive judgment to prevent him from making mistakes …..”

To get economic growth — an empirical, not partisan, thing — one needs to get the formula right. The formula for economic flourishing simply demands a close correlation between effort and reward. This is, by the way, the very essence of fairness. Prosperity with equity is fomented by low, broad-based tax rates; a government that sticks to its core, legitimate, mission and does so frugally; good money — ideally defined as a certain number of grains of gold with currency legally convertible thereto; sensibly mild, job-fostering, regulation; free trade; and minimal transfer payments and subsidies.

Reagan gave us an approximation of this. And during the Reagan expansion years the American GDP grew by an average of 4.3% per year. Clinton, tarnishing slightly Reagan’s low income tax rates but giving a capital gains rate cut, trade liberalization and welfare reform, gave America a climate for enterprise that permitted a very respectable 3.5% real growth rate per year for eight years.

The 2.2% growth rate America now is experiencing is unacceptable. It’s unbearable. It is remarkable that Mr. Obama is not experiencing more street demonstrations in protest of his policies. But the preferred economic policies of the masters of street action are toxic. They are recognized as toxic by all but a remnant Cargo Cult that worships Keynes (without understanding him). This holds down the turnout for the overdue free market anti-Obama protests.

It was the free market, not socialism, not communism, not central planning, unleashed by Reagan, Thatcher, and Deng Xiaoping, that lifted billions out of poverty promptly after being unleashed in the formerly communist and oppressed world.

A General Strike? Creativity/Pleasure/Solidarity? Absolutely! The real deal will go down on a day that really stands for people power: November 6th. Throw off the death grip of the dying fairy tale, MoveOn, embrace reality and meet us there! Let us dance together at the ending of this nightmare administration.