Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Occupy Wall Street is like social media

Judging by what I'm observing on Facebook, the Occupy Wall Street movement has gained a lot of popularity with starry eyed 20-something liberals and bitter old progressives. I am now of the opinion this isn't going to just die down like the left's last attempt to replicate the Tea Party with the recent pro-union protests.

But that doesn't mean the protests will actually accomplish anything. Since they made the critical error of having no actual goals, they may be end up wasting their momentum by trying to adopt every vaguely left-wing position and spreading themselves too thin.

All that angry shouting may make the protesters feel energized, but if its not focused it won't actually accomplish anything.

As science-based marketing champion Steve Cuno has said, "Never mistake marketing-related activity for actual marketing." What we have here is social media popularity, where a lot of people may click "like" on a picture of the item your selling, but never actually buy one.
There have been a few sprawling lists of demands from the protest organizers, or people claiming to be in charge. I think the response was so much bigger than anticipated that the anti-capitalists who helped start the protests quickly lost control. Movements like the Tea Party and Earth First! function without central leadership, which makes it difficult to hash out cohesive doctrines.

The demands I have seen emerge are all over the place. There are some I agree with, like ending the war on drugs and Patriot Act, but others are so ignorant I had to check to make sure they weren't a parody. For example:

Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending "Freetrade" by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.
Good grief. With so many unattainable, awful demands like this one, any movement that tries to establish them is doomed to failure. This is a complete divorce from economic reality. The ignorant protectionism is then curiously followed with a demand for free and open borders. This is strange, as open borders are essentially free trade for labor.

Along with other demands, the little darlings put a bow on top with the line: "These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy."

This is a recipe for unemployment and high prices, not prosperity.

The stupidity of these demands suggests that police have indeed been hitting the protesters in the head with billy clubs. I think if the smart liberals who are jumping on board see some of these ideas like a $20 minimum wage become central to the movement, they will either try to change them or abandon ship.

This movement can only be popular as long as it doesn't try to accomplish anything. If it never narrows down its demands, it will never accomplish anything. If it chooses moderate liberal positions, it will just be swallowed up by the Democratic party. If it chooses the radical demands being floated at this point, membership will drop and the movement will be marginalized.


  1. The Tea Party has many outrageous demands as well, yet you take them more seriously?

  2. Politicking today is like firing a machine gun... from the hip... blind folded. It might not be pretty, but you'll likely hit something.