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Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party, so much in common but worlds apart

By Peter Morici
web posted November 7, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party is really the same species -- movements descended from the same dissatisfactions. However, when it comes to reasoning through causes and solutions -- Occupy Wall Street is from Venus and the Tea Party is from Mars.

Ordinary Americans -- whether they work for a small business or large, or are self-employed or unemployed, have reason to be upset. Jobs are disappearing and incomes are falling, health insurance costs are rocketing, and universities charge exorbitant tuition to crank out high quality unemployment. Meanwhile, bank and corporate leaders pay themselves like French aristocrats before the Louie lost his head; Europeans in private systems, like the Germans and Dutch, get better health care at much lower prices; and professors -- who never change -- don't teach much that is useful and hide behind tenure.

These abuses result from a dysfunctional government -- ineffective and excessive regulation, bailouts without conditions for banks and big unions, regulatory giveaways, and crony loans for the political pals of Presidents and other politicians.

Repeatedly, the Obama Administration has been happy to heap largess -- loans, grants and regulatory special treatment---and get behind the agendas of powerful players whose executives and members provide campaign cash and muscle disproportionately to Democrats -- Wall Street financial houses, the UAW and other unions, GE and other multinationals, the Silicon Valley, and Hollywood.

The Tea Party has it right: these abuses result from too much, not too little, government -- federal giveaways and over regulation that the banks, big companies and unions can game and abuse to keep small competitors at a disadvantage. And the Tea Party, though dispersed in its leadership and direction, can generate needed resources from among its members and knows how to get things done -- elect members of Congress to implement real reform.

Occupy Wall Street is wrong and ineffective. If it has a common mind, then the movement believes spontaneous acts of public outrage -- a.k.a. tantrums in the park and more government are the answer when they simply are not.  And Occupy Wall Street is not capable of sustaining itself and getting things done. In those voids, big unions and left wing foundations are stepping in and wrapping their failed agendas in the legitimacy of the complaints the movement represents.

Simply, a huge swath of upset and confused Americans is being high jacked by the professional left. Unable to organize and sustain themselves, big unions and left-wing foundations provides kitchens, tents and cots in the hopes of using these disoriented citizens to legitimize and further their agenda.

President Obama has embraced the movement and Elizabeth Warren claims to be its intellectual mother. Those are the same folks that gave us expensive "bank reforms" that concentrated the majority of deposits in the hands of a few Wall Street Banks and near zero interest rates on CDs, make it almost impossible for regional banks to write adequate numbers of mortgages and business loans, and abusive debit card fees.

No doubt who the Service Employees International Union will support for the White House and Senator from Massachusetts in 2012.

The Tea Party is really a political movement in the best American tradition -- citizens seeing a problem and arming themselves to solve it through the ballot box.

Occupy Wall Street reminds me of college demonstrations. Nineteen year olds upset, and manipulated by left-wing professors and outside organizers like Ralph Nader.

Wait a minute -- before politics, wasn't it Professors Obama and Warren! ESR

Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland School, and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. Follow him on Twitter @pmorici1.


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