Saturday, November 5, 2011

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs

OK, I am genuinely trying to understand the Wall Street protests. Really. I keep looking at pictures of them, reading the articles and trying to figure out what they want. I've been at this for weeks, and I still don't get it. Tonight, for the umptyhskiddieighth time, I Googled "wall street protestors" and took a read through the signs that appear in the images.
"Eat the rich." That was the first one, published at the National Legal and Policy Center. Well, I'm not much into cannibalism, and if the idea is to take from "the rich" whatever it is that they have that I want, I'm not much into that either. I don't think it is reasonable to assume that anyone who is rich is rich by ill-gotten gains, anymoreso than it would be reasonable to assume that anyone who is poor is a moron. Certainly there rich crooks, and certainly there are stupid poor people. And then there are rich people who worked hard, and there are poor people who are where they are due to bad luck and rotten circumstances. It's not fair to lump them all together.

And anyway, who are "the rich"? I think I remember hearing a joke that "the rich" means anyone who makes more than you do.

I couldn't make out any signs in the second picture, and the page it came from was in Arabic.

The next one was long. It said, "No more money for Wall Street and war; Demand Jobs and Income for the workers and poor." I like that one because it rhymed, but it kind of illustrates the incongruity of the messages coming out of the protests. I assume by "money" we are talking taxpayer money. No more taxpayer money for Wall Street and war, OK. Demand jobs and income for the workers and poor - - demand from whom? Are they suggesting the government provide jobs and income for the workers and poor? Well, for one, we already do that. Government spending for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and welfare programs outstrips defense spending 2.6 to 1.

Here's another thought: do military jobs not count as "jobs and income"? I guess not.

Next: "Jump! you fuckers!" posted at Having lost two very close friends, five years and half a world apart, who decided to throw themselves down from high places, I found this sign to be classless and tasteless with nothing to recommend.

Next up: "Yo Bush! My taxes are not venture capital!" at the LoudSpeaker. Nice one. He knows Bush is no longer president, right? Another thing: Solyndra. Also, the "Eat the rich" dude is in here again. And one that says "Bailout = Extortion", but we'll come back to that one.

This next one says "People Over Profit" and is a So, what will the people take from if there is no profit? How will the people actually get paid if there is no profit to pay them from? Hmmmm. Also: nice 'phantom of the opera' mask. While I'm thinking of it, Andrew Lloyd Webber made millions by putting together a show where people walk around in costumes and sing. Did he "deserve" the money he made? Which is a more enduring contribution to society, the soundtrack from a broadway musical, or the desktop computer? Why is profiting from one more or less acceptable than profiting from the other? Or isn't it?

Here's a good one and my last one for the night: "People Need Jobs!", found at Financial Review. Yes they do! Yes, they DO! This sign is carried by a group called, and another sign in the background says "Bailout the unemployed." But hold on for just a second. The other guy a few pictures up had a sign that said "Bailout = Extortion," and now this guy wants a bailout for the unemployed. So is it OK to extort when its for the unemployed, but not OK for others? Different question, same vein: President Obama's stimulus bill include a $400 tax cut for individuals and an $800 tax cut for families, greater access to the child tax credit for the working poor, a $2,500 college tuition tax credit for 2009 and 2010, extension of unemployment benefits for an additional 33 weeks (they had already been extended once), suspension of taxes on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits, $24 billion to subsidize continuation of health care coverage for unemployed workers, and $17 billion to boost Pell grants (money for students). Which part of that doesn't count as a "bailout"?

And if it does count as a bailout, which part of it doesn't count as "extortion?"

It's easy to see why people see the messages coming from Occupy Wall Street as "mixed."

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