Saturday, October 29, 2011

OW and the Rich

Being a history buff often leads to my shaking my head at folks.  So often they think that they've got a bright new idea and I think "Been there. Done that."  The latest to cause this are the Occupy Wall Street groups.  There are multiple reasons for this, of which these are but a few:

1) There seems to be a desire for that vague entity known as "the government" to pay for everything.  That, of course, requires that the government take from one person to pay for "stuff" for someone else.  Witness the current turmoil in various countries in Europe (not to mention the food lines of the Soviet Union and the death by starvation of millions in China) - eventually the government runs out of people to take from and the system breaks down.  Been there, done that.

2) Particularly ironic with the Oakland group - In 1899 a ship out of Hong Kong arrived in San Francisco with more than just a standard cargo.  It brought one of the most terrifying diseases history has ever known - bubonic plague.  The disease took root particularly in the shambling wooden structures of Chinatown, which  provided good hiding places for the rats and their disease carrying fleas.  The city fathers battled to keep it out of the news, fearing that if the world knew about the outbreak it would damage city trade and tourism.  Eventually the disease was beaten back by killing as many rats as could be found and destroying rat habitats by such actions as replacing wooden porches with poured concrete, closing foundations, and enforcing hygiene throughout the city.  Then came the great quake of 1906, and the city was filled with tent cities for months, providing a perfect breeding ground for rats.  The rat population boomed, and plague returned, this time entering the ground squirrel population, and then spreading to other rodents. As a consequence, it is now endemic to the American southwest.  If the OW folks do not get themselves together and monitor hygiene they are inviting the same sort of disease outbreaks that cities saw a hundred years ago.  And I suppose no history class touches on the fact that we lost more soldiers to disease caused by communal living during the Revolution and Civil War than we did to combat.  Been there, done that.

3)  I just finished Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday", and one paragraph in particular grabbed my attention. In a nutshell, the story follows a man, Syme, who has infiltrated a group of anarchists.  It has been a puzzle to me as to why folks like Soros would fund anarchic (is that a real word?) behavior.  After all, why would the rich call for their own money to be taken away?  Why would they call for the very structures that have allowed them to become rich to be destroyed?  At one point, Syme and a fellow infiltrator are fleeing the anarchists through the countryside, looking for shelter, and this bit of conversation takes place:

"What can you mean by all this?" cried Syme. "They can't be running the real world in that way.  Surely not many working men are anarchists, and surely if they were, mere mobs could not beat modern armies and police."

"Mere mobs!" repeated his new friend with a snort of scorn.  "So you talk about mobs and the working classes as if they were the question.  You've got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor.  Why should it?  The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than any one else in there being some decent government.  The poor man really has a stake in the country.  The rich man hasn't; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht.  The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.  Aristocrats were always anarchists..."

This was written in 1907.  So to the OW folks I say - you are being used by people who have no real stake in the outcome except power over you.  Been there.  Done that.  Is this really what you want?