The View From 1776
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
The Moral Vacuity of OWS
A public ethic based upon the liberal-progressive-socialistic dogma that the masses have a right to confiscate whatever they want is not the platform for a well-ordered society.
Many commentators have argued that Occupy Wall Street (OWS) young, unemployed college graduates, burdened with large educational debts, have a point. They followed the system and have, in effect, been defrauded by costly and ineffectual “educations.”
As many commentators also have observed, Wall Street is hardly the right focal point for their anger. Their target should be the liberal-progressive educational system fostered in early decades of the 20th century by socialist John Dewey of the Columbia University school of education. Liberal-progressives are the force opposed to requiring students to learn difficult academic subjects through hard work (which definitely necessitates memorization, test-taking, and performance grading).
Diversity, self-esteem, and splinter-group identity (blacks, hispanics, feminists, homosexuals, and lesbians) have become the essence of present-day college “education.” Grade inflation and politically-correct speech-and-behavior codes have become the weapons to defraud college students, who have a right to expect that adult educators have some connection with the real world.
In that regard, Yale University historian Donald Kagan, in an article he wrote for Commentary Magazine, quotes former president of Harvard University Derek Bok:
“Many seniors graduate without being able to write well enough to satisfy their employers. Many cannot reason clearly or perform competently in analyzing complex, non-technical problems, even though faculties rank critical thinking as the primary goal of a college education. Few undergraduates receiving a degree are able to speak or read a foreign language. Most have never taken a course in quantitative reasoning or acquired the knowledge needed to be a reasonably informed citizen in a democracy. And those are only some of the problems.”
It’s hardly surprising that, through no fault of their own, the overwhelming majority of people graduating from our school systems since the 1960s are economic ignoramuses who know almost nothing about the history of the United States or the rest of the world. When they have been schooled in the mob tactics of socialist revolutions, from sit-ins to rioting in the streets, it’s hardly surprising that the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) crowd and their Democrat/Socialist Party backers honestly believe that they have a moral right to foul private propertyand interfere with people living in the Zuccotti Park neighborhood, people working in Wall Street financial institutions, and business people operating small shops.
This op-ed piece from the Wall Street Journal deals very well with the presumed morality of OWS.
Occupying vs. Tea Partying
Freedom and the foundations of moral behavior.
By MATT KIBBE
My first instinct was to sympathize with Occupy Wall Street (OWS). At the time of the initial protests, I was in Italy giving a lecture on the tea party ethos to graduate students participating in the Istituto Bruno Leoni’s annual Mises Seminar. I was getting reports of OWS signs that I had often see at Tea Party protests, such as “End the Fed” and “Stop Crony Capitalism.” But something didn’t jibe. I wasn’t sure why.
The answer came from economist and Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith, who delivered the keynote address at the Mises Seminar. His lecture on Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments focused on the question “how do social norms emerge spontaneously?” Both Smiths, Adam and Vernon, argue that individual freedoms and property rights are the foundations of moral behavior. Individuals, with full ownership of their life, liberty and property, judge themselves and care about the positive judgments of others. This accountability allows for cooperation, connects a community and enables human prosperity.
“The most sacred laws of justice, therefore, those whose violation seems to call loudest for vengeance and punishment, are the laws which guard the life and person of our neighbor,” wrote Adam Smith back in 1759, adding that “the next are those which guard his property and possessions.” America’s tea partiers put it another way: “Don’t hurt other people and don’t take their stuff.”
From these “sacred laws” come our righteous indignation with bailouts, deficit spending and other government intrusions into our lives, such as the mandate contained in the recent U.S. health-care reform that dictates to every American what health insurance he must buy and which treatments he may or may not access. Tea partiers oppose government forcing the responsible to subsidize the irresponsibility of others, because these policies hurt other people and take their stuff.
When tea partiers petition their government for a redress of such grievances, as more than one million did on Sept. 12, 2009, they don’t get into fights, they don’t get arrested, they say “excuse me” and “thank you,” they wait in hopelessly long lines for porta-johns, they pick up their trash and leave public spaces and private property exactly as they found them. No one told myself or other tea partiers to do these things; we just believe that you shouldn’t hurt other people and you shouldn’t take their stuff.
In contrast OWS, whose ranks represent a small fraction of total tea party protestors, has struggled to maintain civility or to even identify a unifying sense of purpose in their uprising. At Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, there is stealing, property damage and arrests often provoked by protestors wanting conflict with the police. Real people