Amid the signs, the slogans, the semi-coherent rambling of the participants, there is a clear and unmistakable story regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement. That story is the utter failure of the public and higher education systems. The lack of knowledge regarding civics, economics, and history is neither tragic nor surprising; rather, it is frightening. To think that an entire generation of Americans has been shuffled through the K-12 system plus four (at least) years of college with so little understanding of capitalism, the representative republic form of govt, the purpose of taxation, and the Constitution should give anyone pause. As a taxpayer, it makes me want my money back.
Let's begin with govt itself. Ours is not a democracy and, frankly, you would not want to live in such a place. As someone else once said, democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. We have a republic, wherein citizens are represented by duly-elected representatives. The framework means that a majority vote is needed to enact a law but it also means the minority is not without protection. A group of six cannot simply tell the other five what to do because six is greater than five. OWS does not seem to want that; instead, it wants to use the force of govt in order to enact its vision of what the country should be.
When did schools stop teaching civics? When did it become painfully apparent that more young folks knew the names of the finalists on American Idol than knew the names of their Senators or Congressman (the latter is singular, by the way, because each of us only has one)? Like any other group that wants to be seen as even remotely credible, OWS has its own manifesto: http://occupywallst.org/forum/proposed-list-of-demands-for-occupy-wall-st-moveme/.
Read it at your own peril. Have plenty of Kleenex handy for it will leave you crying for the future of the union. As an academic exercise, compare the list to the Constitution and the enumerated powers. Go ahead; take a few minutes. I'll wait.
Now, where were we? Oh, yes; comparing what you found in the Constitution with the demands of OWS. The OWS' wants reads like a wish list from the faculty lounge of a high-priced university where people think deep thoughts but seldom put their ideas into actual practice. And, they bear no resemblance to the country as it was formed. Surely, the degreed class knows this. Surely, the educrats in the public system know it, too. So, what is their excuse?
I will submit that this educational malpractice is not the result of negligent but the foundation of an ongoing effort to transform America. Why transform history's single most successful effort at self-government? Precisely because it is. A good chunk of Americans resent the nation's place on the world stage; they resent its wealth, its power, its influence. Their fondest desire is to knock the nation down a peg or two, to make it like Denmark but with more outdoor space. The goal for doing this is simple - power.
Leftist ideology makes a big show of talking about the little guy, the worker, and inequality but look at any nation that has been governed by the left. The only thing that is shared is the misery; everyone is equally poor except for those who talk the talk about the little guy, the worker, and inequality. Leftist ideology cannot survive without useful idiots; what better way to ensure a never-ending supply of them than by co-opting the institution guaranteed to funnel in new schools of unshaped mush every year.
Capitalism revolves around competition. We don't just have a single company that makes cars, televisions, provides mobile service, food, furniture, or any other product. We have dozens if not hundreds. Why? Because competing forces business to consider customers. Competition is what sparks product innovation, it's what keeps prices reasonable, it's what creates new opportunity. Capitalism brought us the telegraph, the telephone, and the television; planes, trains, automobiles, and the space shuttle; the regular phone, cell phone, and mass use of the Internet; and, virtually every since convenience that you take for granted. Capitalism is what armed the OWS gaggle with iPhones, laptops, North Face gear, and all the other trappings of the world they seem to hate. By comparison, name the innovation that came from an alternative economy. Take your time.
While you're thinking, I'll wrap this up. The protesters live in the freest society on the planet but are too blinded by years of dogma to recognize it. They believe accomplishment and wealth to be bad things, though who can blame them. They grew up in an environment where everyone received a trophy, where self-esteem trumped achievement, where competition was discouraged, and where business was presented as evil. They hear about giving back and public service rather than been encouraged to go forth and create something knew; they are preached the gospel of the non-profit, blissfully unaware that it is the for-profit that makes such possible.
Sadly, they will be the ones whose FICA deductions will fund your Social Security checks, provided the program still exists in another decade or so. They will also be the ones who believe you owe them a job. With a generous wage and benefits. And, not much heavy lifting. Ironic in a sense. Each one of us can remember a couple of teachers or professors who shaped our lives and career choices. And yet, the system in which they work is largely responsible for the misinformation and incoherence that passes for modern-day education.